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Pesto with pappardelle pasta at Fatto a Mano.
Pesto with pappardelle pasta at Fatto a Mano.
Matthew Kang

18 Essential South Bay Restaurants

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

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Pesto with pappardelle pasta at Fatto a Mano.
| Matthew Kang

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 feels 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, and Korean, Brazilian, Hawaiian, and even Oaxacan fare are now highlighted too. Here now are the essential restaurants to try in the South Bay.

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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

The Slice & Pint

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The South Bay has a lot of pizza shops, but New York City-style pizza fans might find the best version at this busy brewpub, where the kitchen is almost always busy stretching out thin pies loaded with pepperoni, sausage, cheese, and other toppings. With a firm, gently crispy crust that holds its shape after folding, these slices will only taste better paired with a glass of El Segundo Brewing Co. craft beers.

Pho Ever

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Gardena’s Pho Ever is an expansion from San Gabriel Valley serving some of the best beef pho in the South Bay. Looking like it moved into a former Korean barbecue restaurant, Pho Ever’s space has family-friendly alcoves that feel semi-private for quieter Vietnamese feasts.

A bowl of beef pho topped with fresh herbs.
Pho tai from Pho Ever in Gardena.
Matthew Kang

Quality Of Bombay

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An unsung Indian restaurant tucked into a nondescript Lawndale strip mall, the butter chicken, palak paneer, dal makhani, and specialty fish curry with coconut milk and lemongrass make for one of the most impressive South Asian meals in the city, let alone the South Bay.

Butter chicken at Quality of Bombay in Lawndale.
Butter chicken and other Indian dishes from Quality of Bombay.
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.

Loco moco at Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop in Gardena, California.
Loco moco at Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop in Gardena, California.
Matthew Kang

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

Torimatsu

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This tiny Gardena yakitori restaurant serves the Japanese American community with some of the finest grilled chicken skewers in the South Bay. Billowing smoke flows out of the binchotan grill while the chef dips skewers into a tare, or soy-based marinade, that’s been curing and aging for decades. The best part is that most set courses are moderately priced. Just expect to wait during busy meal times.

Yakitori skewers from Torimatsu in Gardena on a ceramic plate.
Yakitori skewers from Torimatsu in Gardena.
Matthew Kang

Sushi Sonagi

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Daniel Son’s impressive sushi counter is already executing at a high level, with the Korean American chef dining inspiration in seasonal varieties of fish from both Japan and local waters. The intimate six- or eight-person service means plenty of time to interact with Son and learn his sensibilities and style. The $200 menu, which can be booked up to one month out, comes with about twenty courses, including incredible dry-aged sea bream or tuna, grilled nodoguro encrusted with rice crackers, and a sizzling platter of abalone crispy rice.

Tuna nigiri from Sushi Sonagi in Gardena.
Tuna nigiri from Sushi Sonagi in Gardena.
Jakob Layman

Tommy and Atticus

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Easily one of the finest places for pastries and bread in Los Angeles, this playful and well-received Redondo Beach bakery from owners Garrett McPerry and Lauren Rosen occupies a fresh, casual cafe space at the end of a strip mall. Inside, expect scones, croissants, muffins, and galettes using farmers market produce and the highest quality milled flours. Country and seeded breads are as anywhere else in LA, with dark brown crusts and plush crumbs that always nourish.

Pastry case at Tommy and Atticus filled with French-style pastries.
Pastry case at Tommy and Atticus in Redondo Beach.
Matthew Kang

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

Fatto A Mano

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Handmade is literally the namesake of this tiny but mighty Redondo Beach Italian spot with chef Marco Pacelli making big restaurant-level plates of pasta. First, pick a shape like pappardelle or spaghetti, then choose the sauce, such as carbonara, bolognese, or pomodoro. Though most of the food is optimized to take home, a few tables and counter seats make it possible to eat plates while they’re still piping hot.

A plate of tomato sauce pasta.
Spaghetti pomodoro from Fatto a Mano in Redondo Beach.
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, including Wadatsumi and Torihei. Hachi has an impressive menu of after-work Japanese drinking dishes, including pressed saba sushi and grilled chicken skewers.

Jang Su Jang

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Korean food is surprisingly good in the South Bay thanks to the sizeable Korean population. Jang Su Jang, which opened in the former Da Maat plaza on Sepulveda Boulevard, opened in a sleek, wide-open dining room on the corner of the strip mall that draws lines on weekends. Order the fried fish, sundubu jjigae, old-style bulgogi served in a hot pot, or stone pot bibimbap across a menu that spans the greatest hits of Korean cuisine.

A hot pot of Korean beef.
Old style bulgogi from Jang Su Jang in Torrance.
Matthew Kang

Rex Steakhouse

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A flashy steakhouse that gets the basics right, Rex serves a stellar wood-grilled steak with thoughtful side dishes, such as sauteed mushrooms to smooth mashed potatoes. The ambience feels right for Redondo Beach, tidy and a bit sexy without being unapproachable. Rex saves South Bay denizens from a trip to Beverly Hills for a proper steakhouse experience.

Bone-in New York strip from the Rex Steakhouse in Redondo Beach.
Bone-in New York strip from the Rex Steakhouse in Redondo Beach.
Matthew Kang

Canaan Cafe

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This Cantonese and Shanghainese restaurant works as a versatile every day spot for reasonably priced Chinese food inspired by the Biblical land of Canaan, a land supposedly flowing with milk and honey. But instead of those foods, find crispy fish covered in a peppery sweet sauce, crowdpleasing pan-fried noodles, and more in the fairly small strip mall dining room.

A plate of Cantonese-style fried fish.
Special fried fish filet at Canaan Cafe in Lomita.
Matthew Kang

Colossus Bread

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This tiny but mighty bakery in San Pedro makes some of the top laminated pastries, cookies, and bread in the South Bay tucked away in a local neighborhood. The array of baked goods every morning can sell out most weekends, but will often include croissants, pan au chocolat, kouign amanns, and twice-baked almond croissants. The sourdough country loaves are nourishing and satisfying while the olive and cumin loaf brings in something head baker Kristen Rodriguez brought to LA after first serving it up from the Bay Area. Another commendable aspect of Colossus is its transparent labor model, listed in detail on its website, which shares wage structure, its gratuity-included policy, and community-minded hospitality.

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

Busy Bee Market

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There’s almost always a line at this busy sandwich shop in San Pedro, which makes its adorable name and logo fitting. While pretty much everything is impressive, the layered pastrami, Italian torpedoes, and dipped beef sandwiches are some of the shop’s more popular orders. The hardest part is trying to snake through the store without picking up one of Busy Bee’s vast selections of potato chips.

A hand holds up a pastrami sandwich that is falling apart.
Pastrami sandwich from Busy Bee in San Pedro.
Crystal Coser

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

The Slice & Pint

The South Bay has a lot of pizza shops, but New York City-style pizza fans might find the best version at this busy brewpub, where the kitchen is almost always busy stretching out thin pies loaded with pepperoni, sausage, cheese, and other toppings. With a firm, gently crispy crust that holds its shape after folding, these slices will only taste better paired with a glass of El Segundo Brewing Co. craft beers.

Pho Ever

Gardena’s Pho Ever is an expansion from San Gabriel Valley serving some of the best beef pho in the South Bay. Looking like it moved into a former Korean barbecue restaurant, Pho Ever’s space has family-friendly alcoves that feel semi-private for quieter Vietnamese feasts.

A bowl of beef pho topped with fresh herbs.
Pho tai from Pho Ever in Gardena.
Matthew Kang

Quality Of Bombay

An unsung Indian restaurant tucked into a nondescript Lawndale strip mall, the butter chicken, palak paneer, dal makhani, and specialty fish curry with coconut milk and lemongrass make for one of the most impressive South Asian meals in the city, let alone the South Bay.

Butter chicken at Quality of Bombay in Lawndale.
Butter chicken and other Indian dishes from Quality of Bombay.
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.

Loco moco at Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop in Gardena, California.
Loco moco at Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop in Gardena, California.
Matthew Kang

The Arthur J

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

Torimatsu

This tiny Gardena yakitori restaurant serves the Japanese American community with some of the finest grilled chicken skewers in the South Bay. Billowing smoke flows out of the binchotan grill while the chef dips skewers into a tare, or soy-based marinade, that’s been curing and aging for decades. The best part is that most set courses are moderately priced. Just expect to wait during busy meal times.

Yakitori skewers from Torimatsu in Gardena on a ceramic plate.
Yakitori skewers from Torimatsu in Gardena.
Matthew Kang

Sushi Sonagi

Daniel Son’s impressive sushi counter is already executing at a high level, with the Korean American chef dining inspiration in seasonal varieties of fish from both Japan and local waters. The intimate six- or eight-person service means plenty of time to interact with Son and learn his sensibilities and style. The $200 menu, which can be booked up to one month out, comes with about twenty courses, including incredible dry-aged sea bream or tuna, grilled nodoguro encrusted with rice crackers, and a sizzling platter of abalone crispy rice.

Tuna nigiri from Sushi Sonagi in Gardena.
Tuna nigiri from Sushi Sonagi in Gardena.
Jakob Layman

Tommy and Atticus

Easily one of the finest places for pastries and bread in Los Angeles, this playful and well-received Redondo Beach bakery from owners Garrett McPerry and Lauren Rosen occupies a fresh, casual cafe space at the end of a strip mall. Inside, expect scones, croissants, muffins, and galettes using farmers market produce and the highest quality milled flours. Country and seeded breads are as anywhere else in LA, with dark brown crusts and plush crumbs that always nourish.

Pastry case at Tommy and Atticus filled with French-style pastries.
Pastry case at Tommy and Atticus in Redondo Beach.
Matthew Kang

Ryla

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

Fatto A Mano

Handmade is literally the namesake of this tiny but mighty Redondo Beach Italian spot with chef Marco Pacelli making big restaurant-level plates of pasta. First, pick a shape like pappardelle or spaghetti, then choose the sauce, such as carbonara, bolognese, or pomodoro. Though most of the food is optimized to take home, a few tables and counter seats make it possible to eat plates while they’re still piping hot.

A plate of tomato sauce pasta.
Spaghetti pomodoro from Fatto a Mano in Redondo Beach.
Matthew Kang

Madre! Oaxacan Restaurant and Mezcaleria

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

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

Jang Su Jang

Korean food is surprisingly good in the South Bay thanks to the sizeable Korean population. Jang Su Jang, which opened in the former Da Maat plaza on Sepulveda Boulevard, opened in a sleek, wide-open dining room on the corner of the strip mall that draws lines on weekends. Order the fried fish, sundubu jjigae, old-style bulgogi served in a hot pot, or stone pot bibimbap across a menu that spans the greatest hits of Korean cuisine.

A hot pot of Korean beef.
Old style bulgogi from Jang Su Jang in Torrance.
Matthew Kang

Rex Steakhouse

A flashy steakhouse that gets the basics right, Rex serves a stellar wood-grilled steak with thoughtful side dishes, such as sauteed mushrooms to smooth mashed potatoes. The ambience feels right for Redondo Beach, tidy and a bit sexy without being unapproachable. Rex saves South Bay denizens from a trip to Beverly Hills for a proper steakhouse experience.

Bone-in New York strip from the Rex Steakhouse in Redondo Beach.
Bone-in New York strip from the Rex Steakhouse in Redondo Beach.
Matthew Kang

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Canaan Cafe

This Cantonese and Shanghainese restaurant works as a versatile every day spot for reasonably priced Chinese food inspired by the Biblical land of Canaan, a land supposedly flowing with milk and honey. But instead of those foods, find crispy fish covered in a peppery sweet sauce, crowdpleasing pan-fried noodles, and more in the fairly small strip mall dining room.

A plate of Cantonese-style fried fish.
Special fried fish filet at Canaan Cafe in Lomita.
Matthew Kang

Colossus Bread

This tiny but mighty bakery in San Pedro makes some of the top laminated pastries, cookies, and bread in the South Bay tucked away in a local neighborhood. The array of baked goods every morning can sell out most weekends, but will often include croissants, pan au chocolat, kouign amanns, and twice-baked almond croissants. The sourdough country loaves are nourishing and satisfying while the olive and cumin loaf brings in something head baker Kristen Rodriguez brought to LA after first serving it up from the Bay Area. Another commendable aspect of Colossus is its transparent labor model, listed in detail on its website, which shares wage structure, its gratuity-included policy, and community-minded hospitality.

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

Busy Bee Market

There’s almost always a line at this busy sandwich shop in San Pedro, which makes its adorable name and logo fitting. While pretty much everything is impressive, the layered pastrami, Italian torpedoes, and dipped beef sandwiches are some of the shop’s more popular orders. The hardest part is trying to snake through the store without picking up one of Busy Bee’s vast selections of potato chips.

A hand holds up a pastrami sandwich that is falling apart.
Pastrami sandwich from Busy Bee in San Pedro.
Crystal Coser

Related Maps