The hidden treasures of seaside San Pedro
After a night of drinking, you might feel a tinge of shame or regret, but you will most certainly be hungry. And San Pedro is full of casual, off-the-radar spots that reflect its diverse population. A good morning pick-me-up are the homemade croissants at Joseph's Bakery (1027 South Meyler St, 310-833-1921), which are more like sweet rolls with a thin layer of chocolate or vanilla frosting and crystallized sugar. Get there early, though, as they run out quickly. For lunch, you cannot go wrong with one of Busy Bee Market's (2413 South Walker Ave, 310-832-8660) sandwiches, especially the barbecue chicken hero with provolone, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and pepperoncinis on the side. This sandwich, covered in more of a marinara than a traditional barbecue sauce, is one you will think about long after eating. Do not be scared off by the 1970s time capsule feeling of this bare-bones market, the food is spectacular. Just a block away from a beautiful stretch of Point Ferman Park sits The Corner Store, a great spot to grab a sandwich and one of their many exotic sodas and take a walk along the coastal cliffs.
One of the highest points in San Pedro is the Korean Bell of Friendship and Bell Pavilion, a present given to Los Angeles from Korea in 1976. Looking eastward, you can see massive container ships being pulled by tugboats into the busy harbour, full of cars, toilet paper, stereos and many other products imported from abroad. To the south stretches the shimmering Pacific Ocean. On a clear day, one can see all the way to Catalina Island, and perhaps even a whale or two spouting in the distance. The dichotomy of nature and industry is part of San Pedro's character, and something the residents seem to embrace.
The Ports O' Call Marketplace, adjacent to the harbour, was once a bustling sector of restaurants and stores. Nowadays it has a sort of run-down and grimy feeling to it, but it is worth a visit if you're in the mood for some fresh seafood. Restaurants like Fish Cove (1142 Nagoya Way, no phone) have outdoor seating where you can have a beer and a plate of fajita-style shrimp and garlic bread, an interesting fusion of Mexican and Italian cuisines.
Nearby, Fiesta Cruises offers a 45-minute tour of the harbour. The boat takes you alongside the massive cranes used for lifting containers off of ships, past the Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution where you can see inmates exercising in the yard, and among frolicking seals hoping for some scraps from the fishing boats. Every September, Ports O' Call hosts the Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival, a carnival-like atmosphere of live music, games, beer, and, you guessed it, lobster.
Over the past few years, there has been talk of revitalizing the San Pedro waterfront and downtown area, spurred in no small part by the fact that several cruise lines dock in the harbour. Thus far, these plans have not been implemented and members of the community have conflicting opinions about it. “The character of this city is very original,” said lifetime resident Anthony Kursar. “It is one of the few areas of Los Angeles that has not changed much in 50 years. A lot of people like that, including myself, and take pride in it. We don't want to become a generic town.” Visitors to Los Angeles would be remiss to skip a visit to this unique, historical, and decidedly non-generic neighbourhood.