Category Archives: Beach Dining

Articles on the best dining at the beach, from high-end restaurants to the best burgers and tacos.

Can’t Find Or Afford Abalone In California? Try Sand Dabs Instead

Foodies Will Love This Delicious Dish Served In Monterey Bay Restaurants

Abalonetti Fisherman's Wharf Monterey
Sand dabs, with local wine, are delicious at Abalonetti on Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey.


One of California’s true culinary delights is abalone. It’s delicious! But it’s also rare, hard to find and expensive.

Yet there is a tasty alternative in Monterey Bay: sand dabs.

Sand Dabs are small fish that pack big flavor. I mention them as an abalone alternative because they are both prepared in much the same way.

They are lightly coated in seasoned flour, sauteed in a hot pan with oil and, well, that’s pretty much it.

The result is the much the same. The flavors are light and simple, yet will have you falling back in the chair saying “oh, that is de-LIC-ious!”

Then you will be reaching for your wine.

Like abalone, sand dabs are a true California coastal dish. In fact, I’ve only seen sand dabs in Montery Bay. I live in Southern California and have never seen them on a menu here. Nor even in San Francisco.

So go to a place like Abalonetti Seafood Restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey and have some sand dabs. Abalonetti, by the way prepares squid like abalone, thus its name.

So that’s yet another abalone alternative, exclusive to this restaurant.

Now, if you really want abalone, then the Little River Inn located four scenic hours to the north in Mendocino County, has a special promotional package where you can both catch and eat this rare California treat.

Bon appetit!

Catalina Island’s Airport In The Sky Hosts Monthly Summer BBQs

Private Pilots & Visitors Get A Feast At DC-3 Grill High Above Avalon

High on a hill, the Airport in the Sky is appropriately named.
High on a hill, the Airport in the Sky is appropriately named.


Veteran visitors to Catalina Island know a secret: There’s a place off the beaten tourist path that has the island’s best buffalo burgers.

It’s at the so-called “Airport in the Sky,” a refuge of sorts for Southern California private pilots. But anyone can go to it and in fact everyone is welcome to its monthly summertime BBQ s.

You just have to get there, of course.

The BBQs are parties that take place the second Saturday of the month.

And instead of the famous buffalo burgers, it includes tri-tip or chicken, Caesar salad, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, garlic bread and hot apple pie a la mode, for $28.50.

Of course you can have the buffalo burger if you prefer it and Surfside Sam certainly recommends you put this on your foodie bucket list at some point in your life.

More than 200 people attend these BBQs, mainly private plane pilots, which makes for a very special bonding experience. But you don’t need a plane to get there; you can take a bus called the Wildlands Express from Avalon’s Plaza ($32 R/T).

Airport In The Sky DC-3 Grill Review
The “$100” Buffalo Burger Worth Every Penny To Private Pilots

The South Bay’s Top Weekend Brunch Restaurant For First Dates

BALEENKitchen In Redondo Beach Meets All The Singles Criteria

BALEENKitchen Redondo Beach Weekend Brunch
Brunch at Brunch at BALEENKitchen is romantic, intoxicating and scenic. Photo: KC Witherspoon


The guy was desperate.

A friend needed a place to meet out for an on-line date.  His text said it all: “Meeting a woman for brunch in the South Bay.  Can U help me!? A good place that’s not too expensive!”

It was a Sunday morning and he had come to the right place, for I knew the right place: BALEENKitchen in Redondo Beach.

It’s right on the water, over the docks of the King Harbor Marina. The environment is classy, the food good and the setting is the most romantic in the Los Angeles South Bay Beach Cities.

If things progressed to the romantic stage, then he would certainly be in the right setting to take advantage of it.

If nothing else, he’s a sailboat captain and if things did not go well, he would at least enjoy the view. Plus, BALEENKitchen has bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys on weekends ($18, till 2 p.m.), so that could surely enhance any date!

As it turns out the date went longer than expected. I had invited him over to my place in Hermosa Beach later in the day and he never showed up here.

At about 2, I sent him this text: “Are you making out by the dock!?”

No response.

A  couple days later, I called him.

“The location was perfect,” he said. “The food was good but not expensive (brunch items are in the $12-15 range, ideal for a first date),  the place is beautiful and the location ideal.

“Good choice!”

His date must have felt the same way because she invited him to a work function a few days later.

So if you’re single and looking for a great first-date place for a weekend brunch in the Los Angeles South Bay Beach Cities, make it BALEENKitchen at the Portofino Hotel.

• Brunch Hours:  Saturday & Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
• Brunch Prices:  Eggs, Omlettes & Pancakes $12-14, burger, sandwiches, tacos $16-18, steak & eggs $26
• Address: 260 Portofinio Way, Redondo Beach, CA
• Phone: (310) 372-1202
• Website:

South Bay’s Top First-Date Restaurants
Top Criteria For Choosing First-Date Restaurants & Bars

Diving For And Eating Abalone On The California Coast

Mendocino County’s Little River Inn Offers Travelers & Divers A Rare Hotel Package

Sauteed abalone
Sauteed abalone is a true California delicacy and is a rare treat.


Shortly after moving to California,  I was having beers with native neighbors who were talking about the state’s many virtues. One of the things they mentioned that I had to try at some point was abalone.

The more they described it, a delicious delicacy that’s kind of like a clam only much more tasty when lightly battered and sauteed, the more I wanted it.

Unfortunately, they said I was unlikely ever to have it because it was so desirable it was hunted to near extension and if you could even find it in a restaurant it would cost $50 or more as a mere appetizer.

It seemed like a cruel tease, like flirting with the prettiest girl in the bar only to have her bulky boyfriend come up the minute you’re about to ask for her phone number.

Well the pretty girl’s wink can sometimes become a hug.  The Little River Inn located in Mendocino County north of San Francisco is offering people the opportunity not just to dine on this California delicacy but dive  for it, as well.

That’s right, you go down and catch your own abalone, bring it up, then have the hotel’s chef prepare it for dinner that night. Called the “ABCs Of Abalone,” it’s a two-night package that is as rare as abalone itself: a true once-in-lifetime experience.

The cost is about $900 with the necessary licenses and everything you need for two days of diving with an experienced host. The latter is very important because the rocky Mendocino Coast is as dangerous as it is scenic and diving for abalone should only be done with guides.

Fortunately, with such expert supervision, this adventure can be experienced by novices as well as experts (no tanks are allowed for abalone diving by the way).  For full details of the package, which is only on June 24-26, and to book it, click on this link:
Abalone Diving Experience Little River Inn Mendocino County California

Eating Abalone: The Tasting Experience

I eventually got to try abalone. I had long given up on it but was offered a press trip to Monterey where there’s an abalone farm and the chef of the Portola Hotel cooked it up for us.

And let me say after my first taste my reaction was exactly this: “Oh, so THAT’S what my native neighbors were talking about; I get it now!”

Abalone are mollusks that live in a shell about the size of a soup bowl. You pry them out – and believe me they don’t want to leave their shell – and then require pounding as you do to a flank steak.

Then you lightly coat them in flower and sautee them in oil.

It sounds simple but you cannot believe how delicious they are to taste. There’s a ton of flavor and it’s not the least bit salty or fishy.

So if you’ve got the time – heck, make the time – take advantage of this incredible opportunity from the Little River Inn.

Maybe even take the prettiest girl in the bar.

Here’s My Plan For Dining During San Diego Restaurant Week

Gaslamp Quarter Restaurants To Get First Look During This Food Feast

Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant
Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant is a very good downtown choice.

With more than 180 restaurants participating, it’s impossible to go to every one of them, even if you’re got a week to do it.

So here’s my plan for dining during San Diego Restaurant Week, Jan. 19-24.

I’ve just relocated (temporarily) to the Gaslamp Quarter. So I am going to be spending the next few days walking the area, with a list of restaurants, and scout out the places I where I would like to eat.

At $10, $15 or $25 for lunch, and $25, $35 and $45 for dinner for an appetizer, entree and dessert (well, I don’t eat dessert so maybe they will trade it for a glass of wine!), it’s the best way to check out a number of high-end restaurants at a very good price. Some restaurants only serve dinner, by the way.

There are 46 downtown participating restaurants, so I had better get moving! Already on my list is Fish Grotto, Athens, Market Taverna (I love traveling to Greece so Greek tavernas always catch my attention),Nobu Ostra Fish House, Osteria Panevino, Searsucker (which also has a great singles bar scene), Wine Vault & Bistro

I’ve already been to Banker’s Hill Bar + Restaurant and can report it’s outstanding, and of course have been to Fleming’s.

If I venture out of the Gaslamp, then I might head up to Point Loma for a $10 lunch at the Blue Wave Bar and Grill or a $25 dinner at The Boathouse.

I could also take a ferry for $4.50 each way to Coronado where there are seven restaurants on the list. With this flawless San Diego weather, that would be a great way to spend a sunny afternoon. Leroy’s Kitchen Lounge, a place that sounds quite interesting, has lunch for $15, as does Vigilucci’s Ristorante.

Other neighborhoods include La Jolla, the Beach Cities, Old Town and North County.

Here’s the complete list of restaurants and pricing:


San Luis Obispo Celebrates Restaurant Month in January

Central California Restaurants Offering Prix Fixe Menus In Central California’s Wine Country

wine and food pairing in a california restaurant
Restaurant Month in SLO takes place in central California's wine country.

If you think your feasting is finished just because the holidays are over, then think again, for January is Restaurant Month in San Luis Obispo County along the central California coast.

Nearly 50 restaurants from Cambria to Arroyo Grande are taking part by offering special menus, most of them a three-course, prix fixe meal for just $30 per person. And since it takes place in one of California’s top wine-growing regions – Paso Robles is recognized as producing some of the world’s finest Pinot Noirs – you can enjoy the local beverage with the courses. For an additional charge, of course.

The town of Paso Robles has the second-most participating restaurants with 12, including Thomas Hill Organics Market Bistro & Wine Bar, which seems appropriate. With 18 restaurants participating, San Luis Obispo has the most choices.

Other cities involved in Restaurant Month are Arroyo Grande, Avila Beach, Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Bay and Pismo Beach.
Restaurant Month, just as the name implies, runs from Jan. 1-31.

For accommodations, there are several choices in the area from Cambria Inns. Website:

For a complete list of restaurants, visit the SLO County website:


Michael’s In Long Beach’s Naples Hosting Pre- And Post-Thanksgiving Dinners

Highly-Acclaimed Italian Restaurant Featuring Three-Course Menus

Michaels on Naples Long Beach, CA
Michaels on Naples Long Beach, CA, hosts a feast before and after Thanksgiving.


This isn’t your usual turkey-and-mashed potatoes Thanksgiving weekend dinner. Or leftover turkey sandwiches (delicious as they may be the next day).

Michael’s On Naples doesn’t do things that way.

The highly-renowned Italian restaurant in Long Beach, CA – it was named as the Best Italian Restaurant in Los Angeles by Zagat, among the Top 25 Best Italian Restaurants in the Country and boasting one of the Top 10 Wine Lists in Los Angeles according to Gayot, Michael’s– is hosting pre- and post-Thanksgiving  prix fixe menu. Italian style.

On Wednesday, Nov. 27 and then again on Friday, Nov. 29, it is featuring a three-course menu for $50 per person, excluding tax and gratuity.  The restaurant’s regular menu will also be available.

Buon Giorno del Ringraziamento!  (Happy Thanksgiving in Italian.)

Here’s the menu items for the three courses:

Insalata Riccia
Kale salad with caramelized pear, gorgonzola, pancetta and almonds

– or –

Agnolotti di Manzo
Short rib stuffed pasta with horseradish and veal reduction
– or –

Capesante in Padella
Pan seared scallop with pumpkin puree and toasted faro

Polpettone di Carne
Bacon wrapped meat loaf with mashed potatoes
and Brussels sprouts

– or –

Vitello alla Milanese
Ciabatta breaded Veal with forest mushrooms,
polenta and romanesco
– or –

Branzino alla Griglia
Grilled Mediterranean sea bass with
roasted cauliflower, heirloom carrots and confit artichokes

Panna Cotta
Strawberry cream with almond crumble

– or –

Gelato della Casa
Chef’s choice of homemade gelato

Reservations recommended.

Michaels is located at:5620 East Second Street, Long Beach, CA.