Where To Eat In Manhattan Beach guide image


Where To Eat In Manhattan Beach

From a homey pancake house that’s been around for decades to a seafood spot with one of the best raw bars in the city, these are our favorites places to eat in this sun-soaked beach city.

It’s hard not to feel an odd sense of utopia wash over you while you're driving down the coast and into Manhattan Beach. Known mostly for its volleyball courts, beachfront homes, and those new parents who can somehow afford them, the beauty of this coastal town is undeniable. No longer just a crowded place to get sunburned and eat some fried fish tacos, Manhattan Beach has become a serious dining destination in recent years. There's a new crop of restaurants (and some enduring old ones) that have officially put the rest of LA on notice. Here are the best of the best.


Fishing With Dynamite

A meal at Fishing With Dynamite feels like eating raw scallops and lobster rolls in a friend’s charming cottage in Nantucket. This tiny oyster shack right up the street from the beach comes from the team behind Ryla and Manhattan Beach Post, and it remains one of our favorite seafood restaurants in the city. FWD’s raw bar has more hits than Mariah Carey, but we also love dishes from the rest of their menu—you’ll find a creamy plate of koshihikari rice porridge with uni mixed in and a perfect mini-pan of key lime pie with flame-roasted mountain peaks of Italian meringue. Bring a small crew for a casual birthday hang inside or have a breezy date night at a little table on the sidewalk out front.

Arthur J is the Jeff Goldblum of steakhouses—we haven't met anyone yet who is immune to its charm. The dark leather booths and sleek walnut ceilings inside this spot radiate laid-back swank. the kind you'd usually find in a members-only supper club. Steaks are cooked over a wood-fired grill, giving the meat a deep, notably smoky flavor that you might expect from backyard BBQ. Once you've decided which cut you want, choose a couple of sauces, butters, toppings, and sides to round out your red meat dream. We're big fans of their filet mignon cooked medium rare with a side of chimichurri and scoop of foie gras plopped on top. Keep this spot in mind when you want a steak dinner that feels both classic and cool without being too over the top.

If you need a dive bar and a killer burger in Manhattan Beach, Ercoles is the place to be. Regulars drink cheap beer and play pool in a space that looks like it’s been minimally updated since it opened in 1927, aside from a few faded Budweiser posters. The char-grilled, backyard-style burgers here are among the best in LA, made with beef sourced from the butcher shop next door. Between the $12 burger, the affordable drinks, and the straight-out-of-a-Jimmy Buffet-song people-watching, Ercoles is the kind of joint every beach town would be very lucky to have.

If you want to eat somewhere that feels like a luxury resort in Cabo, head to Esperanza Cocina de la Playa. It’s a Mexican spot about four blocks up from the beach with a striking curved facade and an all-white dining room that could rival any designer boutique on Rodeo Drive. They specialize in top-notch margaritas and upscale seafood dishes like crab enchiladas. We especially love their selection of ceviches: The version with shrimp and pineapple is sweet and tart, tossed in a spicy mango-tajin broth. Share it at a table near the entrance to catch a nice breeze while watching people clog the sidewalks on their way to the pier.

When this cheffy, farm-to-table-esque restaurant opened in 2011, the Manhattan Beach food scene was basically known for pancakes and a well-placed Sharkeez. MB Post changed all that. And while it might not be as groundbreaking as it once was, it still sets the standard for Manhattan Beach dining. The vibe is upscale but relaxed, and everything from the brussels sprouts to the skirt steak is worth ordering. But it’s the weekend brunch situation that really wins our heart—set your sights on a plate of cheddar bacon biscuits.

For sushi and a scene in Manhattan Beach, head to Katsu-Ya or Sugarfish. For great sushi, period, head to Pisces Sushi. This small, mom-and-pop restaurant along Highland Avenue doesn’t offer seating, but for excellent takeout sushi at a great price, locals swear by it. You’ll find a tight menu of the usual sushi bar staples here, including neatly wrapped rolls drizzled in the right amount of sauce. But if you want to appreciate the quality fish that makes Pisces a gem, order a few pieces of nigiri or sashimi, or their popular chirashi bowl, which costs less than $20 and comes with fanned-out slices of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, shrimp, and scallop.

When it comes to Greek food in Manhattan Beach, Petros is king and everyone knows it. The formal spot is located in a pleasant outdoor mall with a courtyard, where people wait around for hours on weekends to get a table. Much like a panda video or a large supply of bubble wrap, the lamb chops with fries at Petros never fail to please us. They're filling enough to share with at least one other person. You should also order the grilled octopus and juice-bursting beets dish drizzled in olive oil—we like to pair it with a glass of sparkling rosé on their wraparound patio just before sunset. Come by for lunch, dinner, or a laid-back brunch before walking happily along the beach with a stomach full of tzatziki.

Un Caffe Atamura is a counter-service European spot that’s about as casual as someone’s living room but much more versatile. Stop by for breakfast and lunch service during the day, or come back in the evening when the place transitions into a wine bar. From ham and cheese croissants to matcha pancakes with blueberry-basil creme fraiche, they serve exactly the kind of food you’d want after a morning stroll along the pier (and few dishes cost more than $20). If you’re looking to share something more substantial, they have a couple of seafood pastas and entrees like a piece of grilled salmon on brioche.

While there’s always been a decent crop of casual Mexican joints in MB, nothing comes close to El Sombrero. This decades-old staple with two locations in the neighborhood has a long menu of solid dishes, and few things cost more than $15. It’s the kind of cheesy, saucy, old-school Mexican food you’d want after a long day at the beach. We’re talking enchiladas, chile rellenos, and wet burritos the size of your forearm.

When it comes to true Manhattan Beach classics, it doesn’t get more real than at Uncle Bill’s. The 55-year-old staple has been an MB breakfast go-to for years and has the weekend lines to prove it. If you can get in, you’ll be rewarded with what’s easily the best pancake and waffle situation in town. And now with the newly expanded side patio, you’ll get insane ocean views as well. Caution: They close every day at 3pm. So get your hungover ass up and make it happen.

Back out in inland MB, Tin Roof Bistro has developed a large following for basically one thing: bocce ball. Oh and good food, of course. But seriously, you never see bocce ball in LA and it’s here at Tin Roof ready for the taking. But if you’re not in the mood to be rolling balls around, Tin Roof has one of the best wine lists in the South Bay, an amazing patio, and a solid American menu that has something for everybody.

Welcome to craft beer heaven. This local alehouse right on the strip might look like a regular sports bar from the outside, but it most certainly is not. Because inside they have one of the best craft beer stocks around, with a rotational draft list of local California breweries, and excellent bar food to soak it all up with. Seriously, those nachos. The vibe inside is always laid-back with great bartenders who know exactly what they’re doing.

There are lots of forgettable Italian restaurants in Manhattan Beach, but Love and Salt is one of the exceptions. The menu at this sky-lit trattoria is both crowd-pleasing and interesting, with lots of pizzas and pastas, plus an excellent brunch burger and housemade English muffins so good people eat them at dinner. Love and Salt's dining room works for almost any occasion, whether that’s a sexy dinner date, a solo pasta and glass of wine, or a laid-back brunch.

Though Simmzy’s can be found all the way from Long Beach to Burbank these days, something about the original MB location resonates. Situated in the heart of the city's main drag, the somewhat cramped brunch spot is basically the essence of Manhattan Beach. Beautiful people, good food, and everybody getting day-hammered on mimosas because it’s Saturday and that’s what you do.

Located in a fancy outdoor mall straight out of a Williams Sonoma catalog, Nick’s has all the ingredients to be yet another corporate lunch/brunch wasteland. But it’s not. And it’s because the crowd-pleasing American comfort food menu—think seared ahi salad, cioppino, and fried chicken plats—is pretty delicious, with great service and an even better patio to boot. It’s not a complicated formula, but this all-day downtown restaurant has it figured it out.

The thing about The Strand House is the food is fine. Some of it might even border on being quite good. But it doesn’t matter, because that’s not why you’re here. You’re here for that view. And residing in a giant three-story building with unobstructed ocean views, you won’t find a better one than at The Strand House. Sitting in that main dining room and watching the sunset with a margarita and plate of hamachi crudo is something we could do every day for the rest of our lives.

From the outside, Rock'N Fish looks more like a Ruby Tuesday’s than a place you actually want to be eating at, but looks can be deceiving. And this family-friendly restaurant steps from the beach serves good food and perhaps the most famous cocktail in the neighborhood: The Navy Grog. We don’t want to know the sugar intake in this rum-based cocktail, but we do want another one. Oh, and those crab cakes are quietly some of the best you’ll ever have.

If you’re over the downtown crowds (and the dire parking situation that comes with them), Fishbar is the answer to your prayers. This casual, beachy seafood shack on the north side of town is where the actual locals (or at least the smart ones) go for day drinking, brunch, catching a game, or even a first date. The food here is solid, and we recommend anything with lobster. In particular, that mac and cheese. Pick us up some when you’re there, please.

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