Venice’s Surfside bar and grill delivers on its promise of two great things together

An enviable location at the end of Winward Avenue makes this seafood and California comfort food restaurant a hotspot for locals and travelersda3c31_fa4b4d26823144e083518e44cad274db_mv2

Surfside At Venice Beach from all outward appearances looks like a laidback, local bar by the beach, but what’s inside is a pleasant surprise of a high-quality seafood restaurant which also features a lively nightlife scene.

After unsuccessfully trying to find the entrance via a set of doors without handles, my dinner companion and I first thought we were at the wrong place. Then then we found our way into the restaurant by another set of adjacent doors, and we were glad we had been persistent.

Lighted with votives on the tables and dim soft bulbs in wicker baskets suspended overhead, the restaurant had a romantic aura, but it was definitely not a quiet date restaurant. Promptly as the sun went down, the placed started reverberating with loud reggae music. The restaurant downstairs began to empty out, as a new crowd of people began to arrive, seeming to know exactly where they were headed, upstairs, to an open lounge space where the music was blaring.

surfside venice band

We had a feeling if we had come earlier to the restaurant, we would have had a more serene dining experience, but it was too late. We were there, we were hungry, and so we were staying, even though we could barely hear each other speak across the table.

Not just because of the loud music, but for other reasons, this seemed like the kind of place that you would not expect great food, because of its location by the water. In my experience, many of the beach side restaurants don’t have to work too hard to draw a crowd, so the food is just passable. But Chef Jesse Guiterrez did not rest on his real estate.  I was delighted to enjoy a great meal at his beach bar that Guiterrez has made a genuine dining destination.


Amazingly in Los Angeles, where the abundance of the ocean is at our doorstep, there are very few good seafood restaurants, but Surfside is one of them, serving up excellent bounty from the sea as well as a varied menu of California comfort food.

The crunchy calamari was some of the best I’ve had lately. Another appetizer we indulged in was the delicious and decadent pork belly mac & cheese, which takes longer to prepare, so it came late right before our entrées. Glad we had enough hunger to enjoy the beefy and juicy Surfside burger and salty steak frittes, along with the seafood linguini with plenty of shrimp, cod, calamari and seasonal veggies. We also had to try the L.A. Street Corn and butternut squash flatbread. Both did not disappoint.

A bonus is that the restaurant practices sustainable sourcing from local purveyors, and the server was very knowledgeable about the menu and the preparation of the food.  What more could you ask for? Great services, superb food, groovy vibe, and after dinner you can walk out just steps from the Venice boardwalk and beach. What could be better than seafood by the beach, where you can enjoy chef-driven surf and turf, followed by some real surf?