SoCal has no shortage of beach bum bars but I always find them quaint whenever I happen upon them. They speak to the L.A. I grew up with in the movies and on postcards with surfboards on the walls and Beach Boys on the jukebox. For the 4th a group of us joined the masses at one such watering hole, Manhattan Beach’s Shellback Tavern, located right off the Manhattan Beach Pier.
Opened during the surfing safari days of the ’50s, the Shellback has become a first stop for those hitting the nightlife scene in MB as well as a last stop for thirsty cyclists, skaters and volleyball players.
Large tinted windows lining the ocean-facing exposed-brick wall keep the sun out of surfers’ eyes as they compare big-wave stories over pitchers of beer… Better entertainment options include the televisions perched in every corner of the bar playing sports games and surf videos, or the arcade games and classic-rock jukebox in the back.
On the 4th it was party central as more and more people poured in from off the beach to celebrate the holiday. I couldn’t really tell you how much the drinks were or how the backroom looked since I basically stayed in one spot all night having drinks served to me. The place was too packed to move.
Also, the buffalo wings and fries smelled awfully good. We didn’t bother ordering any since it would have been hard to eat with passers-by smacking our elbows every time we tried to dig in. It would have been better if we were able to snag one of the few wooden booths located near the front of the bar where it was less crowded.
The kickback crew at the Shellback consisted of lots of 20- and 30-somethings all in varying degrees of beach-bumness, from bikini tops and bottoms to Local Motion T-shirts and frayed shorts. Everyone enjoyed themselves despite being packed in like sardines and even managed to cheer Italy’s soccer team and throw up their hands and dance whenever a good song played on the jukebox.
The party could have gone all night, but we had to duck out to scan the skies for the fireworks display going on further south in Redondo Beach. I’d definitely like to come back to the Shell, though, during a quieter time if there is such a moment, when there are no soccer games on or holidays to celebrate, and sit down to a nice basket of buffalo wings.
116 Manhattan Beach Boulevard
Manhattan Beach, California 90266