The women, Chuck, and another spouse spent a long weekend in So Cal to eat, drink, shop and play.  And of course walk / run the beach and mix with the locals.

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Abbot Kinney Boulevard is “buzzworthy” and the street to stroll.  It is hot, trendy and luckily without any chain restaurants or stores (not a Starbuck in sight)!  The small, unique retail stores had us doing quite a bit of damage to our budgets, but we arrived home with some unusual items to adorn and showcase.

Our top picks on restaurants were:

Tasting Kitchen – 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd – Definitely an LA restaurant scene, lively and filled with an interesting crowd. The raucous downstairs is the lively areas, but upstairs it is quiet enough to have a conversation and appreciate Casey Lane’s wonderful cuisine.   Don’t forget to try the cocktails as Justin Pike, a superb mixologist, is the ultimate bartender.  Mediterranean, farm to table, small and large plates.

Gjelina – 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd – This established hot spot is perfect for lunch, brunch, or dinner.  Also farm to table, with changing seasonal small plates but leave room for the Butterscotch Pot de Crème – yummy!

Joe’s Restaurant – 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd – One of the first restaurants on Abbot Kinney and has doubled in size since it’s opening.  Seasonal tasting menus using all the best ingredients grown locally.

Barnyard – 1715 pacific Avenue – Jesse Barber worked under Thomas Keller and has his own farm in Malibu where he produces most of their produce.  Local, casual, delicious, warm and friendly.  Recommended – rack of rabbit, oil-poached baby octopus, honey-glazed ribs.

Rose Café – 220 Rose Avenue – What can I say about this Venice icon that I frequented when I lived in LA from 1980 – 1999.  It is part pub, part restaurant, showcasing local artists.  Best for Brunch and don’t skip the fresh fruit tarts.

Superba Snack Bar – 533 Rose Avenue – Don’t let the name fool you – this may be a casual, lively and fun restaurant but the food is anything but.  Try the handmade pastas, braised oxtail toast, crispy brussels sprouts, and short ribs!

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