March 2, 2020
It is often said that Riviera Village is the South Bay’s best kept secret. I don’t know how that’s possible considering the gorgeous coastal location, fabulous shops and incredible dining options. In 2008, there were only eight or nine restaurants in Riviera Village, but the dining scene has exploded and today there are about twenty eateries. Somebody has to be eating at all those restaurants, so it can’t be that big of a secret, right?
Last week, I once again attended MaryAnn Border’s Dine Around LA excursion through Riviera Village. Several new restaurants have opened in the last couple of years and this event offered the opportunity to sample many of them.
Dine Around LA was conceived specifically for hotel concierges working in the greater LA area as an occasion to learn about the dining options in various locales to better serve their clientele. There are half a dozen events each year in different Los Angeles neighborhoods.
This particular Dine Around group consisted of concierges representing about a dozen hotels in the greater Los Angeles area and a couple of social media influencers. We visited seven establishments in the Riviera Village neighborhood of Redondo Beach. We spent 20 to 45 minutes at each location, depending on the number of drinks and dishes served. Our excursion began at Gabi James with registration, waiver signing and affixing labels with names and hotel affiliations. There were concierges from Beverly Hills, several LAX area hotels, Terranea, and of course, the South Bay.
Gabi James is owned and run by Sara and Adam, members of the Gabriele family – the same family responsible for previous local favorites Café Pierre and Zazou, and current hot spot, Love & Salt in Manhattan Beach. We began with specialty cocktails – the Butterfly Effect (VERY popular), Bitter Mistress, Gabi James Gin & Tonic – and a unique selection of Spanish wines (Rose Cava, Albarino, Tempranillo) and craft beers.
Gabi James features Spanish and coastal French cuisine. The menu features a broad selection of tapas and our group grazed an assortment, including Potato Croquettes with harissa, Queso Mahon, peeled tomatoes with grated Manchego cheese on grilled baguettes, a generous charcuterie and a platter of melted brie and diced apples on toast.
The open concept dining room offers a convivial atmosphere and flows onto a generous patio overlooking all the action on Catalina Avenue. Gabi James is located at 1810 South Catalina Avenue, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. Visit the website at http://www.gabijamesla.com/.
We then walked across the street to Turquoise Organic & Natural Mediterranean Restaurant, a local favorite for over ten years. Proprietor Hameed Fatemi is well known in the neighborhood – several passersby shouted hellos as he stepped outside to welcome our group.
Turquoise specializes in a wide variety of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine – from lamb, tofu, sirloin kebobs and Spanish tapas, to Italian panini, Greek salad, yogurt and hummus. They use the freshest, organic ingredients and make many items in house, including their yogurt, hummus, Baba Ghanoush, tapenades, Tabbouleh, chutneys and Persian ice cream.
We started with a colorful and refreshing Pomegranate Mimosa and an assortment of spreads including Hummus, Mast-O-Laboo (yogurt with beets) and Mast-O-Khiar (yogurt, cucumber, mint) served with Lavash bread.
Turquois offers a selection of kebobs but for the purpose of our visit, they created a specialty kebob with lamb, chicken, filet mignon, tofu, olives and tomatoes all on one skewer so we could sample each of the proteins.
We finished with Persian ice cream with pistachio, rose water and saffron topped with a perfect blueberry. So refreshing!
Turquoise offers an outdoor patio in addition to the bright, dining room. Turquoise Restaurant is located at 1735 South Catalina Avenue, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. Visit the website at https://www.turquoise-restaurant.com/.
Our group ambled a few doors down to the new Hook & Plow which opened in November 2019. Hook & Plow has been a fixture in Hermosa Beach since 2014, offering a ‘farm to table, ocean to plate’ concept, sourcing their seafood, meats and produce locally.
Co-Owner Brian Kelleher warmly welcomed us before we whet our whistles with the house chardonnay and pinot noir.
The place was filling up quickly since it was the dinner hour and we still had several more stops on the itinerary, so we quickly sampled a couple of the most popular appetizers on the menu, the Salmon Poke with avocado, cucumber, cabbage slaw and micro cilantro on a corn chip (fresh!) and Panko Avocados with chipotle aioli, house pickles, and red frill mustard greens (sublime!).
Hook & Plow has a spacious patio and is centrally located at 1729 South Catalina Avenue, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. Visit the website at https://www.thehookandplow.com/redondo-beach.
We then stopped at the King Harbor Brewing Company Tap Room which opened almost two years ago and has developed a loyal following. As we arrived, a couple of regulars seated at the street-facing countertop waved us over to chat. Yes, it’s that kind of place.
They have a nice variety of their craft brews on tap and we all enjoyed a round of Cerveza Hermosa Lager before heading to the next destination. King Harbor Brewing Company Tap Room is located at 1719 South Catalina Avenue, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. Visit the website at https://www.kingharborbrewing.com/village.
We crossed Catalina Avenue and arrived at the latest entry to the Village restaurant scene, Riviera House, which opened just a couple of months ago. Located in the former Sophie’s Place, Riviera House specializes in craft cocktails and coastal cuisine. The place was pretty busy but they’d reserved a communal table for our group. General Manager Jeremy McDermott welcomed us with a round of Philly Fish House Punch made with Apple Brandy, Jamaican Rum, Lemon Sherbet, Peach and Nutmeg (it’s called ‘punch’ for a reason!).
We then sampled the House Ceviche served on a crispy tortilla chip (breezy!) and Crispy Brussel Sprouts with house-made honey balsamic glaze and a panko parmesan crust (savory!).
There are communal long tables in the bar area and a large, comfortable, covered patio. Riviera House is located at 1708 South Catalina Avenue, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. Visit the website at https://rivierahouserb.com/.
We strolled up a side street for the penultimate stop on our excursion, Little Sister, part of the Blackhouse Hospitality Group, the same outfit that brought us acclaimed South Bay eateries Abigaile, Dia de Campo, Steak & Whiskey and Alta House. First opened in Manhattan Beach in 2013, Little Sister now has two additional locations – one in downtown LA opened in 2015 and one in Riviera Village which opened in 2018. Diners and reviewers have been raving about Chef Tin Vuong and his eclectic take on South East/Pan Asian inspired cuisine for years…. and with good reason. General Manager Leila Nakamura welcomed us with one of Little Sister’s specialty cocktails, The Sandlot, made with LVOV cucumber vodka, mint, Thai basil and Génépy des Alpes.
We sampled three different menu items, each one served in individual take-out containers. The Dumplings were filled with pork, shrimp and crab with spicy black vin dressing, chives, spinach and peanuts. That was followed by the ‘Goi Du Du’ Green Papaya Salad featuring viet beef jerky, candied shrimp, peanuts and chili lime vin. We concluded with the Shaky Shaky Beef served with watercress, baby tomatoes, burnt butter soy and tomato garlic fried rice. There is so much flavor packed into each dish, there aren’t enough adjectives to describe them!
Little Sister is located at 247 Avenida Del Norte, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. Visit the website at http://www.dinelittlesister.com/rb-info.
We rolled up to the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Palos Verdes Boulevard for our final stop at Rock & Brews. The substantial menu featuring comfort food, has something for everyone – from burgers, pizzas and tacos to sandwiches, salads, wings and more. However, MaryAnn arranged to end the evening on a sweet note – literally! Our group spread out among several tables on the patio and settled in for dessert.
The Purple Rain Drops are chocolate filled French donuts, drizzled with raspberry sauce and served with whipped cream (divine!).
The Sweet Surrender Bread Pudding is made with Jack Daniel’s sauce and topped with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh strawberries (perfection!).
The Giant Brownie Sundae features a GIANT brownie, topped with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and whipped cream (yum!).
Rock & Brews lives up to its name with about 70 beers on tap, a full bar and non-stop classic rock music, in addition to several big screens featuring the big games all year long. Rock & Brews is located at 6300 South Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. Visit the website at https://www.rockandbrews.com/redondo-beach/.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, there is now an expansive dining scene in Riviera Village and the establishments we visited on this occasion offer a peek into the choices. So head to Riviera Village for ocean breezes, delicious food and craft brews and cocktails! For additional information about Riviera Village, visit the website at http://rivieravillage.net/.
To learn more about Dine Around LA, visit the website at https://dinearoundla.com/.
Fabulous photography courtesy of Gloria Plascencia Photography.