You can't be all the way out on the West Coast without dipping your toes in the Pacific Ocean. So I woke up early and headed out to Venice Beach, where I spent the morning playing in the sand, wandering the boardwalk, gawking at skateboarders, and watching healthy guys and girls running and doing yoga on the beach. I also passed several "characters" of Venice Beach, like a heavily tattooed woman riding an old mountain bike with a boombox mounted on the handles blasting Ol' Dirty Bastard. "Hey, Dirty! Baby I got your money." Yeah, I love Venice Beach.
After stomping through the sand to the water and strolling down the boardwalk, I decided to venture out for some breakfast. I did a little Yelping, and reviews pointed me in the direction of Café Buna on Washington Boulevard. It's a relaxed little restaurant, and I knew right away that it had to be awesome because there were two pit bulls hanging out with their owners at two of the tables outside.
I sat down at a high top near the entrance so I could people watch, and I ordered a tall glass of fresh grapefruit juice to drink. For breakfast, I ordered the Buna Omelette made with egg whites. Might as well go for the special, right?
The Buna is amazing. It's filled with plantains, black beans, rice, avocado, mozzarella, and salsa. It reminded me of my meals in Costa Rica. The plantains were sweet and soft, and I'm sure I smiled each time I got a bite with plantain in it. The omelette also came with a side of crispy hashbrowns. And three pancakes. Needless to say, I didn't finish my breakfast. No clean plate club for me this time.
Venice seems so chill, and I really fell in love with the vibe. I could see myself living in a little apartment there or at a place near the Venice Canals. (Does anyone have $1.5 million to give me?)
After Venice Beach, I met up with my cousin in El Segundo and then headed to Manhattan Beach for lunch at Lemonade, which is one of the coolest cafeteria-style restaurants I've ever been to. Lemonade is vibrant inside and out, and it's the perfect place for a quick, healthy meal. The restaurant uses seasonal, local ingredients in its dishes; and, boy, are there are variety of dishes to choose from.
When I got in line to pick out the "portions" I wanted, I was completely overwhelmed. After much debate, I finally picked out the three heaping portions that caught my eye (and tastebuds):
- Quinoa, cucumber, cauliflower, radish, daikon, cilantro
- Kale, mushrooms, kumquat vinaigrette
- Watermelon radish, ahi tuna, snap peas, black sesame, ginger
Wow. That's all I can say. And good lord, I love me some watermelon radish.
I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Manhattan Beach, watching surfers and volleyballers, and browsing in all of its lovely boutique stores. I bought a dress and some jewelry at one (I couldn't resist), thumbed through novels at a cute local bookstore, and treated myself to ice cream at the Manhattan Beach Creamery.
The day started out a bit overcast, but it turned out bright and sunny and perfect for bumming around at the beach.
I ended the night with a traditional California dinner: a Double-Double from In-N-Out Burger.
A perfect day!