1 M.B. Post
If you're looking for a chic spot with amazing food, make sure to try M.B. Post (the 'M.B.' of course referring to 'Manhattan Beach) owned and operated by master chef David LeFevre, the man who earned the Water Grill its coveted Michelin star. At this modern-day tapas eatery you'll find artisan food and innovative hand-crafted cocktails in an atmosphere which reflects a laid-back but opulent South Bay vibe and still manages to pay homage to the space’s original 1960’s post office origins. The restaurant was designed by local architect Stephen Francis Jones of SFJones Architects, who chose opted to include exposed rafters, sun-bleached reclaimed wood, communal tables, whimsical embellishments like volleyball posts repurposed as shelving and a vintage post office desk in his design. In terms of the actual dishes, we recommend that you start with a the fleur de sel pretzel (which you must soak up with the horseradish mustard) and move on to dishes like pomegranate couscous, chicken meatballs, fried plantains and Thai marinated shrimp 'ceviche.' Make sure to try adventurous libations like Avila's Heir margarita and The Prophecy with Mexican Firing Squad and fidencio.
1142 Manhattan Ave (310) 545-5405
Darren’s is a jewel of a restaurant, and one that we can only describe as small but mighty. The space is tiny but extravagant: a great place to showcase chef/owner Darren Weiss' classical techniques and Pacific Rim-inspired dishes. Since its summer revamp, the Manhattan Beach institution has returned with a light and airy space with a nod to its beach location with interior tones of sand and teal, as well as with a floor to ceiling glass exterior which hints at modern European ambiance. Its new features seasonally inspired dishes like the wonderful Hawaiian Ahi poke, Jidori chicken kabobs, grilled to perfection and presented on a bed of pickled cucumber, "Lollypop" kale with roasted chestnuts, ginger, garlic, and seasoned soy, and the piece de resistance, baby yams with marshmallow, toasted coconuts and spices that are more like the best dessert you'll ever have than a side.
1141 Manhattan Ave. (310) 802-1973
3 Love & Salt
Pardon the pun, but we've fallen in love with this cool new eatery from the father-daughter team of Guy and Sylvie Gabriele. Here, the communal dining concept is in full force, with an extra long dining table as the centerpiece among a space that is defined by earthy touches like a granite bar, paneled poplar walls, exposed wood beams, ample natural light, and easygoing, relaxed décor. In terms of the menu, expect thoughtful Italian meets Californian menu from Chef Michael Fiorelli such as roasted glazed pig heads in ‘Odds & Ends’; and wood-oven pizzas with unexpected touches like the fantastic duck egg pie topped with guanciale, panna, potato, rosemary, mozzarella, and parmesan. You'll also love the fantastic libations menu, which includes kitschy (but delicious) cocktails such as the Lady in the Ballroom—grapefruit vodka, bell pepper, mint, St. Germain and lemon juice. The housemade limoncello is a must.
317 Manhattan Beach Blvd (310) 545-5252
4 Fishing With Dynamite
Fishing With Dynamite will totally put an explosion of flavor in your mouth. It’s out of this world. This is the second David LeFevre-owned eatery on our list, and is located just two doors away from his other delectable eatery, M.B. Post (save for the Subway in between that needs to get lost). Due to the restaurant’s popularity and space — it only seats 36 at capacity — you’ll be waiting for a long time to get prime reservations (sometimes upwards of four months!) but it’s worth it, trust us. The menu is divided into clever columns: Oysters, Raw Bar, Platters, Old School, New School and After School. In the Old School category, you'll find classic seafood dishes like Maryland Crab Cake, prepared with in-house dill pickles and whole grain remoulade; in New School make sure to indulge in dishes like the Black Miso Cod, delicately prepared with Japanese egglplant, adzuki beans, ginger and thai basil. Our favorite part of any meal is the dessert, and if you're like us, make sure not to skip the pretzel and chocolate bread pudding with caramel sauce.
1148 Manhattan Ave (310) 893-6299
5 The Strand House
The stunning Strand House has one of the best views in Manhattan Beach. It is a place where you'll indulge in fine dining and craft cocktails while gazing directly at the Pacific Ocean. The elegant space comes courtesy of owner Michael Zislis—a man responsible for many South Bay institutions—and chef Neal Fraser, who offers innovative interpretations on traditional dishes. You'll find everything from wood-fired pizzas to bouillabaisse to Norwegian Skrei here, all presented with produce from local farmers such as Coachella Valley's County Line and Carlsbad's Valdiva Farms. You can order high-end libations off of the 'Captain's List,' which offers the likes of Dom Perignon, Ace of Spades and Chateau Margaux, or, conversely, pick a fabulous confection from the cocktail menu. Our advice? The sunset is so supreme here that we'd suggest going for a drink before dinner and selecting the 'Sunset over Manhattan Beach'—Svedka Clementine vodka, fresh tangerine juice and blood orange cordial. Why not? It fits!
117 Manhattan Beach Blvd. (310) 545-7470