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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

California Dreamin' from Marina Del Rey to South Bay

Summer and love is in the air!  I just returned from sunny Southern California for my best friend's wedding.  Turns out in the year since I've lived there a bunch of great new restaurants have opened up in the South Bay area!  Not to mention some other great options that have been there the whole time but were the first time I'd experienced them.  More below!

Located on Pier Ave in Hermosa Beach, this was the restaurant of choice for the wedding rehearsal dinner.  The interior of the restaurant is like walking into a little cafe in Tuscany.  There are painted plates on the warm yellow walls and leafy greenery throughout the restaurant.  It was very homey and welcoming.  We had a special menu for the dinner but the bruschetta I specifically remember being incredible.  I ate my portion and probably three other peoples' as well.  If this food was any indicator this is a great place for dinner.  I definitely recommend.

MB Post
This is a newbie in Manhattan Beach and it was one of the best restaurants I've ever eaten at.  We went for bridesmaid brunch before the wedding and I had the truffle honey-laced fried chicken with kholrabi slaw.  I literally tried to bite off all ten of my fingers to savor the rest of the flavor.  I'm salivating just thinking about them right now.  And I washed them down with a lovely bloody mary which was delicious as well.  I highly recommend this restaurant although I hear that reservations are very hard to come by so get on it now!

Photo Credit: MB Post Website


Hot's Kitchen 
Another newbie since I lived in L.A., Hot's Kitchen is another Hermosa Beach restaurant I hit up over the wedding weekend.  My friends mentioned that they often run out of ingredients and the service is mostly a "miss" but I ate here twice during my trip with two different groups of people and both times the service was fine and the tacos incredible.  I had the....

Mojo - crispy chicken, carmelized onion, cilantro, mojo sauce
Dirtybird - onion, jalapenos, tomatoes, bacon, pepper aioli
Steak and Potato - tri-tip, mashed potatoes, bacon, green onions,
sour cream
Ancho - pulled pork, cilantro, crispy onions, ancho BBQ sauce
Hamachi - roasted shishito peppers

The Mojo and Dirtybird were two of the best tacos I've ever had.  The Ancho was a little too meaty and the steak and potato not quite flavorful enough but still good.  The Hamachi tasted fresh and fell somewhere in the middle.  I would definitely come back.  Very good sizes to.  I believe it was about $4 a taco and three is definitely overkill if you are only somewhat hungry.

The restaurant itself has an extensive beer menu and a fun outdoor, beachy feel to it.  I liked it a lot.

Photo Credit:

Our after wedding brunch was at Establishment - a long-loved favorite of my Hermosa Beach friends.  The manager is an awesome dude and this place is just as good as a laidback brunch spot as it is a fun nighttime dance party.  I shared the breakfast pizza with a friend.  It was huge but very tasty.  Easily could feed three fairly hungry girls.  The bloody marys were also delicious (seeing a trend eh?)  Highly recommended as always.

Photo Credit: Establishment Website

My evening dinner on the way to the airport was at Sugarfish which is located in a strip mall in Marina Del Rey just like every good sushi place in L.A.  The fish on the sushi was so beautiful it pained me to eat it - oh wait no it didn't - it was superb.  I'm big on the spicy sauce and they don't really offer that (very traditional menu) but the fresh fish more than made up for the lack of crazy rolls.  I would definitely recommend.

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So for those of you who have visited LAX, you may have seen the crazy looking structure rising up amid the parking lot structures within the airport.  The top floor of this monstrousity houses Encounters, a crazy alien-looking bar that looks out over the airport.  Turns out the drinks here are pretty damn good - I ordered a mojito and was pleasantly surprised.  Not sure I need to come back but it was cool to finally see what's inside!

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