Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, Casablanca Restaurant is the most conflicted. The parking spaces are named after Bogey, Bergman and costars. A sign in the lot welcomes all comers to “Casablanca, Venice,” but another by the door declares that customers are entering the former while leaving the latter. The confusion continues inside, where decorations include not only attempts at Morocco, but also memorabilia from the 1942 film, a mariachi band, women dressed in traditional Mexican dresses making tortillas, and a waiter pushing around a cart of margarita fixings. These contradictions are muddled further by a mural of the America-themed “Rick’s Cafe Americain,” portraying a scene from the film that never occurred – and into which the restaurant owners have had themselves and their staff painted.
But the next day, when somebody asks how dinner was the night before, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t the restaurant’s identity crisis, or its uncountable selection of tequila. It isn’t the life-sized Humphrey Bogart statue, or even the menu of calamari steaks. It’s the complimentary plate of flour tortillas brought to the table as you sit down: freshly made, slightly undercooked blankets of dough and a tomatillo-based salsa with cilantro, avocado and cheese. After inhaling a couple of those, nobody asks about the one-of-a-kind decor. Nobody cares about the restaurant’s history. They only request refills.
220 Lincoln Blvd
Venice, CA 90291