Long Beach seems to have it all —an aquarium, convention center, a university, a permanently docked famous cruise ship, a lively downtown, hotels, and, of course, a beach or two.
Add to that a revival that includes updates to those attractions, construction of multiple high-rise residential and office towers, a planned dockside entertainment center, new retail outlets, lodging, and additional student housing. The Metro is even getting into the act with renovations of the service between Los Angeles and Long Beach.
“It’s an exciting time for Long Beach, and especially downtown. The continuing development has encouraged many new restaurants and retailers to open in the area,” according to Christy Caldwell, founder of one of the city’s newest dining spots, The Ordinarie. “We are on The Promenade which is fast becoming the place to be for food and drinks in the city.”
New dining venues are joining long-time favorites in Long Beach’s varied neighbor- hoods that include Naples, Belmont Shore, downtown, the waterfront, westside, and more. Both residents and the city’s many tourists have their choice of dining spots whether they want a casual pub, seafood, ethnic cuisine, breweries, or fine dining.
With the nearly impossible task of listing “the best,” we’ve selected examples of local restaurants, both newly arrived and long established, in various locales. Give some of these a try when you visit Long Beach, and you’ll be on your way to creating your own list of favorites.
Set on a landscaped walk street, The Ordinarie is a warm and welcoming early American-style tavern with outdoor seat- ing and an interior rich with dark wood and adorned with old-fashioned framed prints. The home-style menu includes chicken and dumplings, short rib pot roast, lobster pot pie, and small plates like Virginia ham with Vermont cheddar pop-overs. Stop in to learn about the source of the restaurant’s name, and have a cocktail or beer from their extensive selection. 210 The Promenade North, Long Beach; (562) 676-4261, http://theordinarie.com.
Saint & Second
This family-owned Belmont Shore dining spot relies on seasonal local ingre- dients for creative, contemporary dishes. Open for lunch, dinner, brunch, and weekday social hour, Saint & Second offers a varied menu that includes “smalls,” a long list of appetizers, “bigs,” entrée-sized dishes, flatbreads, burgers, soups, and salads as well as oysters, cheese plates, and charcuterie. Dine on the patio or in the main room and select from their extensive list of wines, beers, cocktails, and spirits.4828 East Second Street, Long Beach; (562) 433-4828, http://saintandsecond.com
Portuguese Bend Craft Distillery
Named for a secret Palos Verdes Pen- insula landing spot for smugglers during Prohibition, this gastropub and distillery crafts two vodkas and two gins right on the premises in gleaming copper stills. Its ca- sual atmosphere and expansive bar make it a popular corner spot that’s hard to miss. The menu includes shared plates like crispy chicken wings and tempura green beans, a list of burgers, sandwiches, and entrees. Try their Southern fried chicken, shrimp and grits, or visit on Prime Rib Tuesday. 300 The Promenade North, Long Beach; (562) 435-4411, portuguesebenddis- tilling.com.
For authentic Spanish tapas, paella, weekend brunch, daily happy hour, music, and dancing, this downtown spot is the place. The menu also includes Iberico charcuterie, ceviche, empanadas, and a va- riety of brochetas. Flamenco dinner shows on Saturday nights and live music most other nights make Café Sevilla a popular venue for Latin jazz, Spanish rock, salsa, and even comedy nights. Family style dinner, prix-fixe menus, and an extensive cocktail, wine, and sangria menu offer something for everyone. 140 Pine Street, Long Beach; (562) 485-1111, http://cafesevilla. com/long-beach.
Ammatoli Mediterranean Bites
The increasingly popular and healthful Middle Eastern cuisine of The Levant focuses on fresh vegetables, spices, and tradition. Favorites like hummus, falafel, grilled halloumi cheese, and gyros, along with salads, soups, and flatbreads are served daily for lunch and dinner. Weekend brunch features shakshuka, eggs poached in a savory tomato stew, avocado or labneh toast, and a family style com- bination that serves five. Weekday lunch specials include wraps, tabbouleh, spicy lemon garlic chicken, and mezze platters. 285 East Third Street, Long Beach; (562) 435-0808, hammatoli.com.
The Breakfast Bar
When you’re hungry for breakfast and a fully-loaded Bloody Mary to go with it, this is the place you want to be. Appetizers at breakfast? Why not? Start with mini country biscuits, shrimp and grits, or fried chicken wings and waffle sticks before you move on to entrees like French toast, meatloaf and eggs or Uncle Marcee’s Omelet Casserole, a vintage family recipe. They’re open for lunch too, with soups, sandwiches, salads, and vegan options as well as cocktails, wine, beer, soft drinks, and espresso. 70 Atlantic Avenue, Long Beach; (562) 726-1700, http://the-breakfast- bar.com
Michael’s on Naples Ristorante
For a special occasion, Sunday brunch, or casual dinner on the rooftop, Michael’s continues to keep guests happy with impeccable Italian dishes and excellent service. Daily happy hour with half price bar menu, live music on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, and special events like wine tastings attract loyal customers, and the food brings them back. Diners can choose the Chef ’s Tasting or Pasta Tasting Menu as well as a la carte choices. The extensive wine list focuses on Italian imports, with many available by the glass. 5620 East Second Street, Long Beach; (562) 439-7080, http://michaelsonnaples.com.
Beachwood BBQ and Brewing
Traditional slow-smoked and seasoned ribs, pulled pork, and brisket are featured, but the menu also includes burgers, wings, salads, and lots of appetizers to go with their extensive beer offerings. Twenty-two rotating taps keep the brew flowing, and beer fans will find many unique choices. Beachwood’s own brews combine classic methods with modern touches like fruit flavors and unconventional grains. Drop in for trivia night or bring your pooch to the patio for one of their Paws and Pints Happy Hours. 210 East Third Street, Long Beach; (562) 436-4020, http://beachwoodbrewing. com.
Lola’s Mexican Cuisine
Not a newcomer, but deserving of a place on this list for remaining a local favorite for more than ten years, Lola’s has two Long Beach locations. The menu includes Mexico’s regional cuisines, representing Oaxaca, Veracruz, Yucatan, and Baja, prepared with organic meats, poultry, sustainable seafood, and fresh seasonal ingredients. Open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, Lola’s serves favorites like moles, tostaditas, enchiladas, mezcal cocktails, beer, wine, and a variety of margaritas. 2030 East Fourth Street, Long Beach; (562) 343-5506; 4140 Atlantic Avenue, Long Beach; (562) 349-0100, http://lolas-mexicancuisine.com.