A move to the Los Angeles suburbs usually yields more square footage, responsibility and admittedly, some distance from the bustling nightlife of Downtown LA. But that doesn’t mean the ’burbs have nothing to offer in terms of weekend plans for dinners and drinks.
Below, we highlight the LA suburbs with the best downtown areas. Even if they’re not a short walk away, residents are a quick drive from being right in the middle of the action.
Head west on Manhattan Beach Blvd., and once you see the water, you’re in the right spot. Manhattan Beach’s downtown is filled with shops, bars, some of LA’s top restaurants and of course, the sand. For drinks, you’re headed to Simmzy’s, Brewco or the Rockefeller. While those all work for food as well, we recommend Fishing With Dynamite, Manhattan Beach Post, or Little Sister for entrees instead.
Similar to Manhattan, Hermosa Beach supplies a ton of nightlife options north, south, and east of the pier. But unlike Manhattan, it also has a lengthy pedestrian block for revelers to pop in and out of shops and restaurants without worrying about cars. A few blocks north of the Strand is La Playita, a cozy Mexican food spot. If you’re looking for a TV to watch a game, it’s an easy place to find one. Underground, Tower 12, and American Junkie are all within a couple blocks.
Old Towne Orange looks...old at first glance. However, the extensive Orange Circle Antique Mall is only part of the draw. Surrounding the historic sites are barbeque joints like Smoqued, immense drink and beer lists at Haven Gastropub, and even Chapman Crafted brewery just off the beaten path. No matter the time of day, it’s easy to walk down Glassell Street and take your pick of cuisine styles.
The beach at Newport Beach offers cruises and paddleboarding, or whatever else you’d prefer to do on or near the water. Away from the sand and around the Balboa Peninsula, there’s an area swimming with seafood restaurants, from Bluewater Grill and Fly ‘N’ Fish Oyster Bar & Grill, to more drink-focused spots like Lido Bottle Works and Malarky’s (among numerous others).
Riviera Village has been revitalized in the last decade or so to become a hub of culture and nightlife for South Redondo Beach. Though a little more family-oriented than Manhattan or Hermosa to the north, there’s still a long list of food and drink options mixed in with the clothing stores and seaside shops. Some personal selections in the area: Select Beer Store, Turquoise, and Rebel Republic Social House (and that’s just scratching the surface).
Claremont Village features nearly 60 restaurant and bar options alone, scattered among countless clothing shops and art galleries throughout the area, plus a movie theater. From Italian (Uno Tre Otto) to sushi (Kazama Sushi) to vegan options (The Last Drop Cafe), it’s also easy to walk into any taste preference within a block or two.
Pick the right spot in downtown San Clemente, and you’ll get a pretty nice ocean view along with your meal (or beverage of choice). The second floor of local favorite Pizza Port is one of the best options in that department. But Pierside Kitchen, San Clemente Wine Company, and the Cellar all have potential there (and in the food/drink department) as well.
Northeast of the sand and hiking trails of Laguna Beach and Laguna Canyon is a busy downtown teeming with art, along with your fair share of grub and grog. Elena Bulatova Fine Art is one gallery right in the middle of the area, and Townley Gallery is a block north. Selections like Broadway and 230 Forest Avenue are closeby drink and food spots, respectively, to top off the culture with something in your stomach as well.
Right off Pacific Coast Highway is the beach to the southwest and Huntington Beach’s bustling downtown to the northeast. You’re not looking for fine dining by the water here, but rather affordable drinks and some solid food to pair with it. Duke’s gives you that, plus a picaresque view of the beach (and seafood), and 25 Degrees is a bit more burger-focused. For drinks, the Irishman is your go-to Irish pub and Simmzy’s is a known (yet favorite) entity.