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New Nikau Kai Cafe Epitomizes 'Life at the Beach'

Feb 11, 2017 12:52PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Food from Nikau Kai Cafe. Photo credit: Jeff Berting

Nikau Kai, the Manhattan Beach "waterman shop," has gained loyal followers since it first opened in 2011. But with its move to 1140 Highland Avenue and opening of a new coffee shop/cafe, Nikau Kai fans both new and old have even more reason to hang out at the shop.

"The inspiration for the addition of the cafe is simply evolution," said Nikau Kai owner Jason Shanks. "Whenever I think about how to improve, I say to myself, 'What would you do to make a place I'd like to go and hang out?'"

Shanks continued: "I've always wanted to add a coffee element to our shop, and with our move into 1140 Highland the stars just sort of aligned. In addition to the coffee, we got the bonus that we could offer food and beer and wine [beer and wine will be launching in March]. So now we have a place that pretty much sums up our life at the beach."

Shanks points out that one of the first highlights of the cafe is the Verve coffee. "I would put it up against any other offering in a blind taste test," he said. "Working with Verve has been wonderful and they've helped train our staff to the next level in the many nuances of espresso and pulling a delicious shot."

The food offerings are a surfer's dream, with burritos, poke bowls, breakfast burritos, quesadillas, and more. There's even a "groms" menu with smaller portions for the younger set.

For breakfast, Shanks recommends the Big Ben burrito (slow cooked pulled pork with bacon, sliced avocado and cheese wrapped in a warm tortilla) or the Northsider (sausage, bacon, hash browns, cheese and homemade salsa in a warm tortilla).

And for that post-surf lunch, Shanks' personal favorites are the Spicy Tuna Poke with fresh, sustainably farmed bluefin tuna and homemade spicy sauce ("If you close your eyes when you take your first bite, you'll swear your on the islands") and the California Poke with the bluefin tuna, cubes of avocado, thinly sliced English cucumber, sweet and slightly spicy soy based sauce, and fresh bean sprouts.

While you're in the cafe, you can either hang out in front, or head to the back to visit the Nikau Kai shop and all of the surfboard and paddleboard equipment you might need.

But if you don't feel like coming in, you can still enjoy Nikau Kai's food, thanks to GrubHub and DoorDash delivery services. "So even on these rainy days you can have our feel good food brought right to your door," says Shanks.

Nikau Kai and the Nikau Kai Cafe are now located at 1140 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach, CA. (310) 545-7007. The cafe is open on weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and on weekends from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

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