Born and Bred. In Los Angeles. Actually in Santa Monica. The mere beginnings of my cultural journeys in life…
The smell of the ocean and some mixed in “natural” flesh pieced around like flair and you know you’re in Venice. California. The cigar-smoking-clown-headed-ballerina, Penny Lane Records, Aardvark’s, the smell of incense floating through the air like ballerinas dancing across the sky, and the roller skating Kama Cosmic Crusader … all indicators you are now heading to the Venice Boardwalk. Everything from hemp-based products to some very interesting characters, it is a place I once ditched school for. (Really.) It has been years since I’ve been and even longer since I dared venture into any kind of fare. It seems I was destined to return. After a daunting photo shoot, my stomach was aching for some actual food. I walked out of the studio and to my right – a lovely cafe that had Brazilian music beckoning and the scent of freshly brewed cappuccinos. Cue Venice Ale House.
I entered and within a minute I was greeted by a very smiley, coolly dressed girl and sat at the high-top wooden tables. I ordered some water and a cappuccino and started to look around the restaurant. Every single corner is unique but the bar by far has the most authentic surprise – skateboard wheels hidden in front of each chair. Adorning the walls are various skate and surf paraphernalia. There is this mix of both zen and adventure finely woven into the very fabric of every single pocket of space. The minutes passed and soon the smell of something exquisite crept into my nose and I was taken. We called over our sassy little server and ordered, but not before I had dipped my mouth into one incredible cappuccino made with love. Yes, love. My pint-sized guest ordered a grilled cheese with fries, and a fresh strawberry juice while I ordered a coconut water (because I figured why not indulge all of the senses), and the black bean tacos with sweet potato fries. The ingredients for the tacos is really the clincher: black beans, summer squash & crimini mushrooms. Somehow seems strangely intriguing. Served on two homemade tacos cooked in Spanish olive oil. Taste buds awakened.
My pint-sized guest and I sat there dancing in our seats to the undeniably well-chosen track of Brazilian and Afro-Peruvian grooves, scanning this small-in-size-but-big-in-vibes-restaurant across from the Pacific, where we were also now facing the Chef no less – who could not have been kinder and was grooving to the music right along with us, even doing air drums for good measure – and, as it were, created and quickly became the 1st crush for a 4 year-old girl. A small slice of spontaneous heaven.The food arrives shortly thereafter, after the Chef disappears into the kitchen. It looks just as good as it tasted. While the tacos were good, a tiny bit greasy, the grilled cheese was honestly – perfectly made. The fries had their own flavor of spices and somehow, in every bite of this meal, you could taste a small connection to the world. Don’t ask me how.
Venice Ale House, was opened by Thomas Elliott, a documentary filmmaker by trade and avid skateboarder, and his adventurous friend and roommate Spoon Singh (also a happy skater), and has managed to “achieve what has long been considered difficult: bringing quality, organic, locally sourced food and drink to the boardwalk.” (Los Angeles Times Review). Growing up here and spending many an afternoon roaming the boardwalk to find tasty food, fantastic conversation, and feast on the continuous unveiling of humanity around me made this experience even sweeter. While V is loaded with an impressive list of beer and wine, this place is something more. It is not merely a hole-in-the-wall happenstance. It is an organic masterpiece perfectly blended with surroundings that can’t help but intrigue you.
Written by Dawn Garcia