Surprise openings and closings, popup goes permanent, whiskey dinner, and other dining news

Server Jade Valle with highly regarded Central Mexican offerings at the short lived Marena in downtown Hermosa. It will reopen as Aprons, and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Photo by Ralph Doyle

A La Carte column for 15 February 2024

Surprises on MB Boulevard: I was sad to see Gallery 208 close because I liked the art on display and the friendly attitude of the staff. I had expected another retail space to replace it. That’s not what’s happening – the building is being remodeled into a restaurant space that will offer three levels, including rooftop dining. The interesting thing? It’s being done on spec by the owner and real estate broker rather than a prospective tenant. That’s not a usual pattern, but downtown MB is such a hot market that they’re spending a huge amount of money and figuring that they’ll get even more back. If all goes to plan, this will be the only direct ocean view dining in town except the Strand House and a few tables at the Shellback Tavern. Don’t expect to eat there soon, though. A project of this complexity will take years to secure permits and complete…  A block away, Brewco closed at the end of January, surprising locals who had successfully lobbied for the place to stay open only a few months ago. At the time the intention was to close Brewco and put in a new restaurant, but now they plan to create “a reimagined version of Brewco.” Watch for the unveiling on May 1…

Closures: To nobody’s surprise, the Chin Chin Asian fusion restaurant on Rosecrans closed after four years in business. The restaurant never caught on with the community, and the vast space usually had only a few diners being served by a staff of two or three people. This leaves two spaces vacant, and the durable Nomad Eatery as the only restaurant in that office building. Nomad has a strong following thanks to local ownership by a creative chef, but the other spaces may struggle to attract tenants until the adjacent theater reopens… Meanwhile in Hermosa, Marena closed, a restaurant that had good food but erratic service and poor marketing. I think they could have made it if they had done a better job of explaining the regional differences in their Central Mexican cuisine, but now we’ll never know. The replacement will be called Aprons and be open from breakfast through dinner. If anyone has contact information for the new management, please let me know. The closure of Marena is another step in the transformation of this block. There are now three vacant restaurants with another widely expected to change soon. The former Dia de Campo will become Attagirl, and the Club Sushi building at Pier and Hermosa avenues has no takers yet. Whatever moves in, the area will look very different a year from now… And on Pier Avenue, Sugar Dayne cookies has closed and will reportedly become another coffee spot…

Coming Attractions: The Brekky & Burgers brunch popup that operated from the Papa Guido’s on Aviation has been gone for a while, but is likely to return in a new location. The owners have their eye on a location in Hermosa, and hope to open by summer. The number of popup restaurants has declined from the fad operations of a decade ago, but they’re still an effective way of testing an idea and demonstrating it to investors. Since the name of the restaurant includes two things that lots of people like, they have already demonstrated some PR savvy… I’ve had a lot of questions about the El Tarasco location on Artesia, which has been repeatedly delayed. Management has confirmed a likely opening in April, and here’s hoping they pull it off…

Event Alerts: This month is quiet when it comes to conventional wine dinners, but there are two events of note. One is a tasting dinner with Woodford Reserve bourbons and wine at The Rex Steakhouse in Redondo, which will happen on Thursday, Feb. 22. Woodford’s bourbons are finished in white oak, and this dinner will feature items grilled over that same wood. The culinary events at the Rex are intimate affairs, often with as few as a dozen people around a table, so you get plenty of time with the chefs and beverage representatives. $150 plus tax and tip. Reserve at (310) 316-9041… The other event involves a local favorite wine store with ocean view events, Uncorked, but with a difference. The ocean view this time will be from Malibu, as part of their annual luxury coach trip, visiting three wineries there. The date is Saturday, Feb. 24, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. $185 ($175 for their wine club members). Enjoy plenty of tasting and no worry about driving after a beverage by booking at uncorkedwineshops.com…

Odds and Ends: Those waiting for the reopening of the upstairs speakeasy at Esperanza will have to wait a little longer. They hope to be open by summer, but are waiting for the final permits after an extensive remodeling process… An eccentric Artesia Boulevard organic natural food emporium is set for a grand opening, for the second time. I covered Muun Chi’s first grand opening in November of last year, but they seemed to go dark afterward. They’re celebrating again this Sunday from 1 to 4 PM with their extensive variety of healthy juices, plant-based cheese, dips, and other items. Speakers on health and diet will talk on managing stress, the mind-body connection, and other topics. (1951 Artesia, RB)…  After four months of testing recipes, the wildly popular Tommy & Atticus has started making bagels. They’re including them as part of their sandwich offerings, including a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, which is about as un-kosher as you can get while still including a traditional Jewish bread… Speaking of Tommy & Atticus, this Sunday the Proudly Serving smashburger parlor in Hermosa will be offering their grilled meat patties served on either Tommy and Atticus croissants or their cheddar-jalapeno bread. That sounds like a burger to reckon with… The Portofino Inn’s Living Room lobby bar is adding a wall of self-serve taps, but what flows from them won’t be what you probably expect. They’ll offer beer, wine, and premixed cocktails by the ounce, so guests may sample until they find something they like, then get a full pour. Or just keep sampling and enjoying the variety. Installation will be complete and the drinks will flow on March15…

And 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 I 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 Easyreadernews.com/restaurants/

 

 

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