Home style cooking
Manhattan Beach goes country with the addition of the straightforward yet delicious fare at American Farmhouse Tavern & Dining Hall.
Photographed by Marisa Guzman-Aloia
Dining with the family took a quantum leap ahead for South Bay residents when this cheerful and utterly unpretentious restaurant moved into its spacious new location on Sepulveda last summer. Jumping from 35 to 135 seats is a LOT more backsides in chairs, but owners Kristen and Orlando Novoa are packing them into this bigger space and with good reason.
American Farmhouse Tavern & Dining Hall offers a little something for everyone in your clan, and a little something for every occasion. The “Tavern” is represented by a cheerful bar lit by a Mason jar chandelier, a folksy décor theme that is repeated with chicken wire panels, kids’ crayoned masterpieces and quilts galore throughout the main dining space. Happy hour is especially happy here, as drinks and nibbles for $4 are available pretty much anytime … although chasing down your pancakes with the strong stuff may not be advisable.
Breakfast! The weekend brunch here is amazing, and if you want to take a break from the Local Yolk or Uncle Bill’s for your weekend wake-up, consider driving just a few short minutes over to the Farmhouse. You won’t be disappointed. Sunday brunch includes sparkling wine. Or consider upgrading your workday lunch with colleagues. Honestly, fast food will eventually kill you, so sit down and enjoy an hour of healthier food at least once a week. For $10.95, you can choose from salmon, tri-tip, chicken or veggies and will likely have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch; portions are generous.
It took me a moment to figure out the arrival of pinto beans, stewed veggies and salsa once we’d ordered our dinner at Farmhouse; traditionally served before a Santa Maria style BBQ, you’re meant to mix up your own stew while waiting for the beef. Chef Orlando was born and raised in Santa Maria, so he really knows his stuff. He still makes pilgrimages north to purchase farm-fresh veggies from friends, and his BBQ is one of the best I’ve tried.
There are plenty of other menu items for non-beef eaters, and all are served with a wedge of salad, generous sides and your choice of complimentary ice cream or sweet wine for dessert. The wine list features nods to Novoa’s Central Coast roots with popular Santa Barbara County wineries like Fess Parker and Firestone, in addition to plenty of beer choices.
What impressed me most about American Farmhouse Tavern & Dining Hall is something that can’t be purchased, designed, grilled or sautéed … warmth. Photographs of Kristen Novoa’s homesteading, midwestern ancestors dot the walls, and when you dine there, you’re meant to feel like a member of the family too. This starts with the cheerful welcome at the hostess stand and extends all the way through to that free little bit of something sweet at dinner’s close. This is a restaurant that deservedly transforms guests into regulars, because genuine warmth is as important as great food any day. At this Manhattan Beach hit, you’ll find both.
American Farmhouse Tavern & Dining Hall
924 North Sepulveda Boulevard, Manhattan Beach