Four Hours: Laid-back Mar Vista is a calm haven amid the bustling Westside

The performance space at Grand View Market, a spacious, country-style mart in the heart of Mar Vista.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Los Angeles Times)

Mar Vista is changing things up. The neighborhood sandwiched between Culver City and Venice lost its longtime Sam: Johnson’s Bookshop this year, but it gained a new beer garden that serves plenty of German and Belgian brews.

The neighborhood’s Oaxacan joint gets raves on Yelp for its “pizza” and mole. And who could resist a detour into the fourth dimension at Time Travel Mart, which benefits Dave Eggers’ writing program for kids?


Walk this stretch of Venice Boulevard to find a good mix of old — the Grand View Market will make you feel like a local — and new.

Alana’s Coffee Roasters is a mellow Mar Vista stop for a bit of caffeine.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)
Pirate’s Chai, one of the specialties at Alana’s Coffee Roasters.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

3 p.m. Begin with a house-roasted coffee or Pirate’s Chai at Alana’s Coffee Roasters at 12511 Venice Blvd., a mellow community gathering spot that somehow always seems calm no matter how many people are clustered around its tables talking and writing.

After you get your drink, find a seat and kick back on Alana’s leafy patio. If you’re lucky, a few local musicians will be settled around the vintage trailer-turned-stage, plucking out slow and easy rhythms.

3:30 p.m. After Alana’s, pop over to Time Travel Mart, just a door away. All proceeds from the delightfully strange gift shop go toward 826LA, a nonprofit created by author Dave Eggers that seeks to inspire students to write and flex their word power.

Doors to the past, the future, and the Fourth Dimension stand on the walls inside Time Travel Mart at 12515 Venice Blvd.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

Complete with a “poembooth” and supposed portal to the fourth dimension, it’s a place to find quirky, vaguely time-travel-themed gifts, such as an Albert Einstein candle or a book called “Letters to My Future Self.”

Wigs and other costume items on display inside Robinson Beautilities.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

3:45 p.m. If you haven’t had your fill of window shopping, head east on Venice across Centinela Avenue to Robinson Beautilities, purveyor of neon wigs, a truly alarming assortment of rubber masks and so much more.

Whether you’re trying to become a ’60s queen or Roman soldier, Marge Simpson or Donald J. Trump, the dizzying costume labyrinth in this store can make it happen.

If browsing what claims to be the largest costume house in Los Angeles isn’t your idea of a good time, keep going, but make a mental note to return next Halloween to find a costume that will put the rest to shame.

Grand View Market in Mar Vista has a down-home feel despite being in L.A.'s bustling Westside.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

4:15 p.m. Feeling hungry? Grab a snack at Grand View Market, a spacious, country-style mart that seems like a place you’d find along a lush rural highway. It’s a good place to stock up for the week ahead. Pick up some produce and kombucha from the market’s impressive health drinks selection, or visit the varied beer and wine section, with a package of cookies to go. Take a peek at the market’s music schedule while you’re at it. There’s live music on Fridays and special bluegrass nights once a month, reason enough to make a trip back.

4:45 p.m. After the market, take a right onto Grand View Boulevard. Make a note to come back here to the Mar Vista Farmers Market on Sunday mornings. Pro-tip: Don’t leave without getting some locally grown gourmet mushrooms at the Kane’s Family Farm stand.

Hagan Timmons, front left, Alex Mitrovich and Brie Timmons hoist beers at Rasselbock Kitchen and Beer Garden.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Los Angeles Times)

Then step inside the recently opened Rasselbock Kitchen and Beer Garden (a favorite in Long Beach) to try one of its 35-plus German and Belgian beers. Bypass the often-crowded main dining area and make your way to the covered, laid-back patio.

5:30 p.m. Hope you saved room for dinner. Head back to Venice Boulevard and go west to Quiadaiyn at 12326½ Venice Blvd., a small, family-run restaurant that serves dishes its owners grew up eating in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Tlayuda Mixta, also known as Oaxacan pizza, served at Quiadaiyn.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Split a tlayuda, which some call a Oaxacan pizza, with a friend, and then opt for one of the restaurant’s signature moles. Don’t miss Quiadaiyn’s horchata either, and make sure to order it with a prickly pear snowball on top.

Mochi in display cases at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Mar Vista.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

6:45 p.m. One last stop: Track down dessert at Mitsuwa Marketplace, a Japanese grocery store at 3760 S. Centinela Ave. Whether you’re into boba, mochi or Pocky sticks, you’ll have no trouble hitting your sweet spot.