Unwind and dig in at the newest seaside hot spot on Hermosa Pier
Written by Joclene Davey
Spend a leisurely afternoon watching the waves while sipping premium cocktails and knocking back uber-fresh oysters at Playa Hermosa Fish & Oyster. Hermosa Pier’s seaside hot spot serves delicious classic dishes in a mellow atmosphere, offering a rare locale where one can just stroll in from off the beach and dine well. But don’t let the easy digs keep you from throwing on your Sunday best for date night, because the menu is equally suitable for the upscale palate, proving perfect as for luxuriating at length over champagne on the patio at sunset.
The trio behind Playa Hermosa Fish & Oyster Co. includes owners Lisa Hemmat of Lido Restaurant, in Manhattan Beach, and Levi Lupercio, former bar manager of The Strand House, also in Manhattan Beach, and Katana in Los Angeles. Along with award-winning chef Billy Lansing, the group has seamlessly blended years of success and experience with a fresh idea. “We were inspired by a great fish and oyster restaurant in Chicago and felt the concept [was] perfect for Hermosa, since an upscale seafood dining experience was lacking in this area,” shares Hemmat.
The menu is raw bar and seafood-driven with an outstanding line-up of oysters hand-selected by chef Lansing, who stretched his modern seafood skills at three Michelin star-rated restaurant Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain, before returning to his home in the South Bay.
When visiting Playa Hermosa, opt for the chef’s oyster recommendation to score such treats as James River, New Zealand Shiikait or Prince Edward Island oysters—just a few of dozens of examples from around the world. “Originally coming up with a concept, we wanted to focus on an oyster program [that] I’d ran before; the entire menu, including the oyster program, are always changing and based on seasonality,” explains Lansing. The restaurant proudly flies in fresh Maine lobsters and dungeons crab cooked daily.
Known for his philosophy of finding the best product possible, keeping it simple and “focusing on your ingredients” is ever-present in Lansing’s lovely menu. Among other diners’ favorites is the Hermosa Tower, a great option for groups, including half a Maine lobster, Peruvian Scallops, chef’s choice of oysters and shrimp cocktail. All raw bar seafood is perfect to share and presented beautifully.
Other seasonal hits include the Summer Peach Salad with fresh Burrata, balsamic, Shiso sauce and Pepitos, or Ceviche Tostada with Alaskan Cod, Fresno Chili and avocado mousse. Everything is delicious and passionately inspired by the well-traveled chef Lansing. A final note: the King Salmon from New Zealand melts in your mouth and the fresh twist on the Manila clams, made with Morcilla sausage and white wine sauce, is not to be missed.
The restaurant’s happy, light atmosphere is a credit to Hemmat, who designed the interiors, which features open space and lofty ceilings. “We wanted a beach-casual-meets-upscale look to identify with our concept, a place for locals and visitors to enjoy a great upscale dining experience without being stuffy,” shares Hemmat.
The décor is a mix of French Encaustic tiles trimmed in reclaimed wood and custom-built tables. A rustic driftwood chandelier sheds light on a collection of nautical original art pieces by Monica J. Ferrell. A lounge area with high-top tables offers great views of Hermosa Pier and the ocean while one enjoys a tasty beverage from Lupercio’s expert selection. Outside of the well-orchestrated wine list are popular handcrafted cocktails that include fan favorites such as the Spicy Watermelon Margarita and the Bon Scott, Lupercio’s spin on the classic Manhattan.
Service is attentive and friendly and Levi admits that “having such a great front of the house staff really comes from the dynamic team that he and Lisa have perpetually worked with over the years in the South [B]ay.” Ultimately, expect a great experience; fresh, savory seafood buttoned up in a delightful setting.
PLAYA HERMOSA FISH & OYSTER CO.
19 PIER AVENUE,
HERMOSA BEACH, CA