The Waterfront brings a future-forward feel to the Venice Boardwalk

By Angela Matano

At Waterfront you don’t have to choose between eggs or tacos for breakfast
Photo by Matt Waugh

The Waterfront 205 Ocean Front Walk, Venice,,

With its flocks of tourists, stellar views and prime location, it’s a complete wonder that the Venice Boardwalk has not yet gone through an Abbot Kinney- or downtown Santa Monica-style transformation. With all the tie-dye, incense and Mary Jane paraphernalia on offer, the boardwalk can feel downright like the ’60s on almost any given day, (a brilliantly bohemian time for sure).

But if brand new eatery The Waterfront is any indication, the winds of change (for better or for worse) are finally upon the approximately two-mile stretch of asphalt. And man, they sure are stylish. Taking the place of On the Waterfront (a café that inhabited the space for the past 23 years) the new iteration — which opened Wednesday — is completely revamped, with new ownership and a brand-new vibe.

The space actually contains multitudes, with several different spaces meant to suit just about every mood, or desire you could possibly feel. A full-service restaurant makes for a terrific date night; the overall style simultaneously elicits thoughts of posh islands and East Coast beaches — a cross between the Hamptons and Baja, with a dash of Bali and a skosh of Nantucket thrown in for good measure.

In addition to the restaurant portion of Waterfront, the space encompasses an oceanfront beer garden, a cozy lounge area, an all-day café, and — if that doesn’t fulfill all of your wishes — an in-house taqueria with house-made, authentic flour and corn tortillas. (Is there anything Jake Matthews and 9Mile Investments, the folks behind the concept, failed to think of?)

The taco portion of Waterfront is called Boardwalk Tacos, and the menu offers up quite a variety. Breakfast, served until 11 a.m., comes hearty (chorizo and fried egg), vegan (wild mushrooms and butternut squash salsa), and Cali-style (eggs, fingerling potato and smashed avocado). The rest of the menu features a lot less egg — as in none — but a bushel of other goodies, like ceviche, pork confit tacos, and beer-battered fish tacos with chipotle cream and serrano slaw.

If you’re looking to really indulge, brunch at the Waterfront promises to hook you up. The gluten-free waffle with maple butter, whipped creme fraiche and wild berries practically took my breath away. The thoughtful additions of lemon zest and fresh thyme took the staple up a few notches. True indulgence comes with a morning cocktail, and there are plenty of choices, including an unusual pairing of OJ and carrot juice in the mimosa. (That’s how you know you’re in Venice.) Another great alcoholic choice is the Bloody Mary, a twist on the original with the addition of cilantro-mustard.

The alcoholic choices continue in the couple of bars that dot the complex, where you can perch, sit, stand, or lounge while imbibing. One of the stand out drinks is The Michelada, the usual beer, hot sauce and lime augmented with Champagne, Worcestershire, and teriyaki sauce. Yowza! Another unusual pick is the Los Angelino, a mix of espresso syrup, angostura bitters, dry vermouth and Luxardo cherries. Is your mouth watering yet?

Waterfront’s artistic touches, executed by Heather Tierney, founder of Wanderlust Design and The Butcher’s Daughter, come as future-forward as the food. Original paintings, photographs and murals decorate the walls, celebrating the work of several local artists. Vibrant and playful, with a nod toward romance, the discrete spaces help transport you to exotic locales, while still feeling distinctly Venetian.

I’m already fantasizing about taking a sunset stroll from Santa Monica, along the beach, with my son and husband — an eye toward a taco or two and a cerveza. I’ve always had the urge, but never an endpoint to inspire the journey — I sometimes forget what an utter paradise I inhabit — but now I can count The Waterfront as a destination, or at least a pit stop, whether headed north to the Pier, or south to the breakwater.

Come for a coffee, people watching, a chat with a friend, or a taco with your children. The new Waterfront manages to serve up everything you never knew you always wanted.