MAR VISTA

Mar Vista is the slower, sleepier neighbor to nearby Venice Beach and Culver City — and it’s also home to one-half of our My Best LA Day duo, so we can attest that the three-square-miles of this neighborhood are special. It’s a short bike ride from the beach, home to a vibrant Sunday farmers’ market (Mandy Moore was spotted there a few weeks ago!) as well as laid-back coffeeshops, up-and-coming restaurants, and a brand-new bowling alley along its low-key main drags (Venice Boulevard and Washington Boulevard).

Because of its proximity to “Silicon Beach” and the slew of tech companies landing in nearby Playa Vista, real estate is picking up and more people are aware of this quiet corner of the Westside (you used to tell Silver Lake residents that you lived “near Venice” because few knew much about Mar Vista). But it’s a diverse neighborhood — Brazilian, Latino, Indian — and a place where neighbors know you by name, and big box businesses are few and far between. So grab your bicycle, and get ready to slow things down a bit: Mar Vista is the perfect place for lazy discoveries and relaxed adventures.

Stop 1: Venice Grind

This spot is always a favorite on Sundays, offering strong espresso and a breezy garden patio a few feet from the farmers’ market. It has a relaxed neighborhood vibe, with local art on the walls, an open mic night, and knowledgeable baristas. We ordered a few iced cold brews and an iced latte, and headed out to the picnic tables with newspaper in hand.

 

(12224 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 2: Mar Vista Farmers' Market

The Mar Vista Farmers Market is a vibrant Sunday staple in the neighborhood, offering everything from prepared foods to petting zoos and balloon artists (side note: careful of those baby goats in the petting zoo! They like nibbling on dresses and other clothing).

We love the market’s 100% organic product, flowers, vegan baked goods, and local meats. The food court is also incredible (DARE you to choose only one item!), with Vietnamese noodles, green tacos, sriracha dumplings, and egg and sausage empanadas, just to name a few.

The market is open on Sunday from 9am to 2pm.

 

(Located on Grand View Boulevard at Venice Boulevard)

Stop 3: Atmosphere Cafe

Locals were bummed when the Curious Palate closed in this space late last year — but love for the new Atmosphere Cafe has been growing steadily, especially as they focus on an incredibly delicious menu and a cozy “our home is your home” philosophy.

The expanded patio is the true centerpiece of this restaurant, and the best place to lounge with friends over a long meal. We ordered the Quinoa de Provence (rainbow quinoa with prosciutto-wrapped grilled pears, arugula and lavender dressing), the Sonoma Turkey Sandwich (roasted turkey breast, brie and roasted grapes on a baguette), and the Mediterranean Salad (green lentils, cumin, carrots, red onion, golden raisins and a soft boiled egg). There was a resounding declaration of “Delicious!” from our table, and we can’t wait to come back to try other favorites like the Eggs on the Moon breakfast sandwich.

Insider’s Tip: they are in the process of installing AC on the patio for those impending warm summer days, and should have a beer/wine license by June. Keep your eyes open for community events once a month, too — piano players, sidewalk sales, and art showings.

 

(12034 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 4: Vintage on Venice

If you follow the blog, you know we’re big fans of vintage shops — and especially of vintage clothing. We feel incredibly lucky to have this sweet shop in our backyard, with a fantastic selection of home goods, art, dresses, jewelry, and so much more. The store is carefully curated and organized, and the owner is always helpful and happy to chat.

 

(12218 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 5: Sweet Lucie's

If it were up to us, most days would be filled with nothing but strong coffee and ice cream cones. And a neighborhood is not a neighborhood without at least one great ice cream shop — for Mar Vista, that place is Sweet Lucie’s. The organic, made-by-hand ice creams and sorbets can be found in Whole Foods and across town in their vintage ice cream truck, but this is the company’s first brick and mortar location. The story of how they started (including pregnancy cravings and an adorable growing family) is the cutest, the shop itself is bright and inviting, and the ice cream is yummy and made with all-natural ingredients.

We had a scoop of the banana split and a scoop of the salted caramel on a sugar cone (AH-MAZING!), and also sampled the black sesame and the vegan coffee (made with coconut milk and deliciously creamy). This is going to be our jam ALL SUMMER LONG.

 

(12222 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 6: Mitsuwa Marketplace

This Japanese supermarket chain (with locations in Costa Mesa, Torrance, and San Gabriel) is a real gem in the neighborhood. No quick grocery store jaunts here — show up with a good few hours to spare. There’s a food court with some of the best ramen on the Westside, a stationary store, coffee bar, dessert shop, and of course — Asian market. We ordered boba tea at Hamada Ya and wandered the aisles, picking up Japanese udon noodles cups, a few boxes of Pocky (on special with two boxes for $3), and a pre-prepared bento lunch box.

Insider’s Tip: don’t miss Santouka Ramen while you’re here.

 

(13760 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles)

Stop 7: Fruit Gallery

If you live in LA, you’ve probably spent $12 on a smoothie before (while silently berating yourself and wondering if the secret ingredient in this concoction was gold dust…)

At Fruit Gallery, fresh smoothies and juices are much more reasonably-priced, and even better yet — there are no added flavors, syrups or sugar. They don’t so much as add ice! (because it waters things down). We are huge fans of their drinks, the sweet staff and owner, and the yummy breakfast sandwiches. The space is warm and lived-in, and you’ll spot the same faces again and again. A local treasure, to be sure.

 

(11739 W Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 8: Lodge Bread

Walking into Lodge Bread is like walking into Rory’s local bakery in Stars Hollow, if Stars Hollow were a heck of a lot more sleek and hip. The guys who run the place, Alex and Or, are as friendly as they are talented — and this place fulfills all our European dreams of meeting friends for a warm slice of freshly-baked bread and a damn good cup of coffee (that we walked to, of course).

Lodge is a bakery above all else, but they’ve also tapped into a neighborhood niche with their wildly-popular Sunday pizza night (from 5-8pm every Sunday). They only offer one type of pizza each week, with that Sunday’s toppings posted on Instagram a few days (or sometimes a few hours!) before. And be warned: these pies sell-out pretty quickly, and there’s often a line out the door by 5:15pm.

The crispy kale atop our pizza was enough to make us forget pepperoni forever (WHAT?!) and the crunchy, thin dough was a reminder that this ‘za was prepared by professional bread bakers. Pizzas are $17/each.

(11918 W Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles)

The Details:

The Big Blue Bus services Mar Vista, and the Exposition Line isn’t too far away (in neighboring Culver City) if you’re coming from east or (soon!) west. We bicycled everywhere on our day, but it’s also easy to walk.

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