My City column includes a feature Q&A with residents from notable cities and regions from across the world, highlighting the best places to stay, eat and what to do for visitors of all ages. Here, I have Alexis Amato of Full of Sips being interviewed about Huntington Beach, CA.
Where should one go first when visiting your city for the first time?
Of course the beach! Huntington Beach is known as Surf City USA so the beaches really engulf visitors into experiencing the “Cali Life.” The iconic Huntington Beach pier is also a great place for watching surfers and taking a romantic stroll. I’ve even had a first kiss at the end of the pier! Directly across from the pier is Main Street that is host to many of HB’s bars and restaurants that include Baja Sharkeez and Huntington Beach Brew Co., two very popular restaurants for tourists. Main Street also has your typical surf shops and cute boutiques, which are perfect for browsing and spending a little extra cash on you or friends and family, back home.
In your opinion, what is the best time of year to visit?
As they all say, California weather is beautiful all year around, however if you want to catch the best beach weather, I suggest going anytime in May through October. SoCal starts getting cold around November, although to our North Easters, the 60s isn’t cold at all! The last week of July, Huntington Beach is also host to the US Surf Open, a surf competition with the world’s greatest surfers from all over the world. It’s free to watch and super fun with free concerts you can attend. In October, the city draws about 2 million people as well for the US Air Show, which is also very exciting to watch, bring your earplugs! Both events are held on the beach and free to attend.
Which district is the best area to stay in? Any hotels you recommend?
Downtown is the only place to be in Huntington Beach and has four gorgeous hotels that are all waterfront and very different to choose from. For your first time in the city, I highly suggest staying at the Kimpton Shorebreak Resort, which is located directly across from the iconic pier and the beach. The hotel is the closest to the beach as well as the pier, and Main St. All of your entertainment needs are within a 5-minute walk of you and they have an excellent restaurant as well. For our pet lovers, the Shorebreak Resort welcomes your furry friends without pet fees and even has a “Doggy VIP” program.
My second favorite hotel in the area is the newest addition to HB, Pasea Hotel. I like to explain Pasea as Miami meets Vegas as it definitely has a more modern and younger vibe, and the hotel is host to many events in the city that visitors and locals can enjoy including a Hip Hop Sunday Brunch and Wine festivals. Pasea is also walking distance to Pacific City, which is an outdoor shopping, and dining establishment that includes nightlife and an Equinox for our fitness conscience guests.
Where are your three favorite spots to dine?
So many to choose from! Pacific Hideawaywhich is located in the Shorebreak Resort is definitely my favorite spot. As a cocktail blogger, their craft cocktails are insane and the best in the city, mostly created by master mixologist, Casey Lyons. Most known for their controversial cocktail, the Dazed and Confused which comes with a joint on the side (it’s made of sage and oregano, don’t get too excited), and they even have a Magic Mike cocktail that comes with a lap dance (reservations only)! Chef Lash Wyatt has created an amazing menu for the restaurant, including a variety of Asian fusion mixed with eclectic styled American favorites. I highly suggest trying them for happy hour, they offer half priced “small bites” such as the delicious Walking Taco and their ever popular Hideaway Burgerwith secret sauce (so good!). Pacific Hideaway is probably most known for their “Freida” wall, which is the #1 selfie spot in the area.
Sushi on Fireis a local favorite for sushi. I probably averaged at least once a week at one time in my life and the most I’ve been is three times in a week. Their sushi is very fresh and I love their spicy edamame. Some of my favorite rolls to enjoy is the New York New Yorkthat is topped with seared filet mignon or the Refreshing Rollwhich is perfect for a summer day with lemon and cilantro with salmon.
I’m sure most readers will want to know where to go for Mexican food! Ola’s, which is located in Pacific City, has an amazing atmosphere and even better margaritas. Their salsa is made fresh everyday and house made tortilla chips are served warm. They have an extensive menu of tacos, anything from potato tacos to surf and turf, allowing options for any type of palate in the mood for tacos. During the chilly season, I love to get their Posole soup, which comes dissembled so you can add which ingredients you want. Of course I add them all!
Describe your perfect day in your city.
I love this question! My perfect day would start at Sealegs wine bar for mimosas and brunch. From there I would want to bike along the water to Newport Beach (about a 30 minute bike ride) and stop at some of my favorite beach spots along the way to relax and get a tan. After some sun bathing, I’d go to Pacific Hideaway for a cocktail and get my favorite, the Do Not Disturb along with my favorite appetizer there, the Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Following that, I would do some shopping at my favorite boutique Model Citizen on Main Street, where I would find a cute dress for the evening. After going home to freshen up, I would start for cocktails at the Bungalow and end at Sushi on Fire for dinner where I would divulge in the NY NY roll and sake. The perfect ending to my day would be a bonfire on the beach (HB has many fire pits for free) where I could cuddle up next to my sweetheart while he makes me smore’s and I can hear the waves crash until it was time to go home.
Which three hidden spots are a must do/see while visiting?
I’m actually going to give you four places that are usually overlooked by tourists, as these places do not advertise or market as much. For a cocktail bar, I love LSXO. It’s a restaurant hidden inside of Blue Gold at Pacific Citythat you almost always need reservations to get a spot. Only about 20ish patrons can dine in the restaurant at a time, maybe fewer. It’s a great date nightspot as it’s intimate and it also has floor to ceiling views of the ocean and beach.
Sealegs Wine Baris off the beaten path and although it’s still considered downtown Huntington Beach, it’s not walking distance from the hotels. I like Sealegs for their atmosphere, which is beautifully decorated with chandeliers and a gorgeous bar, as well as their all you can drink mimosa specials on the weekends.
Check out my post here on my favorite brunch item! During the summer months, they also have a location that opens right on the beach. One of the only spots in the city you can drink on the sand. The waterfront location is also host to concerts and shows all throughout the summer for locals and visitors to enjoy.
TK Burgeris the ultimate locals spot. Only serving burgers and fries essentially, TK is my go-to for a greasy craving. Located right on Pacific Coast Highway, it’s a bit hidden and also looks like a hole in a wall. Many famous surfers love to enjoy TK while in town for the US Open, and the lines to get in and get food during the summer can be very long. It’s definitely a must try when in town for a quick lunch in between swimming in the ocean and getting a tan. Just look for the little building with a bunch of stickers on it and you’ll find it!
Sanchos Tacosis not only a HB favorite, but by popular demand, now in Newport Beach as well. With only two locations, both taco shops do tend to get busy, however it’s worth the wait! Their breakfast burritos are the perfect addition to your weekend hangover morning.
My favorite is the bacon breakfast burrito but you can also get chorizo, chicken, potato, or sausage. They have many options for tacos such as tri-tip steak, shrimp, carnitas and marinated fish. I’ve always had a great experience there and their food is killer! Sanchos is also located right off 6th street and on Pacific Coast Highway.
Since she can remember, Alexis has been taking pictures of food since she had a camera. Originally from Connecticut, she moved to California at the age of ten where she resided up until this past year. As a graduate from California State University of Fullerton with a degree in Business Management, Alexis went into hospitality right after college and has worked for various hotel chains such as Kimpton, Fairmont, and Hilton as a Sales Manager. In 2017, she was approached by Shelby Soleiu @stylingsunshine to join a new group emerging in the SoCal area, the SoCal Blogger Babes. After joining the group, she quickly realized food styling and blogging was where her new passion had landed.
In 2018, Shelby appointed her as the Director of Experiences for the group and in her position, finds restaurants, hotels, and other various establishments for the group to collaborate with and get involved in the community. Alexis has blogged and styled for many restaurants in the Southern California area and looks forward to expanding her expertise in her new home of Shelton, Connecticut. She will continue working for the SoCal Blogger Babes and is in the works of forming a new chapter in the New England area.