10 Essential Long Beach Restaurants

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Johannes Dewald
Some readers still don't seem to get that while Long Beach isn't in Orange County, we still cover it. We just do.

But boy, am I lucky for it, because the city of Queen Mary and Snoop Dogg has many wonderful restaurants in an area that spans 50 square miles--an area that includes Cambodia Town, Second Street, Naples, and Downtown. And let's not forget the breakfast joints! My god! The breakfast joints!

Herewith are this food critic's essential Long Beach restaurants. 10 of them, which doesn't even scratch the surface.

Agree? Disagree? See something missing? Let me know. Put it in the comments. As always, the list is alphabetical.

At Last Cafe

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Photo By Russ Roca

At Last Café's first-time customers turn into instant devotees. Every one of the or so seats is filled nightly. Those who didn't think to snag a reservation either wait it out on the street or order to-go. Either way, budget about 30 minutes to find parking, which is frustratingly scarce and the inevitable topic of conversation for the first few minutes of your meal. The rest of the time, you'll talk about the food, about how chef John McLaughlin manages to charge a fraction of what other establishments of this caliber would. For example, his Brick Chicken: a deboned half-bird cooked flat under the weight of a brick, its crispy, mahogany skin reminiscent of the best Armenian rotisserie hen and meat so juicy it bursts. The cost for this now famous poultry plate is a mere $10.50.

James Republic

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Photo by Amanda DeFrancis

James Republic has such lovable quirks. For example: using jars for just about every appetizer and dessert. To back up claims that it’s “sustainable,” James Republic recycles its old menus to use as doilies. And because of this ethos—--one that no new restaurant these days goes without—--the menu changes daily. Named after chef Dean James Max—--the empire-building, James Beard-nominated chef responsible for other high-achieving restaurants—--the place counts the time since it opened, with its days printed atop the menus and scrawled on a chalkboard near the kitchen. How a dish reads one day will be different than the days before or after. Get the potato puree, which will be served in a jar you wished you had longer fingers to squeegee, and then finish with the warm, sticky toffee bread pudding, which is actually served on a plate.

Jongewaard Bake N Broil

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Russ Roca

Jongewaard's pies and all-American dishes are classics, winning over the loyalists like trophies. In their Norman-Rockwell-meets-Martha-Stewart-Living lunch counter, there are stories of some folks eating three meals a day here. You can just imagine Long Beach's version of Jerry, George and Elaine convening nightly in one of their booths, sipping coffee out of thick mugs, talking about nothing. Jongewaard's demands repeat visits, and nurtures regulars.

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35 comments
EricinLB
EricinLB

My favorite must list is


I just moved to Long Beach this month and already have my essentials list

Chens on broadway

Francellis on 4th

Michaels Pizza downtown

The Omlette Inn on Pine

The Coffee Cup on 4th

The Original Park Pantry on Broadway

Hamburger Mary's on Pine

garden720
garden720

Cannot believe you left out La Parollacia Osteria Italiana and King's Fish House,only the very best ever!!!

Ingrid Hudson
Ingrid Hudson

"If the Art Deco scheme has gone a little stale, you excuse it because of the view of Long Beach Harbor, ..." Excuse me? The Sky Room is authentic Art Deco not some cheesy Vegas theme park fantasyland. Long Beach's 1933 earthquake set into motion this city's rebuild into a Deco city. The Deco style movement is loved and admired worldwide for 87 years and counting, really doubt that will hold true for much of what we are building now.

claudiaschou1
claudiaschou1

Edwin always does a great job with his restaurant reviews! Nomad on PCH and Number Nine on 4th Street are also great! Park Pantry serves comfort food and has a pleasant view of Bixby Park.

N-16
N-16

JB in the OC, where is Roxanne?

rusha23
rusha23

I've yet to find a better burger in Long Beach than at Tavern on 2nd.  I like their food tons better than Nick's and Simmzy's.


poohmec2002
poohmec2002

Simmzy's??? Really??!! I wasn't impressed one bit. I can't believe they made the list over Nick's on 2nd. Nick's, Baba Ganoush & May's Thai are my top three Long Beach spots.

lynnleslie
lynnleslie

How on EARTH did you miss Lola's???

victoria187
victoria187

Roe restaurant although it's under construction

asdf
asdf

Panvimarn on the corner of Bellflower and Carson has some of the best Thai food I've ever had. I suppose it didn't make the list because it's technically in Lakewood.

rusha23
rusha23

Lola's should make the list for their green crack sauce alone.  I'm surprised to see Benley left off also.


lalizgonz
lalizgonz

My essential restaurants in Long Beach are 

Blackbird Cafe

Baba Ganoush

Patricia's

Beachwood BBQ

Coffee Cup

laine2sang
laine2sang

I don't think this list is complete without Open Sesame. There is a reason that place is ALWAYS packed and it's because t is some of the best food ever. Unlike, in my opinion Simmzy's. Yeah the atmosphere is nice, but the food is unremarkable. I think people see the crowds because of the setup and assume it's great and it perpetuates. As for me my hard earned dining dollars are directed toward places with the best food. Oh, and how bout Coffee Cup? Best breakfast anywhere - my out of town visitors like the Aquarium but they LOVE Coffee Cup. My niece said she wants to marry whoever invented their mashed potato omelette. :-) 

miabdulla
miabdulla

Hard to narrow down to only 10, but surprised that your fine dining slot (to the extent you had one) didn't include Michael's or Delius.  Michael's is probably most responsible for places like Simmzy's, James Republic or Nick's on 2nd opening.  Michael's showed there was a market in LB for well sourced, well cooked food. Before that, dining in LB was pretty mediocre. 

Niko Babic
Niko Babic

I've always fancied Tantalums, the Federal and Sababba.

Mike Woods
Mike Woods

I'm down to try any of these places!

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

I'm very happy to see Jongewaard's Bake N Broil acknowledged here.  I dined there again about 10 days ago and it was as great as ever...food, service, and yes, the experience.  The chicken pot pie is heavenly, but this visit, I went with the chicken fried steak.  I asked for the gravy on the side, and I'm glad I did, since I was able to sample the hand-dipped, lightly fried cutlet which is fantastic in and of itself.  


Tip: if you're dining solo and sit at the counter in the last seat on the side of the interior (away from the cashier), you can watch the wait staff slice pieces of cake as they get ordered...a repetitive vicarious experience if there ever was one. 


Jongewaard's is an absolute gem, sometimes forgotten since it's in Bixby Knolls rather than the hipper parts of LB, south of the 405.  If Jongewaard's wasn't more than 20 miles away from JB World Headquarters, I might eat three meals a day there, too.

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

@N-16  

Walking the streets? 

(ROX-anne...doot doot doot doot doot...you don't have to put on that red light)

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

@lynnleslie

Maybe because it's below-average?  It's a nice-lookin' place, and I really wanted to like it, but there's much, much better out there.  And I'll never forget that watery, weak carafe of sangria. 

lbc1
lbc1

@asdf  Actually it is in Lakewood Village which is Long Beach.

lalizgonz
lalizgonz

And I forgot Bella's Pizza, Panvimarn, Jongewaard's Bake n Broil, and Los Compadres.


I enjoy Starling Diner but don't get there often since I live in NoTown (North Long Beach).


poohmec2002
poohmec2002

I prefer Baba Ganoush in Bixby over Open Sesame any day! And I dislike Simmzy's too.

rjgoode
rjgoode

@laine2sang Couldn't agree with you more. Food at Simmzy's is pretty mediocre and Coffee Cup is the best breakfast in town!

EricinLB
EricinLB

@JBinOC  My favorite must list is


Chens on broadway

Francellis on 4th

Michaels Pizza downtown

The Omlette Inn on Pine

The Coffee Cup on 4th

The Original Park Pantry on Broadway

tatin
tatin

@JBinOC @lynnleslie  Gotta try it again.  the thing about Lola's is it is very inconsistent.  Some nights it is amazing, others it's mediocre.

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

@tatin @JBinOC@lynnleslie 

You're right, every place has an off day.  As I said, I really wanted to like it...as many others do.  

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