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Trip Report Mancation Trip Report: Food, beer and beach in Santa Monica and Venice

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Three buddies and I hit up L.A. this past weekend. This was the first time any of us had been to L.A. A co-worker of mine used to live in Venice and recommended a number of bars and restaurants. We are all 26 and live in Wichita, Kansas. Allegient Air had special fares and our flights were $60 round-trip with no stops. I used priceline.com to get our hotel (Double Tree in Santa Monica) for $70/night. The hotel location was about a ten minute walk to the Santa Monica pier and beach, and about a five minute walk to a large shopping and restaurant district. This promenade also had a open-air farmers market on Saturday (not our thing).

Day 1 (Thursday 10/29): We arrived around 10:00 p.m. and got to the hotel around 10:30. Since it was late, we headed straight for a bar. Finn Mccool's in Santa Monica seemed like a good idea. It was a laid back Irish pub that had a one-man band playing that night. The place was busy, but not packed. The entertainer played alternative rock songs that we all knew and liked. We had some "bar" food....nothing to brag about and downed some Guiness. We closed the bar down around 2 a.m. and headed for Holy Guacamole. A hole-in-the wall just down the street that serves amazing burritos and tacos until late. Highly recommended.

Day 2 (Friday 10/30): One of my buddies and me headed downstairs where the concierge recommended a breakfast place within walking distance. It was a place called Jenky's close to the Santa Monica promenade. One of the best breakfast's I've ever had. I had a Southwest scramble of eggs and salsa over sausage and an english muffin with cheddar cheese melted on top and a side of spicy southwestern potatoes (not usually a fan, but these were great). My buddy had whole wheat, banana, blueberry, macadamia nut pancakes and a side of habanero chicken sausage. They are well know for their pancakes and have a lot of healthy crap on their menu.

We then headed to Venice beach to check out the local flavor and enjoy some relaxing frisbee on the beach. Four girls were even nice enough to take their tops off and sunbath right next to us. Trip was going well :)

We then headed to Baby Blues BBQ in Venice (www.babybluesvenice.com). I always check out where Guy goes on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives before visiting a city. He's been here, so I had to check it out. Highly recommended....food shots on their site.

Then we all headed back to the hotel to get ready to go into L.A. Two of us bought tickets ahead of time to the Lakers game that night and the other two love to gamble, so they went to the casino in Commerce. Before the game we hit up an expensive Mexican joint called Trader Vic's that was one of the expensive touristy restaurant's at L.A. Live. We sat outside and drank some fruity rum concoction out of barrel's (special's during happy hour). If you go there, I highly recommend the fries. They have some type of mustard seasoning that I've never had before and we all loved them. Other than that, the scenery was nice.

I decided to ask a camera guy I bumped into where he would go to get drinks before the game and he said the Holiday Inn happy hour across the street. We blew him off, but decided to go after Trader Vic's. Nicest Holiday Inn I've ever been into. Free appetizer buffet (microwaved wings, but good chips and salsa) and $2 Modelo Especial. Deck outside and TV's to watch the games. Great deal if you want a beer before the game.

Lakers sucked as did our seats because we're poor kids from KS, but we walked down to the lower level at the end of the 3rd quarter and talked an old couple who was leaving into giving us their tickets....which happened to be in the fourth row directly behind Jack Nicholson's seat....too bad he didn't attend the game. But we did catch a great view of Mark Cuban acting like a child as always and a better view of the action.

After the game we did a touristy thing and headed to the Sunset Strip. Hit up a couple bars, but nothing good to report. It was cleaner than I had imagined.

Day 2 (Saturday 10/31) Breakfast at Jenky's....I know it was pathetic to eat at the same place twice on a short trip to LA, but it was within walking distance and we knew it was amazing. I had blueberry pancakes and he had some eggs benedict thing and they were phenomenal....same buddy as yesterday morning....the other two like to sleep. Then we went shopping the rest of the morning until the other two woke up. We took off to Venice for lunch at Abbott's Pizza Company. It was great pizza, but I've had great pizza in a million places. The crust was a medium thickness, which is my favorite. They had a lot of choices and you could order single slices of any of them. The pizza was not oily and the crust perfectly cooked.

Then we headed to Venice beach and walked from Venice beach to the Santa Monica pier. That took about 45 min and was a long ass walk. But the weather was gorgeous and we hung out on the beach all afternoon. We made a shark in the sand and played frisbee like 5 year olds. It was awesome.

We headed back to the room to get cleaned up for dinner. We went to The Sushi House in Santa Monica. Its a tiny hole-in-the-wall place that has a bohemian vibe and great sushi....obviously. I had the unagi, rolls royce and red dragon. Fabulous. We then wanted to stay close to the hotel, since we were all going to be drinking. We went down to the Santa Monica promenade on third street and found some Mexican cantina place that had indoor and outdoor seating. We people watched (it was Halloween) and drank margaritas all night. There were street performers and great costumes. We had a blast and I don't remember much of it :)
That was about it as our flight left the next day. I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip. Let me know if you have any questions about the places we visited. I'll try to remember to get back on here later this week and next.

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