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Esperanza Opens in Manhattan Beach

Jul 29, 2021 08:17AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Photo credit: Art Gray

The long-awaited Mexican restaurant Esperanza Cocina de la Playa is set to open in Downtown Manhattan Beach on July 29.

Under the stewardship of Corporate Chef Raymond Alvarez and Head Mixologists John Fox and Kevin Williams, Esperanza promises modern interpretations of traditional Sonoran cuisine and an
expertly crafted bar program.

The restaurant will also offer a new late-night cocktail lounge experience every Friday and Saturday from 11:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. when it transforms into "EZ After Dark." Patrons can meet and mingle over small bites and post-dinner craft cocktails at the restaurant’s lively bar, dining room or patio.

Photo credit: Art Gray

In advance of its opening, Esperanza (formerly the site of Sharks Cove) was perhaps best known for its glittery high-end design, featuring gold, copper, bronze, and white marble.

Designed by internationally renowned Icelandic architect Gulla Jónsdóttir, the restaurant was named a finalist in the Upscale Restaurant category for the 17th annual Hospitality Design Awards by Hospitality Design Magazine.

The restaurant’s splashy entry reveals a grand  white marble bar and high-design features within the 2,000 square foot dining room, including handcrafted leather upholstered dining chairs and barstools and artisanal ceramic light fixtures imported from Mexico.

Upscale Sonoran Food and Drink

A see-and-be-seen VIP preview of the restaurant last week drew diners from around town to sample Esperanza's many flavors.

Regulars of Esperanza's sister restaurant Palmilla Cocina Y Tequila in Hermosa Beach will recognize the rustic handmade tortillas that arrive before every meal, along with two salsas and a spiral of homemade honey butter. 

Some of  DigMB's favorites include the crispy (and generously sized) Braised Short Rib Taquitos, as well as the piping hot Tortilla Soup, poured fresh into a bowl filled with crispy tortilla strips. 

Other "can't-miss" items include street-style tacos made with house made corn tortillas, such as Tacos de Camarones Frito and Tacos de Quinoa Crusted Avocado.

With a focus on fresh seafood, and inspired by Baja California Sur, the Crudo Del Mar offerings include five different ceviche dishes, as well as a tartare and aguachile. The seasonal fish offerings continue into the entrées, where stand-out dishes include Enchiladas Mariscos Suizas, Prawns Pacifico con Salsa, and Relleno de Langosta y Camaron.

Meat lovers should look for specials from the grill including Mexican-style USDA Prime Filete Mignon and Aged Ribeye al Mesquite.

Mole Blanco Enchiladas from Esperanza in Manhattan Beach

Other can't-miss favorites include the Enchilada y Chile Relleno and Mole Blanco Enchiladas.

At the bar, the expansive tequila and mezcal lists features a range of small-batch producers, from Clase Azul and Mal Bien Tepextate, to more well-known favorites like Patron and Casamigos.

Pineapple Serrano Cilantro Margarita from Esperanza in Manhattan Beach

On the cocktail side, handmade shrubs, mists and mixers are all incorporated into the bar menu, featuring playful interpretations of traditional tequila cocktails such as La Rosa and 11 variations of a Margarita. (DigMB's pick is the Pineapple Serrano Cilantro Margarita, which is tangy with just the right amount of peppery "kick.")

Esperanza also offers a selection of local brews and imported Mexican beer, as well as a refined wine list featuring Napa Valley vineyards and internationally sourced whites and bubbles.

Esperanza is located at 309 Manhattan Beach Blvd. in Manhattan Beach. The restaurant officially opens on July 29 at 4:00 p.m. Reservations can be made by email at [email protected], by phone at 424-422-0057, or via Open Table.

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