Though not everyone is on board with the term “Silicon Beach,” it’s hard to deny that Los Angeles’ tech scene is growing to rival its northern neighbours in Silicon Valley.
Communities like Santa Monica, Venice, and West Hollywood — where many startups have set up shop — are known for their proximity to the beach and laid-back lifestyle.
But Los Angeles is much more than sun and sand — there’s a huge food and drink scene to enjoy there as well. Startup execs can sample top-notch cuisine from a large variety of restaurants, many of which place a priority on locally sourced ingredients and innovative construction.
We’ve asked some of our friends working in Silicon Beach startups where they like to eat and drink in their neighbourhood. Their suggestions covered quite a bit of ground, from coffee shops in Hollywood to vegan establishments in Venice. Whether it’s for a quick power lunch or after-work drinks, the focus is on fresh, high-quality ingredients they can enjoy on the go.
This Venice-born organic coffee shop, which has grown to include several other locations in Los Angeles and Portland, is a favourite morning stop for many Silicon Beach-based entrepreneurs. Christopher Gavigan, The Honest Company's cofounder and chief purpose officer, and Ariel Kaye, founder and CEO of Parachute, both listed it among their favourites.
'While the coffee at this Venice staple is the perfect morning pick-me-up, it's the avocado toast that keeps me coming back,' Kaye told Business Insider.
The avocado toast comes topped with corn, sweet chilli sauce, queso fresco, and a soft-boiled egg. Kaye's direct-to-consumer bedding and home goods startup recently opened a one-room hotel in the neighbourhood.
Cafe Gratitude offers a 100% plant-based menu and an uplifting message. You'll spot the words 'What are you grateful for?' on the plates and positive affirmations on the menu.
Said Gunnar Lovelace, cofounder and co-CEO at the organic-food site Thrive Market: 'Great food, shared values, and their chocolate cake is addictive!'
'The Parachute team practically runs on their matcha lattes,' Parachute founder and CEO Ariel Kaye said. 'We need a tab.'
When it comes to happy hour, Back on the Beach offers an experience you're unlikely to find in most other cities.
'It's the only restaurant where you eat with your feet in the sand, literally on the beach,' Sam Polk, cofounder and CEO of Everytable, said to Business Insider. 'I go there on Friday evenings after a long week to decompress, and also meet friends and family there every Sunday for beach volleyball and brunch. It also helps that my brother, Daniel Polk, is the head chef!'
Egg sandwiches, huevos rancheros, and an ahi tuna salad are menu highlights at Back on the Beach. Everytable is a new healthy fast-food chain that has different prices based on the median income of residents living in surrounding neighbourhoods.
Ester's is a wine shop with a twist. Before you go home with a great new bottle of wine, nosh on small bites like lavender almonds and grilled cheese either inside the shop or on its lovely patio.
'They have a beautiful space, plus a cosy outdoor patio perfect for catching up with friends, Anar Joshi, VP of marketing at Everytable, said to Business Insider. 'It's away from the bustle of the Santa Monica Promenade, but close enough to swing by the oceanfront to catch the last light of sunset.'
On weekend nights, the Bungalow -- a lounge on the grounds of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel -- gets packed with a casual, college-aged crowd, and lines to get inside can get long.
But during the week, it's a great place to grab casual after-work cocktails and watch the sun set over the Santa Monica Mountains. It was designed to look like an actual bungalow, and each room has its own unique vibe to offer, from the formal Study to the oak-filled State Room.
'We definitely frequent places like The Bungalow, Casa Del Mar, and West 4th and Jane,' said Andrew Blackmon and Patrick Coyne, cofounders of The Black Tux, the suit and tuxedo rental startup.
The Rose Cafe opened last November after a months-long renovation by chef Jason Neroni and restaurateur Bill Chait. The local favourite has been operating in Venice since 1979.
'The long-awaited return of this Venice institution did not disappoint,' Parachute's Ariel Kaye said. 'Situated on the same street as The Parachute Hotel, it's one of my top recommendations for dinner.'
HelloSociety founder and CEO Kyla Brennan agreed: 'The recently renovated Rose Cafe in Venice is an awesome spot to have cocktails after work with others in the space,' she said. 'I usually see people there who are in this industry.'
HelloSociety is a social media marketing company that was acquired by The New York Times in March.
Oscar's Cerveteca has a lively atmosphere and a delicious menu that includes veggie tacos, burgers, and Mexican corn.
'(It) is my go-to spot for business lunches and interviews,' said John Tabis, founder and CEO of online flower retailer The Bouqs Company. 'It's a laid-back, non-stuffy alternative with a great outdoor patio overlooking Rose Ave. Very Venice.'
Removed from the hustle and bustle of the Third Street Promenade and the Farmer's Market, The Refinery is a quiet spot that's ideal for a chat and a cup of joe from the San Francisco-based Ritual Coffee.
Both Mike Jones, CEO of the startup studio Science Inc., and Christopher Gavigan, cofounder and chief purpose officer at The Honest Company, mentioned enjoying coming here with colleagues and friends.
'The Sugarfish on 2nd Street is always crawling with people in tech,' said Kyla Brennan of HelloSociety.
The crowds come to this upscale sushi joint for its fresh take on the traditional Japanese omakase, which offers a preset assortment of rolls. You won't find any California rolls here -- the focus is on simple, traditional ingredients, and chef Kazunori Nozawa even makes his own soy sauce and ponzu in-house.
If you live in or near a big city in the US, chances are good you've been to a Le Pain Quotidien store to sample organic coffee and delicious baked goods. But according to Greg Cohn, the cofounder and CEO of privacy app Burner, the Le Pain Quotidien in the Larchmont neighbourhood of central LA is quite the tech hot spot.
'(It) is conveniently laid out and a bit of a watering hole for investor-types who live in the Hollywood area,' Cohn said.
Alfred Coffee sells delicious Stumptown blends in a charming environment. Among its quirks are macchiatos served in chocolate cones and coffee cup sleeves emblazoned with moustaches.
'Alfred Coffee on Melrose Place is a popular hot spot for a coffee meeting during the week or on the weekend,' Leura Fine, founder and CEO of interior design startup Laurel & Wolf, said to Business Insider.
'The best happy hour location, hands down, is the rooftop at Hotel Erwin,' John Tabis, founder and CEO of The Bouqs Company, said to Business Insider. 'We do at least one event there per quarter, and every time there's at least one other startup with a reserved lounge overlooking the Pacific.'
You'll find all manner of drinks at the hotel's High Rooftop Lounge, including California craft beers and a list of $15 specialty cocktails.
Set in a Brentwood shopping center, Farmshop prioritises farmer's market-sourced ingredients and innovations.
'A place for great breakfast & brunch, (with a) lively vibe,' said Christopher Gavigan of The Honest Company. 'Everyone loves to meet here.'
The brioche French toast appears to be particularly popular -- and it's quite clear why.
Manhattan Beach Post was a semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation Award in the Best New Restaurant category in 2012, and its chef, David LeFevre, was a semifinalist in the Best Chef Pacific categories.
It's a favourite among those businesses who prefer to avoid the more startup-heavy areas of Venice and Santa Monica.
'We're based in Redondo Beach, about 10 miles south of LA's 'Silicon Beach' scene. We did that on purpose, because we like to stay out of the tech echo chamber and focus on the business,' said David Sassano, a vice president at the toy robot company Ozobot. 'When I am looking to tap into the startup scene, Gjelina in Venice is a classic. However, you're more likely to find our team enjoying the fare at Manhattan Beach Post.'
The bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuit, which comes with maple butter, is an instant classic.