Richard Foss

Pop-up poke, a new pizzeria, Goat Hill migration, take-out ecology, and more dining news

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A La Carte column for 23 April 2020

Brooklyn and Morena welcome visitors to Pop-Up Poke at the Side Door in downtown Manhattan Beach. Photo by Richard Foss

Life Beneath The Surface: The “For Lease” signs are down at the former Ragin’ Cajun on upper Pier Avenue in Hermosa, which will soon become another branch of El Tarasco. This looks like a savvy move, which will give them dine-in space without much competition in food style or price point in the immediate neighborhood. It’s a vote of confidence in the viability of downtown Hermosa, and those have been rare lately… 

Fleeing The Scene: The Goat Hill development in Manhattan Beach is scheduled to be razed, and the restaurants headquartered there have made their plans to either close or move. Big Wok has opened a few blocks north on PCH and the El Tarasco staff will presumably move to its new Hermosa location, which leaves Rinaldi’s Deli and Two Guns Espresso. Rinaldi’s will close when redevelopment starts, but those who enjoy their sandwiches can get them at the original El Segundo location or in Riviera Village. Two Guns opened another space on Manhattan Beach Boulevard already, and though I haven’t been able to confirm it with management, it seems unlikely that they would re-open a second space in town. I will miss Goat Hill, which had a ramshackle charm similar to Knotts Berry Farm, but progress is progress. (By the way, if you have been trying to call Big Wok’s new location to order takeout, you’ve probably discovered that the new phones haven’t been put in. This may be delayed because, no surprise, of the virus situation. Use this temporary number: (626) 348-4346.)… 

Savvy Hawaiian: The idea of personal distancing has always been laughable at the Side Door restaurant in Manhattan Beach, a cozy spot about the size of a typical living room. Since there’s no likelihood that this bar-oriented place is going to reopen anytime soon with their current business model, management has done something smart. Unlike Hermosa and Redondo, downtown MB didn’t have a poke specialist, so they decided to remedy that. The business is called Pop-up Poke, and the cheerfully decorated take-out window is on 9th Street, at the corner of Manhattan Avenue. The people at the counter said that even if restrictions are eased, they’re likely to be there all summer… [CORRECTION: there was an error in the original column that located this at the corner of 12th Street – an alert reader called it to my attention. Thanks, Greg! ]

Another Pizzeria On The Way: Locale 90 has sold their Hermosa Avenue location to another pizza entrepreneur, who reportedly is going to offer a Chicago-style pizza. There aren’t many places around the South Bay where you can get these hearty, deep-dish pies with a cornmeal crust, so this could be a destination place for homesick Midwesterners. No word yet on how soon they’re going to open…  

Research Tactics For The Covid Era: As I mentioned last week’, a lot of restaurants have been unable to update their websites, so unless you see evidence of recent changes, don’t trust the menus without verifying them. That goes double for the menus posted by delivery services, which are even more likely to be wrong, or with the ones on Yelp which could be months or years old. While I don’t usually recommend going to Facebook for factual information, this could be the best place to research what a restaurant is doing. It is quick and easy to change menus there, and you can see the date on when something was posted, so you know whether it’s current. Facebook is infuriating in many other ways, but in this case at least it is useful…

Environmental Consequences Of Take-Out… The move toward takeout and delivery has had the inevitable result of a river of plastic and aluminum waste headed mostly to landfills. Is there anything that a consumer who cares about the environment can do about this? When it comes to the big picture, probably not, but you can at least do a little around the margins. If you patronize a restaurant regularly and they are using a lot of plastic for items that don’t require it, ask, for instance, that your bread be wrapped in aluminum foil or a napkin rather than put into a plastic container. It doesn’t hurt that cutting back on plastic use will also help the eatery’s bottom line, so they’re likely to listen. Though there is relatively little recycling happening at the moment, you can increase the possibility of this happening by wiping out or washing your used disposable items before tossing them. Containers with highly visible food waste are being rejected at a higher rate by the few recyclers who are still in business. If all else fails, reuse the plastic yourself as many times as possible before finally letting go of it. If you’re one of the many people who is making soup by the bucket because your mother’s recipe was for a family of eight, use the plastic from your most recent take-out meal to hold the stuff you freeze or give it to neighbors who are as tired of eating their own cooking as you are…

Newsbites: While many restaurants that were initially open for takeout have given up and closed, a few that were originally closed have reopened. This includes Havana Mania on Inglewood near Manhattan Beach Boulevard, so if you’re hungering for Cuban Food your prayers are answered… Slay Italian Kitchen has reopened too, offering items from both their regular menu and the one at Slay’s steakhouse – check the site at slayitaliankitchen.com for details… It’s nice to have a little more variety on offer. Unfortunately, if you are a night owl your choices in our area are extremely limited. If you have ever wondered what kind of disaster it would take to keep the Kettle from being open 24 hours, you now know. They are still open from 8 AM to 11 PM, but that leaves nine hours during which a burger with a side of fried zucchini is unavailable in the Beach Cities. I feel sorry for all the professionals, particularly those health care workers working weird shifts, who have long depended on this place being open for good food at all hours…

And In Closing: I depend on you for news about what is happening in our area, good, bad. and weird. Who is doing fantastic things with takeout food these days? Any more openings I should know about? Please keep in touch at richard@richardfoss.com… ER 

 

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