Fuego at the Hotel Maya brings a coastal oriented, pan-Latin menu and a non-chain option to the Long Beach waterfront. The restaurant, bar and lounge incorporates an indoor/outdoor flow, faces expansive views of the port and beyond, and shows off a mixture of polychromatic materials and textures designed by the firm Arya.

Texas native Executive Chef Jesse Perez, who has worked alongside the likes of Coyote Cafe's Mark Miller, crafted the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Perez explains that “the culinary foundation” of dinner at Fuego in particular is “coastal inspired, [with] authentic techniques and bold flavors of Latin and Modern Mexican fare.” This approach means a lot of “market style flavors” and attention to specific regional dishes; Perez pays “homage to the original mother sauces of Oaxaca,” for example. The Fiesta Domingo brunch tries to keep the weekend party going on Sundays, when there's live entertainment in the mix to go with mariscos, barbacoa, and menu items grilled on the terrace. Fuego further stokes the good times with its full cocktail and tequila program.

Fuego at the Maya: 700 Queensway Dr., Long Beach; (562) 435-7676.

Via the Blackburn and Sweetzer blog comes word of Smokin' Joint BBQ near La Cienega. Owner Michael Kesler's music business background and fandom is expressed in the décor, and his approach to BBQ sounds more about being California eclectic rather than tied to any traditional regional doctrine. With all the freshly closed storefronts along that strip, maybe the pulled pork, fried pickles, baby back, beef ribs, fried catfish, corn on the cob with chili lime butter, baked beans, and other barbecue staples will buck the trend and keep the Smokin' Joint going strong for a long time to come.

Smokin' Joint BBQ: 8486 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 655-RIBS.

It might seem far off, but time flies and reservations go fast. The Hungry Cat's last steamed crab night of the season is on Tuesday, September 22 from 6-10 p.m., with “beautiful steamed crabs by the 1/2 dozen ($25) or the dozen ($50).” Although take out is available, it's probably best to consume those babies fresh on the spot.

Hungry Cat:1535 N. Vine St., Hollywood; (323) 462-2155.

Essex's fries n' rings.; Credit: Photo credit: Jessica Ritz

Essex's fries n' rings.; Credit: Photo credit: Jessica Ritz

Essex now has happy hour offerings that'll please industry players and traveling summer backpackers visiting Hollywood on a budget. During weekdays from 4-7 p.m., the something-for-everyone pub has $4 draft beers, $4 well drinks, $4 select specialty cocktails, and small plates. Pair the drink deals with stuffed squash blossoms, Dungeness crab stuffed mushrooms with lightly hot red chili hollandaise, and clams casino with bacon and piquillo peppers. Skip that extra drink and instead absorb the booze with garlic and parsley fries, and the thickly crisp Arrogant Bastard onion rings, which are as deeply satisfying as they are fried.

Essex: 6683 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 460-6608.

LA Weekly