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Iconic Neighborhood Restaurants: San Pedro

San Pedro was incorporated into L.A. in 1909. Since then, it has become an important part of the identity of Los Angeles, connecting the Pacific to the continent. In fact, for the first half of the 20th century, San Pedro served a critical role during the two World Wars, acting as a major port for the U.S. Navy to park its defense ships as they prepared to set out in Pacific waters.

San Pedro’s restaurant scene reflects its upbringing as an all-American port city. The city slings a solid selection of Italian American menus, diner food, and American classics. Many restaurants called San Pedro home throughout the decades. These establishments not only served the residents of San Pedro, but also the people who kept the port humming and the military personnel who either lived or frequented the city. These days, San Pedro’s restaurants are simultaneously eclectic, old-fashioned, and dynamic, responding to the demands of an idyllic seaside town at the edge of commerce.

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Ports O’Call Restaurant

Situated in a historic stretch of San Pedro known as Ports O’Call Village, this restaurant, which opened its doors in 1961, continues to serve seafood along with a view of the Pacific. The menu is heavy on American standards; many of its seafood selections are beer battered and fried. Other offerings include various versions of prime rib, burgers, and standard pasta dishes, such as fettuccine alfredo and simple angel-hair pasta with tomato sauce. But the main draw of this restaurant is its views, which capture everything from relaxed seals sunning themselves to boats passing through to the industrial cranes that unload those enormous shipping containers off ships.

Ports O'Call: 1200 Nagoya Way, San Pedro, (310) 833-3553

san pedro ports o'call

Photo courtesy of @jag7799 via Instagram.

 

J. Trani’s Ristorante

In its ninth decade of operation, this restaurant lures its patrons in with an old-school sign that reads “cocktails, Midwest meats, fresh seafood, pasta, pizza.” The food has evolved beyond those listed on the street to include contemporary dishes such as Spanish octopus, tempura shishito peppers, and Niman Ranch–sourced pork belly. The decor, on the other hand, stays true to its roots: The deerhead, the triompe l’oeil mural, and the carpeting lets the restaurant tell its patrons about its storied past.

J. Trani’s Ristorante584 W. 9th Street, San Pedro, (310) 832-1220

san pedro j. trani's

Image courtesy of @mannygil17 via Instagram.

 

The Corner Store

Started in the 1950s, the Corner Store stocks everything from posters to sandwiches. Wash down one of those sandwiches with an old-fashioned soda, a variety of which are stocked at this neighborhood joint. On any given day, patrons hang out on the tables outside the store, enjoying $1.60 coffees and bagel sandwiches. This place feels like something—a five and dime, maybe—straight out of a quiet seaside town in Maine. Making it more charming is the fact that it’s located off a bluff in the center of one of the busiest port cities in the world.

The Corner Store1118 W. 37th Street, San Pedro, (310) 832-2424

san pedro cornerstore

Photo courtesy of @frankfelixf via Instagram.

 

Sorrento’s Restaurant

If there’s a consistent thing about San Pedro, it’s that the city is really into American-style Italian food. And Sorrento’s Restaurant, around since 1962, doesn’t disappoint. Known mostly for its pizzas and sandwiches, this no-frills restaurant is big on the standards: baked rigatoni, angel-hair pasta, and chicken alfredo, among other staples. The decor is throwback 1970s, with green-vinyl seating and Formica tables.

Sorrento’s Restaurant: 2428 S. Western Avenue, San Pedro, (310) 832-2820

san pedro sorrentos

Photo courtesy of @sorrentositalianrestaurant via Instagram.

 

Walker’s Cafe

Around since 1944, this café looks as though nothing has changed since it was first opened. The menu above the register appears to be a relic from old times, when malts were expected fare. Today, this café is a popular watering hole, and patrons complement their drinks with burgers and fries. Located on a drag that’s popular with motorcyclists, this diner is also a haunt for the biker crowds that pass through this stretch.

Walker’s Cafe: 700 W. Paseo del Mar, San Pedro, (310) 833-3823

san pedro walker's cafe

Photo courtesy of @theaudioandy via Instagram.

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