Nestled between Manhattan Beach’s the Kettle and two doors away from Love & Salt sits the South Bay’s new Sonoran-inspired restaurant Esperanza, which opens July 29. The full name is actually Esperanza Cocina de la Playa, and it’s inspired by beach destinations like Cabo San Lucas and Yucatan, as well as cuisine from Mexico City and Oaxaca. The menu reads familiar, with enchiladas, chile rellenos, tacos, and shrimp taquitos served with a visually striking presentation. The team took trips that yielded a solid tequila and mezcal list featuring small-batch Mexican producers.
Longtime Angeleno chef Ray Alvarez developed a menu that features crudo del mar; Alvarez’s team created five different ceviches, aguachiles, and tartares using fresh scallops, lobster tail, tuna, sea bass, prawn, and halibut. There’s a heavy emphasis on seafood at Esperanza with enchiladas, Pacific prawns with salsa, and a showstopping lobster and shrimp-stuffed chile relleno. For those in the mood for turf action, a mesquite-flavored ribeye should do the trick with fresh tortillas.
Esperanza is quite the transformation from the former Shark’s Cove sports bar, thanks to Icelandic architect Gulla Jónsdóttir and GAA Architects. Remnants of the bar are completely gone and replaced with a sleek candle-hued room with soft white tones. Jónsdóttir also created the very modern designs at the former Girasol in Studio City and Eve American Bistro just west of Downtown. The handcrafted leather barstools and ceramic light fixtures are imported from Mexico and Italy, respectively. The 2,000-square-foot dining room joins a very busy Manhattan Beach dining scene and is within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean.
Esperanza will take things late night on Friday and Saturdays with cocktails served until 2 a.m. Kevin Williams and former Palmilla bartender John Fox put together a cocktail list that will fit right in with bar hoppers on Manhattan Beach Boulevard. Dining hours for Esperanza are Sunday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to midnight, and Friday to Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.