It’s never been easier to bite into that roasted artichoke and spinach thin-crust pizza you’ve always wanted to try, or munch on some boneless buffalo bites — with the arrival of the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce Dine MB Restaurant Week, which begins this Sunday and runs through next Friday. With 15 participating restaurants, ranging from corporate family chains such as California Pizza Kitchen to sports bars unique to the seaside town such as Sharks Cove, Restaurant Week will allow each venue to offer a pre-fixed menu to display its respective culinary style and vision.
The first annual Dine MB event comes as a complement to the larger-scale, more widely known dineLA Restaurant Week, which took place Jan. 20-31 and included more than 250 restaurants. It also trails California Restaurant Month, which occurred in January and heralds an even larger following, with 30 destinations across the state, from the Central Valley to the snowy Sierra Mountains.
Brittany Keohi, director of communications and events for the Manhanttan Beach Chamber of Commerce, said that the eateries were chosen after they reached out to local businesses and asked if they wanted to get involved, in an effort to promote an area that has been slowly earning its stripes as one of the city’s rising food hubs.
“The main purpose is to get people down to Manhattan Beach and give them the opportunity to see what we have going on here,” Keohi said. “A bunch of local restaurants have been written up in food blogs such as Thrillist and LA Weekly, and they’ve gotten a lot of awards. Manhattan Beach is more up-and-coming in the foodie world … so we’re trying to capitalize on that.”
One participating restaurant, FISHBAR, a casual fish and seafood place serving dishes such as seared ahi tuna tacos and lobster macaroni and cheese, has earned accolades for the South Bay’s freshest seafood. Executive Chef Jessica Jordan said she reflects this view on the recent development of the shoreline spot, once only recognized for its surfing.
“The whole dining scene is evolving,” Jordan said. “I really think that it’s becoming a culture of the city.”
Though each menu varies in content depending on what the chef has designed, they all include an appetizer, entrée and dessert, and combine traditional, old-time favorites with newer, more exotic plates created just for the week.
Each menu will fit into one of the $25, $35 and $45 pricing categories in hopes of accommodating any diner’s budget.
“It’s a range,” Keohi said. “The Strand House is the $45 [restaurant], and that’s very high-end, right on the strand here in Manhattan Beach — very nice place. But then we have other ones, such as OB’s, which is kind of a bar and grill.”
While Keohi said the event seeks to attract new customers to the city, Jordan said that for her, it’s more about providing something special for the customers that already patronize these businesses.
“It would be great if we got new customers to come into our bubble, but I think it’s really something that’s great for the residents … on a smaller scale, and keeping it more local,” Jordan said.
As a burgeoning hodgepodge of food and fine dining, each restaurant is said to offer something different from the next. When it comes to FISHBAR, Jordan said it’s the restaurant’s plain, bang-for-your-buck mentality that keeps the crowds coming back.
“FISHBAR really delivers a value — it’s a consistent quality at a great price,” Jordan said. “You can go more than once a week and not feel bad about eating there.”
Keohi said the Chamber of Commerce is promoting the event through a number of different outlets.
“We have placed ads in the local newspaper, and we have also teamed up with South Bay Magazine … We have an ad right now on their site,” Keohi said. “And that’s not to mention the stuff we do internally, through our database. We also hand out fliers at all of our events.”
They are also partnering with Uber, the ridesharing mobile application, by offering $20 off a ride to any Dine MB reservation for first-time Uber users.
Ultimately, what Keohi thinks will draw visitors is the change of pace that Manhattan Beach offers — an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
“It’s a lot more laidback of a place,” Keohi said. “We’re kind of go-with-the-flow, but it’s also very elegant. It’s definitely a different vibe than you would have going to an L.A. restaurant.”