NFT Los Angeles Mar Vista

Mar Vista

In Spanish, it means "view of the sea," although "faint whiff of the sea" is more like it: you won't see the surf, but you'll dig the fresh breezes and cool temperatures. Lodged between blow-dried, pricey Marina Del Rey and Culver City, Mar Vista is still relatively undiscovered -- it's easy to get groceries, a bite, and a sip at a reasonable price, without wrangling too much traffic. The Westside, but on a budget.

Is Mar Vista flashy? Not so much. But that's its appeal. Good neighborhood eateries, wide, tree-lined streets made for walking, and it's a straight shot to Venice. For excitement, head to Venice Beach, get a dog, or peruse the local bowling alley. For great live music and drinks served by vinyl-clad "nurses," head down to Good Hurt.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Kelsey Albro
Photo:  Kelsey Albro

Beverage Warehouse
One day my boss says to me, "I need tequila in a bottle shaped like a gun." I said, "where the f*#k am I going to get that?" Answer: Da Beverage Warehouse. Not only do they have all manner of liquors in all manner of bottles (cognac in a weiner dog, anyone?), but they've got you covered in the beer, wine, and heck, even soda departments. So, if you're hankering for that hometown brew you just can't find out here, want to take the plunge into Grecian grappa, or just want to take a shot of tequila out of a gun (get it?!), your dreams can become drunken reality at the Beverage Warehouse.

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Empanada's Place
As we were eating our various meat-stuffed empanadas here last Sunday, a parade of vegans walked by holding signs, I guess on their way to LAX for some sort of Mashed Yeast function or other. We waved to them as we took bites of our brilliant Spicy Beef Empanada, our Beef With Lemon Juice Empanada (highly unusual but very good), our Ham and Cheese Empanada, and our special Choripan Sandwich (Argentine sausage on a roll). It was a nice moment. Then Donna bought a teacup made out of a hollowed-out hoof of some Argentine animal or other (my guess is goat, but I'm not sure). God I love this place.

Posted By:  Jake Williamson
Photo:  Jake Williamson

Ronnie's Diner
No, I don't want Ma's biscuits and gravy. I like omelettes but will pass on Uncle Sal's special of sausage, pickles and onions (even though you say it's delicious and has been a menu favorite for years). The garbage plate may cure my hangover but will probably knock years off my life. I will wait, but not for a half-hour to forty-five minutes because of some guy's decision thirty years ago to open a diner in the front room of his house and aging hipsters' resolve to cling as long as they can to irony. Thanks but I'll head to Ronnie's, where I'll wait but will be able to grab a piece of the complimentary newspaper while doing so. It will only be ten minutes before a seat opens up. I will get a good, simple breakfast with my eggs, bacon and potatoes cooked the way I want them. Or I will go for lunch to get quality sandwiches and salads made with fresh produce. My meal will be delivered quickly by servers who won't giggle and flirt with the college guys at the other table or up sell me for some crap salad or dessert. Great idea Ron, please don't change this place.

Posted By:  Bon Vivant
Photo:  Bon Vivant

Santouka, located in the unassuming food court in the Mitsuwa Market on the Westside, has the best ramen in LA. I normally get my ramen fix in NYC since I find it’s often easier to fly there than drive anywhere on the 10, but during football season I can get to Santouka in about 15 minutes on any Sunday. This ramen is by no means food court food; it’s so incredibly good. The broth is pork-based and you can get it five ways (shio, soyu, tonkatsu, miso, or spicy miso), in four different sizes, and in “ramen sets” with small rice bowls topped with various toppings (salmon roe, the room-clearing natto, green onion, etc.) But the way to go here is to shell out a few extra bucks and get your ramen with the “special pork.” If you’ve been praying to the Porcine God for some succulent pork in this city, your prayers have been answered. Since Santouka sells nothing but ramen (they’ve just recently added soft drinks to the menu), if you want some gyoza you have to order them from the Chinese stand just across the food court.

Posted By:  Rhea Lewitzki
Photo:  Rhea Lewitzki

Mitsuwa Marketplace
I love buying anything that is cake-like, animal-shaped, and made with 100% sugar, especially when the label is written in Japanese. That’s why I shop for sweets and treats (and groceries too) at Mitsuwa Marketplace, a huge market and mini-mall chock full of all things Japanese. At the entrance are the little vendors selling everything you don’t need but can’t live without, like Hello Kitty teacups and eggplant-shaped Tupperware. In the market are all kinds of food and cooking products, but really it’s the sweets and snacks that are most impressive: two rows of happy bear cookies, pinwheel thingys, custard cups, rock candy, powder puffs and “men’s” Pocky (they’re dark chocolate)! At the food court you must refuel with a bowl of udon, a few mochi and grab a UCC can of coffee to go. Forty dollars later you’ll be so high on sugar and caffeine you won’t even realize all the goodies you’ve purchased since you’ve eaten them all on the car ride home.

Posted By:  Dane Jensen
Photo:  Ken Garduno

The Grind Gallery
$coundrels, an interpretation of 21st century big business abuses, was conceived by Dane Jensen, a Los Angeles-based curator and gallery director, who posed the following challenge to sixteen fine artists: create original drawings based on 19th and early 20th century political cartoons by Thomas Nast and JN Darling, among others, depicting the big business abuses waged against the American worker. In addition to highly metaphorical interpretations, many of the artists directly incorporated figures and events surrounding the recent business scandals of the 21st Century. Artists exhibiting in $coundrels were selected for their backgrounds in modern illustration and use of a heavy stylistic influence in contemporary illustration and/or cartoons. Exhibiting artists include Lola, Bob Dob, Andrew Foster, Eric White, Alli Good, Kris Lewis, Joel Dugan, Graham Roumieu, Peter Mitchell, Francesco Locastro, Jesse Peper, Chandler Wood, Ken Garduno, Jason D'Aquino, and Nathan Spoor. A full color signed and numbered catalog with writing by Dane Jensen and designed by artist Nathan Spoor will be available to order as well. There will be an opening reception on May 19, from 7-11 pm.

Posted By:  Noah Albert
Photo:  Noah Albert

The Mar Vista tract was the first post-war Los Angeles development to be preserved as a historical site. The 1050 square foot buildings were developed and sold in 1947 for $12K, which was relatively expensive for the time. Gregory Ain, a second generation Modernist architect, designed all 8 variations; the community landscaping was done by Garret Eckbo of the Harvard Revolution. The Ain's design is a suburban landmark; in 1950, a house was built from these plans inside the courtyard at MOMA as an exhibition. The houses are flat-roofed dwellings with open spaces that can be divided by sliding panels and are notable for the integration of the interior and exterior. The inside of the houses and their yards are not visible, but the streets make a lovely walk. The place really does feel remarkable. 52 houses ended up being built, and you can still explore the site almost completely in tact today.

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