James' Beach loves to milk that it was in the movie I Love You, Man and I don't blame them. That movie was so good. Paul Rudd and Jason Segel in the same movie? Winner.
Firstly, the decor in this place is awesome. It so perfectly captures the outdoorness of the outdoors, being inside the restaurant hardly feels like being inside at all. Seriously, I don't think I've ever eaten anywhere that better evokes being at the beach, nicely done James' Beach. Though, this does admittedly lend the eating space to greater risk from flies, which can be one of the greatest dining nuisances of all. More than crying infants one table over, more than a neglectful server. If you've ever tried to eat food on the Venice Boardwalk, you know that flies are abundant and aggressive. James' Beach doesn't really have a fly problem, but the issue does exist, just sayin'.
While admiring the excellent outdoor ambiance and lightly sanded tabletops, we decided to order the spinach and artichoke dip. Spinach and artichoke dip done right is so ridiculously good, it's not fair. Well, this particular dip wasn't as impressive as the smoother variations found at places like California Pizza Kitchen or the Cheesecake Factory. I suspect that James' Beach was trying to make it not as terribly-bad-for-you, but in the process what we got contained big chunks of artichoke and didn't quite melt together with the cream the way it should have. Plus, the chips couldn't penetrate the top layer of baked cheese on top. This is what it felt like:
We had to use a knife and fork in order to get any dip on the chips, which kinda sucks. Spinach and artichoke dip should be super gooey, a perfectly blended mass of delight. The chip should be a willing vessel, not an intruder that shatters on impact. The dip didn't taste bad, but it needs some adjusting.
So the tacos here are served differently than most places. As you can see, they simply give you the ingredients and you assemble the tacos yourself. An order of Mahi Mahi Tacos also comes with three fresh tortillas, that are piping hot when they reach the table, which is awesome. The fish is super tender, easily surrendering to a fork to prepare for taco assembly.
The three tacos I assembled were all fantastic. The individual ingredients are all top notch, especially the fish. It makes a huge difference that the fish filet is served whole. Though, contrary to what their menu says, I do not consider rice to be "filler". I love rice in my tacos when appropriate, it can add great flavors and improve the texture of the inside. And cabbage belongs in a fish taco the same way that powdered sugar belongs on french toast. It goes, seriously.
Tacos like these also come at a price. In case you didn't see it on the menu, this dish will run you $19. You're paying for quality, and if you like tacos you should give these try, they're delicious. Well, unless you totally screw them up : D.