A quick layover in Venice Beach is always interesting. I have a board stashed there for just this sort of mission. You just never know when you’ll be in LA for a few days.
Despite the influx of tech and money of the last few years, Venice Beach still remains a pretty wild place by most people’s standards. Sure Abbot Kinney is now full of posh boutiques and expensive restaurants, but just head to the beach and you’ll get plenty of the old-school circus.
My board there is a custom 8’6” that I scored from this guy in Garden Grove when I first moved to Southern California. I also convinced my friend to add a little twin fin fish to the quiver for our runs up to County Line, but on this quick trip, I took out the 8’6”. It’s like seeing an old friend again.
We were bunked up at the Erwin Hotel on the way back from Mexico, could see the waves from my balcony, and had a nice little morning session at the jetty.
That was a pretty standard Venice Beach surf. Not much in the water to write home about, but good to get wet after a travel day.
What wasn’t standard was the coffee.
We stumbled upon a place called Menotti’s Coffee Shop just around the corner from the Erwin on Windward Ave. This was truly one of the best coffees I’ve ever had, and the shop itself embodied todays clean, simple layout but added the ultra-hipster benefit of a turntable providing the tunes.
Barista and DJ? Bam.
I got an espresso while my wife experimented with their Spanish Latte – a latte made with sweetened condensed milk (WHAT!).
The attention to the coffee production was unlike anything I’ve seen. Each step of the espresso making was measured yet efficient. You could tell these baristas were cranking them out.
My younger daughter was mesmerized by the process and the latte art and camped out at the counter for an hour. I was pretty sure she was going to have a job by the time we left!
We hit up Menotti’s a few more times over the next couple of days and regardless of the change in crew, the process was just super tight. Anyone looking to start a coffee shop? It would be worth your time and money to go and check out Menotti’s. They are putting on a clinic out there in Venice for everyone to see (and taste).
Once you’re all caffeinated and perhaps have worked out the grit in your teeth from taking a couple of poundings in the Venice beach break closeouts, one of the nicest surf shops on the planet is right across the street.
As Menotti’s is to coffee, Mollusk is to surf shops.
They just have it down. Mollusk is the kind of surf shop you can spend all day in. Just stepping inside gives you the warm fuzzies.
So many “surf shops” in Southern California have become t-shirt shops essentially. Not a board to be seen, maybe one in a display on the window. There’s just more money in selling t-shirts and flip flops to tourists than catering to the real local surf crowd.
At Mollusk, you’ll hear local surfers talking waves with the employees while taking a look at some of the most beautiful surfboards you’ve ever seen. The design of the place is warm and inviting, just what you need when you’ve had your early morning session and a nice cup of coffee already.
Next time you’re laying over in LA, hit Venice instead of West Hollywood. With LAX right down the road there’s no need to get on the 405. The combination of the Erwin Hotel, Menotti’s coffee, Mollusk, the boardwalk, and an Abbot Kinney cruise is hard to beat for a couple of days.
Plus, there’s surf right out front.