Poke Poke: Catch a Hawaiian Seafood Wave Near Muscle Beach

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Poke Los Angeles

Poke Poke may be the closest thing Angelenos can find to legit Hawaiian poké.

Life frequently comes into focus on foot. That was certainly the case on a recent run along the oceanfront boardwalk on a glorious winter day. My eyes scanned the long-forlorn strip for signs of new culinary life, and on the return leg, across from Muscle Beach, they found paydirt – Poke Poke – a Hawaiian-inspired raw fish emporium that probably serves the best lunch in Venice, especially when it’s 75 degrees and sunny.

Owners Trish McVearry and husband Jason previously lived in Hawaii, in Kaimuki and on the North Shore of Oahu, which is where they fell for poke. They learned how to make the dish, which, according to Poke Poke’s website, is usually available “to-go, deli style at gas stations and convenience stores.” After moving Stateside, Trish oversaw 26 luxury brands for Las Vegas magnate Steve Wynn before entertaining wealthy customers for a luxury watch brand in Los Angeles. Trish got laid off, so last November, she decided to live a less lavish lifestyle (which didn’t require a 24/7 commitment), opening a poke stand.

The redeveloped three-window strip is owned by the same company that resuscitated Muscle Beach. Poke Poke occupies a former empanada shop and shares kitchen space with Sababa Middle Eastern Food and Schulzies Bread Pudding, which surprisingly houses a Blue Bottle pourover coffee bar.


Poke Los Angeles

The Original Poke features rosy cubes of fresh ahi tossed to order with shoyu (soy sauce), crunchy white onion strands, sesame seeds, sesame oil, scallions and “aloha,” which means “love” on the islands.

The McVearrys nicknamed this healthy but flavorful dish The Surfers’ Sashimi, a name also fits with its Venice beach environs.

Poke Los Angeles

Spicy Tuna Poke features the same ingredients, plus Sriracha. Randy Clemens would no doubt be proud, since the seemingly simple addition coats ahi cubes, adding lingering heat that takes the poke to another level.

We had the option to add chopped jalapeños or another Hawaiian flavor, macadamia nuts, but we took the prescribed oceanic medicine.

A “regular” 12-ounce poke costs $6 over rice, or $8 with more tuna and a “large” 16-ounce poke costs $10 over rice and $12 with more tuna.

They only offer two other dishes at Poke Poke, and during the second visit, my friend Adam and I ordered them both.

Poke Los Angeles

Veggie Poke ($10) may be a misnomer, since the word “poke” typically refers to sliced and diced fish. Technically a salad of sliced and diced kale probably qualifies. Whatever, it was a good salad with plenty of roughage and a balance of diced avocado, sesame oil, crushed macadamia nuts, onions, thin-shaved carrots, brown rice and of course, aloha.

Acai Bowl Los Angeles

An Acai Bowl ($6) could easily be either breakfast or dessert, with a base of frozen acai berry paste that reminded me of sorbet, but with tangy flavor and grittier texture. Trish McVearry layered on organic hemp granola, coconut shavings, sliced bananas and a drizzle of honey.

Poke Poke’s website said poke’s “best if eaten with cold beer near the sea.” No doubt, but since they have no open container policy on Venice Beach, my options consisted of Hawaiian Sun, soda or water. Not that it mattered considering the winning combination of sun, surf and seafood.

Poke Poke: Catch a Hawaiian Seafood Wave Near Muscle Beach

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

Just saw your post on this, I was getting a Blue Bottle coffee and made a note to try this place next time. My grass fed burger at Venice Ale House was unremarkable, though the beer selection is nice.

Pat, it’s hard to imagine a better low cost lunch in Venice. I think you’ll really enjoy the spicy poke poke.

I have been to Venice plenty of times and I never known this place existed. I’ll have to bring my mom there (she loves anything island-related). Thanks!

Jennike, I hope you enjoy Poke Poke. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but this is the best version of poke I’ve had on the mainland.

I never knew this place was in Venice. It is the perfect spot to grab a healthy lunch, while soaking up some sunshine. The Acai is another added bonus. Love!

Uncouth Gourmand,

Enjoy Poke Poke if you go, and if you go, let us know how you liked your visit.

Thanks for the tip, always looking for a good “local” spot. I love, love, love poke and I’ve always wanted to find a lowkey spot that makes a good version. I always had to get my fix of delicious poke from Roy’s but its too high end, always tastes better from a hole in the wall! My friend turned me onto a spot that makes some fun versions of Hawaiian dishes like Chili Moco, Furikake Fries and musubi with Chinese sausage, etc in Redondo Beach. You should check it out! It feels like a spot that could be found in Hawaii since they serve food inside a liquor store! I can’t remember the exact name but its on the corner of Diamond Ave. and Catalina Ave in Redondo Beach. I think the liquor store is called Catalina Liquor. Thanks again for the poke tip!

Chasing Amy,

It looks like we just traded poke tips. I’ll try your rec if you try mine. Thanks.

What a fun post, about one of my beloved meals. In my trip to Maui last fall I was buying poke off the grocery shelves like crazy. Thanks for sharing this great spot.

Tiffin Unboxed,

It will be interesting to see how you think Poke Poke compares to what you ate in Maui. Let me know.

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