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LA’s Messhall Team Opens a Laid-Back Barbecue Joint Near the Beach

The Backyard hits sleepy Seal Beach with ribs, tri-tip, craft beer, and ocean breezes this week

A close up photo of a tray of red ribs, slathered sauces, and tri tip and hot links.
Ribs and more from the Backyard in Seal Beach.
The Backyard
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Just in time for the inevitable fall heat waves in Los Angeles, there is a new, mellow hangout coming to the quiet coastal city of Seal Beach. The Backyard is a barbecue-focused restaurant with myriad drinks on offer, set just steps from the cooling Pacific Ocean and right on Seal Beach’s Main Street, which should make it popular on weekends. Better still, the restaurant comes from a very familiar Los Angeles restaurant group.

The Backyard is the work of Anthony Ko (owner), Charbel Adaimy (chef), and Amanda Arebalo (bar director), who all hail from reliable Los Feliz neighborhood restaurant Messhall Kitchen. The trio have run Messhall as a laid-back spot for an easy weeknight dinner for years, and now they’re taking a similar approach (this time with more barbecue and less camping themes) to Seal Beach. As the name implies, the idea behind the Backyard is to offer locals and weekend beach-goers a different kind of easygoing meal option in an area that’s already filled with seafood joints, small cafes, and Irish pubs. Mains on the menu include ribs, pulled pork, smoked chickens, hot links, and tri-tip sandwiches, while also leaning into Americana staples like burgers, lobster rolls, po’ boys, salads, and sides. Arebalo curates the beer and wine lists, including lots of California and LA-specific labels. The opening menu is below.

The space is meant to be charming yet cozy, a mix of casual clutter and the sort of lighter earth tones commonly found at restaurants near the LA water. Expect wood, tall ceilings, a flood of light from the front windows, and the kind of calm, surfside demeanor common to Seal Beach.

Mostly, though, the arrival of the Backyard is big for Seal Beach, if only because the area has been reluctant to see the kind of massive new restaurant and bar growth that has become common in neighboring Long Beach. Restaurants take time to open here and even longer to cultivate a loyal local following, and the Backyard is the first big new entrant in quite a while. What’s more, the restaurant’s barbecue-heavy menu is the first of its kind to newly open since the closure of star Beachwood BBQ back in 2020, so local comparisons in both food and price are to be expected. Diners will get their first crack at the menu starting on Wednesday, September 14, with hours thereafter from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday at 136 Main Street.

A close up photo of a cheeseburger with lettuce inside a large yellow bun.
Backyard burger.
A close up shot of a light brown fried sandwich on stone grey plate.
Fried chicken sandwich.
A long, light, crusty sandwich with buttery shrimp and slaw.
Shrimp po’ boy.
Slices of grilled red meat on a single piece of toast with lots of sauce and pickled red onions.
Open-faced tri-tip sandwich.
An overhead shot of a half chicken with dark skin on a grey plate atop a wooden table, surrounded by colorful sides.
Smoked chicken and sides.

The Backyard by Messhall

136 Main St., Seal Beach, CA 90740