Tonya Beaudet was perplexed when a strange sign appeared on the door of her favorite restaurant in 1980. Before long, she deduced that “Here today, gone to Maui” meant that its surf-crazy owner had traded California’s waves for those of Hawaii. Filled with visions of organic feasts, she scrambled to buy the shop, otherwise known as The Spot Natural Food Restaurant. House-made vegetarian fare has ruled the menu for more than 30 years, transforming Tonya into a meat-free eater and converting unabashed carnivores into legume lovers. Sautéed mushrooms and onions crown the restaurant’s veggie burger, whose blend of beans, seeds, and soy cheese the Travel Channel deemed “jam-packed with flavor.” Brown rice and whole-wheat tortillas lend wholesome goodness to hearty burritos, savory garden omelets brim with seasonal produce, and organic ales and purified water refresh palates between bites, preventing diners from plunging into the nearby ocean. To accommodate a wide range of dietary needs, the kitchen can prepare meals without wheat, dairy, or sugar. Tonya and crew’s cookbook helps diners recreate their favorite dishes at home, using healthy ingredients such as garden-grown veggies and raw agave.
Though the name of their business venture has been synonymous with finery and prestige for more than 100 years, the chefs at The Rockefeller never stop looking for ways to add even more weight to the name. Specializing in artisanal pub eats, the chefs whet appetites with fresh, briny oysters, which often serve as a savory prelude to braised-short-rib tacos or apricot-enriched duck confit. Inventive yet selective, the culinary magicians also infuse waffles with bits of bacon, topping each creation with fried chicken and pads of clover-honey butter. Pair any of these eats with any one of the bar’s 24 craft brews on tap and there’s bound to be some magic or nonmagic belches in the air.
Not to be outdone by the back-kitchen specialists, the servers claim domain over a setting that’s as quietly elegant as the offerings on the menu. A stone-pillared, covered patio with skylights contrasts the rich wood tones of the indoor dining room, with both spaces primed for special events that range from the no-frills 99-cent gourmet-burger days to wine Wednesdays. The space also plays host on Thursdays to cult-movie nights, an especially appetizing event for those who enjoy the taste of cheesy celluloid.
Pacific Pedal Cruiser's 14-person cruiser bikes help passengers work up an appetite as they power the pedal-equipped vehicle toward Hermosa Beach restaurants and bars under the guidance of an experienced driver. As tunes lilt from the bike’s iPod-equipped sound system, passengers work their way toward pit stops at bars, such as Patrick Molloys, Underground Pub & Grill, Barnacles Bar and Grill, and other area establishments, refueling with dining and drink specials before resuming their breezy cruise. Bikes welcome the collected members of a bachelorette party or birthday fete for camaraderie-filled private tours or forge new friendships between couples and people tired of waiting at the impound lot during public tours.
Studio Restaurant and Lounge is equal parts food and festivity. Here, filet mignon sandwiches and country-fried chicken are regularly served to the beat of drums, the strum of guitars, or the stylings of resident and guest DJs. Red and green light drenches the crowd on the dance floor as well as diners digging in to burgers and bacon macaroni ‘n’ cheese. Studio Restaurant and Lounge also entertains its guests with football nights and speed-knitting tournaments.
Skinny Minny’s invites customers to control their own dessert destiny with self-service stations to fill cups with non-fat, low-fat, no sugar added, and sorbet swirls sprinkled with as many toppings as they see fit. A full hour of unlimited yogurt throws the doors wide for an onslaught of creations that combine pistachio and chocolate under a blanket of toffee or cheesecake mountains studded with a forest of blueberries, kiwi, and strawberries. Cap’n Crunch can scale to the frosty apex of premium low-fat peanut butter fro-yo or slide down the fudge-drenched slopes of non-fat Georgia peach yogurt. Yogurt’s natural colonies of beneficial active cultures make it a healthy alternative to soft-serve ice cream, and, much like colonies on Roanoke Island, mysteriously disappear after exposure to the elements.
Yelpers give El Gringo Mexican Restaurant in Redondo a three-star average. The Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach locations have a 3.5-star average, and TripAdvisors give the Hermosa Beach location an average of four owl eyes: