Jul 15, 2013Best Restaurant on the Beach"My Take: Although fairly inconspicuous from the outside, Mama D’s has built up quite the reputation amongst Manhattan Beach regulars and students from nearby USC. Consistently delicious, with a richly decorated interior and fantastic service and attention to detail, Mama D’s satisfies every time. The restaurant, just a short walk away from the ocean and the Manhattan Beach Pier and Aquarium, offers a large selection of pastas, pizzas, and Italian dishes, with lite- and family-sized options.
The Scene: Picture a large warm, rowdy family dining room, crowded but comfortable, with family photos and mementos littering the walls, and you have Mama D’s. A huge hit with local families and large groups of young adults, Mama D’s draws guests of all ages. You won’t find a huge population of hipsters or trendy young professionals here, however; the vibe here is very Family Dinner, with guests dressed casually and comfortably.
Cocktails & Cuisine: Mama D’s provides a large variety of dishes, from the standard pizza and pasta dishes to salads, chicken and fish entrees, baked pastas, specialty raviolis, and lite options.
Prices: Moderate pricing, depending on what you get. Appetizers range from $5-10, salads $6-12, entrees $8-20. Family dishes and some seafood dishes cost a bit more, but large portions make it worth the price, not to mention the delicious complimentary bread served at each table.
What to Wear: generally, guests are casually dressed. Occasionally larger parties out to dinner will wear nicer attire, but Sunday best is the fanciest gets. Most people stick with jeans and tees, or beach attire.
Inside Info/When to Go: Mama D’s is pretty small, so if you’re looking to avoid a wait, arrive before or after the lunch and dinner rushes. However, during really busy nights, waiters offer free bread to guests still waiting to be seated, which could make the wait worth it.
Jul 15, 2013Fairfax Hidden Gem"My Take: Milk is the perfect place to satisfy your sweet tooth or get a quick treat after dinner. Nestled amongst synagogues and kosher eateries in the Mid-City area, the small, sparingly decorated sweet shop offers a bright, friendly atmosphere in which to share a Warm Ooey Gooey Chocolate Sundae, a Milk classic.
The Scene: Milk attracts a diverse locale, from trendy Angelenos to college students to families from surrounding areas. The shop gets a bit crowded in the evenings, especially on weekends, when it is not uncommon to see a line snaking around the corner outside the small space.
Cocktails & Cuisine: Milk is most famous for it’s ice cream and baked goods, namely the classic Warm Ooey Gooey Chocolate Sundae or the oft-instagrammed Blue Velvet Cake. However, Milk also offers a variety of coffee drinks, ice cream flavors, soups, salads, and sandwiches, and even has a kids’ menu.
Prices: Moderate prices. Entrees run $10-15, with children’s meals $5-6. Coffee and specialty drinks are $2-5 and ice cream and shakes run from $3-8. Desserts can range from $3-10 depending on the dish. Cakes and cookie baskets can also be purchased.
What to Wear: Anything you want. Milk does draw a lot of students and hipsters so trendy ensembles fit right in, but casual and comfortable attire are also preferred by much of Milk’s visitors.
Inside Info/When to Go: The best time to go is probably before dinner, since Milk gets busier later on in the evening, especially on weekends. However, lines move fairly quickly, so a spontaneous late-night trip is not completely out of the question.
Jul 15, 2013A Refreshing Addition to USC University Park"My Take: Nature’s Brew is so inconspicuous from the outside, you would never notice it if you weren’t looking for it. Inside, however, the bright, naturally lit space is both welcoming and relaxed. The space is small, but with its sturdy wooden tables and scattered leather chairs it’s hard to imagine ever feeling cramped. Add in the variety of pastries, fresh entrees, and delicious coffees, juices, and smoothies, and Nature’s Brew will leave an impression that’s hard to forget.
The Scene: The crowd here consists mostly of students from nearby USC, come for a quick meal or to study. The relaxed atmosphere and quiet music make Nature’s Brew an ideal place for settling in with a nice book or catching up with friends over coffee.
Cocktails & Cuisine: The café offers healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner options, as well as a variety of fresh pastries and fruit. The drink menu includes various coffees, house-made juices, and refreshing smoothies.
Prices: Moderate. Meals cost from $7-12, with coffees ranging from $2-5 and smoothies and juices around $5.
What to Wear: Whatever you want. Attire is casual.
Inside Info/When to Go: The space is small, so if you’re not looking to wait it is probably best to go in-between meals to enjoy a quieter atmosphere.