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Find 'Secret' Off-Menu Items at Manhattan Beach Restaurants

May 13, 2024 08:26AM ● By Michelle Steinhardt

The "secret" Krikorian pizza at Love & Salt. (Photo via Love & Salt.)

The restaurants in Manhattan Beach continue to outdo themselves with mouthwatering dishes that keep their tables full night after night. But did you know that some of the restaurants in Manhattan Beach have "secret" off-menu items? Here are some new ideas at your old favorites:

Esperanza Cocina de la Playa – Fish of the Day

It is rare to walk past Esperanza Cocina de la Playa without seeing every table full of happy patrons. One reason is the food, and another is the margaritas. For those looking to spice up their order at Esperanza, opt for the fresh fish of the day (often the seabass) with chimichurri sauce (parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and red wine vinegar), green rice, and elote street corn. The dish is playfully known as the "best cut of meat" in the restaurant. In addition, many of the dishes at Esperanza can be modified and served as a bowl or a burrito.

Love & Salt – Krikorian Pizza

Loyal customers at Love and Salt remember the Krikorian pizza, which was on the menu until about two years ago. However, this secret off-menu dish, inspired by friend-of-the-restaurant Michael Krikorian, is still available. The Krikorian pizza comes on freshly made pizza dough, served with Calabrian sausage; a mix of mozzarella, pecorino, and parmesan cheeses; chili flakes; rosemary; and a drizzle of honey (and no tomato sauce).

Mangiamo Ristorante – Chicken Piccata, Cioppino, and Charbroiled Chicken Over Linguine

Mangiamo Ristorante has been a staple in Manhattan Beach for more than forty years. Its consistently reliable and tasty dishes continue to attract loyal customers. Over the years, Mangiamo has developed new menu items and removed certain items from the menu. However, some of its classic dishes, like the chicken piccata, cioppino, and charbroiled chicken over linguine, are still available for those who want to reminisce about days gone by.

Mercado Restaurant Manhattan Beach – Daily Ribeye

Although not listed on the menu, the chef at Mercado features a 16-ounce center-cut USDA Prime ribeye daily. The preparation of the ribeye varies each night, but it is generally accompanied by queso fresco mashed potatoes, market veggies, and a side of jalapeno horseradish sauce.

Nando Trattoria – Chicken Parmesan

Stepping into Nando Trattoria is like being transported to another world for dinner. Nando is a high-end Italian restaurant offering a fine dining experience. The carefully crafted menu also includes a little-known "secret" item – chicken parmesan. While chicken parmesan is usually only available on the dine-out menu, those in the know can still order this off-menu item while eating in the restaurant.

North End Caffe – Gypsy Stew

If you have eaten at North End Caffe, then you know that quality ingredients are turned into delicious dishes that have been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. North End Caffe is known for classic dishes like linguine carbonara with pancetta, Kalua pig Monte Cristo egg rolls, and unique breakfast and lunch combinations. But North End Caffe has a secret – the Gypsy Stew. The Gypsy Stew is available every day and is made with peppery chicken and veggies garnished with avocado, corn, and chips. So, if you need to feel warm inside or are looking for comfort food, the Gypsy Stew might be just what you're looking for.

Pancho's - Duffy Burger

Frequent visitors to Pancho's know a little-known secret: Pancho's serves a bunless hamburger for lunch. The Duffy Burger is named after a good friend of the restaurant. He was known to order the large ground beef patty mixed with bell peppers and onions, which is served with cheese, French fries, and without a bun. He often ordered the burger with jalapenos and soy sauce, but you have to ask for these extras. Pancho's also has a homemade spicy hot sauce. It is hot and so worth ordering.

SLAY Steak & Fish House – Order From Other SLAY Restaurants

The SLAY Hospitality Group owns several popular restaurants in Manhattan Beach, including SLAY Steak & Fish HouseSLAY Italian Kitchen, and Fête Bistro by Slay. Each restaurant offers a unique menu, but sometimes, you might be at SLAY Steak & Fish House craving a menu item at another SLAY restaurant. Did you know, for example, when dining at SLAY Steak &  Fish House, you can order pate from Fête Bistro by Slay. (Check with your server for details.) 

Tacolicious – Happy Hour All Day

Last but not least, the upscale taco joint Tacolicious has a couple of happy hour menu items that can be ordered all day. The tequila, Tecate, and taco combination and the trio of dips are available throughout the day, not just during happy hour.

Michelle Steinhardt blogs about travel at

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