Josh aka Food GPS is one of the most knowledgeable LA foodies I know. Writing about food actually is his job, as opposed to the rest of us bloggers who are relegated to working day jobs to support our food addictions.
He and I had discussed his leading the fifth blogger mashup marathon– one that originally was gonna be an SGV-based marathon. With the recent influx of new gastropubs in the south bay, and Food GPS’ penchant for writing about beer, the south bay beer and food marathon was ultimately the course we would run.
I should note that the frat-house-forever, consummate-sandal-wearing, long board lifestyle in the south bay is not one that I run towards. I get that it’s laid back, but that relaxed attitude always meant mediocre food, tequila-shot-centric bars and poor service (not to mention odors of vomit mixed with sea water).
A big group was assembled (because it’s not hard to convince bloggers to drink during the day) and we met at Simmzy’s, Manhattan Beach’s newest gastropub. I should mention that I stole a lot of Captain Sean’s photos for this post. Upon arrival I immediately remembered that people who live in Manhattan Beach always drink during the day- so the bar was packed.
The look of the place was actually a huge step up from what I expected. Then the extensive draught beer list immediately discounted my past notions of Jaegermeister youngsters, and stepped the south bay’s game up tenfold.
I began the long day with a Saint Bernardus ABT.
Food-wise, it was upscale bar food and after the low expectations I was pleasantly surprised. My pork panini was flavorful, chock full of onions and cheese.
The blue cheese fries were more like mac-n-cheese with fries instead of mac.
Overall it was nice, and a good start to a day of food and drink.
We followed the sound of a live band to Naja’s Place. Said band was butchering Blues Traveller covers (poor song choices and singing quality) at a volume that required shouting over. We were lucky to commandeer a quiet corner of the side bar. Now despite any complaints about the dirty crowd or dirtier bar, Naja’s beer wall was overwhelmingly brilliant. We’re talking scores of beers I’d never heard of, let alone seen on tap in LA.
I was directed to the Dogfish Head for it’s rarely-on-tap qualities.
It was definitely a robustly flavored beer, hoppy… and you know what, I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I’m just saying what other people said. It was cold and bold and did the trick.
Maintaining the pace, we moved down the marina to Quality Seafood for live sea urchin. Plucked from the tank, displayed momentarily before being cracked and scooped, then served up for succulent devouring. At seven dollars per pound, I don’t get why it’s one of the more expensive items on a sushi menu. Either way it was as delicate, rich, decadent and still moving while we eat it.
Onward up to the pier for Churros. Hot and heavy, these sweets are some of my favorite desserts in the world. It’s hard to compete with La Casita Mexicana’s, but these pier churros were definitely better than Disneyland’s.
Last stop of the marathon was at Hudson House. Off the water, but in a large, comfortable space, we settled in to finish off the day. I’d been to Hudson House before so I knew the food would be better than Simmzy’s. The burger, lamb on sugar cane skewers, cauliflower fritters, sweet potato fries and beer battered Twinkie, proved as much.
I can confidently say the south bay is growing up right before our eyes. Still a drinking town, but with about a hundred and fifty different kinds of beer between our three stops. Still a lot of shorts and sandals, but with solid bar food and beachfront locations it comes with the territory. All in all it was a very fun, well-executed marathon thanks to Josh.