Manhattan Beach Post is as American as apple pie. Or bibimbap. Or chimichangas. Or har gow. Wait, they don’t actually have the apple pie? Didn’t Google Maps say this is an American restaurant? What even is an American restaurant?
Hmm, French press coffee… That’s about as American as an Americano.
Ah! Biscuits seem American; or at least they are culture-agnostic enough to be counted as American. And as far as biscuits go, these are extraordinary. They aren’t an afterthought breakfast side dish; they have deep flavor and rich texture. They are crumbly and crunchy with a cake-y interior, and the subtle smokey bacon flavor is designed for the sweet whipped butter.
Yes, whipped maple butter. Surely not very good for you, but like… who cares? THIS STUFF IS CRACK. You have to try it.
Potatoes are another side dish martyr. They are happy to please you as a (usually underwhelming) snack, but they can also be made into something truly special. These potatoes are the something special. The skin is perfectly crisp. The insides are soft and feel almost whipped. It’s like a potato version of deviled eggs. The lemon buttermilk dipping sauce kicks it up all the way by adding a creaminess that gives off a loaded baked potato vibe.
So is this why MBP is American? They add sugar to everything? Maybe… But there’s another pattern starting to form. The food is so good that I feel compelled to share it and talk about it.
And believe me, when you try this truffle honey chicken, you’ll want to do the same. It’s so super juicy and just perfectly cooked. It’s lemon-brined and dipped in buttermilk before it hits the fryer. (Yes, this place runs on buttermilk.) Both the honey and the truffle flavors are not overpowering. I need to share this chicken with you.
Okay, chimichangas. To be fair, the chimichanga is a very American invention — a typically hamfisted modification of a foreign dish. In this case, we deep fried a burrito because… well why the hell not? It’s good, isn’t it?
Indeed, this crispy, cheesy thing is a delight. The tangy, spicy cilantro salsa oozes into the voids between the Oaxacan string cheese and the refreshingly snappy jicama. The braised pork shoulder finishes the job, and I’m still left wondering how this eclectic menu is boiled down to “American”. Anyway, you should try this. Here, have a bite!
The corned beef hash is… complicated. It’s kinda sticky in a comfort food sort of way. It’s very buttery, and the egg adds even more complexity. The meat itself is house cured beef cheek, and the gremolata on top cuts through all that fat and protein with a lemony zest. It’s a dish of many flavors that compels you to ask, “What is that interesting flavor in the potatoes?” or “Why the hell have I never before heard of gremolata?”
AW YISSSS. Eggs Benedict: the king of brunch. Take those buttermilk biscuits from earlier, add poached eggs, prosciutto, hollandaise sauce, and arugula, and out comes a very rich dish. The salty prosciutto punctuates a run-on of egg dripping onto crumbly, crunchy biscuit chunks and bitter, crisp greens.
Interestingly, thinking about this most American of dishes, one realizes that it generally has several non-American ingredients, and this feels like a metaphor for American restaurants. Likewise, this restaurant, with lovingly-prepared dishes from all over the world, is categorized as American. Maybe it’s not just about the source of the food?
The bibimbap is what brings it home. This traditionally Korean dish, from a culture where sharing food is the norm, is begging to be experienced by everyone at the table. Even with the starchy rice and meaty pork, it’s somehow light and fun. The crunchy, spicy kimchi seems to help a lot in that regard.
That’s what Manhattan Beach Post exemplifies as an American restaurant. It’s a melting pot of food culture that inspires lively conversation and “pass me the potatoes” camaraderie. It shows that lovingly well-made food — regardless of origin — can bring anyone together. It’s not Chinese. It’s not French. It’s not Canadian. It’s all of these things combined.
And isn’t that what America is all about? This combination of cultures is a core tenet of our country. Bringing people together from all over the world is American, and that’s why this restaurant is American. The owner himself even states: “I want our Guests to feel at home as they pass plates around the table and share stories with their friends.” So, sure, America may not have a single, defining cuisine, but the strength of our food, and our country, is how it brings everyone together and inspires us to share.
Now please, go try that whipped maple butter.
Manhattan Beach Post. 1142 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266.