I’m always up for a day with friends, and this outing was just what my friends Nefertiti, Amber and I needed. With six kids between us, there’s seldom time to catch up. After a recent school drop-off, we headed to Abbot Kinney Boulevard — a mile of popular shops, restaurants and galleries inhabiting eclectic century-old bungalows and modern architectural buildings — in the heart of Venice. It was a rainy day, but we didn’t let that stop us.
The area was named after 19th century millionaire entrepreneur and visionary Abbot Kinney, who spent his fortune building a replica of his favorite city, Venice, Italy. Kinney’s “Venice-of-America” is a cultural mecca and massive playground complete with canals, gondolas, pleasure piers, pools, piazzas and colonnades that first opened in 1905. Now, more than 100 years later, Venice’s rich, colorful bohemian history has made it one of the city’s most iconic spots.
First up, we enjoyed an early lunch at Greenleaf Gourmet Chop Shop, where we grabbed a corner booth and shared roasted garlic hummus with pita chips and cocktails. I’m a sucker for salmon and garlic, so I ordered the build-your-own entrée with garlicky broccolini and garlic French fries. Amber decided on the chipotle chicken panini with sweet potato fries and Nefertiti, who’s vegan-ish, enjoyed her spicy vegan avocado burger with garlic fries. The relaxed vibe of the restaurant, adorned with plants and a large bar, was cozy and inviting, especially on that dreary day.
Ready to shop, we hit up Asa Kaftans, a chic boutique owned by “Shahs of Sunset” star Asa Soltan, whose beautiful long and short kaftans, accessories and jewelry have been worn by celebs Janet Jackson, Niecy Nash, Jhene Aiko and Ashley Graham. Three outfits caught Amber’s eye. I was all about the Greek Island and Golden Goddess candles — and the jewelry. From there, it was off to the Adidas store to check out all the new fresh kicks. The beauty of Abbot Kinney is that it offers an eclectic mix of everything, from art galleries to nail salons, gourmet coffee bars to medical marijuana shops.
We couldn’t leave without stopping by Salt & Straw, a corner ice cream shop with uniquely decadent flavors. The aroma of house-made waffle cones draws you in and the generous (and endless) samples keep you wanting more. We tried Cinnatopia cinnamon bun, pear & blue cheese, honey lavender and salted malted, chocolate chip cookie dough. I settled on a waffle cone made with bone marrow and smoked cherries. Amber picked the vegan coconut milk with cashew brittle and pandan. The spicy Thai chile-spiked brittle, with candied pineapple and herbaceous pandan cilantro caramel, had a surprisingly delightful kick. It was the perfect end to a fun afternoon.
Before we headed off in different directions, Amber couldn’t resist a stop at Cha Cha Matcha for the Beautiful Latte that unlocks your beauty (inside and out). “UR A Beauty” is the writing on the foam, and it comes with a heart and arrow. Irresistible, indeed.
We vowed to do it all again soon, grateful for a few hours of good food, great conversation and some much-needed girlfriend time.
For more about retailers, visit abbotkinneyblvd.com.