Eat Good in Venice for Under $12

Restaurants and Cafés in Venice

Let a local show you around so you can go to the best restaurants and cafes and eat cheap in Venice. I've been around this town longer then I will admit to and have done exhaustive searches to eat good in Venice. Here is a list of some tasty, yet low cost restaurants. The eateries are not rated on their decor and some are very casual, but hey, this is Venice. Restaurants are rated on my exclusive shaka rating system so you can eat like a local. You can also check out Santa Monica Happy Hour Spots to get great deals on food and drink.

  1. Mao's Kitchen
    1512 Pacific Ave
    Venice, CA, 90291
    310.90291
    www.maoskitchen.com
    4 Shaka Rating 4 Shaka Rating
    Nothing says Venice more then Mao's Kitchen: atmosphere, food and attitude. If you love Venice Beach, you will enjoy this restaurant. The food is original and tasty with some creative dishes like Mao's Hometown that's just a little spicy. There are good prices on the lunch specials and the entrées are reasonable. The restaurant has a rustic look with lots of old commie propaganda art, more of a satire then a praise for the old chairman.
  2. Lattitude Thai
    2906 Lincoln Blvd
    Santa Monica, CA 90405
    310.396.4726
    4.5 Shaka Rating 4½ Shaka Rating
    My favorite Thai Restaurant in Venice. The food is tasty and well presented with a very friendly staff. They have Lunch specials such as their Hot Basil, for a great price for the. They also have many specialties for a little more for a great dining experience for dinner. Their offerings come with fresh and crunchy vegetables. A very cheerful atmosphere and it's clean. It's often not crowded and they don't have a liquor license, but you can BYOB with no corking charge. It's not on the most glamorous stretch of Lincoln Blvd. And parking can be tough.
  3. La Fiesta Brava
    423 Rose Ave
    Venice, CA 90291
    310.399.8005
    5 Shaka Rating 5 Shaka Rating
    This small family owned Mexican restaurant is very casual. Usually locals will be hanging out while the TV in the corner tuned to a soccer game. The salsa is hot! The Chicken Mole and the Carnitas "Estilo Tepatitlan" (Roasted Pork) are excellent. If you like Fajitas, you will not be disappointed with their sizzling hot plate. Everything is prepared well with good seasoning and tastes great. They don't serve alcohol, but it is OK to bring your own beer in. I hesitate writing about this place because I don't want the secret to get out.
  4. Fresh in the Box
    13354 Washington Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90066
    310.301.9100
    www.fresh-in-the-box.com
    4.5 Shaka Rating 4½ Shaka Rating
    At Fresh in the Box they believe in organic food Japanese food. Also they want to be environmentally friendly, they serve food on real plates with nice chop sticks. Great food at a great value for sushi. It is a clean restaurant with a open and cheerful atmosphere. Friendly and fast service and take out and delivery too. Sushi is fresh and flavorful. If you like, they also offer brown rice instead of white. Parking can be a little challenging.
  5. Benice
    1715 Pacific Ave
    Venice, CA 90291
    310.396.9938
    3.5 Shaka Rating 3½ Shaka Rating
    This place is just a block from the chaos happening on the Ocean Front Walk and has been Venice institution forever. First called HOT (House of Teriyaki) then they moved to the current location, the named changed to HOT TOO, then at some point the name changed to Benice. Same food, same owner and same Venice atmosphere. Open for breakfast and Lunch, the foods is OK and the service is pretty good and the prices are cheap. I have admit that I like coming here. I used to come here every morning before heading out to my dot-com start-up in the Nineties.
  1. Gaby's Mediterranean
    20 Washington Blvd.
    Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
    310.821.9721
    4 Shaka Rating 4 Shaka Rating
    Great Greek food restaurant at a low price. I keep reading that Mediterranean food is really healthy, but I am not sure if eating at Gaby's will make you live longer, but it sure is yummy. They start you off with pita bread with a dip of olive oil, sesame seed and oregano that is very good. I usually have the Chicken Shawarma Pita Wrap which I recommend. Forget about parking around here, just being 100 feet from Venice Beach.
  2. Mitsuwa Marketplace
    3760 S Centinela Ave.
    Los Angeles, CA 90066
    310.398.2113
    www.mitsuwa.com
    4 Shaka Rating 4 Shaka Rating
    This Japanese market is a short drive from Venice. The main attraction is the food court that consist of 5 different restaurants. This is the best deal to get fantastic Japanese food. You can get a wide variety of ramen, sushi, crispy tempura and the list goes on and on. Very clean, low prices and easy parking. The market is good too with prepared sushi, good produce, meat and fish. They have a lot of food products imported from Japan as well.
  3. Cafe Brasil
    11736 W Washington Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90066
    310.391.1216
    www.cafe-brasil.com
    4 Shaka Rating 4 Shaka Rating
    Brazilian food restaurant with friendly staff and unique furniture that give this place a cool look. This restaurant is a short drive from Venice. Chicken breast or top sirloin sandwiches are good deal for lunch. In addition, they have some more expensive dinner items. Last time for dinner I had one of their specialties, the traditional "feijoada" or pork stew served with black beans, rice farofa and orange slices.
  4. Holy Guacamole
    2906 Main St.
    Santa Monica, CA 90405
    310.314.4850
    4.5 Shaka Rating 4½ Shaka Rating
    Once you walk in, you will notice the extremely casual look of the place, a shakask contrast to the usually upscale establishments on Main Street. However the food is fantastic. Great burritos and tacos at low prices. Everything is cooked to order and you can watch them cook it up right in front of you. Good chips and salsa. The restaurant makes you feel that you are in Mexico. They don't take credit cards and the parking on Main Street is tough.
  5. Wirin Thai Restaurant
    2308 Lincoln Blvd.
    Venice, CA 90291
    310.397.1721
    3.5 Shaka Rating 3½ Shaka Rating
    This is a Thai food restaurants good dishes with great prices. Good food, good service and they serve Thai beer. Don't come here for the atmosphere, it is very casual. Good take out with fast delivery
  6. Wacky Wok
    2805 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Ste F
    Venice, CA 90291
    310.822.7373
    3.5 Shaka Rating 3½ Shaka Rating
    This is a pretty good Chinese restaurant were you can watch them cook up the food in front of you while you sit at the bar stool. There are new Koren owners that took over the previous Chinese and it is not the same. It still is a good place for something quick to eat and it wins out over the Panda Express and other Chinese fast food. The parking lot is not huge, but I always seem to fine a spot.
  7. Uncle Darrow's
    2560 Lincoln Blvd.
    Venice, CA 90291
    310.306.4862
    3.5 Shaka Rating 3½ Shaka Rating
    This restaurant (shall I dare say fast food?) is the closest you will get to Cajun style food in Venice. The strip mall outer appearance gives way to a clean modern look inside with stainless steel tables. Cajun food may not be the healthiest, but the food at Uncle Darrow's tastes great. Very friendly service with a wide variety of sole food. Their Po'boy menu offers many low cost dishes. Dinner entrées are little more, but the grilled catfish is very good. Easy parking in the rear.

What is a Shaka?

Shaka Hand Sign

The shaka hand sign comes from Hawaiian locals to convey meanings like "all right" or "cool." Residents of California use the shaka as meaning "hang loose" in the island spirit. I have used the shaka as my rating system because the majority of the visitors to this website are looking for something special. Instead of stars or thumbs-ups, I use my exclusive shaka rating system so you will know that Californian locals will consider it cool. Top places get 5 shakas and any place that is 3 shakas and lower won't be listed, they just aren't cool.