By Keyla Vasconcellos | Thrillist
Like the prize at the bottom of your South Bay cereal box, San Pedro is one of those LA neighborhoods everyone totally forgets about, but then there it is, staring up at you in all of its secret decoder ring glory. Giving it a lot of that cereal box prize swagger: these 15 restaurants — the best ones you’re gonna find out there by the harbor.
584 W 9th St
Since 1925 (!!) this rustic, brick-lined go-to has been blasting out top-notch Italian to Pedroians (Pedroites? Pedroskis?), though current Chef/nepotist Dustin J. Trani has been getting a bit more daring than the standard gnocchi/pizza vibe: he’s busting out fried calamari w/ sweet Thai aioli, and slow-braised pineapple short ribs w/ jasmine rice and sesame seeds.
400 S Pacific Ave
Date night? Yeah. The white-tablecloth, “moon-hits-your-eye” romantic Raffaello’s drops legend-status Boot-eats, like melt-in-your-mouth tender osso buco and massively portioned lobster ravioli.
Omelette and Waffle Shop
1103 S Gaffey St
This long-time, ultra-homey (they’ve got a plaque that states it’s the place “Where friends can meet!!”), casual breakfast/lunch shop’s got an 80-strong omelette menu, and sheerly due to ocean proximity, you’re probably gonna want to get whichever one(s?) have crab.
Big Nick’s Pizza
1110 N Gaffey St
There’s not a ton of late-night delivery in Pedro, which is why Big Nick’s — which’ll drop food at your door ’til the not-very-late-sounding-unless-you’re-in-San-Pedro hour of 11pm — is a Godsend. Not only do they do ‘za, but they’ve got calzones, sandwiches, and BBQ ribs. Mmm… 11pm BBQ ribs…
Think Prime Steakhouse
29601 S Western Ave
This classic, white-tablecloth steakhouse is armed with all the meaty favorites, including a juicy 12oz center-cut filet, a 20oz marbled bone-in rib eye, and a 16oz prime rib. Oh, and their sides — garlic mash, sautéed spinach, and — bro — jalapeño hash browns. They’ve also got a live pianist playing at the massive bar most nights.
28621 S Western Ave
In addition to nigiri, rolls, and sashimi, this tiny, traditional-looking sushi spot does killer Asian fish tacos — albacore salad w/ tomato-onion salsa that’s stuffed all explosive-like in a deep-fried gyoza skin.
Gaffey Street Diner
247 N Gaffey St
Don’t hold it against the married couple-run Gaffey’s that they were on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives — just throw your sunglasses behind your head and order up their hangover-ready John Wayne dish, piled high with eggs, home fries, sausage patties, cheese, and — hola! — homemade Spanish sauce. If you’re more into some sweetness, you’ll want to stuff your face with the strawberry/blueberry/every-other-berry French Toast Supreme.
2136 S Pacific Ave
Not only does the stained glass window-adorned Rex’s have a crapload of veggie dishes that you’ll probably never ever order (but will make your girlfriend super happy), they’ve also got The French Connection — a dolled-up Monte Cristo with turkey, ham, and gooey melted cheese that’s topped with banana, watermelon, and more fruit. Sound ridiculous? It is.
Bunz Gourmet Burgers
655 W 7th St
This recently opened, family-owned, custom burger joint lets you pick your toppings and your buns — they’ve got a buttery brioche, a King’s-ish sweet bun, an onion roll, and, duh, pretzel, which proves to be a great base for the smoky Big Texas — a burg layered with applewood-smoked bacon, beer-battered onion rings, and tangy BBQ sauce.
133 N Bandini St
Another multi-generational classic, the 40-plus-year-old Enchilada House is almost a literal hole in the wall, with great versions of traditional Mexican goods — chiles rellenos, carne asada, etc., etc. — but they’ll also drop some out-there stuff on you, like taquito-ish crispy shell potato tacos, and nachos made from Fritos layered with guac, red chile, and “everything” — so… more Fritos?
Busy Bee Market
2413 S Walker Ave
This mini-mart/sandwich shop blasts enormous sandwiches, including the Belly Buster — a frankenfood mash-up of any two sandwiches they’ve got. So, like, a barbecue chicken sando COMBINED with all the ingredients of their Italian sausage number. Yeah.
2410 S Western Ave
Yo: taco bagel. Crusted with orange cheddar. Loaded with taco seasonings. Spread with cream cheese. Yes. That exists. You will go here.
3821 S Pacific Ave
More breakfast? Sure: at the 35-year-old PD, you’re definitely going to want to order (off of their odd menu, which looks like a small-town newspaper) their not-very-greasy, but super-crispy chicken fried steak, or the monstrously huge steak bits and eggs.
Lighthouse Deli & Cafe
508 W 39th St
Just next door to the Pacific Diner’s the equally familiar Lighthouse. You’ve gotta get the Sunken City Sandwich, a melt monster loaded with prime rib and “horsey” sauce (of coursey, of coursey). They’ve got a ton of other great stuff too, like the Grazing Bull, piled with beef simmered in BBQ sauce.
San Pedro Fish Market
1190 Nagoya Way
Fresh fish, right out of the water, grilled or fried or BBQ’d or prepared-however-else-you-want to order, blasted down with a beer or michelada? Yes. Yes, please.
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San Pedro-ian Keyla Vasconcellos is originally from Brazil and grew up in Virginia before moving to California. After working in restaurants where she grew to love all types of cuisines, she now aspires to be a gastronomist extraordinaire by eating her way through Los Angeles. Find her on Twitter at @keylalovesfood or Instagram at @keylav.