LA: Checking out Abbot Kinney

I promise not to drag out my stop in Los Angeles — I was only there for three days, and pretty much just ate my way through, 12 hours a day. As with San Francisco, I used to find a place to stay, and ended up at Venice Beach in a wonderful home owned by television producer Gina Rubinstein and author/speaker Judy Carter.

I spontaneously contacted my twitter friend Remil (@Limer35) to see if he had dinner plans, and he quickly blew off zumba to whisk me off to dinner in the nearby Abbot Kinney area. Never heard of it? Abbot Kinney was a real person, a renaissance man from New Jersey who purchased a huge piece of land in Santa Monica at the turn of the last century to build the “Venice of America,” creating the Pleasure Pier, with an auditorium, a miniature railroad, a lagoon, and several canal waterways. It became a popular destination, and later became a hangout for bohemians in the 1950s and hippies in the 1960s. The roller-skating scene took over (a la Xanadu) — as did drug dealers and gangs — in the 1970s. Venice got cleaned up in the 1990s and became a haven for artists and celebrities. Abbot Kinney Blvd. (originally called West Washington) was renamed in 1992.

Today, Abbot Kinney is known as “the coolest block in America.” It’s a walkable area full of one-of-a-kind shops, über-chic architecture, and hip eateries.

LA: Dinner at Gjelina

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We were lucky to get a reservation at Gjelina, a bistro featuring chef Travis Lett’s California take on rustic food. Produce from the Santa Monica farmers’ market makes up 90 percent of the vegetables on the menu, so you know you’re getting it fresh. Everyone wants it fresh, so if you want a seat, go early (correction: call early for an early seating) and beat the hordes. And there are always hordes.

1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA