Imagine a town where you can walk the streets at any time of day and feel safe, where real life (not movie) surfers hike barefoot up and down steep California hills during sunrise and sunset, where incredible chefs come to hide out from “LA,” where boutiques have one-of-a-kinds, where you can bike along the Pacific Ocean (for exercise or bar hopping or both), and….
…where life just feels good.
This is my ode to Manhattan Beach.
In October 2007, I had the opportunity with my company to open an office in Los Angeles. Upon arriving in LA I drove straight towards the water and two miles later stumbled upon the most charming town. If you happen to end up in Manhattan Beach around sunset, drive West on Rosecrans straight towards the Pacific Ocean. First you will see gorgeous landscaping, well-kept houses, a mexican joint, 2 yoga studios, and a few bars. Once you top the hill you will then see steep sloping hills with stacked “Full House/San Francisco” type houses crunched together, every one of them trying desperately for the view of the last second of today’s sun.
The closer you get to the water along the famous “Strand“ the houses are upwards of 10 million dollars and many look more like 5 or 6 houses together, not single family homes. If you are in the market for one I say go for it.
In 3 years living in Manhattan Beach Peter and I conquered “it’s like riding a bike again” with our beach cruisers, savored restaurants that I will forever crave, and we got our “California Fix.”
Most people who live in Los Angeles feel that the South Bay isn’t really LA. I just loved being outside the mix of the craziness that is LA, 1 block from having my feet in the ocean, and yet still able to head out to a bar in Santa Monica when we’d like.
Here are a few of my suggestions if you end up in Manhattan Beach:
Sashi: This sushi restaurant was our go-to every Sunday for Sunday Funday and really any other time we ate out. The Crispy Rice Spicy Tuna is insane, I haven’t been able to live with the Taiwan Ramen Noodle Soup (I even tried to make the recipe at home!), and I always had a hard time deciding on the Lychee Martini or the Strawberry Mojito. (Update: Sashi is now closed! Chef Makoto has a restaurant in Miami now called Makoto in Bal Harbour. He is following me of course!)
Simmzy’s: One of the only bars with an outdoor area in Manhattan Beach (unbelievable I know). They have an ever-changing chalkboard of beers and on weekends they have a flavorful peachy White Sangria. We usually stopped here on our weekend bar crawl bike rides. The pulled pork sandwich is well worth the stomach ache.
Side Door: Ivy covered hole-in-the wall gem that I stumbled upon one of our first nights out in MB. It is a super tiny lounge with live music many Friday nights house music others. It is here I found a love for Grey Goose Orange served ice cold with a sugared orange wedge. The food is even good, though I didn’t realize they had any the first few years. They have a members only club upstairs which just leaves you wondering…
Local Yolk: The best lazy weekend breakfast. They do have a small area of outdoor seating. Large portions, family feel, only open for breakfast and lunch. Everything tastes great, especially the corn beef hash.
Shellback’s: I think my MB friends will be surprised I am putting this on “the list,” but I had to. We ended up here every time we went out at the very end of the night. Rico and Joe the bartenders became our friends that I looked forward to seeing. This is a “small plastic cup” type of bar that gets wild at night. It has one of the only panoramic views of the Manhattan Beach Pier out of restaurants or bars on Manhattan Beach Blvd. The chicken tenders for lunch are beer battered and so good.
Spa Elegance: Small garden spa with a beautiful storefront. Rarely have I found an esthetician I could not replace, but I did here. Emily is incredible and she does the best brows in the world. I’m really picky too because wax usually irritates my face. The massages are wonderful, the facials use incredible smell good/feel good products, and everyone is very nice and helpful. Book a massage in the garden with your honey.
:::Manhattan Beach Sunset:::
:::don’t come without your board:::
We hosted barbecues almost every weekend, looked forward to fireworks before Christmas rather than the 4th, and we grew to love (ok maybe not) being able to overhear our neighbor’s conversations since the houses were so so close.
I can’t say I was ever ready to leave Manhattan Beach, but I was ready to be near home (friends and family in Florida). We left knowing we’d miss it and never being able to forget it.