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.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Fishing With Dynamite
Fishing With Dynamite, a small seafood spot owned by the people behind Manhattan Beach Post, is one of the best raw bars in the city. We like to visit during the day, when the space is bright and feels like you might actually be in Montauk. Their top-notch oyster selection changes daily, so chat with your server about which ones are particularly good, and then order a platter of chilled Peruvian scallops topped with a punchy citrus marinade to round things out. We also love their blue crab roll that comes on a soft milk bun, and the sweet, briny Koshihikari rice porridge, which is packed with shrimp, crap, and uni, then finished with a runny egg yolk.
photo credit: Benji Dell
Love & Salt
There are many forgettable Italian restaurants in Manhattan Beach, but Love and Salt isn't one of them. 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.
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Esperanza Cocina De La Playa
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 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 shrimp and pineapple one is sweet and tart, with lots of plump shrimp tossed in a spicy mango-tajin broth. Share it at a table near the entrance to catch a nice breeze while watching sandal-clad crowds clog the sidewalks on their way to the pier.
If you want sushi and a scene in Manhattan Beach, head to Katsu-Ya or Sugarfish. If you just want great sushi, period, head to Pisces Sushi. This small mom-and-pop restaurant along Highland Ave. 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 just the right amount of sauce. If you want to appreciate the quality fish that makes Pisces a gem, though, get a few pieces of nigiri or sashimi, or their popular chirashi bowl, which comes decorated with fanned-out slices of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, shrimp, and scallop.
Manhattan Beach Post
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.
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, beach-y 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.
Uncle Bill's Pancake House
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.
Un Caffe Altamura
Un Caffe Altamura is a counter-service European spot that’s about as casual as someone’s living room. It’s versatile, since it’s open for breakfast and lunch service during the day and transitions to a wine bar in the evenings. There are plenty of smaller bites on the menu and few dishes cost more than $20. From ham and cheese croissants to matcha pancakes with blueberry-basil crème fraîche, they serve the kind of food you’d want after a morning Pilates class beneath the pier. If you’re looking to share something more substantial, they also have a couple of seafood pastas and entrees like a piece of grilled salmon on brioche.
The Arthur J
We’ll get right down to it—The Arthur J is swanky. It’s a steakhouse and expensive and looks like somewhere Don Draper would take his clients. All those attributes make this retro spot Manhattan Beach’s best option for a blowout meal. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s the same chef behind FWD and MB Post, and that’s a resume of astounding success. This isn’t your once-a-week drop-by spot, but if you’re looking to go big and stick your face in a 16oz. rib eye, Arthur J is where you do it.
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.
Brewco Manhattan Beach
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.
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.
While there’s always been a decent crop of casual Mexican joints in MB, nothing comes close to El Sombrero. This 40-year-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.
The Strand House
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’re not going to 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.
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.
Tin Roof Bistro
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.
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 is serving 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.