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The Beach Gourmet: 26 Beach (Gourmet?):

Up until about six years ago, 26 Beach was located, quite appropriately, at 26 Washington Blvd., near the beach. Around that time, this tempting little bistro migrated east a hop, skip and a jump to 3100 Washington Blvd., and given that 3100 Beach doesn’t quite have the same “ring” to it, the owners kept the name the same.

Although the location changed, the menu retained its extensive quality and its huge array of famed burgers, reputed to be “LA’s best.”

I recently visited 26 Beach for a luncheon meeting and was impressed, not only with the food and service but also with the décor and ambience, which was very relaxed and disarming.

This mid-sized eatery has something of a bipolar design element to it, with one room featuring a somewhat sophisticated, smooth and clean theme with a bar, while the slightly smaller “west wing” is a kind of Alice in Wonderland/Greek Temple fusion that really appealed to my inner child, and also to my friend’s, so we naturally gravitated there.

With a charming corner waterfall creating a gentle sonic breeze, intricate trinkets beautifying the walls and ceiling, and some comfy, colorful cushioned benches, there is no shortage of visual stimuli to entertain the eye.

The menu is BIG, BIG and BIG, with a huge breakfast section boasting exotic French toasts, omelets and everything in between.  At 1 p.m. on a workday, however, it was lunch we sought, and a quality lunch at that!

My friend suggested that we share the Chicken Chipotle Quesadillas ($7) to start, and in no time at all I was pleased to see a delightful plate of neatly presented triangles of super thin and crispy wheat tortillas delicately filled with a blend of cheeses, chicken, smoked jalapeno sauce, green chilies and corn, served with a side of sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo.  These were quite the delicacy, and with a very good balance of ingredients, a spicy but amenable character and an attractive texture, they were good, very good.

Given that the weather (HOT!) was influencing our gastronomic requirements, my friend chose the Ginger Salmon Salad ($14), and following the adage that great minds think alike, I went for the same. (Did he choose first, or was it I? Hmm.)

This is an above average salad with a juicy hot salmon steak sautéed with mushrooms and asparagus cuts atop a bed of fresh greens.  The salmon was very good and slightly seared with a light ginger, soy and sesame sauce accompanying the whole dance. Very satisfying.

This was a pleasant visit with an accommodating staff (1/2 the quesadilla with chicken, 1/2 without), a good mid-priced gourmet lunch, intelligent company with meaningful conversation (thankfully bereft of small-talk) and an alluring ambience.

26 Beach is truly of Beach Gourmet caliber.

26 Beach, 3100 Washington Blvd., Marina Del Rey, CA, 310.823.7526 

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