Hello Manhattan Beach Food Tour!

I am so blessed to be able to call the South Bay home. Beautiful views, sunny weather and pure beach side bliss; what more can a girl ask for? I was thus so thrilled to learn about Manhattan Beach Food Tour, a new tour launching just in time for this summer. In this food tour, visitors go on a culinary journey all over Downtown Manhattan Beach.  Being a foodie and a beach cities girl, I was very happy to be part of the very first tour they had today.

Well known for their world class restaurants; Manhattan Beach is the perfect town to try out some of the best cuisines.

We started off our tour with a visit to Paradise Bowls and had the Gaucho Açaí Bowl.

The Manhattan Beach location is the very first location for Paradise Bowls. It first opened in 2013 in Manhattan Beach by UCSB alumni, Alex Graham and Justin Segal. The Gaucho Bowl is tribute to their UCSB days. Gaucho is the UCSB mascot and this bowl would do any UCSB alum proud. It’s a yummy treat with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, açaí and apple juice. This was the perfect start to a the tour.

Our second stop was Jimmy’s Kouzina. Here we had their delicious Cheese Boat.

This fresh baked cheese boat is a great representative of both the Italian cuisine and Greek cuisine that Jimmy’s is well known for. It is shaped just like a Greek sailboat and is topped with a Casera cheese and Parmesan cheese. Casera cheese is a creamy cheese from Northern Italy. I love how they make their own bread here at this restaurant known for both Greek and Italian delights.

The third stop of the tour Simmzy’s. Here we had one of their most popular dishes, The 15 Minute (but worth the wait) Wings!

This was definitely one of my favorite stops of the tour. The wings are not your ordinary wings and definitely worth the wait ;). They have both a little bit of spice and a little bit of sweet! They’re served with Simmzy’s homemade blue cheese dressing. The Simms restaurants are some of most delicious restaurants in Manhattan Beach and it was great to have Simmzy’s as part of the tour. It was even more special to have a chance to try their famous wings.

For our fourth stop, we went to Rock N’ Fish. Here we got to they their Coconut Crusted Mahi Sliders.

Rock N’ Fish is the first full service restaurant of Manhattan Beach restaurateur Michael Zislis. This restaurant is very popular for their seafood dishes and though it’s not often that I have seafood; I just had to try a dish here. I have to say these mahi sliders were a pleasant surprise and very enjoyable. The crispy mahi mahi was smothered with sweet chili aioli and topped mango slaw and avocado. I loved the mix of flavors.

Our fifth stop was our last savory stop of the day; El Sombrero. Who says tacos are only for Tuesday’s? We got to feast on some of Manhattan Beach’s best tacos today!

When entering El Sombrero; the owner’s first greeting is “Welcome home.” “El Som” as locals fondly call it has been a part of Manhattan Beach since 1975. The simple, hometown feel and traditional Mexican food is something that struck out from the moment I waked in. It really did feel like home and I loved their tacos! We got to try their crispy beef tacos and grilled shrimp tacos. Hearty, meaty beef inside with and crisp shell outside; these beef tacos are some of the best tacos I’ve ever had. The grilled shrimp tacos were also wonderful. These were served with soft, fresh tortillas. It is no wonder this place has been a favorite of locals for so long.

It truly was beautiful day and we had the sweetest ending. Manhattan Beach Food Tour’s last stop was Manhattan Beach Creamery. Here we got to enjoy their Cream’wich.

Manhattan Beach Creamery is the home of the original artisan ice cream sandwich. It’s so fitting we got to try their original Cream’wich. It was the perfect sweet ending for a sunny day and awesome tour. The Cream’wich we had was a delightful ice cream sandwich with two chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream in between. The cookies and ice cream are special to Manhattan Beach Creamery. The cookies are from their Karelia Bakery and the ice cream is freshly made in house.

Though Manhattan Beach Creamery was the official last stop of the day. We actually had a very pleasant surprise at the end when our awesome tour guides, Lauren and Amanda gave us a customized surfboard cookies from Becker’s Bakery.

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The surfboard cookies are Becker’s Bakery’s signature cookies. I was so touched to receive these cookies! They were customized with my name as well as one for my mom; who was my guest for this tour. It was also special because it represented Manhattan Beach so beautifully.

It truly was a special day! I loved bonding with my mom in one of my favorite cities and it was lovely to be a part of the first ever Manhattan Beach Food Tour! The tour really showcased the beauty and diversity that Manhattan Beach has to offer.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Manhattan Beach Food Tours.

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Hello Jimmy’s Kouzina!

It is on my vacation bucket list to see the sights of Santorini, Greece and walk the beautiful town of Venice, Italy. Perhaps one day, I’ll visit those wonderful places but in the meantime I get to have a little taste of Greece and Italy; thanks to Jimmy’s Kouzina.

Jimmy’s Kouzina is lovely restaurant located at the heart of Manhattan Beach. Specializing in Italian and Greek food; this eatery has been serving the South Bay since 1984. It was formerly named Old Venice but now has a new name via Jimmy’s Kouzina. The restaurant is renamed in honor of owner and chef Jimmy Hantzarides and is currently owned and operated by his family; wife Julie and children Natalie and Andrew.

Chef Jimmy’s legacy lives on with homestyle cooking and fresh made food inspired by his Greek upbringing. The food here at Jimmy’s Kouzina is truly special and upon my visit here, I saw that.

I started off my meal here with one of their meze (appetizer) dishes; the Spanakopitas.

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Spanakopitas are a traditional Greek appetizer and Jimmy’s Kouzina does a wonderful version with crispy file dough triangles stuffed with spinach and feta. I loved how they added an Italian twist with having marinara sauce as a dipping sauce. This was the start of a wonderful meal and the best was yet to come.

For our main dishes; we started off with another traditional Greek plate; Chicken Gyros Shawarma.

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All plates come with choices of two sides. Our chosen sides were yellow squash and rice pilaf. These two sides matched perfectly with the tender strips of chicken gyros. Another perfect pairing were the pita bread and tzatziki. Flavorful and fulfilling; it was  agreed feast indeed.

From traditional Greek we went with a fusion dish next via their Santorini Special.

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As I mentioned up front in this post; I’ve always dreamed of going to Santorini and so the name of this dish really caught my eye. The other thing that caught my eye however was all the special ingredients in this dish! It’s penne pasta tossed in olive oil, basil, tomatoes, garlic clove with a touch marinara sauce. It is topped with pieces of Gyro meat and feta and parmesan cheeses. It’s an Italian pasta with a lot of Greek flavors. I liked the incorporation of the Gyro meat in this dish and loved the blend of traditional parmesan cheeses and feta. This dish is very innovative and creative and is wonderful reflection of what Chef Andrew’s dishes are all about.

From the savory to sweet; we were in for more treats this day. Being a big coffee fan; I was ecstatic to see a full menu of various coffee delights. Greek coffee, Freddo Espresso, Affogato and more; my coffee crush was in full swing. My choice for this day was the Mochaccino.

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The Mochaccino is a four layer chocolate cappuccino. With a shot of espresso and chocolate milk; this drink was rich, smooth and simply divine. It was the perfect drink to go along with our chosen dessert; baklava.

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We started our meal here with crispy filo dough treats and we ended our meal here with more crispy filo dough treats. The baklava consisted of crispy layers of filo dough and walnuts in simple syrup. It was drizzled with sweet honey. To the side were some fresh fruit and whipped cream. It was truly a sweet ending to a lovely meal.

Each dish I tried was full of flavor and creative.  It’s rare to find a place with great Greek food in the South Bay and even rarer to find a place with great Greek and Italian food with some Mediterranean flare. Jimmy’s Kouzina is special indeed.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Jimmy’s Kouzina

Hello Manhattan Beach Post!

Ever since Manhattan Beach Post opened up in April 2011, this lovely social house has been one of my favorite places to dine at. Every thing that Chef/owner David LeFevre has on the menu is simply superb and it is a natural go-to restaurant for special occasions. It was thus perfect to celebrate Mother’s Day today here with my forever best friend, my mom.

Manhattan Beach Post was packed right at it’s opening at 10am but we were blessed to get a table. The biggest blessing however was being able to bond with my mom at this wonderful place.

First up for us is famous Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits.

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These fluffy biscuits with little pieces of bacon and cheddar cheese are perfectly meaty and cheesy. The magic lies with that side of maple butter though. Smother on some of that sweet butter and you truly are in for a sweet treat.

For our main entrees, we started off with Manhattan  Beach Post’s Chimichanga.

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The chimichanga here is one gigantic fried piece of deliciousness. It is stuffed with green chile pork, golden fertile egg, potato and oaxaca cheese. On top it is smothered with guacamole and there is even more guacamole along with sour cream on the side. It’s fulfilling and wonderful.

The other main entree we tried was the Huevos Tinga.

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A comfort food, that is normally found in Mexican restaurants, Manhattan Beach Post has their own version with poached egg, hominy and oaxaca cheese. I loved the tomato and chili chipotle sauce. This dish was truly full of flavor.

Manhattan Beach Post has never disappointed and both my mom and I were thrilled to celebrate here today! We were full of smiles from start to finish.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Manhattan Beach Post.

Hello The Arthur J!

There are nights where you just want to indulge and feel special. Right at the heart of Manhattan Ave in Manhattan Beach avenue is one of the best steakhouses to truly indulge. This place is The Arthur J.

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This place is located at where my favorite Circa was once located.  Arthur J may have just taken over not only their location but made a place in my heart as well.

The brains behind The Arthur J is no other than the David LeFevre of Manhattan Beach Post and Fishing with Dynamite fame and Chris and Mike Simms. The restaurant is actually named after the Simms’ grandfather, Arthur J. (Some interesting trivia is Arthur J is the founder of the original Mimi’s Cafe in Anaheim as well as The Kettle in Manhattan Beach. Good restaurants run in the family!)

The Arthur J is a beautiful steakhouse has a chic look with a bit of 60s flair. Inside is nice slate floors, a bar with brass details, decorative concrete blocks and walnut siding. The beautiful architecture design was done by designers Julie Fisher and Rachel Crowl of fcSTUDIO inc.  They were the one  who created the look of Fishing with Dynamite as well.

It’s not just the look of The Arthur J that is creative, so is their menu offerings. The menu is filled with unique and tasty items. It’s a steakhouse and so much more.

For the starters, one of the most popular items is the Beef Sirloin Tartare.

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This tartare comes with quail egg, green peppercorn and rye toast. I found it to be a very impressive and unique first course. The tartare itself is flavorful in its own right but the addition of the small quail egg along with the peppercorn and horseradish gave it a twist in taste. On top of the rye toast, it was delightful.

Another spectacular dish for an appetizer is the Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail.

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Now when I say “spectacular,” I mean spectacular in every sense of the word . It’s differently one eye-catching dish with its four pieces of chilled jumbo shrimp that is accompanied with cucumber, avocado, celery and dill. It’s a spectacular seafood starter and comes with a spicy cocktail sauce.

In addition the Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, seafood lovers are sure to also love the The Arthur J’s Pan Seared Scallops.

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These scallops are beautifully seared in brown butter and garnished with celery root puree. They are perfectly soft  and sure to melt in your mouth.

Of all the starters however, my personal favorite is the Burgundian Winter Black Truffle Risotto.

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This dish had a silky consistency throughout and was made unique with the addition of pine nuts. The Burgundian Winter black truffle was sprinkled on top. I loved the mixture of flavors, the crunchiness of the pine nuts and the deliciously creamy risotto. It was simply perfection.

As awesome as the starters are here, one needs to make sure to make room for the main course. The Arthur J offers the best USDA prime. The steaks are cooked on a J&R Wood Fire Char Broiler hardwood grill. One of their most popular cuts is 16oz Prime Rib Eye. This is one of their more flavorful and rich cuts of meat.

One of the nice things at Arthur J is the variety of toppings you can add to your steak. Toppings include foie gras, caramelized onions, wild mushrooms, sunny side organic eggs, grilled shrimp, blue crab or mycelia danish blue cheese and steamed half lobster. This is the place to indulge indeed.

The buttered lump blue crab is one of the most popular toppings.

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Tender, flavorful pieces of crab are is spread generously on top of the prime rib eye.

Another topping that a lot of restaurant goers get is the seared rougie foie gras.

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The seared rougie foie gras is soft and buttery. Similar to the blue crab topping, The Arthur J does not skimp on the portion; for the foie gras is a rather big portion.

To compliment, the excellent steaks here, The Arthur J has some excellent side dishes.

One that is a personal favorite is their Spiced Acorn and Butternut Squash.

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This side dish takes me back to the Thanksgiving holiday. The butternut squash is superb and is flavored with Maple Bourbon butter and topped with candied pecans.

Another amazing side is their Vermont Sharp Cheddar Mac and Cheese.

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Their delightfully creamy mac and cheese is topped with crispy garlic bread crumbs. I love the soft elbow noodles mixed with the crisp bread crumbs!

Last but definitely not the least and not to be missed is their delectable desserts. They’ve got a fair selection of sweets.

They have a nice take on the classic pecan pie.

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The pecan pie at The Arthur J is a pecan bar with large pecans mixed in and on top. It is also served with vanilla ice cream.

The Arthur J also has a divinechocolate tart.

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The chocolate tart consists of deliciously dark chocolate that is offset with the creative addition of passion fruit marshmallows! It’s dark and tart.

The food is excellent here and to go along with the food, they have an extensive wine and cocktail list. The Arthur J’s beverage director is no other than Jerry Garbus who is an operating partner at sister restaurants Manhattan Beach Post and Fishing with Dynamite.

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My go-to drink at almost any restaurant is the lemon drop and it is here at The Arthur J, that I may have found the best lemon  drop of all.  Their version of the martini has sweet and creamy tones. It has a  sweet vanilla essence.

Overall The Arthur J is simply one special restaurant in Manhattan Beach. It’s the perfect place for celebrations, special occasions, outings with friends or a date. Best of all, it’s only a block away from the beach. Go ahead indulge. You know you want to ;).

Hello Doma Kitchen!

“Doma” means home in the Slavic language and at Doma Kitchen.

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Walking into Doma Kitchen’s new Manhattan Beach location, I instantly felt a home like atmosphere. Their new restaurant is small and cozy. There is wooden tables and chairs and a couple little pillows on the wooden benches to make sure customers are comfy.

Their menu also has a very home like feel as well. They offer traditional Eastern European cuisine as well as a little bit of classic American favorites. Whether one wants to Chicken and Waffles or Borshct, a Ukrainian style soup, there seems to be something for everyone.

I came during brunch with a friend and  we chose to get something from the brunch menu and from the regular lunch menu.

From the brunch menu, we chose to get the Eggs and Mushrooms Tartine.

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This was an open faced sandwich consisting of two fried eggs, shiitake mushrooms, basil pesto, manchego cheese on top of rye toast. It was accompanied with a mixed greens salad with carrots and grapes. The tartine was very good. The rye toast was soft. The flavor of the shiitake mushrooms really came out and mixed well with the pesto and manchego cheese. Once you break the eggs, you have one messy, tasty and just wonderful breakfast delight.

From their traditional menu, we chose to get the Pelmeni or Chicken Dumplings in Broth.

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The Pelmeni is one heartwarming soup with a chicken broth base. In the soup is Siberian style housemade dumplings filled with local cage free chicken. It comes with fresh dill and side of sour cream. If there is any soup that could define home, this would be it. The broth is warm and perfect for a chilly day. Light, soft and filled with lots of tasty chicken, the dumplings inside were perfect companions to the broth. If I just close my eyes, I can imagine myself sitting by a warm fireplace having this soup in the comforts of a European home.

From the comfy interior to the unique, tasting fresh made food, I definitely felt the heart and home of Doma Kitchen. Home and heart, this made me smile.

For more smiles, please see my latest  Yelp review on Doma Kitchen.

Hello Nick’s Manhattan Beach!

I love downtown Manhattan Beach. Beach side, sunny downtown Manhattan Beach is pure bliss and some of my most relaxing and favorite moments are spent there. One of the areas in downtown that I particularly like is the Metlox Center. It’s home to the cute Papyrus store, the refreshing healthy spots Lemonade and Nektar, the oh so sweet Le Pain Quotidien and the recently opened Nick’s Manhattan Beach.

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Popular in Laguna Beach, Long Beach and San Clemente, my curiosity was quite peaked to try Nick’s Manhattan Beach and I finally got the chance today during lunch out with my good college friend.

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We started off our meal with Asparagus Fries. It’s crispy, hot and fresh asparagus spears coated with parmesan. There is buttermilk ranch dipping sauce on the side.

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For our main entrees my friend and I decided to split our entrees. My friend got the Ribeye Melt. In between two crispy grilled sourdough bread was sliced ribeye, swiss cheese, grilled onions and mustard bacon sauce. This sandwich is perfect for meat lovers. The ribeye is packed in there and makes for a pretty hefty sandwich. The grilled sourdough bread along with the swiss cheese is nice! It gives a cheese toast type of feel.

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For my entree, I chose the Buttermilk Fried Chicken. I was simply amazed the moment it came out. It was such a huge, drool worthy dish. It came with whipped mashed potatoes, buttermilk biscuit, country gravy and roasted sweet corn on the cobb. The buttermilk fried chicken was simply divine. It was boneless fried chicken with a crisp outside and tender chicken in the inside. The whipped mashed potatoes were so creamy and soft and the country gravy that topping was wonderfully thick. The buttermilk biscuit was soft and nicely baked and the corn on the cob was sweet and nice. This dish was simply perfection.

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Nick’s Manhattan Beach is nice addition to Metlox Center and a location I am sure to visit again. It’s a beautiful restaurant with divine dishes. Every single minute I was here I was impressed. The location was on point. The atmosphere was lovely. The food was amazing. In a town where fine dining restaurants are abundant and delicious eateries can be found in every corner, Nick’s does an awesome job of standing out in bringing fine dining heart and flavor. Their meals have a home like feel yet with a classy twist. It just brings me a smile when I think about it.

For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on Nick’s Manhattan Beach.

Hello Brickworks Roasthouse & Grill!

Early this year I dined at Manhattan Village’s Brickworks Roasthoast and Grill. It was during the Lent season however and so I couldn’t eat many of their well known dishes. I wrote my Yelp review I was one “happy rabbit” with my wood grilled vegetable sandwich but I was definitely looking forward to trying out some of their other items on that menu. Just recently I had a chance to do that during a dinner out with my friends at Brickworks.

We started off our dinner here with the Charred Poblano and Corn Guacamole with tortilla chips appetizer. This was a very lovely starter. The guacamole has a pleasant mild sweet taste due to the corn that they mixed in. There was also a little cool zest provided by the poblano and onions mixed in. The tortilla chips were light, fresh and crisp.

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The next appetizer we tried were the Devilishly Delicious Deviled Eggs. These deviled eggs were amazing. They had spice and little pieces of bacon on top. Flavorful hints of cayenne spice, little bits of bacon and soft eggs made this heavenly. Yes, heavenly 😉

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My friends got salads for their entrees. One of my friends got the Filet Mignon Salad. It was a beautifully plated salad with chipotle ranch, marinated filet chunks, pine nuts, romaine, corn, roasted peppers, jicamas and black beans.

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Someone else got the Beijing Roasted Chicken Salad. This was another lovely looking salad. It had chinese noodles, persian cucumbers, fresh mango, almonds, green onion and sesame peanut dressing. My friend described it best when she said it was like a lettuce wrap in salad form.

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For my entree, I got the prime rib dip. I’ve had my eye on that sandwich ever since my first trip here and since I couldn’t eat it then, I had to try it this time around. It was one packed sandwich with plenty of tender shaved prime rib. It came with an awesome rich beef jus for dipping and crispy shoestring fries on the side. The bread of the sandwich was hot and fresh and the prime rib was slow roasted to perfection. It was hearty, meaty and yummy.

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Dinner at Brickworks Roasthouse and Grill with my friends brought plenty of smiles this Monday night!