Best Beautiful Bar in an Ugly Strip Mall - 2011
Lost in a corner between a Loehmann's and an Acapulco, Tantalum is an Asian jungle-oasis escape from the SUV-driving hordes at Best Buy, Ralphs and Sports Authority. As you enter with the less-than-zero expectations inspired by the front facade, you are greeted by a huge, open series of rooms with such spectacular ambience and striking water views of the marina that you immediately want to sell a few screenplays, buy the place and turn it into a townhome. A 75-foot curved dark-wood bar faces out to wraparound bay windows through which you can watch yachts, Duffy boats, paddleboarders, kayakers and the sunset. The Asian-fusion menu is as good as the décor, which is as inviting as the view. Off the main bar and dining room, two patio rooms flood with outdoor light by day; the entire place turns nightclubby after the sun sets. Live music plays on weekends and this hidden gem is always packed with an eclectic crowd — from chicks who turned 21 yesterday to the old dudes ("Did I mention I have a yacht outside?") hitting on them. 6272 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach. (562) 431-1414, tantalumrestaurant.com.