Teri Marin

Best of the Beach 2019 – food and drink

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Bakery manager Devin Hodson and cake decorator Kaitlyn Tavernelli display some of Lazy Acres’ fresh, out-of-the-oven cookies. Photo by Ryan McDonald

Best Bakery (Chain)

Lazy Acres

Devin Hodson knew people in the South Bay were going to like The Cookie. He just didn’t know how much.

Hodson is the bakery manager for Lazy Acres, which opened in Hermosa Beach in October. Since opening, the store has attracted throngs of customers to its organic produce, natural health supplements and bevy of prepared food options. And while Lazy Acres is eager to supply the area’s health-minded customers, they recognize that even the most disciplined among us need to indulge every now and then.

Among the opening promotions was a two-for-one offer for The Cookie, the store’s signature chocolate chip cookie, loaded with Belgian chocolate and walnuts.

“We had lines to the door,” Hodson recalled. “People told me they would drive by, and stop in just for The Cookie.”

The promotion may have ended, but the cookies are still arriving hot out of the store’s ovens, and the demand for them and the rest of Lazy Acres’ baked goods hasn’t waned. (Some customers described it as a blessing, because there was now more of an incentive to split them with a friend.) Marketing Manager Amanda Yurcich said the secret of the bakery’s success is the same thing that powers its fresh-made salads, bowls and other prepared foods: quality ingredients. The store uses organic cane sugar, imported Tahitian vanilla, and real butter.

“We’re using all-natural ingredients,” Yurchich said. “Even the sprinkles are natural. People feel a little less guilty when they get our products.”

Lazy Acres, a division of Bristol Farms, has grown by tapping into the growing concern people have about what goes in their bodies. Hermosa is Lazy Acres’ fifth location, joining others in Santa Barbara, Long Beach, Encinitas, and San Diego. The store has forged partnerships with brands such as Laird Superfoods. Big Wave surfer Laird Hamilton joined two lucky Hermosa couples for a dinner at a home on The Strand to celebrate the store’s opening, with a five-course meal made from Lazy Acres groceries.

Hodson, worked in other bakeries for about a decade before joining Lazy Acres when the Hermosa store opened. He said it’s the best job he’s ever had. Employees always seem happy to be at work, and the customers always seem happy to be shopping — especially when they are picking up a few Cookies.

“Here, it’s nothing but heart and soul,” he said. 

Lazy Acres

2510 CA-1, Hermosa Beach

(424) 260-1400  lazyacres.com

Runner-up: Gelson’s Market

707 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach

(424) 452-0412 gelsons.com

Manhattan Beach Mayor Steve Napolitano enjoys a glass of wine with Adnen and Lenora Marouani, owners of Barsha Wines and Spirits, and the couple’s little girls. Photo by Brad Jacobson

Wine Store

Barsha

A certain thing either does or does not happen when a retail business opens in a relatively small town like Manhattan Beach: it becomes a part of the community, or it doesn’t. Which outcome occurs often determines a store’s longevity. Barsha Wines and Spirit was a purveyor of very fine and surprisingly affordable wines from the day it opened on Sepulveda Boulevard seven years ago, but today it is much more: Barsha is a community hub. This is due, of course, to the great wine, the well-curated beer selection, the salads, charcuterie, an eclectic selection of wine accessories, the Tunisian spices, and the casual but cool design of the place itself. But the heart and soul of Barsha is Adnen, who is both joyously convivial and a genuine wine savant.

“We just listen to people,” he says of his uncanny gift for matching people with wines. “We really ask the right questions. Who are you drinking it with? What kind of food? How much would you like to spend? And a good wine doesn’t have to be expensive.”

Barsha keeps adding to both its selection and services and of late has become a go-to venue for events. “We are kind of the perfect spot for a private party,” Adnen says. “We are not ridiculous, as far a rental fee.  So if you want to do a party: great wine and beer, a little charcuterie. Simple.”

Barsha Wines And Spirits

917 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach

(310) 318-9080 barshawines.com

Runner-up: Manhattan Fine Wines

1157 Artesia Blvd., Manhattan Beach

(310) 374-3454 manhattanfinewines.com

Grow owner Barry Fisher with kids Megan and Brendan (also the store founder, if the cherry stand in front of the Fisher house in Manhattan Beach counts). The family was participating in last summer’s Manhattan Beach Chamber’s Bite at the Beach at the MBS Media Campus. Photo by Kevin Cody

Grocery, Produce (Independent)

Grow

It was 14 years ago that a little boy named Brendan Fisher erected a little stand in front of his family’s house in Manhattan Beach and sold fresh cherries in order to raise money to buy a boogie board. His dad Barry worked in the agricultural export business and knew where to find the very best cherries in all of California. The cherry stand was such a hit that the Fishers decided to open up Grow along Sepulveda Boulevard, an old school, little grocery store focused on carrying the freshest produce and the very best of everything. The idea was kind of the opposite of a supermarket: the shop was small and friendly, so shoppers could easily swoop on through and have everything they needed for dinner in a few minutes. Grow has grown a bit over the years —  there’s a second location in downtown LA, and the local shop has doubled in size and now includes both a delivery service (recently expanded from an overnight to an all-day service) and an array of meals pre-prepared by executive chef Javier Crespo Jr. But the ethos is still the same. Grow remains happily small yet exquisitely stocked.

“Our quality is our market separation, but I also believe it’s also just the shopping experience,” Barry Fisher says. “People enjoy not going to a large market…. I hate to use it, but the word is convenience. People enjoy being able to buy dinner for their family in five minutes and knowing it’s a really good dinner. They don’t have to get bogged down in a large store for 20 minutes.”

The premise of Grow is under assault. Three new large stores have opened up within a few miles; the local grocery dollar can only be split so many ways, and Fisher acknowledges that Grow has seen business slow. He’s optimistic, though, that with summer and its fresh produce, people who might have been lured away by shiny new stores will remember why they came to Grow for all these years.

“Hopefully we make it to 15 years,” he says, with a laugh. “We’ve still got to get the kids through college.” 

Grow

1830 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach

(310) 545-2904 growdelivers.com

Runner-up: Artesia Produce & Meat Market

2322 Artesia Blvd., Redondo Beach

(310) 376-0043

Jacob Walsh, the owner of Manhattan Meats. Photo courtesy of Manhattan Meats

Meat Department (Independent)

Manhattan Meats

Some stores help define the soul of a place. Manhattan Meats is that kind of store. It’s impossible to imagine downtown Manhattan Beach without the bustling little store built around its world-class meat counter. Owner Jacob Walsh started working behind the meat counter 13 years ago, at the age of 20. Two years ago he took over the business from Dean Tribble, who himself started working at the store at age 16, nearly a half century ago, and took over what was a failing business at the age of 23 and made it into the local institution it is today. The meat is especially fresh, arriving four times a week, all sourced from local farmers; the fish if anything is even fresher, arriving six days a week. Even if you don’t buy your meat at Manhattan Meats, you’ve probably eaten meat from there; they supply the meat for the famous burgers next door to Ercoles (40 pounds a day, Walsh says) and to Shellback Tavern and BrewCo., the meatballs at Manhattan Pizzeria, and the Italian sausage used on pizzas at Tin Roof Bistro. The Manhattan Meats’ bacon burger is likewise a local staple, and the teriyaki sauce used in prepared marinades is legendary. Tribble obtained the recipe 30 years ago when the Hibachi Grill around the corner went out of business. But Walsh says that as good as the product is, customer service is what sets the meat market apart.

“We know about 80 percent of our customers by name,” says Walsh, who will be joined as co-owner in the next few months by Brian Tribble, Dean’s son. “We just have that small town family feel here. Customers come in literally just to talk, and we give their dogs treats —  raw meat. People say, ‘Aw, my dog loves coming here.’ I go, ‘Of course your dog loves coming here. He gets a piece of tri-tip as a treat.

Manhattan Meats

1111 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach

(310) 372-5406

Runner-up: Grow

1830 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach

(310) 545-2904 growdelivers.com

 

Best Meat Department (Chain)

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods’ selection of meat and seafood includes many of the staples found in other stores, as well as a broad selection of marinated, breaded, kebab-skewered and dry-rubbed cuts to ease prep times for busy home cooks. Customers are also given the option of organic, free-range and pasture-raised meat and poultry that can include a 5-stage animal welfare standard rating. Deli and charcuterie options are also available for customers only a few steps away from the meat counter, along with prepared items including sushi, empanadas and sesame tofu alongside sliced deli meat. 

Wholefoodsmarket.com

Runner-up: Lazy Acres

2510 Pacific Cst. Hwy., Hermosa Beach

(424) 260-1400  lazyacres.com

Grocery (Chain)

Trader Joe’s

Wherever you go in the Beach Cities, you’re rarely far from a Trader Joe’s. There are four alone in our three cities — two in Manhattan Beach, one each in Redondo and Hermosa — and two more within a stone’s throw, in Torrance. Shopping at Trader Joe’s is an adventure in island kitsch — hibiscus prints, aloha shirts, and tikis — but the goods are no gimmick. The stores are laden with quality groceries, quick-to-prepare foods and fresh produce. Prices are also reasonably wallet-friendly, and better when one takes advantage of the store’s ubiquitous flyer, showcasing both sale goods and seasonal specials.

Locations.traderjoes.com

Best Produce

Whole Foods Market

Two things stick out when wandering the produce aisle of the average Whole Foods Market: First, far more of the selection is labeled organic than not — meaning fruits and vegetables grown without using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Second, everything is labeled with a country or state of origin, and the many California-grown goods on the shelves are proudly labeled as “local,” generally meaning from farms and businesses about a day’s drive away from the store.

The prices aren’t the most wallet-friendly but the selection is broad, whether visiting the large Whole Foods in El Segundo’ Plaza, or the neighborhood-scaled Whole Foods in Redondo Beach. But in offering organic produce at such a scale, Whole Foods argues that it’s offering customers a choice — and judging by the chaos that is a Whole Foods parking lot in the afternoon, it’s a choice the Beach Cities is willing to make. 

Wholefoodsmarket.com

Runner-up: Sprouts Farmers Market

1515 Hawthorne Blvd., Redondo Beach

(424) 903-7028 sprouts.com

Bakery (Independent)

Becker’s Bakery & Deli

1025 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach

(310) 372-3214 beckersbakeryanddeli.com

Runner-up: Torrance Bakery

1341 El Prado Ave., Torrance

(310) 320-2722 torrancebakery.com

 

Comments:

comments so far. Comments posted to EasyReaderNews.com may be reprinted in the Easy Reader print edition, which is published each Thursday.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login