Gran Blanco is a stylish beach hang
By Angela Matano
Gran Blanco 80 Windward Ave., Venice (424) 433-8095 | granblanco.com
Cresting a distinct wave mixing laidback Aussie style with a bit of Tulum chic, the new Gran Blanco Restaurant & Bar extends Abbot Kinney’s sphere of hip-fluence further toward the beach. Run by the same people who own the nearby coffee shop Great White, this intimate space showcases a lot of white, natural wood and those enormous basket-y light fixtures that have become de rigueur as of late.
A great place to stroll to if you live in the neighborhood, Gran Blanco should be absolutely nutso over the summer. The small menu feels more like a bar’s than a restaurant’s, but that said everything I tried was delicious. One of the more substantial items, the Tremendous Burger, was thoroughly luscious, the double patties dripping with cheddar cheese and onions. I split it with a friend and immediately regretted not keeping it all to myself.
The sides work well for sharing and are, in general, just inspired enough while still giving me everything I want from bar food. The Smashed Crispy Potatoes, more unique than french fries, provided all the yumminess I craved but with the sophisticated slant of garlicky crème fraîche. Marinated olives fill the snack bill, as do the crispy chickpeas with smoked paprika, Maldon sea salt flakes and garlic — a genius update on the traditional bowl of peanuts. Light options abound, from crudo to beetroot hummus to salads.
Staying on trend while aiming to refresh, the cocktail menu at Gran Blanco really shines. Fun and spiky combinations span the menu, from papaya to passion fruit to elderflower. The Spicy Margarita with mezcal, watermelon and jalapeño was like a salve for my soul — summer, grown-up fun and a little bit of heat, all in one icy glass.
With Menotti’s Coffee Shop and Teddy’s Red Tacos down the street, Windward Avenue may be the next ‘it’ street in Venice.
THE WEEKLY DISH
MI XUN Teahouse Takeover @ Plant Food + Wine: Elevated plant-based cuisine gets a Sichuan twist on Abbot Kinney Boulevard when Tony Xu, executive sous chef of China’s MI XUN Teahouse, teams with Plant Food + Wine’s Matthew Kenney for a special pop-up menu featuring innovative vegan delights and traditional teas through Sunday (Aug. 18). Tickle your taste buds with purple sweet potato and yam cakes, dry lotus marinated with wasabi and sesame dressing, braised mapo tofu in wild mushroom sauce, and ice jelly with rose, fruits and nuts. Give your meal an extra crunch with the “Ice Plant” salad, featuring sesame dressing and greens native to China’s Sichuan province. Reservations required. matthewkenneycuisine.com
Get “Buzzed” @ Santa Monica Brew Works: In honor of National Honey Bee Day (Aug. 17), Santa Monica Brew Works (1920 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica) and urban beekeeper Paul Hekimian have created a honey-infused brown ale made with honey hand-harvested from Hekimian’s backyard hives of rescued “street bees.” (These critters are saved from roaming L.A.’s wild sidewalks alone and returned to sweet-and-homey hive life.) Savor this one soon: “We take only what we need from the bees,” says brewery spokesman Johnny Wardell, with limited-quantity 10-ounce pours starting at noon. santamonicabrewworks.com