Happy 2017! The last 12 months were challenging to say the least. I plan to get into some of it in subsequent posts, but I experienced two completely different types of losses during the year. One especially personal one was a couple weeks before the Christmas holidays so when a friend suggested a quick trip down to Los Angeles to get a change of scenery, I jumped at the chance. Los Angeles is one of my favorite cities to visit. It’s about a six hour drive from San Francisco but if you leave early in the morning and have a friend to share the ride with, it goes by somewhat fast. Road trips are also the only time I eat In-N-Out – also something to look forward to 😉 While we didn’t do as much sightseeing or shopping as I normally do on a trip to Los Angeles, we did get a chance to check out some cool bars and restaurants for healthy eats on the road.
Quick Tips for Visiting Venice:
Where to stay:
We stayed in an Airbnb because we wanted to be close to the beach but didn’t want to spend a ton of money on a hotel. We were able to find one for about $150/nite that had two queen beds. The location was great because we could easily walk to the beach and Abbot Kinney Blvd. I ran from the Venice Boardwalk to the Santa Monica pier one morning and it was only around 6 miles round trip.. If you want to take an Uber to Beverly Hills or West Hollywood, it costs around $20 each way. Allow around 30-40 minutes if you are trying to make a dinner reservation in Beverly Hills! Los Angeles traffic is no joke.
If you want a hotel experience, here a couple more options:
- Viceroy Hotel: Around a mile from downtown Venice, an upscale, eclectic hotel with rooms for around $450/nite
- Erwin Hotel: A retro hotel on the beach with a great rooftop. Around $275/nite
Where to eat:
Abbot Kinney in Venice has a couple of really great healthy brunch spots. I love the variety and the endless amounts of vegan and vegetarian options. Below are a few standouts.
The Butcher’s Daughter– Venice
We ate at The Butcher’s Daughter for brunch on our second day. This restaurant also has a location in New York City, but it definitely gives off more of a laid-back California vibe. All of the food is very simple and mostly vegan friendly. They will make their pizzas with burrata (!!!) or vegan mozzarella if you choose. They also have a large selection of cold pressed juices which were necessary after a long night out.
Kreation Juice Bar– Venice
Kreation Juice Bar on Abbot Kinney is also a must try for any juice lover. Aside from regular pressed juices, you can also get “tonic shots” which are small doses of concentrated vitamins and fruits in shot form. The shots contain things like ginseng, apple cider, vinegar, and matcha and are supposed to help with ailments such as depression, allergies, provide a boost to your immune system and improve the radiance of your skin! A similar version comes in a syringe form- we literally saw people walk out sucking on syringes full of the customized vitamin blends. A nice pick me up and alternative to caffeine or over the counter meds when not feeling your best!
Sugarfish– Santa Monica
The second night, we ate at Sugarfish in Santa Monica. Sugarfish is not your typical sushi experience. Created by master chef Kazunori Nozawa, there are no traditional “American” style rolls. Instead each piece of fish is expertly cut and served plain over a small amount of warmed white rice. They do give you a small amount of homemade ponzu sauce for dipping if you wish, The fish is really high quality and literally melts in your mouth. We each ordered the “Nozawa” sampler platter which includes nine different types of sushi. It was the perfect amount of food, none of us left feeling too full. Also! No reservations here so arrive early to put your name in.
Abbot Kinney is more of a daytime place, so at night we ventured into Santa Monica and West Hollywood. Here is a quick list of a few we checked out and my overall impression:
- The Chestnut Club (Santa Monica): This is a pretty secluded bar located in a weird stretch of car dealerships off Santa Monica Blvd with a cool, old school, speakeasy feel. The interior features a lot of exposed brick and dim lighting with a beautifully displayed bar housing 350 different bottles of liquor. This is a great place to go for a more intimate experience and specializes in craft whiskey and gin cocktails.
- Pump (West Hollywood): My friends and I are huge fans of Vanderpump Rules so we decided to check out Pump. It’s a very pretty (and large!) bar located right on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. The back area is set up like a garden with small tables set among lighted trees and flowers. It reminded me a lot of the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas (not sure Lisa Vanderpump was going for that esthetic, but it had that same extravagant vibe). We came during Happy Hour and the drinks were really well priced- one drink for each of the three of us came out to around $20.
- Sur Lounge (West Hollywood): We actually ate dinner here (again, being fans of the show!) and had high expectations. However, we left pretty disappointed. The food was extremely bland (this is being generous). I ordered the chopped salad with chicken on it and it was about on par with something from Panera Bread. The bread brought to the table was stale and the waitress didn’t ask if we wanted a second round of drinks. One bright spot: Ariana’s brother from the show was our bus boy 🙂
- The Chapel at the Abbey (West Hollywood): Probably the most popular gay bar in Hollywood, the Chapel at the Abbey has an amazing, fun vibe with nightly DJs and an active dance floor. For dinner you can walk next door to The Abbey to grab some upscale bar food. Our celebrity sighting here? Michelle Pfeiffer 🙂
- The Bungalow (Santa Monica): Part of the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica, this bar is set up to feel like you are inside an upscale house party. There are several rooms (each with their own bars) and lots of casual outdoor seating. One room is set up like a cozy living room with a pool table. While I enjoyed the look and feel of this bar, I didn’t really care for the atmosphere. The crowd was a little too frat boy/sorority girl for me and the bartenders were sort of slow and sloppy. Definitely worth checking out though if you are staying at the Fairmont or want a bar with a lot of room to sit and chat.