Manhattan Beach, CA
Food Travel

10 Reasons Why You’ll Love Visiting Manhattan Beach, CA

Manhattan Beach is the quintessential small Californian city by the beach! Here’s why I love it…

Manhattan Beach is a laid-back southern California town with a rich history. Located just a few miles south of L.A.’s main airport, LAX, it’s may be one of the best and closest spots if you have a day or two layover or stop in Los Angeles.

The ‘Strand’ bike and walking path separates beautiful homes from wide stretches of beach. Many of these houses are concrete and glass, some are 1930’s cozy beach cottages and others have a traditional Cape Cod style – there are dozens of other architectural styles – all of them create a welcoming atmosphere.

Mural designed by Rachel Rodi in Manhattan Beach, CA

I’ll concentrate on the highlights of downtown Manhattan Beach, where there are boutiques, brunch cafes, pubs and restaurants.

Here are some of the reasons I love Manhattan Beach:
Top 3 Restaurants in Manhattan Beach
Top 3 Shopping Experiences in Manhattan Beach
Top 3 Things To Do in Manhattan Beach

FOOD:

1: Fishing with Dynamite

Fishing with Dynamite

This place is one of my favorite places for birthdays and anniversaries. It’s casual but upscale and seafood centric. Their menu is divided into Old School and New School with some classics like fish and chips, and raw bar favorites as well as dishes with a creative twist like their grilled octopus, mentioned below. FWD has a great vibe and ambience; the art is nautical and whimsical. They make everyone feel like a local as the staff is friendly but professional.

I can recommend:
The grilled octopus (tomato date chutney, braised cranberry beans, candied lemon)

The hamachi sashimi (citrus ponzu sauce, crushed avocado, serrano chile and shiso)

All their seafood dishes are excellent and their raw bar and shellfish are incredibly fresh. With items from the raw bar they also bring saffron aioli, mignonette and superb cocktail sauce to bolster the natural shellfish flavors. Ask for the citrus ponzu sauce too, trust me!

Their key lime pie is truly outstanding but their pretzel bread pudding (salted caramel and mascarpone) is otherworldly. It would be my last meal on death row if they deliver or if someone would bring it to me!

Their cocktails are amazing and I tend to be kinda picky. On my birthday they had me describe the flavors I’d like in a drink and nailed it with some sort of passion fruit based – skinny (not too sweet) margarita. Just perfect.

Pro Tip: They don’t have many tables, make reservations by calling or using OpenTable

More: Website, Yelp, OpenTable

2: The Strand House

The Strand House

“I have a New-American free style way of cooking that blends inspirations from cuisines all around the world.”

Executive Chef Austin Cobb, The Strand House

This impressive family owned restaurant has a two story wall of windows with 180° views of the Pacific Ocean, surfers and the pier. There’s something for everyone at this upscale restaurant, a very well stocked bar, a casual downstairs bar if you have a party, a cozy nook with a fireplace and a big dining room. This is the kind of place where it’s bit more expensive but they go the extra distance to make the visit memorable.

On one occasion, while making reservations for our anniversary, I quickly mentioned a cute story about my wife, when we arrived they had left a sweet, personalized note at her place setting. Nice. A great way to start a great meal.

My wife and I have gone a bunch of times for drink and the enjoyed the chef’s board – a cheese & house-made charcuterie served with wood-fired rustic country white bread, fruit & nut bread seasonal preserves, gherkins, spiced nuts.

Dinner options include:

Ora King Salmon – smoked crème fraîche, haricots verts, pee wee potatoes, dill, slow roasted onion, bacon vinaigrette, everything breadcrumbs

Wild Mushroom Tagliatelli – wild arugula, Parmesan espuma, thyme, garlic, white wine

Branzino – black truffle risotto, Hon Shimeji mushrooms, crispy baby artichokes, English pea nage

Pro Tip: Make reservations and go at sunset!

More: Website, Yelp, Reservations

3: The Kettle

The Kettle

This is a good ol’ American diner, open 24 hours, serving hearty food. They have a large patio and super friendly staff.

The Kettle has been there since 1973 and is a Manhattan Beach institution! If you are looking for comfort food – a few blocks from the beach, this is your place.

From my visits and what I’ve read on Yelp and a few other reviews, the stand outs are the MUFFINS, French Onion Soup, French Quarter Burger, Banana Pancakes, Fried Zucchini with Buttermilk Ranch, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce and Crabcake Benedict.

More: Website, Yelp, Traveladvisor

Other food suggestions:

Manhattan Beach Creamery They make 28 small batch flavors daily. There is usually a line going outside the door, if that tells you anything about the popularity!
Uncle Bill’s Pancake House Constructed as a house before the turn of the century, it is a reminder of the once sleepy and relaxed downtown beach atmosphere. Really awesome inside or out for a lazy Sunday brunch. Try to get there early, there’s always a wait!
The Izaka-Ya by Katsu-Ya Delicious sushi & other Japanese tapas.
Kreation Cold Pressed & Premium Juice, wraps, soups, snacks and more. The Salmon salad is always a winner!


SHOPPING

1: {pages} – a book store

{pages} a bookstore

After a day in the sun, it’s time to seek some shade. Head into town and tuck into some of the great shops.

First stop is Pages, an independent, clean, modern and well-curated bookshop. Unlike Amazon, you can get real help from real people and enjoy the knowledgeable staff PLUS you are supporting a local merchant!

{pages} has something for all ages, as their site notes, it’s a place “where reading, meeting and discussing books is a way of life.” They regularly host author events and book signings, weekly story times, and four monthly book clubs.

Naturally they offer books on everything, fiction, non-fiction, children’s, cooking, surf, coffee table books and bestsellers. They will help you find that perfect book for the beach, the plane, or for you to read in your favorite chair. 

More: Website, Yelp, Instagram


2: Nikau Kai – Waterman Shop

Nikau Kai – Waterman Shop

Nikau-Kai (pronounced: Knee-Co K-eye)

This shop, established in 2011, is the ideal mix of, “hand curated apparel, gear and accessories for those who love surfing and the lifestyle that accompanies it. Our inclusive and welcoming views allow us to help you do better in and out of the water.”

This “funky little waterman shop” has some of my favorite clothing. They have ocean inspired graphics with a 70’s style but with a modern California twist. The hoodies may be the softed I’ve ever felt and they are well made.

They offer surfboard and boogie board rentals. Jason is the owner and except when he’s surfing, he’ll probably be there.

Note: Closed Tuesdays

More: Website, Yelp, Instagram


3: DACHA

DACHA

DACHA is a fun shopping experience. It’s like walking into a curiosity cabinet. Dacha embraces the idea that your house should be a retreat – a place to recharge, re-engergize, a place of beauty and inspiration.

DACHA offers art & objects, furniture, tabletop goods, soft accessories. The very well curated shop includes vintage and globally sourced works. They carry eclectic, layered, soulful and beautiful works.

“I love visiting someone’s home and looking at their books, art, objects, old family photos. All of these pieces tell a story about the history and interests of those who live there.”

Lauren Gregory, founder and owner of DACHA

More: Their website’s gallery shows off their art and object better than I could possibly describe them.
Yelp

THINGS TO DO

1: The Manhattan Beach Pier

The Manhattan Beach Pier

Originally completed in 1897 the pier was replaced after the being destroyed by the winter storms of 1913 -14. The pier is the oldest concrete pier on the West Coast and State Historical Landmark.

You may recognize the pier as you’ve seen it in movies like Falling Down, Point Break and Starsky and Hutch.

The pier features the Roundhouse Aquarium which is temporarily closed. The Aquarium is free to the public. Wikipedia points out, “the Aquarium includes a shark tank, tide pool touch tank with animals common to Southern California, tanks with lobsters, and baby sharks as well as brightly colored, non-native fish and invertebrates.

From the pier you can relax, chat with fishermen, watch surfers below and spot the occasional sea lion or dolphin.

More: Website, Yelp, Instagram.

2: Bruce’s Beach

Around town there are several parks, one of my favorite is Bruce’s Beach which has an interesting history. Bruce’s Beach is a terraced hillside, perfect for a picnic, watching boats from a few blocks away or playing with your dog.

3: One Wave Surf School

One Wave Surf School

Good old vitamin Sea is amazing for physical and mental health. Surfing is a perfect way to enjoy the beach, ocean and exercise! But you need to learn to surf? Need help improving your surfing? Though I have not participated in this school, their results on Yelp are very impressive.

When you are ready, One Wave will provide everything required for your surf experience, all you need to bring is beachwear, a towel, and a bottle of water. The Surf Experience is $100 for one person (private lesson).

They also have a program consists of eight surf lessons known as ‘skill sets’.

More: Website, Yelp

A few Amazon books to consider:

As an Amazon Affiliate I earn on qualified purchases.


Additional things to do in Manhattan Beach:


The Manhattan Beach Library is one of the nicest libraries I’ve visited.
Please note it is currently closed due to the pandemic so check their site before going.

PREVAILING AFFINITIES by Kathy Taslitz
in the Manhattan Beach Library

To visit a park like no other, a little further inland, visit Sand Dune Park, basically it’s a very large sand dune, probably best for kids.

Manhattan Beach Farmers Market – Tuesdays, 11am – 3pm

More options and reviews for Manhattan Beach from Traveladvisor.

Have you visited? Let us know your favorite spots below.


More Travel articles on BraverGuide.



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