David LeFevre's Manhattan Beach
South Bay's Manhattan Beach (and its neighboring Hermosa) is an under-the-radar gem of neighborhood—and locals like it that way.
"I love the small-town feel: small businesses that are locally and individually owned and not a lot of change," says David LeFevre, a South Bay resident for 10 years. LeFevre's MB Post and Fishing with Dynamite have made Manhattan Beach a dining destination to compete with other chefs worth their salt.
To give us a guide through the neighborhood, LeFevre shares his top Manhattan Beach picks.
Two Guns Espresso
This unassuming, strip-mall storefront is where LeFevre gets his caffeine fix. "I order a latte or cappuccino and like sitting on the front and reading the paper." The three-year-old coffee shop serves Caffe Vita beans with Straus milk.
David's order: Flat white ($3). The place is run by two Kiwis, so you can expect a proper cup.
"When you live by the beach, you want food that's light, grilled and not too heavy." Come Sundays, when both LeFevre and his girlfriend have a day off, their "sexy brunch" kicks off with a bottle of champagne or two "if we're feeling crazy."
David's order: Mezze plate ($33) of tyropita, spanakopita, fried calamari, fried eggplant and zucchini, boiled beets, keftethes meatballs, tzatziki and pita, as well as the Petro horiatiki salad ($12) with tomatoes, cucumber, feta, olives, and avocado.
Uncle Bill's Pancake House
The day starts at this long-standing craftsman house-turned-neighborhood greasy spoon that serves breakfast eggs, waffles and the like around the clock. And, of course, there are the flapjacks. From plain buttermilk or multigrain to gussied-up blueberry buckwheat and pumpkin spice, "the pancakes are great—though I can't eat as much as I used to."
David's order: "Scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, rye toast, avocado and maybe some brown rice...I order way more boring than people think." Though not the traditional a.m. addition, LeFevre explains, "brown rice is big down here with the athletes."
"They have about 20 to 25 beers on draft that are all great and special," says LeFevre of this casual gastropub.
David's order: The house burger ($10)—layered with chow chow, melted cheedar, garlic aioli, lettuce and tomato. "It's the best burger around."
Julian Cox serves "a fun bar program" of inventive cocktails. Though a bourbon neat is sometimes called for, LeFevre prefers "girly, fruity, light drinks...I like something with a little bit of bubble, light with some citrus."
David's order: Bartender's choice. "Let [the bartender] pick; they're good at what they do."
Not on the map as an MB destination, Ercolés is a LeFevre's go-to spot. "It's my favorite place in Manhattan Beach—a cheap dive bar with nothing fancy. It's old, kind of grimy, cash-only with a good jukebox and tons of personality...a superfun spot for drinks. Foodies may not get it, but that's what I love about it."
David's order: The burger. "They have the second-best burger in town, behind Simmzy's. It's so juicy—the bun starts to fall apart and juices are falling down your arm."
Across the street from LeFevre's restaurants, chef Tin Vuong (along with the other half of South Bay's Abigaile and Día de Campo) fills the Southeast Asian void in the neighborhood with randang, curry and the like. "If I don't want to be at the restaurant, I'll go to Little Sister across the street. They do a great job over there."
David's order: "[They] have a fantastic salt and pepper lobster ($38)."
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