Bookstores and coffee shops go together like milk and espresso. It’s no surprise that these businesses tend to gravitate toward each other. When they share the same roof, they make each other better, and such is the case with Mysterious Galaxy, Redondo Beach’s central nexus of all things science fiction and fantasy. As a genre fiction bookstore it’s already a rare bird, but its value is further increased with the attached Catalina Coffee.
Once you park your car in their surprisingly large, dedicated lot, your first steps inside goes through the coffee shop. It’s practically the vestibule to the store, but don’t think of it as a small hallway — Catalina Coffee is a large, neatly designed, full service coffee shop for everyone. It’s hard to decide which of the two is the main draw.
A Classic Place For Coffee
The atmosphere of Catalina Coffee stands apart from most other coffee places. Whereas other spots opt for a modernist design, Catalina aims for a quirky sense of antiquity. The seating area is populated by mixed-style, antique armchairs, each with different ornate flourishes and finishes in an attempt to achieve a traditional but playful atmosphere. There’s ample table space and wi-fi for all your regular coffee shop activities.
The menu features all that you’d expect, including small batch arabica coffee. It’s worth mentioning the food; few coffee shops, corporate or independent, will feed you this well. Their regular menu contains grilled paninis and sandwiches, but there are also occasional specials like a variety of quiches or Belgian waffle dishes. This is the place to go if studying makes you hungry.
Science Fiction & Fantasy Central
The particular sci-fi/fantasy genre fiction niche is often marked by a sense of awe and possibility. If you’re really really into bookstores, proceed through Catalina Coffee into the proper Mysterious Galaxy shop and experience that same type of wonder. The perfect alignment and newness of the books make it seem like a fake set, but sure enough, it’s just a very well-kept shop.
For readers of science fiction, fantasy, young adult fiction, paranormal romance and other adventurous niches, this is a nexus of everything you need. That’s a rarity — no one else in the area really serves these large readerships with this kind of attention and care. Collector-minded readers should note their selection of signed first editions, featuring the work of big names such as RA Salvatore, John Scalzi and Orson Scott Card. If you’re not into these particular reads, that’s okay! They also curate an island of general fiction, stocked with best sellers and critically acclaimed literary fiction.
The very back of the store is a mini presentation room. Every so often, with the aid of a long table and a few dozen chairs, it can serve as a place for renowned authors to have signings, readings, panels and more. The event space is another thing that makes Mysterious Galaxy not just a place to shop, but a place to hang out. Buy a book, read it while having a snack, or attend an in-store event.
Even if you’re not an avid reader of genre fiction, it’s hard not to be impressed by the facilities at Mysterious Galaxy. It’s enough to make you wish there were more places like this, everywhere, but for now it’s a distinguishing part of South Bay book shopping.
Is Mysterious Galaxy one of your regular stops in Redondo Beach? If not, which South Bay bookstore is your favorite? Let us know in the Comments section below.