Grading the Parking Lots of Whole Foods: Venice, DT Santa Monica

These stores: not for the faint of heart

Whole Foods’ stock may be in the clearance bin, but their presence in Los Angeles is on the upswing. They just opened a Playa Vista store, are putting the finishing touches on a DTLA outpost, and recently announced that one of their first 365 stores, a more affordable version of the WF experience, is opening in a former Ralphs in Silver Lake.

We all know the old jokes of “Whole Paycheck,” but aside from dealing with the inflated prices of the Texas chain, there are parking conundrums that usually go hand-in-hand with the organic grocer. To make it easier for you Kombucha Heads, we’re assigning grades to each WF parking lot or garage in L.A., as well as including tips for getting in and out as fast as possible. Read our rankings of the Westwood and West L.A. stores here, Santa Monica (mid-city) and Brentwood here, and check out more reviews every Thursday.

Our fifth and sixth stores:

Santa Monica (Downtown): Located a pebble’s throw from the beach, this is one of Whole Foods’ most urban stores around L.A. It’s a tiny little place—that salad bar is a tad sad—with an appropriately small parking lot located off Fifth Street (the store’s front door is on Wilshire). The bad news: with only about few dozen spots, it’s a crapshoot whether you’ll actually find a space. The good: most patrons (tourists, basically) arrive by foot, so it’s not hopeless. It’s nice that the store has an electric vehicle charging spot, but the bike parking is really lacking—this is Santa Monica! Everyone’s on a bike! Anyway, maybe it would have made sense to have some underground parking in such a busy part of greater L.A.? Just sayin’.
Parking Grade: B-

Venice: If you think the DT Santa Monica store is small now, it will seem absolutely Lilliputian after visiting the WF Mother Ship that is the Venice location. At nearly 50,000 square feet, the Lincoln Boulevard store can feed vegans, paleos, bacon-loving carnivores and everyone in between. Because of its size, it’s constantly busy—more like frenetic. On a recent Monday night, an hour before closing, the surface parking lot was absolutely packed. There were also street people roaming through the spaces, gaggles of tourists, cyclists, and skateboarders. Even after finding a faraway spot, the place gave us anxiety (we can’t even imagine what it’s like to shop there on a Sunday afternoon). Arriving by two-wheels seems the way to go; there’s a decent amount of bike parking located near the laundromat just south of the store.
Parking Grade: D+