If I'm being politically correct, I probably should've titled this post something more like "Let me show you how OBSESSED I am with Venice-- GUIDE TO LA!" but eh, it's all good right? As I promised in my previous kale salad post, here's my personally approved guide to spending some time in this wondrous little beachfront neighborhood.
If you're the foodie that's into noshing on plentiful amounts of vegan and raw eats between frequenting eclectic and local bars, food trucks, and coffee shops, this place is for you. With the hippie/graffiti art scene bumpin' and grindin' (see how long it doesn't take you to walk past a brick wall decorated with eccentric creatures), along with bohemian-chic clothing shops sprinkled throughout, your artistic side surely won't be deprived. And with the massive amount of yoga studios with incredible instructors at your fingertips, getting your OM on will be a breeze. And lastly, who doesn't want a little sun-kissed glow and sand in between their toes as they carry on all these adventures?
Voila! The Guide You've Been Waiting For.
Where to Nosh
1. Cafe Gratitude: Not that I'm placing these spots in any particular order, but there's no doubt I have to mention this restaurant first. Alex & I literally went there 3 times in one day (we visited every day, actually). I had heard about this place for years admiring it from afar on instagram accounts, anxiously awaiting the day I'd finally get to step foot into this sacred space. Believe me, it lived up to my RD expectations. 100% plant-based (vegan), and with a strong focus on locally sourced ingredients, I knew that whatever option I chose on the menu I'd feel good about how this food would nourish my body and soul. Each meal we had was unique in its own, with interesting flavor combinations, and a good full-factor. Although a bit pricey, you have to expect that with quality food and an inviting atmosphere. Perhaps the most intriguing part of this restaurant is the thought that goes into its service. Each item on the menu is named a word/phrase, so when the waitstaff encourages you to order with saying "I am.... (insert meal name)" you end up saying an affirmation. For instance, I got this f*cking awesome raw strawberry shortcake for dessert one night that was called "Rapture." I am rapture. Pretty cool. Then, when you receive your meal you find that each plate asks you "What are you grateful for?" causing you to think before you indulge in the first bite. I'm all about that life.
Some recommendations to order at the Venice location: HAPPY, BRIGHT, PURE, SUBERB.
2. FEED | Body & Soul Restaurant: A bit more fancy, we hit up this restaurant sort of by accident on our first night out in the neighborhood. We at first planned for Gjelina, one of the top rated restaurants around, however the waitlist wasn't quite in our favor on a Friday evening. So off to FEED we went. And, it did exactly what its name implies. It fed us. And with damn good food. Although it may appear we chose quite simple entrees and apps to share, the chefs seemed to know the importance of having simple food just taste really good. Minimally processed, full of flavor, and a bottle of Prosecco to share? They won our hearts.
What we ordered: Kale Salad (obvi), Sea Scallops, and the Hummus w/ Fresh Vegetables.
3. Intelligentsia Coffee: With a half indoor/outdoor entrance featuring a rustic space to chill engulfed with moss and other greenery, you can't help but become entranced to walk in and order yourself some caffeine. Inside is just as gorgeous, with a minimalist-industrial charm filled with locals typing away on their macs while the baristas do their thang.
4. Moon Juice: This one is another major shout-out. I've also been following this place for quite some time via social media, and couldn't wait to have my lips finally touch the infamous "Moon Milk." Again, it went beyond my expectations just like Cafe Gratitude. The brain behind this amazing shop, Amanda Chantal Bacon, surely knows what she's doing. Moon Juice offers refreshing juices and milks that nourish the body with high quality, plant-based ingredients, as well as carrying 'beauty' foods, and powerful natural remedies to help nix any ailment you may be experiencing. Be it stress, adrenal fatigue, GI upset, fighting off a cold, etc., Amanda's shop has something for you! Alex & I sat outside the joint on our last morning in LA and indulged in a Probiotic shot, followed by our 'Milks' with a side of raw donuts. Yum.
5. Oscar's Cerveteca: This spot was recommended to us for some of the best fish tacos in the area. Again, impressed. We trailed into this dimly-lit, vibin' spot just after a Relax & Restore yoga class. Thus, we couldn't be more zenned out to feed our bellies with latin-inspired fare. The atmosphere was purely awesome, and the food did satisfy. Each plate was served in relatively smaller portions compared to most latin/mexican places, however it did the job. I got the Baja Fish Tacos, while Alex got the Kale Salad (notice a trend...?)
Some other food spots to check out while you're in the area: Urth Cafe, RAWVOLUTION, Gjelina, Blue Bottle Coffee, Kreation.
Where to OM
1. The Yoga Collective: Where do I even begin with this one? This studio, man. I'm not even quite sure how I initially found this spot online, however I've been watching their online yoga classes for close to a year now. Words can't describe how excited I was to actually take one of these classes in person, as I love all the flows provided by the teachers online. I had made plans to meet up with one of the teachers I've been following for a couple of years now while I had the chance to visit, and boy I'm so glad I did! (Post to come soon!) Otherwise, the space was great, and they have a newcomer's special where you can try 3 classes for $25. Alex & I took Mary Beth's class Saturday morning, which was a sweaty vinyasa flow infused with intention-based breath work and a rockin' playlist. We took Lauren Eckstrom's Relax & Restore on Sunday evening, which basically felt like a guided meditation leading us to a cozy almost-sleep. If there's any right way to end a weekend, I'm pretty sure its that.
As our bodies craved one last class before we packed our bags to head back up the coast, we made another trip to the studio for Lauren's 9am flow. Her authentic, nurturing voice and ability to intersperse subtle, yet powerful words throughout the class sent us off with the right mind-set as we enjoyed our last day in Venice.
2. Wanderlust Hollywood: After taking MB's class that Saturday, we received a personal invite to come check out her class at this new spot that just opened its doors a few weeks ago. A Wanderlust inspired yoga class complete with a DJ to run the tracks? Um, yes? I feel like I'm repeating myself on this entire post saying how awesome everything is, but seriously-- this place was so rad. You walk in, and there's a bustling cafe offering anything from almond milk lattes and baked goodies, to pressed juices, salads, avocado toast, chia pudding-- the list goes on. Alongside the cafe, there's yoga-inspired gear, books, jewelry, perfume, the whole sha-bang. The ground level offered our SOULSCAPE class, but while peeking upstairs we were able to check out their meditation room and other hang-out areas that looked enticing.
Each SOULSCAPE class is meant to mimic a day at the festival itself, complete with a musically-inspired class paired with an intuitive flow. Although I've yet to attend Wanderlust, I can say that this class was the shiz.
Overall, the yoga scene in LA is far from ordinary. The inspiration and kind words I received from fellow teachers has illuminated my own practice and teachings, which I have undoubtedly taken back to DC.
As we sat on a patio outside of Moon Juice our last morning with the sun shining and ocean breeze not far behind, I reflected on how grateful I am to have been able to experience such an inspiring trip. Venice, you've treated us well. Until next time.