Stirred, shaken, vodka or gin, you’ll find a martini to whet your appetite in Manhattan Beach. From dive bars to upscale spots, this beach city has an active nightlife scene and bars galore. If you’re looking for a good martini and even better atmosphere you’ve come to the right town. Twenty something or older, local or visitor, you’ll find a welcoming barstool or cozy corner. Here are a few places to start.
The Side Door
900 Manhattan Ave.
At first glance you might guess this building housed a place of worship rather than a drinking establishment. But you won’t find any holy water in this watering hole. The old wood siding and stained glass window façade belies the blue velvet sofas and hipster bartenders within. Look for the side door entrance off of Ninth St., not on the Manhattan Ave. main drag. This somewhat grungy little charmer will make you feel like you’ve found your own secret spot, and I do mean spot, because this place is tiny. As the night wears on, The Side Door crowd gets younger and more sardine packed and the good music gets louder. If you get curious, all the action upstairs comes from the private 900 Club restaurant and bar on the second floor of the building.
Mangiamo Restaurant and Bar
128 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Mangiamo is not a loud “scene”; it’s a nice restaurant with an itsy bitsy bar and maybe six barstools. The bartender here makes a delicious variety of martinis and that’s why it’s on this list. The martini list features nineteen regular selections plus changing specials that you can ask the bartender about. There’s the Champagne-tini, the Blue Cheese Olive, the Marga-tini and even the “healthy” Pomegranate Green Tea martini. If you swing your barstool away from the bar and toward windows overlooking Manhattan Beach Blvd., you’re in a great spot to see and be seen, if that matters. Overall it’s a classy, quiet kind of spot with great food and drink.
Zinc Lounge at Shade
1221 North Valley Drive
This lobby bar at Shade Hotel is a hot spot, particularly on Saturday night, so make sure your attitude and attire are in line. Thirty something and under singles, cougars, and the traveling businessmen who’ve come to look at all of them are mixed together like some kind of crazy cocktail. Martinis and appetizers are pricey, attracting a more upscale crowd, who sit and lounge indoors and out in this fairly large and loud boutique hotel space. Zinc shuts down early at 11 p.m., so consider starting your evening here and then walking west if you’re going to make a night of it in the downtown Manhattan Beach bar scene.
Wherever you’re going, there are several public parking lots within walking distance of these bars. Additionally, while you’ve probably have to call to find one, cabs know the area well.