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French Market Café on Abbot Kinney
French Market Café on Abbot Kinney in Venice is a hidden gem but has been a favorite dining spot of mine for many years! I honestly can’t remember when or how I discovered French Market Café but it must have been when I lived in Santa Monica. This charming French café, market and wine cellar has both indoor seating and a shaded patio, and opened in 1993 by a lovely lady named Agnes (pronounced in the very French way: on-yes).
French Market Café offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, but does close at 5pm so it’s more of an early dinner spot. This is an order at the counter kind of place, where you are given a number and your server brings your dishes to your table. Breakfast is served until noon during the week and all day on weekends. On the breakfast menu, you’ll find beloved French items such as crepes, baguettes, croissants, omelettes, quich and the Le Cheval, an open-faced toasted egg sandwich. Of course a full range of coffee beverages are available.
Lunch and dinner items at French Market Café include pannini and baguette sandwiches, salads, flatbreads, French onion soup and other soups of the day, Ratatouille, Beef Bourguignon, cheese plates and so much more. I am getting hungry just perusing the menu! There is also a nice selection of daily specials which can include different sweet or savory items like Lobster Bisque, a Speculoos Crepe, Chicken Mustard and Tarte d’Alsace.
The indoor space doubles as a market, with carefully curated French products, foods, wines, housewares and more available for purchase. There is also a beautiful wine cellar for choosing the perfect French wine to go with your meal. The French Market Café attracts a loyal clientele who want that little bit of France in their day, you can often hear conversations taking place around you in the French language. And of course the staff is mostly French speaking.
Back in 2011, our tour company launched a Santa Monica Sites & Bites for the dinner hour and while it was short-lived, French Market Café was one of our tasting stops. Guests were treated to the charm of Agnes and her husband Patrice while enjoying Ratatouille, French cheeses, cornichons and wine. It was such a magical part of our tour, really the highlight for most guests. But their hours were cut back after the unexpected death of Patrice, and dinner was no longer served at the hour we needed. We are so very happy that Agnes and her team have kept the fires burning and are continuing to draw a happy crowd of diners.
French Market Café offers free parking! Yes, it’s true, free parking! But in keeping up with the times, they also offer online ordering for pick-up or free delivery to adjacent neighborhoods including Venice, Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, and certain parts of Santa Monica. But in my opinion, the true charm of French Market Café is enjoying the ambiance of dining on the patio (did I mention dog-friendly), perusing the market items and listening to the beautiful French language being spoken all around. Meet me at French Market Café for a beautiful meal or glass of wine. A bientot (see you soon)!
By: Trish Procetto