GQ Magazine called it the “coolest block in America.” Abbot Kinney, a street in Venice lined with hip boutiques, Vegan restaurants and eco-conscious coffee shops lives up to its reputation. The street draws the artsy and the affluent. Locals mostly, but the in-the-know Canadian traveller will certainly want to make time for an afternoon stroll along this hip strip on their visit to LA
As part of my blog series “Live Like a Local in LA” which highlights cool neighborhoods on the West Side of Los Angeles, I’d like to share some of my fave spots along Abbot Kinney.
Stretching from the small street of Westminster to one of the city’s main veins, Venice Blvd. Abbot Kinney is ripe with eye candy for the shopper who loves to browse. Begin your journey with one of the finest cups of coffee the city has to offer. Intelligentsia Coffee (331 Abbot Kinney Blvd) boasts coffee that is fresh roasted daily in vintage German roasters. This high-end coffee bar in an industrial-chic setting makes tasty, rich espressos and poor over coffees that are brewed with the utmost care and expertise. Their specially trained baristas are pros at crafting a killer cup that will give you a jolt of caffeine and keep you going all day!
From there, pop into some of Abbot Kinney’s quaint shops. Rag & Bone, Buck Mason, Scotch & Soda are just a few of the clothing shops selling cool, contemporary fashions that will delight your inner hipster.
You won’t find Starbucks or McDonalds or any big name brand names on this stip. All shops have a local, artisinal feel with handmade jewellery and regional designers reigning over local culture. It’s a community of the cool and cultured with a dash of pretension.
Part shoe/sunglass store, part coffee shop, part community workspace, TOMS (1344 Abbot Kinney Blvd) is a great spot to stop in, rest your feet and enjoy a coffee and crossiant. Here you’ll find young entrepreneurs typing away on their MacBook Pros, creating the next Snapchat. Grab a seat, log into their free Wi-fi and enjoy the open-air, dog friendly astroturf garden. You can feel good about supporting TOMS. Their One for One program gives one pair of shoes to needy children in Africa.
There are a ton of amazing restaurants along Abbot Kinney, from Primativo, to Salt Air, The Tasting Kitchen to Zinque but undoubtedly the most popular choice is Gjelina (1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd) open daily from 8am-midnight.This see-and be-seen restaurant serves up an amazing menu of farm-to-table small plates. My favorite is their mushroom, fontina, truffle goat cheese and thyme pizza. Amazing! There are absolutely no food substitutions, but there is an often side of attitude from the “too cool for school” service staff. Yes it’s occasionally high maintenance and snooty but it’s all part of the charm. The food is delicious, the atmosphere lively (bordering sometimes on crazy loud) and it’s fun to people watch the uber trendy. There’s an outdoor courtyard where you can dine alfresco and some cozy indoor seating with communal tables. They have a BYOW policy with a $20 corkage fee (you can get a great bottle at ElVino Wine 1142 Abbot Kinney Blvd). To avoid waiting in line, be sure to call for reservations in advance.
If you can schedule your visit to Abbot Kinney for the first Friday of the month, you’ll enjoy their First Friday Festival, a lively gathering of food trucks serving up mouthwatering goodies. For more information check out: http://abbotkinneyfirstfridays.com
*Don’t Forget: Canadians bring your tanning lotion and some comfortable flipflops for your walk and don’t forget your travel insurance! Crossing the border to any new place is exciting but it also means you won’t have medical health coverage so get covered for your travels! Note: This post is Sponsored by Sun Life Financial.