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Where to Eat Along The Venice Boardwalk

The smell of weed permeates the air. Women in bikinis race by on roller blades. Tan, muscular men in speedos lift weights. Reggae music soothes the bustle. The ocean is right there. Even the cops look happy on LA's Venice Boardwalk. It's up there with Grauman's Chinese Theater and the Santa Monica Pier for places Angelenos avoid at all costs (cheesy t-shirts, volume of tourists, lack of free parking). But like New York's Times Square, it's something to see at least once. Plus, there's actually some good food on the mile-long strip.

Venice Boardwalk's Standouts

2012_06_venicealehousesm.jpg 1) Venice Ale House: Great views of the Pacific from the large patio, this is the place to get drunk off of some decent beer and snack on a few orders of loaded nachos. The beer flights that come on a table-top skateboard are fun too. Fresh juices make tasty Greyhounds. [Cross street: Rose Ave.]

2012_06_chicagonicks.jpg 2) Chicago Nick's: One of the few decent sandwich spots on the Boardwalk, the concept steals from Chicago's legendary meaty sandwiches: the Italian Beef is flavorful, even if the bread is too soft. [Nearest cross street: 18th Ave. ]

2012_06_fourbarrel.jpg 3) Schulzies: This two-year-old hole-in-the-wall serves only bread pudding. A total of 108 different flavors, actually. But they also serve the only decent coffee on the Boardwalk: Blue Bottle. [Nearest cross street: 18th Ave. ]

2012_06_pupsasvenice.jpg 4) Lidia's Pupuseria: Follow a narrow hallway inside the "International Food Court," past the Indian and Mexican stalls, and stop when it smells good: at the pupusa window. Hand-pattied, griddled-to-order pupusas are just $2 a pop. Recommended: Locoro with cheese. [Westminster Ave and Speedway]

2012_06_zeldasvenice.jpg 5) Zelda's Delicatessen : The outside of this shop looks right out of Little Italy. Inside, everything wants to be famous, just like in Hollywood. There's usually a line for the "World Famous" mini-donuts, blobs of dough fried to order then tossed with cinnamon sugar in a wax paper baggie. They're more than worth the wait. Before dessert, Zelda's offers a slew of very good sandwiches, the "Famous" Cuban has a nice crunch, both from the perfectly toasted bread and the house-made pickles inside. [Just off Westminster Ave.]

2012_06_nicecreamvenice.jpg 6) N'Ice Cream : There are at least half a dozen ice cream shops along the boardwalk. Only N'Ice Cream sells ice cream and sorbet that doesn't taste like artificial flavors. $4 for a small cup or cone. [South of Sunset Ave.]

2012_06_piccolo.jpg 7) Piccolo : From the guys behind the newly popular Hostaria del Piccolo, this long-standing Italian trattoria is perhaps the only cute date spot near the Boardwalk. Also good for larger groups who want to dine, not just drink. [Off Dudley Ave.]

2012_06_sidewalkcafe.jpg 8) The Sidewalk Cafe : The large portions, brunch items and spot right in the center of it all keep this cafe packed from 11 a.m. until well past dusk. Hidden away next door is Small World Books, a gem of a bookshop. [Cross street: Horizon Ave. ]

Nearby, but Not On Venice Boardwalk

A Quick Meal

· Seed (1604 Pacific Ave.)
· Santino's (1611 Pacific Ave.)
· Windward Farms (105 Windward Ave.)

Small Plates/Dine-in

· The Firehouse (213 Rose Ave.)
· Chaya Venice (110 Navy St.)
· Rose Cafe (220 Rose Ave.)
· Vardo (235 Main St.)
· Dry Tour Wine Bar (80 Windward Ave.)
· Ado (796 Main St.)

Venice Ale House

2 Rose Ave Venice, CA 90291