A restaurant unclosed, Cantina on the Pier, Spanish in El Segundo, dining events, and more

The interior at Belle Epoque, Redondo's stylish new dining and cocktail spot. Photo by Richard Foss

A La Carte column for 26 October 2023

Goodbye, Hello Again: While writing about the South Bay dining scene for 35 years, I have covered many restaurant openings and closures, but very few instances of a place announcing that they planned to shut down but changed their mind. That’s what happened at Brewco, which announced on September 12 they would close, but reversed that decision on October 6. The popular beachside restaurant will remain open for an indeterminate time – the press release said “they didn’t want to say goodbye just yet.”

Other restaurant closures are likely to be permanent. Rok Sushi, which has shown signs of being in trouble for some time, has closed their doors. The place opened in 2010 and was popular for years, but never fully recovered from the pandemic. The location at the corner of Pier and Hermosa is highly desirable, so is unlikely to be vacant for long… The Sweet Lady Jane location in Manhattan Beach is in a desirable space too, but never really caught on during their two years in business. Their pastries were excellent but expensive, and having a well-established bakery café just across the Metlox Plaza didn’t help their chances…

Zayna’s Out, Mychal’s in: Zayna’s Flaming Grill moved to a location on Artesia less than a year ago, and didn’t catch on despite serving very good Middle Eastern food. They never really settled in, and didn’t change the sign from the previous tenant. I’ve heard rumors they are looking for a new location in the South Bay, but no official announcement. The space on Artesia will become a second location for Mychal’s Café & Learning Center, a bakery café that is operated by people with learning disabilities…

Openings East and West: A new location of Chronic Tacos will soon become one of the Easternmost restaurants in Redondo Beach, opening next door to Total Wine on Hawthorne Boulevard. Another Mexican chain has opened about as far west as you can go in the same city, as Who Song & Larry’s Cal Mex Cantina, in the former Barney’s Beanery on the Redondo Pier. The restaurant is owned by the same company that operates the adjacent El Torito, but has a much more ambitious and modern menu. Their marketing is aimed at a younger audience, a marked contrast to the other sit-down restaurants in the area, and it will be interesting to see whether they catch on with this audience (100 Fisherman’s Wharf, Ste. H)… In Riviera Village, Belle Epoque just opened, serving eclectic food and cocktails in a beautiful space on the side street by Trader Joe’s. They’re open for lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner and have adventurous live entertainment on some evenings. I’ve only been in for drinks but found the atmosphere delightful and the welcome very friendly (265 Avenida del Norte, RB)…

News From El Segundo… The stylish Thai restaurant Jetta closed last month, and the replacement is called Café Toast. The sign on the door promises sandwiches, burgers, salad, and dessert, and presumably at least some of those offerings will involve crispy bread slices. There’s also a sign that says “coming soon,” but doesn’t mention a date… Another newcomer has a more adventurous idea. The new restaurant inside the Embassy Suites on Imperial is called Barcotta, and at the moment they have a small menu with a hint of Spanish influence. They intend to expand that Iberian flair with a full tapas menu in the future, and if they follow through that will be a welcome addition to the local scene (1440 E. Imperial Highway, ES)…

Hop Saint’s Brian Brewer earned a bronze medal in the Strong Beer category for his “Random Acts of Greatness” double brown ale at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver last month. Photo by Brad Jacobson

Event Alerts!: And there are rather a lot of them in the next month. Uncorked has brought back their annual wine and Halloween candy pairing this Friday, so you can find out the perfect thing to quaff with Skittles, candy corn, or a Snickers bar. I’d be looking for anything that could cover up the taste of marshmallow peeps, but that’s just me. Cost is $25, no reservations necessary… On October 30 and again on November 2, Tin Roof Bistro offers a Slovenian dinner with wine featuring guest chef Sebastjan Plevčak from Sedem Restaurant I Maribor. Sedem is listed in the Michelin Guide and is renowned for modern versions of this cuisine, which  includes Austro-Hungarian accents. The menu looks fascinating, and the price of $65 plus tax and tip is modest. Check it out and reserve at tinroofbistro.com… On November 2 Pacific Standard Prime offers a whiskey dinner with spirits by Dalmore, which has been making the famed Scottish tipple since 1839. Five courses with premium library whiskies are $395, including tax and gratuity – reservation link and full menu are at pspsteak.com… Sicilian cuisine is on show on November 4th at a dinner at La Siciliana in San Pedro. Four courses of traditional cuisine with commentary by restaurant owner Rita Gintoli are offered for $59 without wine, $69 with wine. This is a prelude to a performance of Sicilian music and storytelling that evening at Collage, which is a few blocks away. You may attend the dinner, the concert, or both. Information about both is at collageartculture.org… On November 9th, Fogo de Chao offers a “Wine and Wagyu” event in their bar area where you may enjoy cuts of both standard and Wagyu ribeye with bar bites and South American wines for $45 per person. The event starts at 6:30 PM, and can be reserved on opentable.com… Finally, on November 14 Gabi James presents a wine dinner with Presqu’ile Winery, which makes cool climate wines in Santa Barbara county. Four courses with wine are $100 plus T&T, and you can reserve on Eventbrite.com

Expect dinner for two at the new Sea Sprite to cost about the same as the cost of a family weekend at the Sea Sprite when the beachfront motel opened in 1966. The motel is adding a small restaurant where the south end entry way is now. The restaurant opening is planned for next fall. Photo by Ralph Doyle

Odds & Ends: The Rockefeller chain is adding new brunch and dinner entrees at all locations, including new cocktails at the Manhattan and Hermosa locations. All are in the general style of upscale bar food and Americana items that this chain has presented for years, and will give fans some new choices… Congratulations are due to Hop Saint, which won a bronze medal for their “Random Acts of Greatness” double brown ale. The beer is appropriately named, since it was born of a mistake – a brewer accidentally put twice as much malt as a recipe called for, and they decided to just make it and see what happened. It was a mistake that worked, and turned out great enough that they submitted it to the prestigious festival and won. You can try it on tap at the restaurant now, and they will keep it on their list… The Sea Sprite, the beloved ‘50s style motel just south of the Hermosa Pier, has started remodeling to add a courtyard restaurant and bar, and some locals are bewailing the change. I have recommended this unpretentious lodging to friends over the years, and many who stayed there remarked on the scruffy charm of the place. It was inevitable that the Sea Sprite would go upscale sometime, and we can only hope it’s done tastefully, and the new construction keeps the general style intact.

In Closing: If you know a restaurant opening I might’ve missed, a culinary event that should be covered, or just about anything related to food that readers should know about, please send the information my way. I’m at richard@richardfoss.com. And as long as you’re on the internet, check out past restaurant reviews on our website at https://easyreadernews.com/restaurants. ER


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