In the event you haven’t looked at a calendar in a few months, we have an important update - it’s officially summer. And while that has a vastly different meaning in 2020, one LA activity that isn’t going away are beach days. Whether you’re heading out solo, with your family, or tagging along with a socially distant group of friends, every stretch of sand in LA County is open and ready. You just need to make sure you show up with good food to eat. From jerk chicken in Inglewood to calamari in Malibu, here are 15 great places to get takeout before heading to the beach.
Not only does Blessed serve our favorite Jamaican food in LA, their central Inglewood location has quick access to several great South Bay beaches. We love the jerk chicken with its extra spicy house-made sauce on top, but it’s the goat curry and oxtail that remain the stars of the show for us. Portions are also quite large and easily shareable, meaning you can pick up a few different things and feed the whole group for the day.
Eating raw fish at the beach is perhaps a bit macabre for some, but for us, it’s just another opportunity to order lunch from Ali’i Fish Company. Simply put, this order-at-the-counter cafe in El Segundo serves some of the best poke in the city. From spicy ahi to ponzu-soaked salmon, the menu here is on par with anything you’d get in Hawai’i. Which makes sense - they source their seafood directly from the islands. Order here for pick-up.
Today is your summer swimsuit debut, and the last thing you want to do is spend it at the beach eating unhealthy food. Order takeout from Swift Cafe instead. The order-at-the-counter spot in Leimert Park serves fresh, tasty food that’ll fill you up without making you feel bad about it. The menu changes regularly, but you can expect everything from turkey burgers to spaghetti squash to blueberry protein shakes. Check their Instagram for the latest information.
Malibu has no shortage of great seafood shacks (Reel Inn, Neptune’s Net), but our first choice will always be Malibu Seafood. The tiny shop is only a few minutes down the road from Zuma, and is a great place to pick up some food before spending all day lying on the beach. Their fried fish and calamari are some of our favorite versions in town, but if you want to make your friends really happy today, show up to the beach with a few pounds of the peel-your-own steamed shrimp.
If there’s one thing you know about your friends, it’s that they all have very strong opinions about food. If there’s one thing you know about yourself, it’s that you aren’t dealing with it during a day at the beach. And that’s why you’re ordering from Il Romanista. This tiny pizza spot in El Segundo serves tremendous Roman-style pies, meaning square-cut pieces, focaccia-like dough, and minimal Italian toppings. Get the potato, sausage, and rosemary-loaded Curva Sud.
Little Belize is a family-run Belizean restaurant right in downtown Inglewood. They’re currently only doing takeout and delivery, but that’s fine, because you have to get to the beach anyway. As far as the food goes, start with the panades (fried masa stuffed with hash fish) and garnaches (crispy tortillas topped with fried beans, tomatoes, and onions), and end with either chicken or oxtail stew (trust us, it’s so good you’ll want it even on the beach). Both are immensely savory, but it’s the fried plantains on the side that all your friends will be trying to keep for themselves at the beach.
Ms. B’s is an Inglewood institution, and though they moved out of their original location on Manchester Blvd., the Southern soul food spot hasn’t missed a beat. The food is still good and the new space on Imperial Hwy. means even quicker access to the beach. The breaded catfish will always be our go-to here, but frankly, as long as you pick up some mac n’ cheese and their house yams as sides, there’s no such thing as a bad order. Tip: Skip the sweet tea in lieu of The Obama - a lemonade-and-peach-tea mixture that’s ideal for gulping down in a beach chair.
If you’re planning a day at Venice Beach, stopping for sandwiches at Gjusta is a necessity. The popular deli/cafe on Rose Ave. has transitioned into a full marketplace selling everything from ceramics to books to pantry essentials. But today, your eyes are on their sandwiches. We’ve found it consistently impossible to order poorly here, but that said, the tuna conserva, porchetta melt, and anything that involves lox are our go-tos. Call (310) 314-0320 for takeout.
In all of Manhattan Beach’s increasing opulence, FishBar remains one of the few places where you can roll in with a few friends before the beach, pick up some fresh fish, and not empty your entire bank account in the process. The dive-y spot north of MB’s downtown has a big menu full of bar food, but we recommend sticking to the fish tacos and shrimp skewers.
You can’t quite remember why you agreed to meet your friends at the beach at 10am, but at any rate, your best hope for a hangover cure is a stop at Wexler’s in Santa Monica first. Open every day at 8am, this modern Jewish deli has excellent food across the board, but on those hazy weekend mornings, we go right for the Uncle Leo. Lox, egg, onion, and cream cheese, all on a bagel of your choice. If this doesn’t clear things up for you, you might just have to head home.
Sky’s is one of our favorite taco shops in town, and now with a second location in Marina del Rey, you can easily do takeout on your way to the beach. Admittedly, the taco menu here is pared down compared to their original Mid-City location, but they still sell their signature shrimp taco with “sassy sauce,” plus there’s an entire marketplace to pick through as well. Whether you’re looking for salads, sandwiches, or specialty pizzas, Sky’s has everything you need to complete your beach picnic.
Quality Seafood has been open since 1953 and is a Redondo Beach institution. Located right on the pier, this is the kind of place where you pick your seafood, decide whether you want it roasted, steamed, or fried, and wait for your feast to arrive. If ordering individually feels like too much of an undertaking, however, go for either the seafood paella or lobster and clam bake. Both are excellent and ideal for big groups on the beach. Order here for takeout.
Located inside a convenience store in Playa del Rey, ASAP Phorage is a tiny counter serving quick, delicious Vietnamese food. We absolutely love their pho, but when it comes to a day at the beach, head for the banh mi section of the menu instead. The lemongrass pork is a classic, but the ground beef curry banh mi is our favorite sandwich on the menu. Tip: Grab a green papaya salad for a much-needed cool down later in the day.
This old-school fish counter is in a strip mall across from the StubHub Center in Carson. It’s Louisiana-style, meaning you’ll pick between snapper, sole, catfish, or shrimp, and they’ll fry it right in front of you. Everything is available a la carte, but we like the combo specials, which get you several pieces of fish and two sides (you want the hush puppies) for under $10. From there, it’s only about a 15-minute drive to Redondo Beach.
This modern cantina just a few blocks from Will Rogers State Beach has gone through a couple different iterations over the last few years, but we like this current one the best. The menu is now a combination of Indian, Burmese, and Mexican influences, so think tandoori chicken fajitas, crispy rice salad, and curried beef tacos. Call (310) 526-0027 for takeout.