Heading to Manhattan Beach? Come for the beach, of course, but stay for the food, the shopping, and the nightlife. Yes, you heard that right. Manhattan Beach is not just a surfers’ hangout anymore. With its pristine beaches, small-town feel, and always-perfect weather, it has become a sought-after hometown for families and professionals, and an upscale destination for tourists. Stick around long enough and you’ll probably run into one of the many Lakers or Kings players who make their homes here.
This newcomer blazed onto the restaurant scene in 2011 and has made just about every “Best Of” list in the city. Billed as a “social house,” it features small plates meant for sharing, served in a wide-open space that lets in sunlight and beach air. Favorite dishes include the Vietnamese caramel pork jowls (no kidding), pomegranate cous cous, and roasted Brussels sprouts. And no matter what, do not miss the bacon buttermilk cheddar biscuits.
Unless you are walking in the sand, you literally cannot get any closer to the beach than The Strand House, an upscale new addition to the Manhattan Beach restaurant scene. This glitzy three-story edifice (formerly Beaches restaurant) is part restaurant, part nightclub, with phenomenal views of ocean sunsets. Specialty dishes include pizza, steaks, house-cured meats, and seasonal offerings. The kitchen even boasts a spit roast for roasting whole pigs or legs of lamb. Still hungry for dessert? Don’t miss the handmade donuts.
Looking for a relaxing meal with a nice beach breeze? You can’t beat the friendly, down-home atmosphere at Four Daughters Kitchen, located in Manhattan Beach’s North End (formerly known as El Porto). This cute little corner restaurant opens for breakfast and serves meals all day long, with fresh food, organic coffee, and a stocked bar. For breakfast try the scrambles, served with diced potatoes, carmelized onions, and pancetta. Favorite lunch and dinner dishes include 100 % Angus ground beef burgers, a salad with spinach and warm quinoa, and sweet potato fries.
Shoes AND chocolate – How can you go wrong? Skylar, the founder of Elleni Couture, says that she couldn’t decide whether she loved shoes or chocolate more, so she opened a store that features both designer shoes and gourmet chocolate. Try slipping on the latest pair of Badgley Mischka stilettos while savoring a lavender caramel chocolate – you’ll be glad your beach day took such a glamorous turn.
Why just have a cupcake if you can have a couture cupcake? Bakers Jenine and Stephanie, veterans of the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars,” combined their artistry to create a little shop that is as fashionable as the cupcakes are delicious. How does a Bailey’s soaked blackout cake with a praline crunch center, topped with Bailey’s caramel frosting sound? If that doesn’t suit your fancy, you can choose from a wide range of designer cupcakes – including gluten-free versions – or just sit in the fancy cafe area with a cup of coffee, and ogle the wedding cakes and cupcake towers.
Styling itself as a “denim destination,” this little boutique is the place to find personalized service on a wide selection of premium denim and other clothing and accessories. Come in to browse, or schedule a private shopping party for you and your friends. Experiencing a “24-hour jean emergency”? They’ll open the store for you, and they’ll waive the $50 charge if you spend more than $300.
Ready to see and be seen? Get your glam on at Zinc Lounge, part of the luxury hotel Shade in downtown Manhattan Beach. With sleek styling and both indoor/outdoor seating, the scene at Zinc is sophisticated and swanky. Seasonal cocktails incorporate a range of fruits, vegetables and herbs; popular drinks also include the “subzero” martinis, served in a glass made of ice. The craft kitchen serves up everything from petite sandwiches to tacos.
The nightlife continues just around the corner from Zinc at this “chic supper club meets sports lounge.” Formerly an early century beach house, 12 + Highland manages to maintain beach character while kicking up the style. Come for dinner or to watch sports with your friends, and then hang around long enough for 12 + Highland to turn into a lively dance club. Open until 2 am on Friday and Saturday nights.
Did you enjoy your time in Manhattan Beach? Was it enough to make you want to stay even longer? Check out Manhattan Beach Confidential, a cheeky insiders’ guide to the best in local real estate data, trades, and gossip.