beach nation: get your feet sandy at this cafe in the middle of weho

beach nation sand and deck chairs

There’s nothing better than living (or working) within walking distance to amazing restaurants, so naturally when we saw the sign go up for Beach Nation directly across from one of the buildings we manage, we were eager to check it out.

Located on the boisterous corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Sweetzer Avenue in West Hollywood (which locals lovingly refer to as WeHo), Beach Nation finds itself in good company sharing the intersection with Hamburger Mary’s (and their famous karaoke and drag queen bingo), Joey’s Cafe (good luck getting a table for brunch on the weekends), and West Hollywood’s City Hall (robo garage coming soon).

For years, the Beach Nation site was home to abandoned remnants of an auto repair shop, an asphalt parking lot, a chain link fence, and Irv’s Burgers next door.  Now, it has been re-imagined into a Thomas Schoos designed beach-themed cafe that “literally brings the beach to the city via actual sand,” according to Zagat.

The open air cafe is mostly that, open air, save for a small building where the ordering takes place.  You’ll be greeted by delectable offerings inside a refrigerated display case in front of a large menu on the wall as well as pastries tempting you on your way to the counter to order.  Be sure to check out the coffee menu behind the registers or grab a cold soda from the open case and a bag of chips below.

Since this is a beach-themed coffee shop, we were a little confused at the execution of the theme and the type of food served – it seemed like a bit of a disconnect.  We still aren’t quite sure that the sands of Malibu and Coppertone go hand-in-hand with a steaming latte and hot sandwich, but we’re game for giving it another go since sitting in the sand in the middle of the city is a lot more convenient than sitting in traffic to the westside.

the spread

  • Turkey panini with turkey breast, smoked gouda, baby swiss, green apple, mizuna, cranberry apple chutney – $8.95
  • Salami and ham panini with genoa salami, capicola ham, provolone, olive tapenade, hot/sweet cherry peppers, honey mustard – $8.95
  • Iced latte – $4.65
  • Rose lemonade soda

top nosh

Our simple lunch was filling and delicious and we were actually quite surprised how good the food was considering it’s made off site and then grilled in the cafe.  We swapped bites and both favored the turkey panini over the salami and ham offering.  The snap of the crunchy apple and lighter flavors seemed to go better with the sand and warm weather versus a meat-heavy grilled sandwich.  While the salami panini was indeed very good, we would opt for something that had a bit more green to it next time.

The coffee was rich and flavorful and not at all bitter and we’ll definitely be stopping by this cafe again to grab an espresso or salad very soon.

may we suggest

  • Give this place a try for lighter and more “artisinal” bites than the burgers, fries, and omelettes being served next door and across the street.
  • Disconnect your pre-conceived ideas of what a beach-themed cafe might actually serve on their menu.  If you were thinking fire-pit roasted hot dogs on the end of a wire hanger, nachos, s’mores, and mai tais, you will sadly be disappointed.
  • Bring your best friend!  Being an outdoor cafe, sharing a meal outside in LA’s sunny weather is perfect for brunch with girlfriends or lunch by the sand with Bella your well-dressed labradoodle bestie.  Beach Nation is dog friendly and Bella will definitely enjoy the doggy equivalent of “people watching” with all of the well-groomed tail walking by.  Just be sure to keep her off the sand as digging and squatting is definitely not suitable sand etiquette.

the specifics

Beach Nation
8289 Santa Monica Boulevard at Sweetzer Avenue, West Hollywood 90046

Monday – Thursday 8am-10pm
Friday 8am – midnight
Saturday 9am – midnight
Sunday 9am – 10pm

Have a great place to recommend for brunch, lunch, mimosas, or cocktails?  Let us know your top picks for restaurants in LA for a chance to be spotlighted in a future post.

photos: the suite life & beach nation

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