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  The  Easy Reader's  " Best Of " Hermosa Beach for 2005 

The "Best of the Beach" 2006 - From: the Easy Reader

Best of Food 2006 Parts I - VI

Best of Life, Parts I - II

Best of Music 2006    Best Skate and Surf    Big, colorful bob art, Parts I - II


The Best Of Drinks, Parts I - III

Hit Counter

Best of Food 2006 Parts I - VI

The Easy Reader – March 23, 2006

Best of the Beach

Best of the Beach



Best of Food 2006 Part I


Best New York Bagel

Manhattan Bread and Bagel -
Our readers really like their bagels – the vote count in this category was very high, and Manhattan Bread & Bagel beat its closest competitor by only three votes. MB&B has an impressive variety of bagels and plenty of things you can do with them, from slathering them with various flavors of cream cheese and other spreads to stacking hot or cold meats and cheeses to make some of the best sandwiches in the neighborhood. Connoisseurs hang out in the morning to get hot bagels from the oven and just eat them plain, which is the ideal way to enjoy them.

Runner-up: Noah’s

Best bread bakery

Manhattan Bread and Bagel -
We split our bakery category into bread bakeries and pastry bakeries for the first time this year, and it produced an interesting result – Becker’s, which won the combined category for years in a row, came in second in both. Becker’s does everything well, but lost by a nose to specialists. Manhattan Bread and Bagel makes a decent cinnamon roll but otherwise doesn’t spend much time on sweet things – they’re focused on baking bread, long baguettes, pepper and Parmesan loaves, rosemary rolls, focaccia, and whatever else strikes their fancy. The hallmark here is the crisp crusts and fragrant, chewy interiors, bread that is fresher and vastly better than the stuff you get from grocery stores. If you can’t wait to eat it, you can always have a sandwich made on the spot and a cup of good coffee, and join the lunch crowd that enjoys the sunny outdoor tables and good coffee.

Runner-up: Becker’s

Best pastries bakery

Torrance Bakery -
The Torrance Bakery claims to be the busiest bakery in Los Angeles, and there’s no denying that the place is bustling all the time. There’s a good reason, or rather, a host of good reasons – the Danishes and doughnuts in the morning, croissants and pastries for snacks and lunch, and delicate Napoleons and cakes that go home to enliven family dinners. This isn’t even counting the lavishly decorated wedding cakes for which the Torrance Bakery is justifiably famous – there’s a display that feels like an art gallery of the confectionery world, icing sculpted into shapes and colors that will dazzle the eye. There are even sugar-free pastries for those on a restricted diet.

Runner-up: Becker’s Bakery

If the sign on the side of your building all but orders people to stop and eat at your restaurant, the least you can do is make the food affordable.


So, that’s what Eat at Joe’s does, earning it the BoB meal for under $10 honors.

Best lunch under $10

Eat at Joe’s -
Dining at Eat At Joe’s can make you feel displaced in time and space – you sit at big shared tables in a ramshackle room that feels more like middle America half a century ago than California circa now. They don’t spend much money on décor, and they pass the savings on to you. It’s hard to spend $10 for lunch here because everything is priced so low, but the sandwiches, burgers, chili, and omelettes will put a smile on your face. How they do it for this price we’ll never know, but they pull it off with style.

Runner-up: Ragin Cajun

Best brunch

Cheesecake Factory -
The Sunday brunch is a secular ritual. While it used to be the big meal that followed attendance at church, these days the people coming from services end up in line behind the folks who either attend services on other days or don’t go at all. Whether they agree or disagree on doctrine, everybody can agree that brunch is a bountiful meal best savored in a relaxed environment, which gives a big hint about why the Cheesecake Factory wins again in this category. The location overlooking the marina is idyllic in any weather, the offerings of Belgian waffles, eggs Benedict, and the like hits the spot, and service is excellent. And after breakfast, there’s always the option of a slice of cheesecake before you rejoin the everyday world.

Runner-up: Avenue

Best Crepes

Crème de la Crepe -
All by itself, a crepe is a simple thing, a thin pancake of buckwheat or white flour. When properly made, rolled with sweet or savory fillings, and served immediately, it becomes something much more. Crème de la Crepe has mastered this art; try their crepe stuffed with beef Bourguignon and you will experience the art of French peasant food. Follow that with one of the crepes with fruit, ice cream, chocolate mousse, or all three, and you will enjoy a decadent delight. Our readers appreciate the art of the crepe and are glad that this little outpost of France came to enliven upper Pier Avenue.

Runner-up: Petite Café

Best place to burn your tongue

Chabai Thai Bay Grill -
We don’t want to imply that everything at Chaba Thai Bay Grill is highly piquant, because it isn’t – there are many dishes here that can delight spice wimps. Still, when it comes to making things both very hot and very flavorful, Thailand is the capital of the world. The South Bay’s outpost of Thai style is Chaba, where classic country dishes of fried noodles and stir frys are joined by some innovative and serious cooking. If you ask for your dinner hot, you can warm your tongue to smoldering, and if you ask for it Thai hot your tongue may burst into flame. It’s a great kind of agony, and it puts the spiciest Texas chili we’ve ever had in the shade.

Runner-up (tie): Pacific Rim, Thai Dishes

Best Carnitas

El Gringo -
Nearly everybody agrees that carnitas starts with pork and ought to be served with cilantro and onions, but after that things become contentious. Should it be crisp, almost jerky-like, or soft? Spicy, or the essence of concentrated pork-ness, with just a dash of seasoning? Our readers favor the version served at El Gringo, which is about midway between the two. The chopped roasted pork has chewy scraps of end cut that give your teeth something to do, but plenty of tender interior, and it’s not really hot but there are some fragrant spices in there somewhere. It’s a fine balance, which they manage on a regular basis, and our readers appreciate the consistency.

Runner-up: El Tarasco





Best of Food Part II

The food’s great and the view from Hennessey’s Hermosa rooftop patio isn’t bad either. Photo by Kevin Cody


Best curry (tie)

Akbar and Chaba -
If we ever want to provoke a serious argument among our readers, we now know how – ask who has the best curry. The point spread was tighter in this category than any other, with only one vote separating the top three. Akbar and Chaba are tied for first, Addi’s one vote behind. What is interesting is that they’re three different types of restaurant – Akbar is a high-style North Indian, Chaba an innovative Thai, while Addi’s specializes in the food of the Portuguese colony of Goa in South India. Curry is after all an international phenomenon – Indian traders spread the cuisine from Africa all the way to Thailand and Indonesia hundreds of years ago. Whether you prefer the green and yellow curries of Thailand as served at Chaba or the variety of Indian curries you’ll find at Akbar or Addi’s, the adventurous diner is the real winner in the South Bay.

Runner-up: Addi’s

Dine with a book

Ocean View Café -
A good lunch and a good book is a great recipe for a relaxing afternoon, and the Ocean View Café in Manhattan Beach is the place of choice for our literature-minded voters. The healthy sandwiches and salads are probably best for those who are turning pages while reading, though you may have the soup if you’re careful not to spill any on page 137. The service here is efficient but relaxed, and lingering for another cup of coffee while you finish your chapter is acceptable. If you finish the book and still have half a cup, there are newsstands a few yards away – we recommend the current edition of this newspaper for your reading pleasure.

Runner-up: Ocean Diner

Best Discrete dining

Bottle Inn -
We won’t ask why you’re being discreet, because it’s none of our business, but we certainly know why you’ve chosen the Bottle Inn for your private dinner. This peaceful, rustic restaurant has always been a great place for lovers, and the secluded location allows you to enjoy a companionable walk on the beach after a fantastic Italian dinner and a few glasses of well-chosen wine. Those paparazzi and detectives who have been following you will have to stay outside, and the two of you will have some time alone together in the South Bay’s most romantic restaurant…

Runner-up:: Jackson’s Village Bistro

Best Asian noodles

W’s China Bistro -
W’s China Bistro specializes in Chinese food with hints of South American and Californian ideas, and many of their dishes have complex combinations of flavor. It might seem odd, then, that one of their most popular dishes is a plate of garlic noodles with chives. Odd, that is, until you taste them. W’s has a deft hand with all sorts of pasta, and the mild garlic sauce is a simple, fresh flavor that is endlessly enjoyable. Several excellent noodle dishes are available, from the light, crisp pan-fried noodles to the flat chow fun stir-fried with Szechwan sauce. Whichever you try, you’re guaranteed a satisfying dish.

Runner-up: Chaba

Best Eggroll

Szechwan Restaurant -
Eggrolls aren’t really Chinese; while the finger-sized spring roll stuffed with mushroom, bamboo shoot, and vegetables is common in Cantonese cuisine, the fat eggroll stuffed with cabbage, bean sprouts, and pork was invented by Chinese chefs in America. The more American version tends to have a thick, crisp skin rather than the papery original. Szechwan Restaurant’s eggrolls split the difference between the two – they’re smaller than the ones you find in most Americanized restaurants and the skin is thin and crisp, but they’re available both with and without meat. Hybrid they may be, but they’re a great start to a traditional Chinese dinner in stylish surroundings at this Manhattan Beach institution.

Runner-up: Bobo’s

Best Fish & Chips

Captain Kidd’s -
Though fish and chips is a classic English meal, the winner in this category is pure South Bay. Captain Kidd’s Fish Market has been around for decades, and if a creature lives underwater, they probably serve it, or will sell it to you to cook at home. Captain Kidd’s uses Icelandic cod for their fish and chips, and unlike many places that bread a big batch in the morning to save time, they batter their fish only after you order it. The result is flawless, the fish moist and flaky, the coating perfectly crisp. Your only problem will be restraining yourself from eating it until it cools – we recommend having a glass of something cool nearby in case you’ve judged wrong.

Runner-up: Underground

Business lunch

Hennessey’s Tavern -
Our readers evidently do business in a relaxed and casual manner; their corporate lunches are held in the lively atmosphere of Hennessey’s rather than more staid circumstances. And that’s a good thing – who wouldn’t like to get to know their associates over a good burger and a beer, perhaps on the patio next to a roaring fire. Those who analyze such things might try to figure out whether people who order the potato-crusted salmon tend to be hard bargainers, while the ones who choose pepper steaks are flexible negotiators. Spend some time with good food and good brew in a place like this, and you may leave with some new friends as well as a signed deal.

Runner-up: Chez Mélange

Best Flan

Riviera Mexican Bar and Grill -
The art of the egg custard is an ancient thing – though the oldest recipe for flan dates to around 1475, some types of custard go back to Roman times. Flan is different from other custards because it is water-cooked with caramel sauce, and it ranges greatly in color and texture; it can be honey-sweet or almost savory. Our readers favor the flan at Riviera Mexican Bar & Grill in Redondo, which is lightly sweet and has a tantalizing scent of vanilla. The texture is a marvel, so silky that it’s almost like a stiff cream, but while it is very light, this dessert is incredibly satisfying. If you already love the stuff, you should try their version, and if you have yet to experience it, this is the best place to start.

Runner-up: Hermosa Mexican



Best of Food Part III

A picture of Eat at Joes, winner of the Best Lunch Under $10


Best Fries

Houston’s -
The potato has been called The Root That Conquered the World for its speedy spread from the mountains of the Andes to a pivotal part of the world’s cuisine. We enjoy them boiled, baked, and roasted, but most popular of all is sliced and fried. In particular, people in the South Bay like them cut shoestring-thin with the skin on and done to a light crispness, because that’s how they make them at Houston’s. The mound of fries that flanks a Houston’s burger or sandwich might look impossibly large, but somehow by the end of the meal they’re gone – they taste so good that people keep eating them long after they’ve said, “Well, just one more…”

Runner-up: Hennessey’s

Best guacamole

El Gringo -
Guacamole in the South Bay ranges from very bland to surprisingly spicy, runny as water to something that breaks your corn chips, expensively made tableside to whomped up in industrial-size batches. Our readers have opted for a version that is moderate on all counts, served at El Gringo. There is a hint of spice, a fleeting flavor of citrus, a dash of cilantro and onion, all blended with the taste of fresh avocadoes. It’s a surprisingly subtle thing, worthy of contemplation – though we’d prefer to just enjoy it with some warm chips or atop our tostada, ourselves…

Runner-up: Riviera Mexican Grill

Best gumbo

Ragin’ Cajun -
The Ragin’ Cajun has a solid reputation, but it’s built on a liquid foundation – namely, the rich gumbo that is one of the mainstays of this popular restaurant. Whether served by the cup, bowl, or over jambalaya to create the dish called gumbolaya, the thick, warmly spiced stew with sausage, chicken, and seafood never disappoints. The Ragin Cajun has grown as a restaurant – longtime patrons can remember when there were just five tables in a crowded little space – and the menu has expanded to include a variety of Louisiana delicacies, but it is the gumbo that keeps us all coming back for more.

Runner-up: Café Boogaloo

Best Hamburger

Suzy’s -
We know there are people who actually like chain restaurant fast-food burgers, but we have never figured out why. The usual answer is consistency – they’re always the same, and you can rely on them, even if they don’t taste like much of anything. We have noticed that well-run restaurants can produce a consistent burger that actually tastes very good, and obviously our readers have too. Suzy’s burgers are handmade and tasty, and always cooked just the way you ask for them – try getting that at a drive-through window. If you want to be reminded just how good a homemade burger can be, you need go no further that Suzy’s. It won’t set you back much more than the junk food version, and you will taste the difference.

Runner-up: Houston’s

Best heart attack plate

Cheesecake Factory -  
We all have our guilty pleasures, and our readers’ favorite among them is the Cheesecake Factory. Perhaps we all go there telling ourselves that we will eat healthy, this time. We explain to our companions that here are all those salads and light pastas, the salmon in miso sauce, the other things that are good and good for us. Then we get inside the door of the restaurant and have to pass that loooooong dessert case full of beautiful stuff. All thoughts of dieting aside, we order a double cheeseburger or the honey-maple pork, extra potatoes, and cheesecake afterward. We’ll remember the healthy stuff on the menu again, but not until it’s time to return to the restaurant, and then the whole cycle starts over.

Runner-up: Coyote Cantina

Best Hip place

Harbor Drive -
Harbor Drive (the street) hasn’t exactly been the capital of hip cuisine in recent decades – most of the waterfront restaurants there catered to the business crowd and offered safe but unexciting food. Harbor Drive (the restaurant) has livened up Harbor Drive (the street) immeasurably, and a young and lively crowd has been flocking to enjoy excellent food and the hopping lounge scene afterward. The big room has a sense of both space an intimacy, a difficult trick to pull off, and the big, comfortable booth are perfect for the crowd that likes to table hop between groups of friends. Our readers like the happening space that is always lively but never too loud, and they’ve voted Harbor Drive as the hippest, most happening place in the South Bay.

Runner-up: Blue 32


Best hot wings

Hennessey’s Tavern -
Cynics will say that restaurants like to serve hot wings because they’re so spicy that much beer will be consumed to cool down the fire. This may be true, but it’s beside the point. We all wouldn’t be eating so many of Hennessey’s hot wings if we didn’t really like the sensation of heat and sweet, tempered with the cooling dip in some ranch dressing. It’s the culinary equivalent of a heavy metal ballad, powerful and soothing at the same time. And yes, they are good with a pitcher of beer, and we’re very happy that Hennessey’s has such a good variety on tap…

Runner-up: Paisano’s





Best of Food 2006 Part IV



Best Kung Pao

W’s China Bistro -

Some Chinese restaurants use Kung Pao dishes as an experiment to see just how hot an entrée can be before it burns through the plate. For those showoffs who like to drink Tabasco sauce just to prove that they can, this is fine, but the rest of us like some flavor with our heat. This is why W’s China Bistro won with a convincing lead in this category; their Kung Pao chicken has the requisite red peppers to make the dish lively, but the natural flavor of the chicken, peanuts, and vegetables is not overwhelmed. W’s version shows that Chinese chili dishes can be made with great subtlety, and that’s the reason they won this category.

Runner-up: Szechwan

Best lamb chop

Harbor Drive -
One of the major changes in the American diet over the last twenty years has been the rising popularity of lamb, which has gone from a curiosity to a staple of the restaurant menu. The meat that used to be inextricably linked with sweet mint jelly is now cooked in a variety of inventive ways, from traditional to wildly inventive. At Harbor Drive, the lamb chops are rubbed with Thai herbs and char broiled, then served with a white chocolate mole’ sauce, roasted rosemary and garlic risotto, and sautéed seasonal vegetables. The lamb is perfumed by the light herb crust, which combines wonderfully with the rich taste of the meat. This is truly a chop above the others, well worth the prize.

Runner-up: Petros

Best lasagna

Mama D’s -
Lasagna is one of the classic dishes we associate with Italian home cooking, despite the fact that so few of us really make it at home any more. Instead we go to Mama D’s, which handily won the competition for best lasagna in the South Bay. Theirs is the classic concoction of layered noodles, herbed tomato sauce, meat, and cheese, the hearty stuff we all grew up with. Fashions in Italian food may come and go, but delicious Sicilian comfort food is always in style, which is why the line at Mama D’s is almost as much a landmark as the restaurant itself.

Runner-up: Italy’s Little Kitchen


Best late night dining

The Kettle -
The South Bay has become quite a nightlife neighborhood, and the main streets of Manhattan and Hermosa bustle with people going to swank clubs and trendy bars. If you stay around until those trendy places close, you’ll see many of those people drop in at The Kettle for a late dessert or snack. If you stay around a bit longer, you’ll see the people who cooked and served those meals, the doormen at the clubs, and the rest of the people who make the nightspots hum. There’s something nicely democratic about the high rollers and the rest of us all enjoying the same good food at all hours, whether it be pancakes at four in the afternoon or zucchini parmesan at four a.m.

Runner-up: Mediterraneo

Best steak under $20

Manhattan Beach Brewing -
Some people were amazed that there still are places in the South Bay where you can get a great steak for under $20, but despite inflation and gentrification, there are plenty. It is possibly no accident that our top vote-getters are both places with a lively nightlife and bar scene, since prime steaks and quality libations have always been a winning combination. Manhattan Beach Brewing was the clear winner, a place where you can get a Cajun ribeye, New York Steak, or surf & turf for under $20, or a marinated skirt steak for under fifteen, all served with appropriate sides. There are plenty of burgers in this town that cost that much, none of which offer the luxury of a really good steak made to order.

Runner-up: Lou E Luey’s

Best old school dining

The Mermaid -
So many things have changed in the South Bay that a traveler who had been gone for a decade or two might not recognize the place. One of the rare exceptions is The Mermaid, a place that stubbornly remains stuck in the 1950s. The overstuffed booths, old wood, and classic clubby atmosphere are only part of the story – the menu is a museum piece of gigantic steaks and chops, good fried chicken and all manner of fish, with all the trimmings. It’s everything we like about old school dining, when going out was a really special occasion and a big American meal and a couple of martinis was just the ticket…

Runner-up: Old Tony’s

Best sushi take-out

New Tokyo -
If that spread of sushi at a party looks a bit too impressive to have come from the host’s kitchen, you may be looking at yet another platter from New Tokyo. This little place in the shopping center where Catalina meets PCH may look like just another hole-in-the-wall fast food joint, but it has a strong following among our readers, nosing out runner-up I-Naba by one vote. You may be surprised at how much quality sushi you can get from New Tokyo on a reasonable budget – platters that will serve as a main course for two or appetizer for many more start at less than $25. At prices like this, a sushi dinner is a very affordable luxury.

Runner-up: I-Naba

Veggie burger

The Spot -

The Spot was the first place in the South Bay to offer a veggie burger, and our readers say it is still the best. The thick patty of natural ingredients has a lightly crisp crust and chewy interior, and is served on a whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, and the usual accoutrements, but not fries – the Spot’s almond rice is a far healthier choice. If you’d like a beer with that burger, they’ll oblige with one of several organic and tasty ales. It’s a great take on the traditional American lunch.

Runner-up: Rocky Cola

Best value wine list

Mediterraneo -
One of the joys of dining on tapas is the freedom to experiment – if you order something and don’t particularly like it, someone else at your table probably will. If nobody does, you can just order something else, because all the tapas plates are all relatively inexpensive. Mediterraneo has wisely taken the idea of tapas to their wine list – a lot of variety by both the glass and bottle, low prices, and high quality across the board. This gives those who appreciate the winemaker’s art a chance to try some very fine beverages and develop ideas about what styles of wine they like, knowledge that will be useful every time they consider a wine pairing. As so many people pay for wine education classes, it’s nice to know that the South Bay has the perfect place for those who prefer independent study…

Runner-up: Rock N Fish





Best of Food 2006 Part V


Best special occasion wine list

The Bottle Inn -
A restaurant that aspires to have a great wine list needs more than just money; they need an owner who knows wine and is willing to buy the ones that are good now and will be superb in a few years, or a few decades. Silvio Petoletti of The Bottle Inn is one such scholar of the grape, and in the four decades that his restaurant has been open, he has assembled a wine list that has no equal in the South Bay. There are good values at all levels, as well as some bottles that are perfect for the occasion when you want to celebrate a memorable evening with a memorable wine.

Runner-up: Second City

Best Ocean view dining

The Chart House -
Our readers favor the classics when it comes to ocean view dining. Winner The Chart House has been in business for over thirty-five years, and little has changed inside except for a few modern items on the menu. They have a great view of the breakers from a distance of a few feet, so very little has changed outside either. Runner-up Old Tony’s has been around even longer and changed even less – those who appreciate funky 50’s nautical style will love the decor, while the rest of us are enjoying the view from the upstairs room of the waves breaking against the pier. At either place you can enjoy very good seafood and steaks, and the delicacies on your plate will distract you from the view.

Runner-up: Old Tony’s

Best tapas

Mediterraneo -
The habit of dining on appetizers has become established in the South Bay, with many places offering tapas that stray far from the original Spanish cuisine. Nevertheless, when it comes to tapas, our readers prefer a place that is probably the most traditional in the area. Though simple items like fine Spanish cheeses, olives, and Serrania ham are always available, Chef Amber Caudle studied Spanish traditions and serves some delicious regional specialties that are rarely seen on this side of the Atlantic. Fill the center of your table with the small plates of fine food, order up a flight of excellent Spanish or California wines, and you can easily imagine that the ocean at the end of the block is the Mediterraneo.

Runner-up: Avenue

Best Patio dining

Hennessey’s -
Here’s a measure of how much people like to dine on the patio at Hennessey’s: they are still there even when it’s raining. On a recent drizzly day there were still a few brave souls on the patio in Hermosa watching the gray waves come in. (Those big umbrellas that usually protect us from the sun work fine in the rain too.) We didn’t check the Redondo Hennessey’s, and we’re sure the covered patio at Manhattan Beach was even more popular, as the fireplace there keeps things comfortable even when it’s pouring. We suspect they sell more Irish coffee than beer when it’s soggy out, but we’re sure that the food and service are as good as always, regardless of the weather…

Runner-up: Sangria

Best slice of ‘za

Paisano’s -
Those who like thick crust pizza and those who prefer thin can stop arguing - Paisano’s has both, and do them so well that this little Hermosa Beach institution took top honors yet again. Now if they could only make one that is thin on one side and thick on the other, some families would never argue again. Unless, or course, the topic turned to which of the multitude of toppings they should have atop that crisp crust. OK, Paisano’s doesn’t have the secret to universal harmony, but we can all agree they have some darn fine pizza…

Runner-up: Valentino’s

Best Reuben

Juniors DeliBoys -
The classic Reuben is one of the glories of the old-fashioned Jewish deli, a sandwich with corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a dash of thousand island dressing on grilled rye bread. The new Juniors DeliBoys in Manhattan Beach has an edge in the Reuben department, with fresh-baked rye, high quality deli meats, and a general philosophy in favor of bountiful portions. If you want to have an old New York moment, order one and sit at an outdoor table in the plaza with a good book, something deeper than the Hollywood tell-alls. It feels almost like civilization…

Runner-up: Eat at Joe’s

Some restaurants dazzle with atmosphere, some with the food. RockNFish dazzles with both, keeping the pressure on the kitchen with ever more challenging daily specials.

Best Specials

Rock N Fish -
Those who dine out regularly will notice that the specials at a restaurant frequently are far more creative than the regular items. This is because the chef is free to experiment with new ideas on that menu, and the best are likely to make it onto the everyday list. At Rock N Fish the chefs have fun with the specials, which might include seasonal vegetables or seafood that are only available only a few weeks a year. Savvy customers scan this menu first, even if they have come into the restaurant with a craving for an old favorite. The weekly specials on both food and wine at Rock N Fish show outstanding creativity and are priced very reasonably, contributing to the mystique of this Manhattan Beach institution.

Runner-up: (tie) Chez Melange/Manhattan Brewing Co.

Best Ribs

Chicago for Ribs -
We have heard the proverb that you can’t get good ribs in a good neighborhood, and while it may be true as a general rule, there are exceptions. Exhibit A is Chicago For Ribs, the chain that started in Redondo Beach and seems to have ambitions to conquer the world – they’re as far north as Ventura now. The tangy, spicy sauce and tender ribs are a hit with our readers, who have awarded the Best Of prize to them again. Runner-up Lucille’s, offering smoky Texas-style ribs have also achieved a devoted local following.

Runner-up:: Lucille’s


Best of Food Part VI


Best Romantic Dining

Bottle Inn -
Romance is an elastic concept, and wherever you met that special someone might be romantic afterward, even if it’s the bowling alley. However, we will venture to suggest that the local lanes can’t compete with the Bottle Inn for romantic dining – the last we checked the bowling alley only served hot dogs and burgers, and if they lowered the lights to set the mood, the league bowlers would be upset. The Bottle Inn offers fine Italian cuisine, a splendid wine selection, a cozy atmosphere of soft light and low music, and no requirement to rent shoes with little numbers on the back. What more could you ask for, we wonder…

Runner-up: La Rive Gauche

Best When Somebody Else is Paying

Kincaid’s -
We all have restaurants we’d like to visit more often, the places that leap to our lips when the boss asks for suggestions about where to hold a business lunch or that well-heeled uncle comes to town. We’ll happily listen to ramblings about business strategies or stories about nephews we haven’t met in order to enjoy a meal at Kincaid’s – the food is excellent, and the view of the pier and ocean is so beguiling that we have a great excuse for staring out the window. Try some of the home smoked seafood, order some of the really good wines on their bill, and plan a return for a special romantic dinner. It is indeed possible to have a good meal at Kincaid’s on a budget, but it’s really fun to dine on someone else’s…

Runner-up: La Rive Gauche

A town can’t aspire to a reputation for great food without a great submarine sandwich. That’s the niche Big Mike’s fills in Hermosa. Their Philly cheesesteaks aren’t no slouches, either.

Best Submarine

Big Mike’s -
We’re sure that the sandwiches at Big Mike’s taste just as good when you get them to go, but we like to have them there just because it’s so interesting to watch them being made. The guy working the grill can keep a couple of Philly cheesesteaks going at the same time he’s doing four other things, one of which is making our sub sandwich. We watch the generous portions of meat, cheese, lettuce, and pepperocinis sorted, assembled, and arranged into a beautiful meal, and darned if we aren’t really hungry by the time we’ve watched him create the thing. It’s a feast for the eyes, followed closely by one for the stomach…

Runner-up: Mickey’s

Best Sushi happy hour

Club Sushi -
The phrase Happy Hour is so associated with alcohol, it’s surprising to note that one of Hermosa’s most popular happy hours has no booze specials at all. At Club Sushi most of the sushi menu is half off between four and six PM every day – a great reason to meet someone for appetizers prior to an evening on the town, or just to start a meal at Club Sushi a bit earlier than you might otherwise. If you do decide to pair your seafood with a beer, wine, or one of their excellent sakes, they’ll be glad to assist you in selecting an appropriate libation…

Runner-up:: Sushi Sei


Best Upscale Steak

Fleming’s -
There is more to a great steak than a great piece of meat, as any home cook who has ruined one can tell you. Fleming’s has chefs who know exactly how to achieve the perfect tenderness and doneness you request, and they’re backed up by a team that recommends wines, prepares sides, and does everything to make a great piece of meat into the centerpiece of a great meal. There’s a reason that Fleming’s has won our readers’ votes just about every year since they opened – even in an area with lots of competition, they are the reigning experts of steak.

Runner-up: Union Cattle Co.

Best Vegetarian

The Spot -
Some of our readers have been going to The Spot since they were children, and are taking their children there now – the place has been there since 1977. That doesn’t mean there has been no innovation, since there are always items of interest on the chalkboard by the register. Still, the consistency of this place is part of the charm – if you loved the garden burrito or mushroom-walnut loaf you had here ten years ago, it’s still on the menu and it’s just as good as you remember.

Runner-up:: Green Temple




The Hermosa Beach Neighborhood Association

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