Richard Foss

South Bay Dining News: Burger City Grill, The Empanada Shop arrive on Artesia, Chong Brother’s “Rabano” set to open on PCH in Hermosa, Killer Shrimp moves to The Mermaid to make way for Playa Hermosa Fish & Oyster…and more…

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Burger City Grill will have two locations in Torrance.

Torrance Gets A New Burger Palace… The first of two Burger City Grill locations in Torrance has opened on Artesia, and the menu is remarkable because of what you can’t get. They’re specialists here, offering beef burgers and fries with various toppings, and beer, shakes, and soft drinks to go with them. That’s it – no chicken or fish option on the food menu, no wine on the drinks list. It’s an unusual business strategy, and they’ll have to make spectacular burgers to draw enough of a crowd. Since they have two locations already, in Lomita and Downey, evidence suggests that they’re very good at what they do. I haven’t made it there yet, will report back (3605 Artesia Blvd., Torr. 310-819-8486)…

Empanadas On Artesia!… If you enjoy Mexican empanadas and also are health conscious you’ll be looking forward to the opening of The Empanada Shop on Artesia in Redondo Beach. The company has been making organic empanadas that are sold frozen at grocery stores, but will soon have a retail operation in place and be selling them fresh. They’re in the location that was briefly Sweet & Savory bakery, and opening is expected in spring…

More Than Just Radishes… The new restaurant at the corner of Artesia and PCH is called Rabano, and it just opened after a delay of almost two years. They offer a variety of bowls, wraps, salads, and smoothies made with organic and high quality ingredients. The kimchi, sauces, and mayo are made in-house, the chicken free-range, and they offer many GF and veggie options. The project is by the Chong brothers, and some items reflect their Peruvian, Cuban, and Chinese heritage. It’s adventurous and interesting fast food, and a welcome addition to an area without many choices. (2516 PCH, Hermosa. 310-318-1998)  

Event Alert!… Sausal is the only restaurant in greater Los Angeles that regularly serves items inspired by Nineteenth Century California ranchos’ cooking, a style that draws from both Spain and Mexico. On February 22 they’ll be serving a “Spirit of Old California” dinner that will explore that style even more deeply. The benefit for the Pacific Food & Beverage Museum will feature a four-course dinner with all the trimmings, and heritage wines and a 19th th Century spirited punch will add to the style of the festivities. Chef Anne Conness and a culinary historian will give a brief explanation of rancho food and drink history. (Full disclosure: the culinary historian is the author of this column, who has lectured on the subject at museums around California.) Cost is $80 including tax & tip  – reservations and the entire menu are available at Pacificfood.org

New Restaurant, Established Owner… The sign from the former Killer Shrimp in Hermosa Beach has been moved to The Mermaid, not a big surprise because the same people owned both places and both specialize in seafood. A new restaurant called Playa Hermosa Fish & Oyster is on the way. It is a collaboration by Levi Lupercio, formerly of the Strand House, and Lisa Hemmat, who has run Lido di Manhattan Beach for over ten years. Expect a fast turnaround — watch for an opening at #19 Pier Avenue within the next few weeks…    

Mardi Gras is on the last day of February this year, the joyous celebration of all things food and drink on the last day before 40 days of penance for Catholics. Several events in our area beckon if you’d like to join the fun. The Ragin Cajun will be bringing in crawfish by the ton for the whole week, plus hosting an Abita beer dinner on February 22. That will include four courses including crawfish with different beers, and will set you back $45 plus tax & tip. For the full menu check their website, for reservations call 310-540-7403… Those who like a bit more upscale Louisiana celebration might stop in at Bouzy at Chez Melange, which will offer Cajun specials that evening, or they might experience another tradition entirely at a nearby restaurant. Hostaria Piave will offer a Venetian Carnevale seafood feast for the bargain price of $40 plus tax and tip, and if you follow the Venice tradition of wearing a mask or costume they’ll throw in a flask of Prosecco and an order of fritole, Venetian doughnuts. The whole menu is online – check the “Celebrazioni” tab on the menu page at hostariapiave.com or call to reserve at 310-374-1000…

The new Blue Star Doughnuts location in Manhattan Beach is impressing a lot of people, and I’m one of them even though it took me three tries to eat there because the first two times they had sold out early. I’m not a big fan of doughnuts, but these are pretty fantastic. They’re priced accordingly: a blueberry bourbon basil doughnut and one made with orange olive oil cake set me back seven bucks. A box to treat your co-workers will cost some money, but raise the likelihood that nobody will notice if you sneak out early on Friday.  (451 Manhattan Beach Blvd, MB. 310-545-2187)…  

And In The Drinking News… Word has just come in about a big change in a little bar. O’Hearn’s on Aviation in North Redondo has an Irish name and shamrocks on the sign, but you don’t go there to hear jigs and reels on the jukebox. It has always been more of a sports bar and scruffy but friendly hangout for an eccentric crowd. I’ve heard that new owners plan to clean the place up, add more taps, and increase the Irish character of the place. Here’s hoping they get the balance right so that locals still feel welcome… There’s a change at another watering hole too, as The Schooner has a new menu and kitchen staff. They had previously had an unusual relationship with mobile barbecue specialists Barley Hops Grill, in which the food and beverage operations were completely separate and you had to order food and drinks from different counters. This didn’t work, and they have gone their separate ways…  

Any new places I should investigate? Your server isn’t the only one who appreciates tips, and the ones you give me don’t cost money… I’m at Richard@richardfoss.com…

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