As much as we love Orange County, sometimes even we need a change in scenery. So when we were encouraged to discover San Pedro recently, we went into it with an open mind. San Pedro (PEA-dro, if you’re in the know) has always been that city past Long Beach, on the other side of the bridge. With its proximity to the water, we hoped we could catch some lovely ocean breezes in our direction – a day trip, put our theory to the test.
Our first stop was brekkie at Sirens Java & Tea House. Housed on the ground floor of a former newspaper building, this spacious cafe not only serves the neighborhood with cups of Joe in an oceanic theme, but it is an homage to all first responders. After placing our order, we took the time to take in our surroundings and read how it all tied together. Recharged with a breakfast burrito made from The Choriman’s stellar specialty pork, we finished with a few bites of their house cinnamon roll. A modified (read: less sweet), iced Mermaid beverage quenched our ongoing thirst, motivating us towards our next destination. 356 W. Seventh St., (424) 477-5603; www.sirensjavahouse.com.
San Pedro’s Fish Market is deceiving from the outside. Once you can navigate a decent parking spot, prepare to wait. The ultimate Sunday hangout for families, it reminded us of our Fresh Toast event, but with picnic tables. Regulars know the drill, depending on the seafood you crave, you stand in line. When it’s your turn at the seafood counter, you not only choose your protein, but have the option of getting it cooked right after for immediate gratification. Fried, steamed or blackened? They do it all, plus you can add a number of veggie toppings. While this is going down, waterfront seating is a free-for-all. The rest of your group is likely people-watching while sipping beer, agua frescas, and other cool options. It might as well be a neighborhood block party. 1190 Nagoya Wy., (310) 832-4251; www.sanpedrofish.com.
The Fish Market was also where we boarded our Harbor Breeze Cruise for a 45-minute jaunt of the L.A. waterfront. Stocked with snacks, our smooth sailing vessel offered such sights as the Federal Correctional Institute on Terminal Island, which is where Charles Manson was imprisoned. A close-up view of the Gerald Desmond Bridge, as well as a gang of sun-worshiping sea lions were some of the highlights. We also floated right by the Battleship USS Iowa (FYI: Their new exhibition, “Lost at Sea: The Explorations of Dr. Robert Ballard”, begins September 4.) For $15, it was a relaxing way to tour San Pedro from a different point-of-view. 1150 Nagoya Wy., Berth 79, (310) 547-9916; www.2seewhales.com.
We transitioned from our sea legs back to walking mode in time to hop on a trolley to our next stop. Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles is a collection of vendors specializing in custom products. We’re talking drunken cake pops, leather goods and jewelry, to name a few. Open Friday through Sunday (and first Thursdays), it’s an original way to locate that unique gift for yourself or someone who enjoys handcrafted goods. 112 E. 22nd St., Warehouse 10, (424) 292-4372; www.craftedportla.com. And the best part? An outstanding brewery right across the way. Brouwerij (but you still pronounce it “brewery”) West is spacious and always has a food truck or two right outside. Seriously, spend a couple of hours here. Cold beer on a sweltering day is always a good thing. We dig their Dog Ate My Homework, a blackberry saison. 110 E. 22nd St., (310) 833-9330; www.brouwerijwest.com.
Our day drinking made us super hungry, so we descended upon Pappy’s Seafood for shareable apps. Their Seafood Platter is perfect for a group of friends, yet we preferred the Mahi Mahi Ceviche with red onion and cilantro to cool us down. An upscale interior with reasonable price points means it’s also a good spot for families. Their corner location means lots of space for large parties, with private dining rooms in the back. 301 W. 6th St., (424) 224-5444; pappysseafood.com.
To be honest, the only thing more satisfying on this day trip than a full belly was the aggressive amount of wind at the Korean Friendship Bell. Our tour guide was super accommodating, even allowing us to ring the bell! But that story is for another day. We found breezes, good eats and more reasons to explore beyond our Orange County region. Mission: Accomplished.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.