Downtown Dive Bars, An Upscale Lounge & A Rocking Rock ‘n Roll Bar
Once the mecca of South Bay nightlife, Manhattan Beach along the coast of Los Angeles just south of the airport may not currently be it’s jumping former self, but there’s a few places where you can find some good bar action.
These are the places I go to first, where I want to meet friends and where I take visiting friends among the many bars in this Los Angeles beach town.
1.) Shellback Tavern
This legend of the beach is a comfortable dive bar that’s good from the start of a day to have a big and fat hangover-busting omelette with a couple of its very good Bloody Marys to off-the-beach afternoons when people come in with beach chairs and backpacks stuffed with volleyballs to at night when the 20s and 30s crowd packs the place. “The Shell,” as locals call it, also keeps a good part of the Manhattan Beach party tradition alive by just being there and being the same as ‘back in the day.” Located just up the pier at MB Blvd.
Like Shellback, not much has changed at Pancho’s thru the years and that’s a good thing because this cantina has a rock cover band on Friday and Saturday nights with some of rock ‘n roll’s top touring musicians. Guys you may have never heard of but still played with the likes of Stevie Nicks and Alice Cooper. Sometimes, the music is just very good and sometimes band blows the roof off the place. And when the crowd is big, the band is cranking and those Dirty Maggies kick in, it’s a kickin’ great time at Pancho’s. Located in El Porto and the corner of Rosecrans & Highland.
The home of the best burgers on the West Coast, this old dive bar (est. 1920s) is a hot place to hang out on weekend nights after 10. I, like most locals, go to it after Shellback and often bounce between the two. There’s nothing fancy about Erc’s but on most weekend nights, especially after midnight, you can generally find yourself locked into a somewhat drunken conversation with someone of the opposite sex. Located on Manhattan Ave., two blocks south of MB Blvd.
While OB’s is best on Tuesdays – for it has the best Taco Tuesday in the Beach Cities – I still like to pop in there on other nights of the week, just to see what’s happening, you know. Sometimes it’s just a one-beer stop used as a warm-up to Pancho’s, but then other times there’s a fun and lively crowd and that turns that one beer into several beers. Scattering the peanuts over a table full of single girls is my signature introductory move here. Located across from Pancho’s in El Porto and the corner of Rosecrans & Highland.
5.) Strand House
I actually enjoyed the upscale bar more when it wasn’t so upscale, (Beaches and Sunsets and before even that the total dive La Paz) but still because of those former Manhattan Beach legends, the location has a special place in my partying heart. Like it predecessor, Strand House get in its share of guys and girls looking to rock the night. Just in a less wild setting. Located just up the pier at MB Blvd.
Honorable Mention: Mangiamo’s. This Italian restaurant just up from the pier has a small bar always with a super-friendly bartender and every so often other patrons that turn your “one glass of wine” at Happy Hour into several glasses of wine well past Happy Hour.