Sion rising, Manhattan Beach gains a bakery, loses an Italian, Redondo’s new Indian cafe, and other dining news

The Esperanza crew welcomes guests to the newly opened restaurant last week.

A La Carte column for 05 August 2021

The Esperanza crew welcomes guests to the newly opened restaurant last week. Photo by JP Cordero

The front of Sion’s on PCH in Manhattan beach. Photo by Richard Foss

Bouncing back: Sion’s Mexican restaurant has been serving up Mexican food on PCH for over 30 years, and looked set to do it for another 30, until a fire broke out in the kitchen in June. Nobody was injured and the blaze was confined to a small area, but there was considerable smoke damage. The family started a GoFundMe in the hope of raising $10,000, and were more than a bit surprised when they received almost four times that amount. I couldn’t reach any family members for comment, but a staff member at the neighboring Seahorse Inn said contractors’ trucks have been seen outside and work may be expected to start soon. Though I’m sure they’ll be tempted to gussy the place up, I hope they leave some of the diner-like charm that Sion’s was noted for…

Win a few, lose a few: Manhattan Beach was all set for a return of Mama D’s in a new location, a few blocks from the old one, but alas, it is not to be. Owner Chris Davidson has pulled the plug on the idea, citing a backlog in the permit process and the difficulty of restarting a restaurant in a location that has been a retail store for decades. Chris will occupy himself with the Mama D’s locations in El Segundo and Hermosa Beach, and I’m sure he’ll let us know when he plans a new venture… A few blocks away, Esperanza has opened in high style, with a vibe and menu that are similar to sister restaurant Palmilla in Hermosa.

Esperanza’s VP of operations Jordan Cressman and owner Greg Newman. Photo by JP Cordero

There’s a variety of creatively prepared seafood, steaks from the mesquite grill, and traditional Mexican items for those who savor the classics. The bar program is exceptional, with cocktails that use tropical flavors creatively and  go far beyond the usual margaritas (309 Manhattan Beach Boulevard)…

Elsewhere in town, the Sweet Lady Jane bakery has opened in the Metlox Plaza, and as you might suspect they specialize in desserts. The cakes and pies are beautiful and a bit pricey – stop in and see for yourself at 451 Manhattan Beach Boulevard… Up on the highway at the corner of MB Boulevard and PCH, a new branch of San Francisco-based Ike’s Love & Sandwiches will be coming soon. The chain boasts a repertoire of hundreds of sandwiches and has a celebrity following… And it’s not quite within the city limits, but the new branch of Little Sister in The Point at Rosecrans and PCH certainly is a welcome development. The décor carries the same edgy elements as the closed Manhattan Beach original, including paintings of helicopters and barbed wire, but the space is much larger and they have a full bar. (830 S. PCH, ES)…

Further south: Things are still happening in the rest of the South Bay, and the most interesting new opening is The Copper Pot in Redondo. This restaurant has taken the historic space that used to be the 1511 Café, Redondo Beach Café, and before that the Wooden Shoe coffee shop, establishments most noted for classic diner food. Things are different now because The Copper Pot is an Indian restaurant specializing in the foods of Tamil Nadu and other southern regions. Most Indian restaurants in the South Bay are from the North, which has a different ecology, culture, and cuisine. If you’ve never had Tamil Nadu uttapam, vada pav, and dosas, or if you have been driving long distances to get them, this is the place to go. (1511 S. PCH, RB)…

The remodeled interior at The Rockefeller in Hermosa. Photo by Richard Foss.

Remodeled and reinvented: The Rockefeller in Hermosa was closed for months for a complete makeover, and it has been quite a transformation. Gone are the pillars of rocks and dark walls, in favor of a brighter space that is less clubby and more like an upscale living room. It’s similar to the style of the very successful Redondo location, and more of a family dining spot. The volume is lower, the menu smaller and a bit simpler, though it’s hard to tell whether that’s a long-term plan or temporary during reopening…

The end has begun… The End is the new restaurant and bar in the former Hey 19 space in West Torrance, and they’re taking the scratch kitchen idea to a high level. The pickles are homemade, barbecued items are slow smoked and remarkably good, and their pizzas have homemade dough and sauces. The drink list is heavy on infusions, which isn’t my style of cocktail but fits the aesthetic. The place is even louder than it was when this was Hey 19, but a manager said that they’re looking at what they can do to mitigate that situation. I hope they do, because I could return regularly to a place with barbecue like this. (4525 Calle Mayor, Torr)…

Event Alerts: I’m trying to remember when I last wrote about an in-person wine dinner in the South Bay. I could look that up but it would be too depressing. A ray of sunshine is on the way, as Mama Terano in Rolling Hills Estates will be hosting a dinner with Italian wines on August 22. The price is $60 plus tax & tip. The menu includes stuffed figs, fresh tomato pudding with goat cheese risotto, and both a fish course and rack of lamb. This will almost certainly sell out – call (310) 377-5757 to reserve… Those who are dining at home and enjoy Greek food might want to reserve for this week’s menu at Baran’s 2239, which is a collaboration with John Papadakis of the famed and sorely missed San Pedro restaurant. Five courses of Greek specialties for two people will set you back only $95, take out only. It’s Thursday through Saturday only, and you can see the menu on their Facebook page but not their website. Send a Facebook message or call 424-247-8468 to reserve…

Coming soon? The sign isn’t up yet at the Marine Ramen place at the corner of Highland, but work inside has been ongoing and the place looks ready to open. Other projects around the South Bay have remained inexplicably stalled. The Pita Café on Artesia and GoodBoyBob coffee roasters in Manhattan are both months past their planned opening date, with no sign of activity, and management at both have not returned calls. The industry-wide labor shortage may be slowing down some openings, or the notoriously slow permit process may be the problem, but one would think the owners would keep prospective customers updated…

Final Thoughts: Have you seen a new culinary business that I might not know about, a local event either live or virtual? Your tips make my coverage better. You can reach me at richard@richardfoss.com. ER

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