9 Iconic Eateries And Watering Holes In The South Bay

9 Iconic Eateries And Watering Holes In The South Bay

Corned beef and cabbage spaghetti, braised pot roast quesadillas, La La Land’s jazz membership, and notorious ‘Fireplace Chief’ cocktails that may blast your head clear off. All of those will be discovered within the South Bay, that huge span of southwest L.A. County that ranges from LAX all the way down to San Pedro and inland to Carson.

The South Bay’s been a dynamic area, from the creation of the port of L.A. within the early 1900s to the oil growth of the 20s, through the aerospace sector within the mid twentieth century and the automotive trade within the 70s and 80s. It’s grown with varied waves of immigrants from completely different components of the world, including to its tradition and native meals scene.

And this primarily coastal area has many quirky, old-school eating places and bars to discover if you’re uninterested in higher L.A.’s of-the-moment choices.

Listed here are 9 iconic South Bay eateries and watering holes that stay as vibrant as ever.


Spoon Home

1601 Redondo Seaside Boulevard, Gardena
(310) 538-0376

Spoon House’s founder Shin Orio moved from Tokyo to Los Angeles within the mid-Nineteen Seventies, and he rapidly observed that the Japanese eating places he frequented didn’t serve his favourite dish from again house: spaghetti.

He determined to take issues into his personal arms and fill that pasta-sized void, leaving a profitable actual property profession behind to open up Spoon Home in Gardena in 1984. The informal area is among the solely wafu, or Japanese-style, spaghetti outlets within the Los Angeles space. It has been serving greater than 30 completely different globally-inspired spaghetti dishes for the final 4 many years.

Spoon Home’s hottest order is tarako fashion which options al dente pasta tossed with salted cod roe, butter, and soy sauce (you can too add squid, seaweed, shiso herbs, and kimchi pickles in case you actually need the total wafu impact). If extra conventional spaghetti sounds interesting, go for the Mexicana (salsa plus beef, rooster, or shrimp) or California-style with avocado, sliced cucumber, imitation crab, and light-weight mayo (suppose California roll-meets-pasta).

For probably the most adventurous, there’s even an Irish-themed corned beef and cabbage spaghetti that works a lot better than anticipated. The prolonged menu additionally has a bit for the noodle-averse crowd, just like the $1 blended greens salad (it’s actually been one greenback for years), hamburger steak dinner, or seafood porridge. Subsequent time you’re within the temper for pasta, cease by this distinctive Japanese spot in Gardena.

Manhattan Seaside

Pancho’s Restaurant

3615 Highland Avenue, Manhattan Seaside
(310) 545-6670

Occupying a light white constructing beneath a dated marquee and Spanish tile within the El Porto part of Manhattan Seaside, the legendary Pancho’s restaurant continues to attract crowds in search of a meal, drinks, or to pre-game earlier than an evening out. What was once a normal retailer, BBQ spot, and produce stand turned Manhattan Seaside’s first Mexican restaurant when the Sampson household took over in 1945.

Eccentric entrepreneur Abbott “Abb” Lawrence then purchased the property in 1976, launched the infamous cartoon caricature emblem of Pancho sporting a thick, black mustache and sombrero, and utterly reworked the area to its present state. The inside now resembles a brightly lit, multi-level Mexican hacienda with a beautiful tree-lit courtyard, and the kitchen dishes out simple Mexican fare.

The Kettle

1138 Highland Avenue, Manhattan Seaside
(310) 545-8511

The half-century-old Kettle, and its unmissable black cauldron and neon inexperienced “Open All Evening” signal, sits within the coronary heart of Manhattan Seaside simply three quick blocks from the ocean. It’s the solely 24/7 restaurant within the space and serves because the communal eating room and patio for the seaside city.

The Kettle is a haven for consolation meals, making it the suitable place to take pleasure in a weekend brunch or a late-night binge at native dive bars Shellback Tavern or Ercole’s. The go-to’s are the membership sandwich, hearty French onion soup, greasy patty soften, or braised pot roast which will be added to a quesadilla or omelet.

Actually any request is doable in keeping with the customizable tri-fold menu (“that is solely a information, please be at liberty to be artistic” is famous on the high), however don’t neglect to attempt a signature heat, crumbly honey-bran muffin…400+ are made day by day in keeping with normal supervisor Jeff Byron.

As for the backstory, the restaurant’s authentic proprietor Wally Botello was a stakeholder within the Criterion, one other diner in downtown Manhattan Seaside within the Sixties. Allegedly Wally had a falling out along with his Criterion enterprise associate, then took over the Atlantic Richfield fuel station property on the nook of Manhattan Seaside Boulevard and Highland Avenue, and constructed and opened the Kettle in late 1973 solely to place the Criterion out of enterprise (appears like a Curb Your Enthusiasm-style “spite retailer”).

In 1976, Wally retired to Palm Springs the place he ultimately opened the legendary Wally’s Desert Turtle restaurant, and offered the Kettle to restaurateur Arthur J. Simms, patriarch of the Simms Restaurant Group that features notable South Bay establishments like The Arthur J, Simmzy’s, Tin Roof Bistro, Fishing With Dynamite, and MB Post. The Criterion ultimately went beneath whereas the Kettle stays within the Simms household and has been a landmark ever since.

Hermosa Seaside

The Lighthouse Cafe

30 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Seaside
(310) 376-9833

The unassuming brick exterior, retro neon signal, and Pancho’s-like marquee are outliers in distinction to the trendy seaside bars and open-air eating places on the Hermosa pier, however the ageless Lighthouse Cafe, an integral venue in the 2016 musical film La La Land, has been a jazz membership and dwell music joint for over 70 years.

It opened in 1940 as one of many first bars in downtown Hermosa Seaside, and a small stage was added to the staid warehouse-like inside to draw native musicians and finally enliven the place. The beachfront membership started recurrently that includes a jazz brunch in 1949 after band chief Howard Rumsey coaxed authentic proprietor John Levine to inexperienced gentle weekly jazz performances each Sunday. The Lighthouse ultimately turned the South Bay scorching spot for West Coast jazz.

Although the brunch meals was nothing to write down house about, the weekly jam classes turned fairly fashionable amongst jazz followers close to and much, and the “Howard Rumsey Lighthouse All-Stars” attracted well-known visitor musicians like Chet Baker, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis to play in entrance of a packed Lighthouse crowd.

Shortly after Levine handed away in 1970 and Rumsey moved on to different ventures in 1971, South Bay restaurateur Paul Hennessey took over and handed reserving obligations to South Bay resident and jazz fanatic Gloria Cadena who simply so occurred to be the mom of Dez Cadena, founding member of iconic Hermosa punk band Black Flag.

Though Hennessey reluctantly determined to promote the Lighthouse to a choose group of personal buyers only recently, he was assured that there can be only a few modifications to the remainder of the membership (save a badly wanted overhaul of the meals and beverage choices.)

Gloria Cadena nonetheless runs the jazz program with performances happening 5 to 6 days every week. Chef Joshua Luce and barman Lee Farrell have been introduced aboard in 2021 to revamp the meals and cocktail applications respectively. The up to date menu now options gadgets like a scorching rooster sandwich, pimento mac and cheese, cod fish tacos, and a wide range of native craft beers. There’s additionally basic and specialty cocktails (attempt the Hermosa punch, a shaken rum, fruit juice, and pinot grigio concoction that one way or the other works).

Extra importantly, the legendary jazz brunch is again in full drive after a two-year COVID-enforced pause, so make sure to cease by on a lazy Sunday morning and revel in some pancakes, avocado toast, a cold-brew infused spark plug cocktail or Bloody Mary, and an up-and-coming jazz trio will probably be on stage improvising their hearts out.

Redondo Seaside

Tony’s on the Pier

210 Fisherman’s Wharf, Redondo Seaside
(310) 374-1442

At any time when a South Bay native references Tony’s, it’s sometimes adopted with a chuckle or head shake, principally as a result of after-effects of the nautical-themed restaurant’s well-known ‘Fire Chief’ cocktail. Tony’s souped-up model of a Mai Tai provides a 151 floater and grenadine to assist it go down simpler than it ought to, however the comfort prize is that the nifty cocktail glasses are complimentary.

Based on bartender Frank, he has made upwards of 200 Fireplace Chiefs in a six-hour shift, and a busy summer time Saturday can yield greater than 300 Fireplace Chief orders with the restaurant now at full capability. A number of Fireplace Chiefs amongst buddies, particularly throughout Tony’s nightly sundown countdown custom, can result in some attention-grabbing nights and tough mornings, and the two-story restaurant has seen loads of these in its 70 years of existence.

Shortly after coming back from World Struggle II, Anthony “Tony” Trutanich opened his namesake spot on the Redondo Seaside pier in 1953 as a substitute for spending lengthy, unrewarding days on industrial fishing boats. He totally invested his money and time into the lovingly nicknamed “Previous Tony’s” and met his spouse there when she utilized to be a waitress.

Presently operated by his sons Tony Jr. and Michael, the rickety, multi-level construction might use a facelift, but it surely nonetheless options sweeping, open-air views of the South Bay from the first-floor eating room and even higher views and vibes from the upstairs ‘crow’s nest’ lounge.

There’s a seafood-heavy meals menu as effectively, and traditionally-prepared choices like sand dabs, oysters Rockefeller, and crab Louie together with much less frequent gadgets like smoked salmon chowder or a aspect of linguine with clam sauce. The very best entrée is the cioppino which contains a mound of clams, mussels, crab, swordfish, shrimp, and sea bass together with a half-loaf of garlic bread.

Although the meals is greater than serviceable, patrons don’t sometimes cease at Tony’s to eat; they’re right here for the nightly dwell music, beautiful views, Fireplace Chiefs, and tiki bar vibe, and you need to be too.

The Bull Pen

314 Avenue I, Redondo Seaside
(310) 375-7797

There’s one thing mystical about strolling right into a classic L.A. steakhouse. Maybe it’s as a result of mid-century eating places have gotten an endangered species on the town. Or perhaps it’s the anticipation of tucking right into a worn vinyl sales space, chatting with the long-time barkeep, devouring a juicy steak in a dimly lit eating room, or admiring the vintage tchotchkes and signed headshots of Hollywood starlets. Both manner, the Bull Pen in Redondo Seaside affords all of this stuff after which some, and it’s been a South Bay relic for over 70 years consequently.

It began in 1948 when proprietor Cliff Miner opened “King Cole’s Bull Pen” as a burger joint throughout from Redondo Union Excessive Faculty on PCH, however he and his spouse/co-owner Mona determined to alter the format after getting meager enterprise from excessive schoolers.

They shortened the identify, moved to a south Redondo strip mall in 1978, and turned the Bull Pen right into a full-fledged neighborhood steak and gathering place. Earlier than they each died, Mona and Cliff needed to provide again to the group they grew up in, in order that they hosted quite a few charitable occasions on the Bull Pen earlier than turning the restaurant over to sons Don and Rod.

The transition was easy, the convivial spirit stays, and diners nonetheless love the largely unchanged meat-and-cocktail menu. You may’t go flawed with the rooster piccata, tri-tip soften or delicious burger, however the acceptable order is as follows:

  • 12 oz. prime rib medium-rare
  • totally loaded baked potato
  • home backyard salad with gentle ranch.

Don’t neglect about the home cowl band that performs Fridays and Saturdays, and make sure to order one other martini whereas having fun with Chicago and Journey tunes…you’re assured to go away blissful, tipsy, and fairly full.


Szechwan Restaurant

2107 Pacific Coast Freeway, Lomita
(310) 534-2280

Dim sum and dumplings are by no means a nasty thought, and there are fortunately dozens of locations to go in higher Los Angeles when the temper for Chinese language meals strikes. Most folk follow the tried-and-true eateries within the San Gabriel Valley or downtown L.A.’s Chinatown, however Lomita additionally has an under-the-radar assortment of Chinese language eating places.

The South Bay Chinese language meals renaissance all began with Szechwan restaurant, the world’s first dim sum and seafood specialty spot opened by chef/proprietor Andy Kao in 1980. Chef Andy initially emigrated to Southern California within the mid-1900s, minimize his tooth working within the kitchen at just a few Chinese language eating places in Monterey Park, and he determined to open his personal place after seeing quite a few family and friends transfer to the quickly rising South Bay within the Nineteen Seventies.

The Lomita restaurant is housed in a nondescript beige constructing on an industrial part of PCH, sporting an unmissable purple signal, inexperienced awnings, a number of dwell fish tanks, and the enjoyable, old-school push cart dim sum service. The carts solely roll round throughout lunch hours these days, however they’re nonetheless fairly fashionable with alternatives starting from savory turnip truffles and BBQ pork buns on the low finish to pork siu mai dumplings and beef tripe on the excessive finish.

There’s additionally an expectedly prolonged dinner menu which ballooned as much as almost 300 gadgets a number of years in the past however has been pared all the way down to a much less overwhelming 150ish for now. Quite a lot of soups, noodle dishes, beef, poultry, pork, and seafood are all out there so even the pickiest eater can discover one thing interesting. To make the decision-making course of just a little simpler, begin with the dim sum sampler that features pork, shrimp and scallop dumplings, or the pu pu appetizer platter which incorporates wontons, egg rolls, BBQ beef, rice paper wrapped rooster, BBQ ribs, and fried shrimp. Cap the meal off with the enjoyable “seafood in noodle basket” specialty entrée, a smorgasbord of scallops, shrimp, contemporary squid, fish, and veggies sautéed after which served in a ‘basket’ of crispy noodles.

There’ll most likely be leftovers, however make sure to snag both the purple bean balls or egg custard for dessert earlier than heading out the door.

Rolling Hills Estates

The Authentic Purple Onion

736 Bart Earle Means, Rolling Hills Estates
(310) 377-5660

The Red Onion’s quaint Southwestern motif options tumbleweeds, cactus, and even swinging saloon doorways. The six-decade younger Mexican restaurant sits in a Spanish-tiled adobe constructing within the coronary heart of the Rolling Hills countryside surrounded by trails, stables, and ranch-style houses, and it’s not unusual for horseback riders to clip-clop all the way down to the small primary drag for a meal and cocktail.

When the Rolling Hills location first opened in 1963, it was really the third Purple Onion that Bart Earle and his father Harry began after Inglewood (1949) and Hawthorne (1958). The Earle household ultimately expanded the franchise to as many as 26 areas throughout the Southland as demand for Mexican-American fare grew, particularly with the recognition of locations like Casa Vega within the San Fernando Valley and El Cholo in higher Los Angeles.

Nonetheless, household authorized points, over-extension, noise complaints, and lease will increase precipitated 25 of the 26 eating places to shut, and Bart’s son Jeff Earle is the proprietor tasked with preserving the ultimate (or ‘authentic’ because the Earles now discuss with it) restaurant afloat on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Since Jeff and his workers are working one of many solely Mexican eating places within the space, they’ve loved a long term of success by serving moderately-priced, well-executed classics (suppose tamales, tacos, and enchiladas with a number of masa and carne) within the rustic eating room and courtyard.

Many of the menu’s recipes have been created by Jeff’s great-grandmother and Sonoran native Catalina Earle within the early 1900s. Stand-out entrees embody the Rooster Santa Fe (rooster breast filled with sauteed mushrooms and topped with a big Ortega pepper) together with the Steak Zapata which is filet mignon simmered with roasted peppers and mushrooms.

The bar program affords Mexican beer, a wide range of wines, and some signature cocktails, together with the candy, tart Paloma with Squirt or the deliciously spicy jalapeño Mezcal Margarita. When within the temper for big parts of home-style Mexican meals complemented by infinite chips and salsa, cease by the timeless Purple Onion for an inexpensive, gratifying meal, and the very actual chance of seeing a horse strut by the entrance door (this does occur on occasion).

San Pedro

J. Trani’s Ristorante

584 W. ninth Road, San Pedro
(310) 832-1220

Graduations, anniversaries, rehearsal dinners, or date nights…regardless of the event, the family-operated J. Trani’s Ristorante in San Pedro is the place to go. Maybe it’s the murals of the Italian countryside, flowing wine, vigorous eating room, vintage chandeliers, baskets of heat garlic bread, or twin brick chimneys — this place simply seems and looks like house and has been a gracious South Bay host for many years.

Initially opened in 1925 because the Majestic Café by Filippo Trani after he emigrated from central Italy, J. Trani’s has been serving coastal Italian fare in downtown San Pedro for nearly 100 years. The identify and site have modified barely through the years, however the restaurant’s vibrant Italian spirit has been saved alive by the Trani household for 4 generations (the J. stands for Filippo’s son Jim who started serving to his father within the late Thirties).

Head chef Dustin Trani is the great-grandson of Filippo, and his kitchen’s motto is “preserve it easy, silly.” That theme is strongly conveyed in favorites like the superb grilled calamari, spaghetti, and jumbo meatballs, or the savory rooster marsala, all of which will be shared family-style. Dustin does push the envelope on just a few specials although just like the distinctive and fashionable caramelized pear pizza together with the roasted maple leaf duck gnocchi. Adventurous or secure orders apart, make sure to save room for the blueberry almond panna cotta for dessert…it’s the proper nightcap for a festive night with household and buddies.

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