The best part about living in LA is the close proximity to so many other great parts of the city. The worst part? Freeways that become parking lots that make it impossible to get anywhere on weekdays without losing your mind. Case in point: South Bay.
The South Bay neighborhoods have so much more to offer than beachfront views, volleyball courts, and gorgeous, sun-kissed locals but you’ll probably want to make a weekend out of it to make your drive worthwhile -- so check out this handy guide of things to do all around the South Bay and start planning your next weekend staycation.
Don’t judge this tiny strip mall joint by its unassuming exterior or the fact that it’s adjacent to a vape bar -- it’s what ends up on your plate that counts. The new-ish Hermosa Beach farm-to-table eatery sources only the freshest produce and ingredients from Weiser Farms and makes everything from scratch, from the piping hot, doughy focaccia bread with umami butter to the handmade pasta, every plate that comes out of the kitchen is made with the utmost attention to detail. They also have a pretty stellar wine list spanning California, New Zealand, and everything in between. Pro tips: the shaved brussels sprout salad and the truffle linguini. Boom.
Downtown isn’t the only LA neighborhood hub that’s home to craft breweries; the South Bay has plenty of places to throw back a pint of pilsner (try saying that three times). LA Beer Hop will do all the heavy lifting and plan your tour for you, so you can do all the drinking -- you’ll get picked up at a metro stop, go on a four to five hour tour and taste a flight of beer at three local breweries which may include El Segundo Brewing, Smog City Brewing, or Strand Brewing Co.
Make room for this monstrous burger (and the two hour nap that follows). This colossal sandwich is what meat lover dreams are made of -- a juicy beef patty sitting underneath a heaping pile of New York deli-style pastrami and the works topped with the restaurant’s signature bun. Wash it all down with a hand-scooped shake made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla ice-cream topped with fresh whipped cream, and then ask for a wheelbarrow because you’re going to need one to get out of here.
Chef David LeFevre is no stranger to Manhattan Beach. With three outstanding restaurants under his belt, he’s earned his culinary stripes in this beach town, but if you can only make it to one of his establishments, you can’t miss MB Post. It’s practically a Manhattan Beach staple. Make a reservation (you’ll need one) for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or all three -- because after one meal, you’ll want to try every damn dish that comes flying out of those kitchen doors). While the brunch menu is seasonal, you’ll want to look out for the bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits, the corned beef cheek hash with fried egg, and the truffle honey laced fried chicken.
Manhattan Beach has some pretty jaw-dropping sunsets and the best place to get a front row seat is a table by the glass windows on the second floor of The Strand House, where you can gaze at nature’s rainbow with a cocktail in hand. The restaurant is a local favorite and gets pretty packed on game days but if you get there early enough and snag a table, you won’t ever want to leave.
Did you know that the Marvin Braude Bike Trail (aka The Strand) is a 22-mile path that goes from Will Rogers State Beach all the way down to Torrance County Beach? It’s arguably the easiest (and most beautiful) way to get a workout in and be reminded of why you love LA. BYOB or rent one at Perry’s Cafe and pedal along the path and enjoy the sparkling Pacific Ocean views as you cruise by all the beach towns.
This Japanese market is the closest thing you’ll get to Tokyo. Peruse the aisles and enjoy the Japanese food porn from the 5,395 types of ramen noodles, tofu, and sake to the actually-good coffee in a can.
A juice cleanse is practically a rite of passage in LA so what better time to start one than the beginning of a new year? Rock’n Juice is a tiny juice bar in Torrance, founded by two cousins who grew up on an organic farm in Greece and brought their passion for fresh produce and rock music to LA with rock-themed cold-pressed organic juices, bowls, and smoothies. Order a Proud Mary or Beet it and rock on with your bad self.
No, it’s not 1953, and yes, sandwiches these cheap still do exist. This Hermosa Beach deli serves its Famous Sauce Sandwich for $1.50 (for a small, but like an Italian size “small”) which is just warm bread slathered with homemade sauce (cheese optional) -- but isn’t that basically what pizza is? And for $1.50 how can you complain?
Whatever your sweet tooth craves, you will inevitably find it here. Candy? Check. Ice cream? Yep. Cupcakes? Oh yeah. You’ll probably end up getting the Cream’wich, which is ice-cream sandwiched between two homemade cookies, to create the perfect marriage of creamy and crunchy sweetness in one bite.
This hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant near LAX is getting a long overdue makeover in February (and practically doubling in size) so make sure to get your Thai fix here before they close for renovations. If you miss the original, check out the open-while-the-shop’s-being-fixed pop-up called Ayara Lūk, located just around the corner, and open for dinner. There, the restaurant will be featuring featuring a rotating menu of Ayara Thai favorites and new modern twists on classic Thai dishes like Massamun oxtail curry braised for 6 hours, and roasted duck flatbread with organic duck breast. The pop-up will be open from Monday-Saturday from 5:30-10:30pm and remain open until renovations are complete at the original Ayara Thai restaurant.
The popular Studio City gastropub has finally opened a second outpost in Hermosa Beach. The casual bar took over the former Game Changers sports bar and gave it a facelift with exposed brick walls and wooden beams running throughout. The menu includes snack favorites like chicken wings, wood grilled artichoke, a meat and cheese board, and of course burgers and salads if you’re extra hungry.
Strip malls seem to be where all the hidden gems are tucked away in the South Bay. This cozy, rustic wine shop and tasting room, founded by a husband and wife duo, has a great selection of wines, craft beer, and bourbon. Sample a flight of small-batch wines and pair them with any of the delicious tapas or impressive cheeses that you can also purchase in the retail section.
If you need a place to crash, this luxury boutique hotel has two locations in the South Bay -- Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach. The Manhattan Beach location is situated just two blocks away from the beach and gets ridiculous views of the sunset from the rooftop Skydeck. Oh, and all the rooms are equipped with Tempur-Pedic beds so if being by the ocean wasn’t enough to knock you out then maybe sleeping on (what feels like) clouds, will.
The Hermosa Beach comedy club gets a pretty decent lineup, including Jay Leno, who frequents the club often, and Jerry Seinfeld who also sometimes pops in. Of course, there is a two item minimum, but the food is actually better than most comedy clubs so you’ll actually want to order the mushroom ravioli and mozzarella sticks.
This Manhattan Beach restaurant and bar is everything you crave in a casual beachside eatery -- beer, bros in flip flops, and a fine selection of seafood. You can’t leave without trying the blackened fish tacos and the unlimited fresh out-of-the-oven sourdough bread.
This trendy black and rose gold-themed coffee shop in Redondo Beach not only looks super sexy but they pour a strong cup of joe. The artisanal roastery focuses on single origin coffee direct traded straight from Columbia farmers to your cup, and does a pretty good job of putting the spotlight on the coffee and not much else.
The South Bay’s premiere rock club is a great spot to see major touring bands in a tiny-for-them room: The spot often books acts that regularly headline much larger places in LA proper, like the Troubadour and the Fonda; they also regularly book great tribute bands. Upcoming shows include alt-country pioneers Old ‘97s and the Pearl Jam tribute band Vitalogy.
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1. Baran's 2239502 Pacific Coast Hwy, Hermosa Beach
2. El Segundo Brewing Company140 Main St, El Segundo
3. Smog City Brewing Company1901 Del Amo Blvd, Torrance
4. Burger City Grill2064 Pacific Coast Hwy, Lomita
5. Manhattan Beach Post1142 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach
6. The Strand House117 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach
7. Perry's Cafe1200 Palisades Beach Rd, Santa Monica
8. Mitsuwa Marketplace3760 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles
9. Rock'n Juice3730 Pacific Coast Hwy, Torrance
10. Mickey’s Italian Delicatessen & Liquor Store101 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach
11. Manhattan Beach Creamery1120 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach
12. Ayara Thai Cuisine6245 W 87th St, Los Angeles
13. Laurel Tavern11938 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
14. Barsha Wines & Spirits917 N Sepulveda Blvd, Manhattan Beach
15. Rock'N Fish120 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach
16. The Boy & The Bear350 N Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach
Nestled next to a smoke shop in a strip mall on the Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa Beach, Baran’s 2239 is a restaurant self-proclaimed as casual American dining. Given its location, that’s precisely what you’d expect. But the restaurant’s farmhouse-chic interior and intricate menu tell a different story. Ingredients are sourced locally, some from the nearby Weiser Family Farms (including the Brussels sprouts for the crunchy, stand-out salad version of the sprout), and sausages, breads, and pastas are made from scratch, like warm focaccia with umami butter and the earthy, al dente truffle linguine. Don’t skip out on dessert, either; Baran’s finishes your meal with a dessert and beer pairing, because a locally brewed vanilla-caramel cider is the perfect complement to your slice of buttermilk pie.
El Segundo Brewing Company was created explicitly to brew hop-forward beers, because that's what owner and head brewer Rob Croxall wanted. Now, the brewery not only sells its beer across Los Angeles, but it also offers the option to order a keg -- which is super important. And for those of you who don't actually know anything about craft beer and would like to learn and fit in with, well, everyone else, El Segundo offers classes, like Craft Beer 101 -- seriously. Sign us up.
What started as a small home-brewing operation fueled by the fermentation tanks at Tustin Brewing Co., Smog City Brewing Co. is now a fully operating, self-sufficient craft brewery in Torrance, with a tap room to boot. Smog City is known for its Groundworks Coffee Porter, likely due to the fact that it's been awarded numerous medals from the Great American Beer Festival. Stop by the tap room to taste the gold medal winner for yourself, along with one-off experimental brews, and take home a growler or several of your favorites from Smog City.
Sometimes the act of eating an over-stuffed sandwich can be literally mouth-scraping, cumbersome, and not the best part of the day, as sandwich consumption should be. Luckily, that's not the case at Burger City Grill. The counter-serve chain specializes in burger behemoths made with Certified Angus beef, served on brioche buns, and complemented by hand-cut fries and a hand-scooped milkshake (should you feel compelled to round out your meal). Build your own or go with our favorite: the Yorker, piled high with pastrami, lettuce, tomato, onions, Swiss cheese, and house sauce.
The flagship restaurant of the acclaimed and highly influential Chef David LeFevre, M.B. Post ignited a burgeoning restaurant scene in 2011 in an otherwise culinary wasteland in the South Bay. M.B. Post is housed in an old post office, with funky, 60s-style decor -- like a vintage post office desk, sun-bleached reclaimed wood tables, and kitschy, repurposed beach trinkets -- abetting in a casual atmosphere. Though the American menu is divided into whimsical categories like “Pass the Bread,” “Eat Your Vegetables,” “Seafood… Eat Food… ,” “Meat Me Later,” and “A Spoon Full of Sugar,” the food is upscale, innovative, and technically intricate, all reflective of Chef’s background at lauded restaurants around the world. The brunch and dinner menus rotate seasonally, but you can always expect (and should always order) the famous bacon cheddar buttermilk biscuits, no matter the time of day. They’re worth the inevitable wait.
The Strand House is a Manhattan Beach-based eatery, drawing crowds of LA's affluent with four floors of patio dining, with a menu from the team behind Grace and Gjelina. The food is veggie- and seafood-centric, there are thin-crust pizzas, charcuterie plates, and protein-heavy entrees like spiced New Zealand lamb rack and prime beef filet that are perfectly complemented by fire-roasted baby root vegetables, a glass of Napa Valley Cabernet, and a stunning view of the sprawling beach down below.
You know when you’re on the beach and hunger strikes, but so does the urge to go for a bike ride, but only right you take a shot at stand-up paddle boarding? Perry’s Cafe and Beach Rentals covers all of those things. With a dozen locations up and down the California coastline, Perry’s has been providing beach-goers with everything they could ever possibly want or need for a day at the beach for decades. The produce is local and sustainable, with a variety of healthy, swimsuit-friendly snacks like omelets, fresh fruit smoothies, and turkey burgers, as well as cheeseburgers, tacos, and burritos. Stop by Perry’s for a morning coffee before you hit the waves, or a post-bike ride burger, and take in the views from Perry’s post on the beach.
Mitsuwa Marketplace, the mecca for Japanese imported goods in the US, is the country's largest of its kind. Mitsuwa sells everything from Japanese groceries and dry goods to electronics, cosmetics, and more from its various outposts across the country, with a food court chock-full of authentic Japanese counters, because you're sure work up an appetite as you work your way through the market's vast inventory. Stop for a quick bowl of ramen, signature maki, or rice bowl to mull over whether or not you really need that Akiba magazine you spotted at the anime toy store on your way in.
Of all the juice bars brimming in Los Angeles, Rock’n Juice is one of the best. The family-run, health-conscious mini-chain operates on the Hippocratic ethos to “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” and thus the menus at the Torrance and various other locations boast an unmatched selection of cold-pressed juices, acai bowls, and smoothies. Vitamin shots and detox cleanses are also on offer for those looking for an extra boost.
Since 1953, to this very day, Mickey’s Italian Delicatessen & Liquor Store -- but you can just call it Mickey’s Deli -- is serving up its Famous Sauce Sandwich for $1.50. The sandwich is… basically a meatball sub without the meatballs, or a pizza but on a sandwich: it’s bread (warmed, of course) spread with house-made tomato sauce, and the cheese is optional. It’s only $1.50, what did you expect? You can also get other sandwiches that are equally as popular, but not $1.50, as well as pizza, pasta, and calzones. And that liquor store is really a mini-market located just around the corner, selling everything from imported Italian goods and fresh produce to beer, liquor, and lottery tickets.
Manhattan Beach Creamery is a nostalgic ice cream shop located just steps from the Manhattan Beach Pier. On offer daily are 28 from-scratch flavors -- made with butterfat for a dense, decadent texture -- from a rotating roster of old favorites as well as new releases. Manhattan Beach Creamery was the birthplace of the now popular Cream’wich, an ice cream sandwich featuring the creamery’s signature ice creams, sandwiched between two cookies from local family business Katella Bakery. Indulge in ice cream, a Cream’wich, frozen bananas, artisanal cupcakes, macarons, and any other sweet treat your sugar-craving tastebuds desire.
Tradition is at the forefront of Ayara Thai Cuisine, the intimate, family-run restaurant in Westchester. Founded by a husband-wife team of expats who learned to cook in their mothers’ and grandmothers’ kitchens in Thailand, Ayara’s authentic menu is full of family recipes, from-scratch dishes, homegrown herbs and spices, and soul. Regional dishes shine, like rich and creamy curries, flavor-forward broths for tom yum and other soups, and spicy proteins fly off the wok. While pad thai is typically pegged as an Americanized dish and not reflective of tradition, the noodle and peanut plate at Ayara is listed as “The Origina Pad Thai,” and is an unadulterated version, an homage to the way the dish is supposed to be served.
This Studio City gastropub focuses on hearty comfort food and a mix of cocktails, craft beers, and fine wine. The pub-style burgers (aka thick and juicy) come in six varieties that range from BBQ to bacon blue cheese, so you'll have no trouble finding the ideal burger for your tastes. Oh, and there are three kinds of fries (regular, gravy, and chili-cheese). Craving a burger and fries? Done and done.
Tucked away in a strip mall in South Bay, Barsha Wines and Spirits is equal parts bottle shop and tasting room. The brainchild of a husband-wife duo, Barsha offers lesser-known wines from smaller producers, craft beers, fine spirits, and an abbreviated snack menu consisting primarily of charcuterie and cheese boards, salads, and desserts from the local favorite Jeni’s Ice Creams. It’s a Manhattan Beach mainstay for eclectic pours in a cozy atmosphere with more wine and cheese varieties on offer than you’ll know what to do with… and sifting through samples of wine and cheese might just be the best way to spend an afternoon in a strip mall.
Rock'n Fish is a Manhattan Beach seafood, steak, and spirit institution. The restaurant boasts a menu of self-proclaimed “American Regional Cuisine” wherein traditional American dishes from across the country are reinterpreted, modernized, and hit with local California ingredients. Expect items like Maui-style poke, popcorn shrimp, seafood jambalaya, Memphis-style barbecue ribs, and Maine lobster tails, and side dishes like Szechuan green beans and mac and cheese. The wine list is primarily rooted in California producers, and the cocktails are craft classics with a twist, like the Hibiscus Margarita and the Berry Mule.
If you ever find yourself cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway near South Bay, fiending for your caffeine fix, look no further than The Boy & The Bear for a high-quality cup of joe. It’s a direct trade coffee shop and roastery in Redondo Beach that uses exclusively single origin beans from Colombia in its exclusively small-batch roasting practices. You're here for the coffee, and the coffee alone. Enjoy pour overs, specialty coffee drinks, or pick up a bag of beans to enjoy a cup of Colombian coffee from the comfort of your own home.