Community Voices
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Dining al fresco in Downtown San Pedro. (photo: John Mattera Photography)

The pandemic is waning, and folks are re-emerging and finding a whole new side of San Pedro to love. I get stopped almost daily by folks who read my article about the renaissance happening in town (San Pedro Today, Feb. 2022). They want to tell me about the murals they’ve discovered, the shops that I should visit, or the progress they are seeing. Beauty is happening in so many places you wouldn’t expect. The flowers that adorn the iconic walking bridge crossing Gaffey seemingly sprung up overnight. You can thank Mona Sutton, Leslie Jones, Joe Buscaino, and muralist Jules “Muck Rock” Muck for continuing to beautify our town.

We went to Raffaello Ristorante recently for the familiar faces, fantastic food, and the numerous celebrations taking place from table to table. Tony made sure my Old Fashioneds kept flowing, and Kelly sang to an appreciative crowd. It’s the closest thing to normal we have seen in months. Restaurants are taking reservations again, and it is interesting to see how many new people are enjoying San Pedro like never before. We have a healthy mix of lifelong residents along with the new folks mentioned in this month’s cover story.

Many places are bringing in live music and nightlife. I’d be curious to see if that is in response to the new people coming into San Pedro or if it is what’s drawing more people in. Either way, the date-night opportunities in San Pedro are a welcome change from the town’s past reputation as “tough.” It may have had historic charm but was equally difficult for local businesses looking to thrive.

When you do come downtown, come early. You will want to check out some of the new shops on 6th and 7th. I especially love The Winthrop Gallery of Art and Curiosities right next door to Compagnon Wine Bistro. It’s like a natural history museum mixed with spiritual oddities and taxidermy. You can spend hours guessing the use of the many ancient tools and get sucked into the completely random works of art begging to come home with you.

You’ll want to mix it up when you come downtown. Grab a cocktail at Kalaveras and dinner at Think Café. The next time, switch it up. San Pedro Brewing Co., the Green Onion, La Bocca Felice, The Whale and Ale, Compagnon, Baramee Thai, and Raffaello’s are great stops to mix and match on date nights. Then take in a show at the Grand Annex and come back out for a final drink or dessert. Walk slowly, so you can see what we have available in between your destinations. You’ll be surprised how many small businesses have popped up, and you’ll find unique items you can’t get on Amazon.

Day dates are a thing, too. Have you been to Vicky’s Doghouse on the fantail of the Battleship IOWA? Why not grab a hotdog and take in the expansive view of the harbor? Admission is free, and it’s a great place to show your out-of-town visitors how much you know about the hidden San Pedro. One of my favorite day-date options is the “grab-and-go.” Conrad’s Mexican Grill, Ko Ryu Ramen, and La Siciliana in downtown or Seaside Bistro, Sirinat Thai, and The Shore Grill on 25th are great to-go options if you want to grab food for a picnic or dine-in before or after a walk along one of our waterfronts. I would add The Corner Store to that list as well any time you take a stroll along Paseo Del Mar. It’s near the corner of 37th and Barbara.

Make some time to check out some of the art around town and see what’s new. You will be surprised by the different ways our community is celebrating our unique cultures, natural beauty, and real human perspectives. spt

Lee Williams

Lee Williams leads The Lee Williams Real Estate Group at REAL Broker and is a Los Angeles Harbor Commissioner. He also serves on the board of directors for Boys & Girls Clubs of the LA Harbor, the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Connects, and the San Pedro Education Foundation. He can be reached at