10 Great Restaurants in the South Bay
The South Bay is a large swath of the county that tends to fall off the rest of L.A.’s radar. But while the area that hugs the Pacific coast between LAX and the ports is more often a fly-by on the way to points south, it’s home to a slew of dining options that make driving the 405 worth every bumper-to-bumper mile.
In honor of this region — which is a mix of beachy and suburban, working-class and upscale, white-bread and diverse — we’ve compiled a list of great restaurants, something for every need. We're pretty sure you'll find what you're looking for.
For Eating in a Piece of Punk Rock History: Abigaile’s
Abigaile is a classy brewpub built on the ashes of “The Church,” an abandoned Baptist church in Hermosa Beach that became ground zero for South Bay’s nascent hardcore punk scene in the early ‘80s. Bands like the Descendants, Circle Jerks, Redd Kross and Blag Flag played and hung out there; some of the latter group's members even lived there. Today, the only hint that anything punk happened here is a wall of tagging (“Punk Is Not Dead”) courtesy of Pennywise's founding guitarist and tattoo artists from the shop he now owns. A copper brewhouse dominates the center of the sprawling space, churning out house IPAs and pale ales. There's a view of the sparkling water, and the menu (like Pennywise itself) is edgy yet approachable — and full of reimagined international dishes courtesy of executive chef Tin Vuong. —Sarah Bennett
1301 Manhattan Ave., Hermosa Beach. (310) 798-8227; abigailerestaurant.com.
Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Rock & Brews employees
Rock & Brews
For Hanging Out With Aging Rock Stars: Rock & Brews
The coolest thing about the two Hard Rock Cafe–like Rock & Brews in South Bay is that partners Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons are actually sometimes there, eating burgers and drinking craft beer with the masses as if they weren’t the two co-founding members of Kiss. Their presence is further evidence that Rock & Brews is a place for reliving the glory days, even if most of the people who lived them in the first place are now 9-to-5ers looking for a place to drink a beer and occupy the children. At both the original El Segundo and the newer Redondo Beach locations, an open-air-concert vibe permeates the experience, where flat-screen TVs play live ‘70s and ‘80s rock performances on loop, servers are pretty girls wearing laminated backstage passes (their nametags), and one corner of the space offers a colorful play area where the next generation of rockers can lose their minds. —Sarah Bennett
6300 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach; (310) 378-4970. 143 Main St., El Segundo; (310) 615-9890. rockandbrews.com.
For a Great Bowl of Ramen: Jidaiya
The South Bay has been home to a large population of Japanese and Japanese-Americans for decades, even more so after several of the major Japanese automakers moved their operations into the area. Thus there are more solid ramen options per square mile in the area than in most any other place in the country, with Jidaiya among the best of them. This ramen shop, located in a plaza just off the 405, looks like the sort of roadside restaurant that Tampopo may have had if she’d had the luxury of space. Inside, you’ll walk past a corner dedicated to old-school Japanese candies and trinkets and sit down to enjoy Jidaiya’s wonderful tonkotsu and miso ramen; its tsukemen is stellar, too. And if you order the UFO Dumplings out of sheer curiosity, you will be rewarded with half a dozen gyoza, pan-fried together so they fuse and form a crust of sorts, then flipped over onto a plate as you might a pineapple upside-down cake. Reasonable minds and FBI agents may differ on whether this looks like a UFO. That it’s pretty awesome, though, is a fact upon which we all can agree. —Tien Nguyen
18537 S. Western Ave., Gardena. (310) 532-0999; jidaiya-usa.com.
Sea urchin bowl at Maruhide Uni Club
For When You Want All Uni All the Time: Maruhide Uni Club
Any L.A. uni tour probably would find its natural, gluttonous ending point at Maruhide Uni Club. The restaurant has become a beacon for the uni-infatuated bargain hunter: Whether you're looking to spend $13 or $130, its sole purpose is to fill you with as much uni as possible. Located in a Torrance strip mall, Maruhide Uni Club is the retail outlet for the Long Beach wholesale company Maruhide, which sells sea urchin and sea cucumber to the Japanese and domestic markets. Every day, Maruhide's ship collects sea urchin and sea cucumbers from north of Santa Barbara and transports them to the company's Long Beach processing plant. From there, some go to Japan, some go to wholesale markets in the United States, and some go to Maruhide Uni Club, where the urchin is the restaurant's main (and only) romance. You can get uni pasta, uni rice bowls and, with advance notice, a 10-course uni tasting menu. —Besha Rodell
2130 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Torrance. (310) 323-2864; maruhide.us.
Chicken and waffles at Pann's
For Greasy Spoon Before a Flight: Pann’s
If you wanted to design the quintessential L.A. greasy spoon — as romanticized by Quentin Tarantino — the half-century-old Pann’s is pretty much a spot-on blueprint (many customers mistakenly credit it as the diner from Pulp Fiction). No matter your thoughts on Googie architecture, high-test black coffee or gray-haired waitresses, however, it’s hard to overlook the appeal of the crispy waffles and golden brown chicken wings that seem to land at every table. To their credit, the short-order cooks behind the ticket-strewn pass are equally proficient at gooey patty melts, Cobb salads or gravy-smothered pot roast. Is there any better way to gird your rumbling stomach before a long-haul flight out of LAX? —Garrett Snyder
6710 La Tijera Blvd., Westchester. (310) 670-1441; panns.com.
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