The Venezuelan-inspired Bolívar café and gallery fuses a relaxed atmosphere and hip art locale in one of Santa Monica’s up-and-coming neighborhoods.
The corner café can go almost unnoticed without a sign to beckon hunger wanderers. Located at 1741 Ocean Park Boulevard, Bolívar is a much needed tea and coffee spot in a slice of neighborhood lacking options. Free WiFi, a dying breed in this fair city, encourages visitors to sit and stay a while.
Sun light streams through the small dining area equipped with stark seating, aside from the coveted overstuffed couches nested into a window enclave. Baristas will offer a full range of teas and specialty coffee prepared with whimsical latte art-.
Ideally a lunch spot, Bolívar boasts arepas —a milled white corn meal sandwich served warm and filled with combinations of fresh meats, veggies, and even fruit — “prepared in the Venezuelan tradition.” The arepas are small and airy, so the minimum of two required per order ($2.50 to $3 each) seems more like a favor. For an extra $2 a fresh side salad in homemade dressings complete the meal.
One signature arepa is the “Pacifico” which is filled with slices of mango, avocado and buttery panela cheese that is flavored with a zesty rosemary and roasted garlic aioli. This healthy and vegetarian alternative is also wheat, gluten, and nut-free.
The chicken with roasted pepper pesto ($8.50) is a crowd pleaser blending roasted peppers in a cilantro pesto, with provolone cheese, roma tomatoes, red onions, and romaine lettuce. As with all the sandwiches, it comes on French bread.
The gallery portion of Bolívar hangs a revolving array of local artists’ work on the tall, white walls. Photographs from Sephira Salazar are gracing the walls until Aug. 27 with vivid and colorful imagery. An opening artist reception was held in the modern interior on July 31, with more such events sure to entice visitors in the near future.
If a fellow foodie is in search of good vibes and delectable eats, Bolívar is the hidden place to go enjoy something above the mundane and beyond the typical Santa Monica stop.
Bolívar café + gallery
1741 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica
310.581.2344, Mon-Fri 7 a.m. –7 p.m.
Sat 9 a.m. -6 p.m.