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Getting your drink on in Manhattan Beach

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We're loath to make any generalizations about how distance from an ocean affects a restaurant's bill of fare and prices, but we still approach any restaurant within easy walking distance to the Pacific with a healthy dose of skepticism. Will we get middling fare at prices justified by the location? Will we get great food at stratospheric prices? Will we get crappy food served up while the waitress carries on about the breakers not fifty yards away?

Happily, when we visited Manhattan Beach Brewing Company on Saturday night, the answers were: no, no, and no. What we got was a casual, low-key evening that didn't break the bank.

The brewery's located on the steep block on Manhattan Beach Boulevard that leads right down to the pier -- perfect for a postprandial stroll along the shore -- and its menu, while heavy on California bar fare (appetizers, salads, sandwiches), is well-rounded enough to satisfy the Atkins adherents, the South Beachers, the vegetarians and the old-school carnivores in your party. We headed in at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night, and although the place was wall-to-wall with people, we were seated at a clean table within 10 minutes and sipping our Rat Beach Red Ale in 10 more.