Every summer, residents of East Coast inland towns participate in a mass migration to the water. Packed minivans arrive in droves to little beach towns along the coast, their inhabitants eager to embrace the simple pleasures of summer vacation. The little towns are quaint but lively; people in bathing suits ride bicycles to the corner store to pick up some sunscreen, dinner is a shared Mac & Manco’s pizza eaten straight from the box on the boardwalk, and each day ends with a big, melty ice cream cone. Kids play past their bedtimes and parents laugh together over cold beers on the porch. Here, it’s all about fun, food, and family.
In Los Angeles, summer isn’t as much of an event. It’s really not so different than any other time of year; the only sure identifiers of summer are thick layers of June Gloom clouds and marginally improved traffic flow once school lets out. But a nostalgic East-Coaster is not without hope; that small beach town magic can be found here if you know where to look - a great place to start is Manhattan Beach. A day spent here can recall that slow, relaxed feelings of summers past - meander through the boutiques and shops, play a game of volleyball on the sand, wander down to the end of the pier, grab a cone at Manhattan Beach Creamery, and of course, indulge in some delicious brunch. You’ll be in summer vacation mode before you know it.
On that leisurely stroll through Manhattan Beach's charming downtown area, you may stumble upon The Rockefeller, a lively, modern-industrial gastropub on Highland Avenue which will undoubtedly be packed with happy diners sharing a laugh over a round of technicolor mimosas. Huge open windows allow the gastropub's festive atmosphere to spill out onto the sidewalk, offering passersby a taste of all the fun they could be having - and a glimpse at the ever-so-tempting plates of delicious food. To further seal the deal, the Rockefeller serves brunch not just two days a week, but three. That's right, you can indulge in bottomless mimosas on a Friday. If that doesn't scream summer vacation, I don't know what does.
The Rockefeller's brunch menu is broad and eclectic, offering modern takes on brunch classics to Mexican-inspired breakfast fare and creative, vacation-worthy seafood dishes. And of course, plenty of indulgent bar food to pair with the alcohol you're bound to indulge in. Speaking of alcohol, during brunch, there's a rainbow of bottomless mimosas at your fingertips: with flavors like guava, watermelon, peach, and classic orange, you can sip your fizzy cocktail all brunch long and never get bored (drunk, yes, but bored, no).
Our recent brunch began with a little something to nosh on - when we visited, the sweet starter of choice was a perfect share-sized portion of donut holes. They were crisp and deep golden brown on the outside, soft and piping-hot on the inside, and just sweet enough that they paired perfectly with a bit of brightly flavored raspberry jam dipping sauce. With a very recent menu update, the donut holes were replaced by a shiny-new menu item: house-made butternut beignets with caramel sauce. If the donut holes were any indication, these folks can make a good donut, and those beignets are probably wonderful (don't worry, we'll be back ASAP to try those, too).
For entrees, we were feeling the call of the Mexican-inspired dishes, so we opted for Chilaquiles and the Chicken & Avocado Burrito. The Chilaquiles came loaded with sauce and toppings, the chips were saturated in creamy, spicy sauce and the egg was perfectly soft and yolky. The chorizo added a nice spicy kick that was balanced out by the lime crema and cheese.
We opted to have the Chicken & Avocado Burrito served wet (which is the correct choice, because why on earth wouldn't you want your burrito smothered in tangy, flavorful sauce and melted cheese?). Inside, it was stuffed with scrambled egg whites, chicken chorizo, black beans, avocado, and bell peppers. Both the burrito and the Chilaquiles were rich and delicious, and would satisfy even the heartiest of appetites.
A classic French toast was next on the roster: eggy brioche bread and macerated berries dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled in maple syrup. This was a spot-on version of a quintessential brunch dish that was pleasing on both the eyes and the palate. And hey, there's some fruit on it, so it's at least a little bit healthy, right?
The food at The Rockefeller is sure to please no matter what you choose (and for the record, next time we're planning to try that lobster-stuffed avocado), and its lively and welcoming atmosphere will lull you into a state of summertime bliss. So grab your friends or family, kick back with a cocktail, and take in that cool ocean air - you deserve a vacation.
1209 Highland Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266