“Summer” in Los Angeles is more a state of mind than a description of the weather, as June earns its “gloom” sobriquet and the city reaches peak temperatures in September. But actual atmosphere aside, Angelenos - and the many people from around the world who visit this city in the summer months - like to take advantage of the season and spend as much time by the beach as possible. And what better way than by kicking back with an iced and caffeinated beverage? Here are some of the more memorable coffee shops and cafes in the Venice neighborhood: some have great food, some are practically on the sand; all of them have good coffee drinks.
There’s no precise definition of “cafe” on the West Coast, so the provenance of the person saying the phrase has to be taken into consideration. But, generally, if an establishment labels itself as such, it means customers can order a cup of joe and hang around for a long while. Hence, Gjusta’s (320 Sunset Ave, Venice 90291) inclusion here. This spot, which is also a bakery and a deli, is a great place for visitors to come check out L.A.’s day-to-day culture. The food is excellent, because it’s what Angelenos expect for the prices charged here. The patio is poppin’, full of louche westsiders lounging artfully on the mismatched patio furniture. Get a cortado and an excellent pastry (they’re all excellent) and settle in for a few hours of people-watching. Don’t forget your sunglasses.
While many on-trend coffee shops tend toward the monochromatic, Flowerboy Project (824 Lincoln Blvd, Venice 90291) is also a gift shop and a florist, so there’s a bright burst of color every few feet. Flowerboy Project is owned by Sean Knibb, who led the design of Koreatown’s Line Hotel and is known for his elegant eye. The knick knacks available here are, unsurprisingly, stylish; for those looking solely for physical sustenance, the good news is Knibb also has excellent taste in food purveyors. The rotating snacks come from local vendors like Sugarbloom Bakery, Clark Street Bread and Henrietta’s Cheesecakes. The coffee is ordered from Vittoria, an Australian maker - Australia is so hot right now. And pick up a bouquet while you’re there: they come in small, medium and large bunches of mixed flowers for $10, $20 and $30.
Menotti’s Coffee Stop
There really isn’t anywhere to sit down at Menotti’s Coffee Stop (56 Windward Ave, Venice 90291) --the name is apt-- but that’s fine, because it’s walking distance to the Venice Canals and only a block away from the beach and its boardwalk. It’s a hole in the wall with a sense of history: it’s named after the founder of the speakeasy in the building’s basement (now the Del Monte, which you can visit if you’re looking for a different kind of refreshment). The coffee comes from Four Barrel, a San Francisco-based roaster that does a pretty good job of abiding by ethical practices and paying farmers fairly. The regular menu at Menotti’s is pretty short, but in the proud L.A. tradition, there’s a secret menu too. It rotates, but often includes things like homemade fruit syrups.
Bluestone Lane (523 Rose Ave, Venice 90291) is an Australian import (again, Australia, so hot right now) with a sense of humor about itself: it knows that its round marble tables topped with wooden planks full of avocado toast and drinks in jars is Instagram gold, and it’s good-humoredly rolling with it. The mini chain is made up of “cafes” and “coffee shops” -- this is the former, and will have a beer and wine license, unlike its sister location in Santa Monica. Having said that, the coffee menu at this brand-new spot is as long as the food menu: in addition to the standards, there’s a “Magic,” a double flat white; a “Long Black,” which is espresso with extra water, and “Hot Milo,” a hot malted chocolate with steamed milk.
There are two Groundwork locations in Venice, but Rose Avenue (671 Rose Ave, Venice 90291) is the one to visit. It’s far enough away from the beach that it’s more local than tourist-y, and since it’s been in this location since 1991 (the building was built almost one hundred years before that), it’s a true neighborhood gem. It opens at the outrageous hour of 5:30 am, which might explain the grumpy attitudes of some of the employees, but that’s perfect if you’re, say, in need of caffeine and a breakfast burrito on your way to the airport. Speaking of breakfast burritos, the morning menu of homemade comfort dishes is quite good, especially said burrito, the breakfast sandwiches, and the “Bitches Brew Hash,” made with short ribs braised in Groundwork’s signature coffee blend.
The Cow’s End Cafe
Popular with LMU students, The Cow’s End Cafe (34 Washington Blvd, Venice 90292) is perfectly located across the street from the beach, down in the quiet end of the neighborhood right before it turns into Marina Del Rey. There is some food (taking a granola bowl down to the sand is a cute move), and a coffee menu made up mostly of the classics, but they throw in a couple drinks like a salted caramel almond latte. (It’s delicious.) There are two floors of tables here, so there’s plenty of room to spread out and study - be courteous about it, of course. Speaking of which, the establishment is reasonably dog friendly, but it’s been around long enough that the owners have come up with some rules, such as short leashes only, and dogs must be held or tied to something solid, not just furniture. But if your dog is well-behaved, it’ll probably get a treat. Cash only!
Jade Coffee (1507 Abbott Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles 90291) is a little undiscovered coffee shop located on the deck of one of the former bungalows that’s been turned into a commercial space - the politics of that is for another article - and it’s just as cute as can be, with a mobile bar set up in the corner serving a limited coffee menu. When approached from Abbot Kinney, the deck is invisible: you have to take the sign’s word for it as you traverse the narrow path between buildings. Tarps criss-cross above, making this an ideal al fresco situation for about 360 days a year. Oh, and it’s named after the owner’s pet parrot.
Superba Food + Bread
Maybe you want coffee and a big plate of pasta. Superb Food + Bread (1900 Lincoln Blvd, Venice 90291) to the rescue! The all-day restaurant serves a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but is also open to people just sitting around and sipping something for a couple hours. And it’s really leaning into the Venice vibe, serving espresso-based drinks that can be tarted up with CBD oil. For those not up on legalization, CBD comes from cannabis - but won’t make you high. It’s legal and always has been, but is having a moment in the sun right now. With or without the oil, the drinks here are pretty interesting: try the “Spanish latte” with cinnamon and sweetened milk or the “Mushroom” with honey and oat milk. Grab one of the excellent cookies, too.