For a city originally known for (surf) boards, baggies and bikinis, it is now known for cuisine, culture and coastal routes.
Recently, I checked into one of my favorite local boutique hotels, The Portofino Hotel and Yacht Club. Of all things, I ran into a Kardashian — Dona, who is the late Robert’s sister and aunt to all the beauties.
Strolling into the Portofino, you see the baby blue Lobby Lounge above with high vaulted windows overlooking the sea, a fireplace and comfy couches adding to the opulence. A bar serves cocktails at sunset and high-powered java in the morning.
In my room, I noticed a stuffed (animal) seal on the king-sized bed with a note. “Sir Barks a Lot” keeps you company during your stay; if you choose to take him home, there is a charge, but 10% benefits an animal charity.
Because the real seals outside your balcony may “talk” all night, a pair of ear plugs is provided.
Our first night we dined at Portifino’s gem, Baleen Los Angeles. Jesse Sousa is Executive Chef with his choices ranging from Dungeness Crab Cakes, Cane Sugar Seared Ahi Tuna, and Sugar and Spice Pork Chops. You have to try the killer Lemon Meringue Pie. The two-level restaurant sits on the harbor with a view of the Whaling Wall and a hand-painted mural (on the AES Building), created by marine-life muralist Wyland. We also noticed a gondola in the harbor.
A group of us boarded The Voyager, a 149 person ship. Some dolphins even said hello. Although it was a chilly June day, it was great to be at sea — even if just for a brief time. Next up: bike riding.
We hit the Riviera Village Certified Farmers’ Market. Everything we tasted was fresh/delicious, from fruit to salsa. Each week, a local chef hosts a walking tour. We heard about Chez Melange, a bistro and gastro pub nearby — a restaurant we had to try.
Co-owned by Michael Franks and Robert Bell, it’s truly a family operation. Michael’s wife, Lisa, is Maitre ‘D; son Daniel waited on us and told us about their herb garden outside. Although everything was terrific, the Duck Wraps, with Chinese Peking Duck, pasticcio nuts, orange sauce and lettuce, stood out. Also: Jumbo Asparagus (parmesan cheese, crispy prosciutto, sunny side up egg, and truffle oil).
An alternative to driving is chartering The Disco Bus, run by Tom Kearny, a former child actor. With its purple velvet seats, the plush bus is perfect for groups. Tom escorted us with final stops at the Heritage House and The Redondo Beach Historical Museum, where we picnicked on the lawn with food prepared from the Farmers’ Market.
Another culinary delight: Tapas & Vino for appetizers. The fave: Lamb Lollipops with Serrano, mint pesto and pureed honey. Knowing my hotel has a fitness room makes calories seem miniscule.
Redondo Beach takes part in the program Healthways/Bluezones Vitality City, to improve the well-being of the beach cities. There is only one other U.S. city participating at this time.
So we “pigged out” round Redondo Beach on this cloudy, chilly weekend. Zumba, anyone?
Sue Facter owns a news agency that specializes in the luxury lifestyle brand. Her work has appeared in “USA Today,” “People,” “Greer’s OC,” “Los Angeles Times” and “Wall Street Journal.”