10 Essential Places To Eat While You're Attending The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Christina Bryson
Fresh seafood from Pier 76
This weekend is The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. If you happen to be attending and you want to get out to see the town beyond what Shoreline Village has to offer, you will want to take a walk to Downtown (trust us: leave the driving to the racers). Here are 10 essential places in Downtown Long Beach this humble food critic thinks is worth the side trip.

The Breakfast Bar

Edwin Goei
The Hungover.

Long Beach is full of breakfast joints, but none quite like this. Located in the heart of downtown and serving as the restaurant to the hotel it's attached to, The Breakfast Bar is part diner, part bar, part LGBT and hipster hangout. The diner part makes insane egg dishes such as the thing called The Hungover, wherein a mountain of fresh, hot French fries gets piled with cheese-laced scrambled eggs, sausage gravy, onions and peppers. And if you don't have a hangover yet, they stock an eclectic mix of beer, some good wine, and specialty cocktails made with soju. Take the cucumber lemonade, a refreshingly brisk surge of tart, sweet and coolness which has enough cucumber shavings to qualify as a salad. And when you need more food to fortify your stomach from your third or fourth glass, try their signature omelet casserole, whose recipe was reportedly passed down for three generations and takes 24 hours to make.

70 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, CA 90802, (562) 726-1700; the-breakfast-bar.com

Cafe Sevilla

Edwin Goei
Cafe Sevilla's Leche Frita

For a complete Spanish experience--and I do mean, like, with flamenco dancers and the Gipsy Kings as the constant and only soundtrack--one must go to Cafe Sevilla. Here you will sit in a darkly-lit romantic space evoking the passion of Spanish culture, drink more sangria than you ever drank, and graze on tapas, those bite-sized, meant-to-be-shared "small plates" that were around before every restaurant in America started serving everything as "small plates". The dish everyone orders is the "three tapas" sampler--a long platter with, yup, three generous helpings of the restaurant's most popular tapas dishes. With toothpicks as your eating utensil, you snack on salchicas, which simply means assorted sausages; gambas al ajillo, shrimp cooked with garlic and wine; and patatas bravas, roasted potatoes.

140 Pine Ave., Long Beach, CA 90802, (562) 495-1111; http://cafesevilla.com

Congregation Ale House
Liz Monroy
Let us pray.

Congregation, which is part of a mini chain of beer bars with other “chapters” in Azusa and Pasadena, has a church theme; but it’s done with just enough tongue-in-cheekiness it bypasses blasphemy and becomes nothing more than good-natured satire. A “collection plate” next to the register is actually the tip jar. Happy Hours are called “Mass,” with a late-night one called “Midnight Mass.” And flitting about the room in fetishistic Catholic-schoolgirl uniforms with pleated skirts hitched up scandalously far above the knee are servers who’ll offer to top off your soda. But if it’s water you want, you get it yourself at a “Holy Water” station. Religious kidding aside, Congregation is all business everywhere else. It’s downright liturgical in charging only $7 to $8 for the holy trinity of foods that go well with beer: sausage sandwiches, burgers and pizza. This place understands that people who are willing to queue up to order food in a bar like this aren’t interested in anything fancier than what they can hold in their hands or eat with their fingers.

201 E Broadway Ave., Long Beach, CA 90802, (562) 432-2337; congregationalehouse.com

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