What to Eat Now in Venice Beach

Discover five globally inspired dishes in Venice Beach, from Peking duck pizza to squid taglierini

Peking duck pizza at Night + Market Sahm | Photo by Joshua Lurie
Peking duck pizza at Night + Market Sahm | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Venice Beach is patterned after Venice, Italy, and both places have a system of canals. That said, you wouldn’t find nearly as many skaters, street art, or palm trees in the Italian city. Venice Beach has developed four different zones that all have their draws, including trendy Abbot Kinney, funky Oceanfront Walk, a section south of the canals by Marina del Rey, and an increasingly vital stretch of long-gritty Lincoln Boulevard. Discover five of Venice’s best dishes that cover different cuisines and span the key neighborhoods.

Smoked and grilled short rib at Charcoal | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Charcoal - smoked & grilled short rib

Josiah Citrin touches almost every plate with charcoal’s kiss at Charcoal, his more casual but still-stylish Mélisse spinoff. He and chef de cuisine Joseph Johnson provide a peek into a glass-fronted kitchen, where a grill and Big Green Egg burn applewood and oak coals, avoiding the more overpowering hickory or mesquite. Vegetables, seafood, and meats all benefit. Charcoal’s smoked and grilled short rib is a particular standout. Rich, rosy beef is draped over the bone and served with smoked paprika mustard chimichurri, red wine chipotle sauce, J-1 steak sauce, and Basque vinegar. Mix-and-match.

Strascinati at Felix Trattoria | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Felix Trattoria - strascinati

Chef Evan Funke avoids modern conveniences when making Italian pasta, which he treats with the reverence of treasured antiquities. At Felix, the Abbot Kinney restaurant that he runs with Toronto-based restaurateur Janet Zuccarini, he curates and rotates dozens of pasta shapes from four different parts of Italy: Nord (north), Centro (central), Mezzogiorno (south, including Sicily and Sardinia) and Isole (the islands). Tutta la pasta fatta in casa means he makes all pasta in-house and never using machines. Depending on your preference, it’s likely you’ll enjoy any pasta you order. So far, our favorite is strascinati, silver dollar shaped pasta with good bite tossed with pesto cime di rapa (turnip top pesto), anchovy, and pangrattato (breadcrumbs). They finish the plate by shaving sharp Parmigiano-Reggiano and Canestrato, an Alpine cheese, for balance.

Porchetta melt at Gjusta | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Gjusta - Porchetta Melt

Really, almost any sandwich would be good on Gjusta’s crusty house-baked baguette, which has just the right amount of give. At this multifaceted bakery-deli-café from Chef Travis Lett and business partner Fran Camaj, their banh mi, falafel, and Italian sandwiches all hold considerable sway. We hold a special place for Gjusta’s porchetta melt. Beeler's pork loin is wrapped in belly, rubbed with oregano, rosemary, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper and roasted on the rotisserie. Slices are griddled, layered with bitter rapini sautéed with red onion and chile flake, served with molten Fontina cheese.

Night + Market Sahm - Peking duck pizza

Chef Kris Yenbamroong and wife/partner Sarah have never stuck with convention at Night + Market, a Thai restaurant group that now spans three locations. Night + Market Sahm ("three" in Thai) touts peach and blue walls, signature floral tablecloths, “Larb King” and “Hey Hey My My” (a Neil Young reference) in neon, and a photo of guitarist Slash in his G N’ R prime. Many Night + Market classics made the cut for their Westside outpost, and you’ll also find several unique specials. Peking duck pizza features flaky grilled roti bread piled with pulled duck meat, punchy garlic ginger hoisin, marinated shiitake mushrooms, shredded mozzarella, shaved scallions, sambal, and wonton crisps.

The Tasting Kitchen - taglierini

Casey Lane was the first chef to vault Abbot Kinney into the modern era, teaming with business partners Bruce Horwitz and Mark Meyuhas to open The Tasting Kitchen in 2009. To this day, their two-story Cal-Italian restaurant remains packed for dinner, brunch, and cocktails. Lane and his team make all pastas in-house. Shapes and preparations frequently change, but you’ll always find delicate taglierini strands tossed with shrimp (or tender squid), breadcrumbs, parsley, liberal amounts of butter, and Serrano chiles that deliver a lingering kick.