Take me back to California! More specifically to Venice Beach and Santa Monica. It’s been four weeks since I’ve returned from an amazing holiday there and, boy, do I want to return. It was chilled, laid-back, creative, artsy, inspiring ; everything I was looking for. I’m telling you: there is a plane ticket to LA with my name on it for next year. But, in the mean time, let’s get to the cocktails in Santa Monica and Venice Beach now.
Everybody’s been asking me how the cocktail bars were in Los Angeles. I’ll be honest. While I had a list as long as my arm, I visited only two of them. And to be accurate, there were restaurants with cocktail menus, not cocktail bars per se. See, going anywhere in Los Angeles is incredibly time-consuming because of traffic and there isn’t really a way to get around with public transportation unless you don’t mind spending more time sitting on a bus or metro than at your destination.
Driving from Santa Monica where I was based to explore Los Angeles’s cocktail scene would have been too expensive in terms of both money (thinking taxi and ridesharing here) and time. A word of advice if you really want to experience the bars in LA: the best is to stay “inland”, in neighborhoods like West Hollywood, Beverly Hills or in the safe areas of Downtown LA, Silverlake and Los Feliz. For me, the priority this holiday was beach bumming so Santa Monica and Venice Beach it was.
The great thing about cocktail culture in the United States is that craft cocktails are not limited to cocktail bars. Restaurants also have a cocktail offer, one that sometimes rivals that of cocktail bars. And the quality of food? Mind-blowing. I had truly amazing food in California: fresh, balanced, healthy and oh so fantastically tasty. Which meant I still made the most of my stay in Los Angeles, cycling back and forth between Santa Monica and Venice Beach.
Here are my top picks for food and cocktails in Santa Monica and Venice Beach.
A blend of Italian and Californian cuisines served with cocktails by the “godfather” of the Los Angeles cocktail scene.
Southern California cuisine with Latin, Asian and Mediterranean influence and a large selection of cocktails.
Modern Mexican food with mezcal and tequila cocktails.