Richard Foss

East Hermosa chic, changes at Basque Kitchen, Asian street food, and more dining news

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A La Carte column for 03 October 2019

Guests celebrate the opening of Mercado in Manhattan Village last Wednesday evening.
Mercado is owned by Jesse Gomez and executive chef Jose Acevedo, who have four other locations. Photo courtesy of El Mercado

East Hermosa Star: Barsha is open at the corner of Aviation and Prospect, giving Hermosa one of only three Tunisian restaurants in Southern California. The décor is a mix of California contemporary design and North African elements, and it’s beautiful. The unusual cuisine is likely to bring in people who usually speed right through East Hermosa, and with the recently opened Spumoni could make this shopping center a dining destination (1141 Aviation, HB)…

Two More On The Way: Mosa in Hermosa and the Riviera House in Redondo both may be open by this weekend, though both have been keeping mum about their schedules. The remodel at Riviera House is the more startling of the two… The former Sophie’s has a sleek new look that is quite different from the former old school tavern look. Both restaurants will specialize in seafood (with Italian flair in the case of Mosa). Basque Fusion: A Basq Kitchen, which has been serving tapas on the Redondo Boardwalk since 2015, has a new owner – Tom Bunbabin, who is also a partner in King Harbor Brewing which has a tasting room a few doors down. Tom plans to keep the eclectic pintxos and other tapas and will gradually expand the menu. A Basq Kitchen has been the only restaurant in LA championing this style of food, and it’s nice that Tom is going to keep serving it to those who have come to love meals of snacks and wine with a view of the boats…

More Closures in Hermosa: Locale 90 has closed their Hermosa location to regular business but will keep the space for catering and events. Their low-key frontage on busy Hermosa Avenue never attracted as much attention as it deserved despite really good food… The former Pita Pit nearby shows no signs of life but there are said to be plans for redevelopment in the works… Around the corner on the Plaza, an ambitious concept has failed. Selling expensive, gourmet pizza just steps from the beach sounded like a great idea, but ITA Italian Street Food couldn’t make it work. Rumor is that another Italian concept will come in. The timing on these closures is no surprise, as many businesses want to make as much as possible during the tourist season and then sell to someone who will remodel in time for the next time out-of-town bucks will flow in. It is still a matter for concern that some other downtown restaurants have been on the market for some time with no action. Have rents in Downtown gone so high that venture capitalists are staying? It does seem possible…

Local Offers

Manhattan Mexican: Mercado has opened in the former Brickworks space in the Manhattan Mall, though that’s hard to tell unless you’re standing in front of the door – the construction in the parking lot blocks it from the street. The restaurant is decorated with paintings of skulls, and the Mexican Day of the Dead in creepy, high style. The menu is intriguing and a friend who has dined there said the food is very good. Opening here was a brilliant move because there are few other options for upscale Mexican food in the area and once the construction is over it will be a high visibility location. (3212A N. Sepulveda)…

Success In El Segundo: Brewport’s beer tasting emporium and restaurant has been overwhelmingly popular. Their expansion into the adjacent space, a former office complex, will almost double their seating. It won’t double the amount of parking in the area, alas, but for those who appreciate their excellent eclectic food and brews it will be worth circling the block once or twice. (Or better, take Lyft or walk there.) … 

Congratulations to a business that deserves the customer base… Elsewhere in El Segundo, Gelato-Go is serving ice cream and paninis at the other end of the Main Street business district. They’re next to the cigar store, so smokers with a dry mouth can cool it down with some fresh ice cream (417 Main St., ES)… Also in town but on the east side, the Proud Bird has finished some much needed improvements to their popular patio space and aviation park. There are models of iconic aircraft including the Bell X-1 rocket plane and a P-38 Lightning, both of which will be photo worthy with airliners landing in the background. Some of the restaurants in the food court have added new items, so if you haven’t been to our local temple of aviation lately it might be time to go. And finally, the rooftop restaurant at the Marriott/AC Hotel in El Segundo has officially opened. Early reports of the food have been positive, and nobody whom I talked to has complained about the noise. I have to go there soon and see how they do it (2130 East Maple Ave., ES)…

Event Alerts: The October calendar is surprisingly empty, though there are a few events of note. R6 Distillery in El Segundo is hosting a “Dinner Under The Still,” which sounds slightly alarming given that the thing weighs a couple of tons. I presume they mean dinner next to it, or with it towering over you while you dine. The date is October 5. Five courses with cocktails will run $85 plus tax and tip. For reservations email SpecialEvents@R6Distillery.com: The other big upcoming dinner is a Silver Oak pairing  at Paul Martin’s on Rosecrans in El Segundo on October 23. Four courses paired with Silver Oak and Twomey pours will set you back $110. Check the menu at the Paul Martin’s website and reserve by calling (310) 643-9300:

Random Notes: Avenue A on PCH in Redondo has been closed for some time, but it has finally sold. Based on the information on the permit, the new owner will apparently not change the name. I’ll let you know when I know more about their plans: Several readers have contacted me to say how much they like a new restaurant called Shiok! (and yes, the exclamation point is part of the name). The name is Malaysian and Singaporean slang for being overwhelmed by pleasure, and their version of Asian street food is creating a buzz in South Torrance (595 Airport Blvd., Torr)…

Wasting Money And Plastic: I ordered take-out food using a restaurant’s website, and when I got it home was surprised to find that they had given me a vast assortment of plastic utensils, all neatly packaged in plastic bags. Since I was eating at home, I didn’t need any of them, and since I had ordered online it would have been easy for them to ask me whether I did. If this kind of wastage annoys you and you use online ordering services often, I suggest that you tell the owners or managers of the restaurant each time this happens. It would save them money, and if everybody does it would save tons of plastic from being dumped into landfills…

And In Conclusion: Your tips help me keep up with what’s happening around the neighborhood. Any openings I missed, any events, anyplace else for Asian street food? Please send an email to Richard@RichardFoss.com. ER

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