Chef Tyler Gugliotta of Baran’s 2239 has been eating his way around Los Angeles his entire life. Now, with an excellent restaurant in Hermosa Beach serving food with wide international influence, Gugliotta does much of his eating in the South Bay and beach cities. With his broad-ranging tastes and huge enthusiasm, Gugliotta is the perfect guy to guide us to the best places to eat near the beach. From burgers to cocktails to a great place to shop for cheese (beach picnic!), here are his suggestions.
10. The Standing Room, Hermosa Beach
"I decided to start the list off with a burger, because when you want one nothing else will really suffice. The Bull Burger at the Standing Room has bulgogi, American cheese, cheddar, kimchi and shishito peppers. The patty is thick, juicy and medium rare. It’s a cool spot by the beach, and they have a huge whiskey selection and some nice beers on tap, too." 1320 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach; (310) 318-1272, thestandingroomrestaurant.com.
9. Bay Cities Deli, Santa Monica
"The Godmother: The name says it all. My favorite Italian cold cut in L.A. Many people agree with me. Every day Bay Cities is packed with people waiting to get their mitts on one of these beauties. You walk in and most people grab a number and order from the counter. They do have lots of other options that are great as well, but they pre-make Godmothers (both spicy and mild) and they sit in a basket toward the back. I actually prefer the sandwiches from the baskets because it gives the bread a chance to soak up all those flavors and soften up a little bit. They’ve been making these things for decades, and they deliver every time. If you do opt to wait and order, walk through the aisles and look around. They have all kinds of cool stuff." 1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 395-8279, baycitiesitaliandeli.com.
8. El Burrito Jr. aka LBJ’S, Redondo Beach
"A bean and cheese burrito is such a simple pleasure, but few places do it like LBJ’s. The 'Special C' is just a bean and cheese burrito with a choice of drink for about $6. It’s definitely a thing here in the South Bay. The ratio of queso to frijoles is on point, and the tortilla is soft and steamed by the time you unwrap it. It comes with salsa and chips, which are always fresh, hot and crispy." 919 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Redondo Beach; (310) 316-5058.
7. Tony’s on the Pier, Redondo Beach
"I don’t order mai tais. I never will be a mai tai kind of guy. But when I go to Tony’s I always get at least one Fire Chief. It’s just what you do when you go there. It’s their signature drink — basically, a mai tai with a 151 rum float. A couple of these guys will have you swaying on your bar stool. They don’t use particularly great rum, and there is no mixology involved. It actually kinda reminds me of a red Flintstones vitamin that I used to take as a kid. But in a good way? This place is just pure nostalgia for many people in the beach cities. The roundhouse upstairs has a gorgeous view, and there’s often local musicians getting down on some acoustic guitar. Order a Fire Chief and you get to keep your glass. Half my glasses are Tony’s glasses." 210 Fisherman's Wharf, Redondo Beach; (310) 374-1442, oldtonys.com
6. Andrew’s Cheese Shop, Santa Monica
"You like cheese? I do. If you haven’t been to this cool little cheese shop, then you should probably change that. Andrew the owner really knows his stuff, and he’s got stuff coming in from all over the world. Hooks 15-year-old cheddar … yeah aged 15 years! Crazy good. Testun Barolo — this cheese from Italy is wrapped in the grape skins left from the Barolo wine-making process and then aged in Barolo barrels. There’s nothing else like it. This place is totally worth a trip on its own, but I usually hit it up after the Wednesday farmers market." 728 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 393-3308, andrewscheese.com.
5.The Tasting Kitchen, Venice
"Some might say that I’m biased because I used to work here, but the fact is the Tasting Kitchen has some of the best pasta in L.A., period. They make all the pasta fresh every day and they always have a dozen or more to choose from. My favorite is, and always will be, the bucatini. Amatriciana reminds me of my time spent in Rome, but this version is probably better than any I had in Italy. The sauce is done with pork stock and house-made tesa (like pancetta but flat) and tomato conserva. It’s just an amazing take on a classic. It’s a fun place to hang out, too — good people-watching and one of the better bar programs around." 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 392-6644, thetastingkitchen.com.
4. Painter's Tape, Gardena
"For a different breakfast or lunch option on your way to the beach, Painter's Tape is one of the best. They are still pretty new, and the food is spot on. Chef Atsushi was the chef de cuisine at MB Post a while back, and his Gardena establishment is such a great addition to the neighborhood. Salads are clean and fresh, sandwiches and buns are satisfying, and there is nowhere in Gardena doing anything like what they do. The crew there does an amazing job. I'm just excited they are there and hope they open for dinner at some point." 1725 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Gardena; (310) 353-3780, painterstapellc.com.
3. Locale 90, Redondo Beach & Hermosa Beach
"About six years ago I went on another European trip and spent some time in Naples learning about true Neapolitan pizza. Totally changed my view of what pizza is and is not. In the South Bay, nothing gets closer to true Naples-style pie than Locale 90. The dough makes a crust that is chewy and crispy, which is key, and the tomatoes are always San Marzano. I can easily eat a whole pizza myself, but it's fun to order a few and share with friends. I keep it classic with at least one margarita, but the white brussels sprout pie is also amazing." 1718 S. Catalina Ave., Redondo Beach; (310) 540-9190. 1040 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach; (310) 372-9090, locale90.com.
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2. Fishing With Dynamite, Manhattan Beach
"All the stuff here is super fresh and done extremely well. It’s easily my first choice if I want to slurp oysters and sip on bubbles or a glass of Sancerre. My favorite dish, though, is not from the raw bar. The Koshihikari rice is basically a Japanese risotto — perfectly cooked creamy rice done with chicken dashi, crab, shrimp and an egg yolk. It's briny, savory, buttery, with just enough lemon to cut all the richness. The restaurant fills up quick, so I suggest making a reservation. Manhattan Beach is a fun place to cruise around, though, so go before you eat or after and grab a drink somewhere and watch all the beautiful people." 1148 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach; (310) 893-6299, eatfwd.com.
1. Egg rolls at Chubby Rice, Hawthorne
"These are people that I love and respect. Owners Linda and Joe are really cool, and they are doing their own twist on Chinese takeout. You can absolutely dine in, and it's even better. The egg rolls and the General Tso's are better than anywhere else around. The whole menu is always so flavorful, and they change it up when they feel like it." 12836 Inglewood Ave., Hawthorne; (424) 456-4341.