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Dishes from Ryla in Hermosa Beach.
Dinnertime fare at Ryla in Hermosa Beach.
Wonho Frank Lee

17 Essential South Bay Restaurants

The very best places to dine in Torrance, Gardena, Redondo Beach, Carson, Manhattan Beach, and more

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Dinnertime fare at Ryla in Hermosa Beach.
| Wonho Frank Lee

The South Bay is a massive area incorporating Torrance, Gardena, Carson, Redondo Beach, El Segundo, Hawthorne, Manhattan Beach, San Pedro, and Lomita, among other municipalities. The part of town south of LAX and north of Long Beach does feel like its own section of Los Angeles County, with a beachy vibe and cultural diversity apparent in its many neighborhoods. Formerly home to three Japanese car companies, the area still hosts a bevy of excellent Japanese restaurants, though Korean, Brazilian, Hawaiian, and even Oaxacan fare are now highlights. Here now are the essential 17 restaurants in the South Bay.

Added: Ryla, Ali’i Fish Company, Akane Chaya, Little China, Old Time Noodle House, Baran’s 2239

Removed: Jame, Yuk Dae Jang, Jus Poke, Jiayuan Dumpling House, Little French Bakery, My Father’s Barbeque, Kotohira, Sugarfish

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Ali'i Fish Company

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Few of this Hawaiian restaurant’s competitors can claim they source their fish straight from the Honolulu fish auction. On top of that, the team behind Ali’i Fish Company dishes up an impressive ahi burger, nostalgic fish nuggets, and a recently added Lomi salmon (available at the Torrance location only).

A bowl of poke in front of a plant.
The poke bowls at Ali’i Fish Company are not to be slept on.
Ali’i Fish Company

Zam Zam Market

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Hawthorne’s Zam Zam Market continues to be one of the best places for South Asian food in LA, with a stripped-down menu that focuses on flavor over anything else. Call ahead to see what’s being served that day, and be sure to get plenty of naan, too.

Biryani and chicken tandoori with naan at Zam Zam Market
Biryani and chicken tandoori with naan
Stan Lee

Mr. Fries Man

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Craig Batiste and his wife Dorothy started putting incredible, colorful ingredients on french fries in 2016, first serving out of their home kitchen and now expanded to multiple locations across Los Angeles and even into Las Vegas. In less than a year, they have more than 20 franchises sold, but it all started here in Gardena. Try the Beyond Meat-loaded fries for a plant-based tray of comfort.

French fries loaded with cheese, and faux meat.
Loaded fries with Beyond Meat at Mr. Fries Man
Mr. Fries Man [Official photo]

Old Time Noodle House

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In need of cold noodles due to the constant climate crisis-born heatwaves? This Korean restaurant is the answer. The cold arrowroot starch noodle soup is a favorite at this Gardena staple, and perfect for cooling down in the middle of a hot day.

Chin naengmyeon, arrowroot starch cold noodles, from Old Time Noodle House in Gardena. Matthew Kang

Akane Chaya

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This 1991-born strip mall joint features a heavy love of jazz, pork curry, seafood, and Western-influenced dishes. The menu is actually huge — there are spaghetti varieties coming out of the rafters, eight different combos (including “super” versions of the combos), and a number of riffs on pilaf and omelet rice.  

For a throwback, 90s-style Japanese meal in Gardena: Akane Chaya. Matthew Kang

Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop

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The longtime Gardena Bowl coffee shop has been a neighborhood destination for breakfast foods and Hawaiian-inflected dishes like wonton saimin and a Royal fried rice plate topped with roast pork. It’s only open for takeout.

Love & Salt

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Now an established neighborhood classic, Love & Salt serves California-Italian fare from restaurateur Sylvie Gabriele in the former Cafe Pierre space (her father Guy’s restaurant). Chef Tracey Harada oversees the reliable, well-executed menu of pastas, pizzas, salads, and entrees in a bustling modern ambience.

Love & Salt
Wonho Frank Lee

The Arthur J

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David LeFevre’s fancy steakhouse sports some serious retro vibes. The steaks here rank among the best in Los Angeles. Exceptional sides and a diverse wine list round out this ocean-side restaurant that is sure to withstand the test of time with its midcentury modern feel and charming old-school service.

The Arthur J
Stan Lee

Little China Restaurant

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Step into the worn-out strip mall confines of Little China, and expect to hear only Korean being spoken at the tables. Little China serves some of the best Korean-Chinese fusion dishes in town, like a super-spicy jjampong noodle soup, as well as a terrific gan jajangmyeon, basically a less soupy, less goopy version of the classic black bean paste noodle dish. This is old-school Chinese food at its finest in the South Bay.

The outside of Little China Restaurant in Gardena.
Don’t let the lack of ritz fool you — this restaurant is worth adding to the list.
Google Maps

Chefs Ray Hayashi and Cynthia Hetlinger are dishing up modern Japanese and Taiwanese fare at perhaps the coolest South Beach opening in 2022. The former Laurel Tavern space now sports a snappy Tokyo-inspired cocktail bar and a menu featuring hits like tonkotsu miso ramen, Chinese sausage-stuffed fried rice, and Hokkaido milk bread.

Dishes from Ryla in Hermosa Beach. Wonho Frank Lee

Baran's 2239

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Take a load off and throw on a dressy outfit for a visit to this Hermosa Beach restaurant. This place dishes out a swanky brunch, dabbling in the likes of maple pork breakfast sausage breakfast burritos, and is known for its prix-fixe menus centered on clams, black truffles, and, lately, dashi.

Baran’s 2239 Exterior Matthew Kang

Madre! Oaxacan Restaurant and Mezcaleria

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Ivan Vasquez took his Palms restaurant and planted a massive flagship in Old Torrance, serving his mother’s favorite mole and other Oaxacan dishes with a huge list of mezcales. The locals have figured it out, turning Madre into one of the most reliable Mexican restaurants in the city. Try the mole estofado and tlayuda for the full experience.

Entrance to Madre, a Oaxacan restaurant and bar in Torrance.
Madre! in Torrance
Wonho Frank Lee

Izakaya Hachi

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Torrance has plenty of izakayas and drink-friendly Japanese restaurants, from Wadatsumi to Torihei. Hachi has an impressive menu of after-work Japanese drinking dishes, from pressed saba sushi to grilled chicken skewers.

Phanny's

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Redondo Beach’s enduring breakfast burrito specialist has an updated coffee menu and fantastic burritos that should provide enough caloric intake for long days at the beach.

Holding breakfast burritos, cut in half.
Holding breakfast burritos from Phanny’s
Wonho Frank Lee

The Whale & Ale

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Martin O’Sullivan and his wife Susan took over the Whale & Ale down in San Pedro in late 2020 and converted it to an Irish pub soon after. It remains a staple in the neighborhood and is worth a drive for the pub’s standout fish and chips.

The Whale & Ale

The Chori-Man

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With tacos, burritos, and more, San Pedro’s beloved Chori-Man is a neighborhood favorite with quick service, reasonable prices, and amazing house-made chorizo.

The ChoriMan
The ChoriMan
Yelp

Colossus

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Chef Kristin Colazas Rodriguez’s tiny San Pedro bakery regularly sells out of croissants, cookies, and other delectable pastries well before its posted closing time, which speaks to the place’s incredible popularity. Colazas Rodriguez expanded Colossus to a new spot in Long Beach as well.

Colossus Bread exterior, with sidewalk.
Colossus in San Pedro
Farley Elliott

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Ali'i Fish Company

A bowl of poke in front of a plant.
The poke bowls at Ali’i Fish Company are not to be slept on.
Ali’i Fish Company

Few of this Hawaiian restaurant’s competitors can claim they source their fish straight from the Honolulu fish auction. On top of that, the team behind Ali’i Fish Company dishes up an impressive ahi burger, nostalgic fish nuggets, and a recently added Lomi salmon (available at the Torrance location only).

A bowl of poke in front of a plant.
The poke bowls at Ali’i Fish Company are not to be slept on.
Ali’i Fish Company

Zam Zam Market

Biryani and chicken tandoori with naan at Zam Zam Market
Biryani and chicken tandoori with naan
Stan Lee

Hawthorne’s Zam Zam Market continues to be one of the best places for South Asian food in LA, with a stripped-down menu that focuses on flavor over anything else. Call ahead to see what’s being served that day, and be sure to get plenty of naan, too.

Biryani and chicken tandoori with naan at Zam Zam Market
Biryani and chicken tandoori with naan
Stan Lee

Mr. Fries Man

French fries loaded with cheese, and faux meat.
Loaded fries with Beyond Meat at Mr. Fries Man
Mr. Fries Man [Official photo]

Craig Batiste and his wife Dorothy started putting incredible, colorful ingredients on french fries in 2016, first serving out of their home kitchen and now expanded to multiple locations across Los Angeles and even into Las Vegas. In less than a year, they have more than 20 franchises sold, but it all started here in Gardena. Try the Beyond Meat-loaded fries for a plant-based tray of comfort.

French fries loaded with cheese, and faux meat.
Loaded fries with Beyond Meat at Mr. Fries Man
Mr. Fries Man [Official photo]

Old Time Noodle House

Chin naengmyeon, arrowroot starch cold noodles, from Old Time Noodle House in Gardena. Matthew Kang

In need of cold noodles due to the constant climate crisis-born heatwaves? This Korean restaurant is the answer. The cold arrowroot starch noodle soup is a favorite at this Gardena staple, and perfect for cooling down in the middle of a hot day.

Chin naengmyeon, arrowroot starch cold noodles, from Old Time Noodle House in Gardena. Matthew Kang

Akane Chaya

For a throwback, 90s-style Japanese meal in Gardena: Akane Chaya. Matthew Kang

This 1991-born strip mall joint features a heavy love of jazz, pork curry, seafood, and Western-influenced dishes. The menu is actually huge — there are spaghetti varieties coming out of the rafters, eight different combos (including “super” versions of the combos), and a number of riffs on pilaf and omelet rice.  

For a throwback, 90s-style Japanese meal in Gardena: Akane Chaya. Matthew Kang

Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop

The longtime Gardena Bowl coffee shop has been a neighborhood destination for breakfast foods and Hawaiian-inflected dishes like wonton saimin and a Royal fried rice plate topped with roast pork. It’s only open for takeout.

Love & Salt

Love & Salt
Wonho Frank Lee

Now an established neighborhood classic, Love & Salt serves California-Italian fare from restaurateur Sylvie Gabriele in the former Cafe Pierre space (her father Guy’s restaurant). Chef Tracey Harada oversees the reliable, well-executed menu of pastas, pizzas, salads, and entrees in a bustling modern ambience.

Love & Salt
Wonho Frank Lee

The Arthur J

The Arthur J
Stan Lee

David LeFevre’s fancy steakhouse sports some serious retro vibes. The steaks here rank among the best in Los Angeles. Exceptional sides and a diverse wine list round out this ocean-side restaurant that is sure to withstand the test of time with its midcentury modern feel and charming old-school service.

The Arthur J
Stan Lee

Little China Restaurant

The outside of Little China Restaurant in Gardena.
Don’t let the lack of ritz fool you — this restaurant is worth adding to the list.
Google Maps

Step into the worn-out strip mall confines of Little China, and expect to hear only Korean being spoken at the tables. Little China serves some of the best Korean-Chinese fusion dishes in town, like a super-spicy jjampong noodle soup, as well as a terrific gan jajangmyeon, basically a less soupy, less goopy version of the classic black bean paste noodle dish. This is old-school Chinese food at its finest in the South Bay.

The outside of Little China Restaurant in Gardena.
Don’t let the lack of ritz fool you — this restaurant is worth adding to the list.
Google Maps

Ryla

Dishes from Ryla in Hermosa Beach. Wonho Frank Lee

Chefs Ray Hayashi and Cynthia Hetlinger are dishing up modern Japanese and Taiwanese fare at perhaps the coolest South Beach opening in 2022. The former Laurel Tavern space now sports a snappy Tokyo-inspired cocktail bar and a menu featuring hits like tonkotsu miso ramen, Chinese sausage-stuffed fried rice, and Hokkaido milk bread.

Dishes from Ryla in Hermosa Beach. Wonho Frank Lee

Baran's 2239

Baran’s 2239 Exterior Matthew Kang

Take a load off and throw on a dressy outfit for a visit to this Hermosa Beach restaurant. This place dishes out a swanky brunch, dabbling in the likes of maple pork breakfast sausage breakfast burritos, and is known for its prix-fixe menus centered on clams, black truffles, and, lately, dashi.

Baran’s 2239 Exterior Matthew Kang

Madre! Oaxacan Restaurant and Mezcaleria

Entrance to Madre, a Oaxacan restaurant and bar in Torrance.
Madre! in Torrance
Wonho Frank Lee

Ivan Vasquez took his Palms restaurant and planted a massive flagship in Old Torrance, serving his mother’s favorite mole and other Oaxacan dishes with a huge list of mezcales. The locals have figured it out, turning Madre into one of the most reliable Mexican restaurants in the city. Try the mole estofado and tlayuda for the full experience.

Entrance to Madre, a Oaxacan restaurant and bar in Torrance.
Madre! in Torrance
Wonho Frank Lee

Izakaya Hachi