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Long Beach restaurant for food snob and kids?

I am looking for a restaurant in Long Beach that will work for a party that includes a food snob and kids. I'm tearing my hair out on this one; the needs of the two seem in opposition. Thanks for your help.

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  1. I don't envy you. But is the food snob someone who snorts derisively at anything less than a restaurant with at least one Michelin star? Or is the snob someone who just doesn't think that we poor, down-at-our-heels Long Beach slobs couldn't serve up a decent meal?

    The first instance is someone we'll never satisfy. Long Beach just isn't that kind of town. LA's close by-- if we want our meal with a healthy dose of self-importance, we can always drive up there. The second type of snob-- well, all is not lost, but you have to be satisfied with delicious and unpretentious. Especially when you have to satisfy kids.

    How about Enrique's for Mexican fare that ranges from the familiar (tasty burritos the size of your head) to the sublime (Enrique's signature pork shank, braised and served with tomatillo salsa-- lively flavors, tender as a mother's kiss, and you'll be tempted to order it every time you go)? PCH at Loynes. NOTE: Beer and wine only. Family-friendly, but they don't take reservations. On the weekend, there WILL be a wait.

    The snob would love Benley, the Vietnamese small-plates specialist way out in East LB (east of Eldorado Park, Wardlow at Norwalk/Los Alamitos). However, the service is leisurely enough that it becomes a bit unmanageable with kids (they just don't have the patience for the pace of the meal).

    George's Greek Café has two Long Beach outposts, one on Pine, the other in Belmont Shore on Second St. I love the food, but the snob would probably be horrified by its Greek party atmosphere.

    Would the kids go for Thai? I love Tiny Thai (Norse Way, just off of Lakewood and Carson) for its consistently tasty food-- it's not transcendental, just good. And it's generally not very busy at night, which can make dealing with hungry kids a bit easier. Again, its down-to-earth nature might appall a food snob.

    If you have to go a bit upscale, how about King's Pine Avenue Fish House? Or, in Los Al, Shenandoah at the Arbor? They can handle kids, and the food is quite good at either place.

    I've never noticed kids at Lasher's-- but I happen to love the food there. Some think it's "Comfort Food à la 1987" (I'm sure that will come out of the snob's mouth about 15 seconds into looking at the menu)-- but it's what it is, and it's delicious. If they can handle a party with kids, I'd say go there. Have the snob try the clam chowder. It's seriously good.

    1. Ooooohh.... I see from another thread that your food snob is from San Francisco.

      I'd just give up and start poring over LA-area eateries. Nothing in Long Beach-- no matter how delicious-- will be satisfactory, I fear.

      Oh well. Save Enrique's for when you don't have this quandry!

      3 Replies
      1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

        I know, I know. I was thinking about George's, because we're Greek/Italian and that might work. I'll tell you more about him; he's the produce buyer for Whole Foods, and so quality is THE most important thing for him. He's not overly pretentious I guess for a food snob; he loves Little Saigon dives if quality is good. (By the way, I live by Bentley and have always wanted to try; I will do that on your recommendation soon).

        I guess character and quality with a kid friendly atmosphere would work. But man, this is a hard one! If it were breakfast or lunch, Long Beach Museum Cafe works on both counts. I was also thinking PF Chang's for the family people in the group, but I know my brother would cringe at a chain!

        By the way, the family people are Manhattan Beach folk, but brother is set on staying near Long Beach. Dang, this is so particular and quirky, I really don't blame you if you have no other thoughts/comments. (Also by the way, been hearing such good things about Enrique's and will definitely be trying it)....thanks, thanks for the thoughts.

        1. re: la_vena

          George's might do nicely. Note that the cuisine isn't strictly vernacular Greek, as the owner's family is Cypriot. I'm not Greek, but I did grow up in Pittsburgh and have eaten my share of spanakopita, pastitsio, baklava etc.-- and George's versions are very tasty but subtly different.

          If you decide to damn the torpedos and have a family-friendly outing, might I suggest Ferraro's (in the triangle of Wardlow, Palo Verde and Los Coyotes Diagonal)? I'm sure you've eaten there. It's classic red-sauce Calabrese Italian, but well-executed and delicious. Big portions. Every other weekend the owner makes braciole and serves it until he runs out-- and he always does. Good stuff. The savory Steak Sinatra will transport you back to the 60s, the era of Rat Pack Italian eateries with red leatherette booths and candles stuck into cane-lined Chianti bottles....

          Great, now I'm hungry.

          1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

            Ferraro's is fantastic...and it's walking distance from my house. My dad's Calabrese and knows the owner well. I didn't know about the Braciole, though. Thanks, great tip!!!

      2. I second the call for Benley's - I've seen lots of happily sated kids wheeled out of there, but it's a very sophisticated space and the food is delicious....

        1 Reply
        1. re: macrogal

          Benley's is looking better and better to me. I got a little turned off by it at first because it is literally two minutes from where I live, but every time I went, they were closed for a private party or just closed. But literally every review I've read has given them a full five stars. That's pretty impressive. Thanks for the recommendation. Now I just have to figure out how to get a reservation, because they aren't answering their phone.

        2. Be persistent (they do get busy there, being such a small joint), but absolutely get a reservation. They are incredibly nice there, and the food is quite special. The balance of flavors and textures is exquisite in every sense of the word.

          Remember: No liquor license, last I checked (you should ask)-- corkage is a minimal fee, so get a couple of good bottles of wine at Wine Country.

          I'm about five minutes west of there myself and don't go there often enough! I think I'm just about due for another visit.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

            I drove over to see why they weren't answering phone....they're on vacation! I would like to try it, but so far I've tried 4 times with no luck....maybe it's not meant to be? Anyway, all the kids are out of the picture for tonight, so the sky's the limit! We'll see what we can do. And I love Wine Country, but we always have tons of bottles around because we're in the business as well, so I don't get to frequent it as much as I'd like to.

            Ok, so we have reservations at George's tonight, but I'm kind of open to other possibilities. It's a much smaller group, all adults, so we have many more possibilities. I still have a few hours. Food snob is still in....suggestions welcome!

            Thanks.

            P.S. Went for dim sum this morning in GG. Seafood Palace at 8602 Westminster. Yummy!

          2. These two requests, food for food (and presumably wine) snobs and a crowd of kids doesn't work. My biggest problem is keeping my 4 year old from telling people "Daddy doesn't like McDonalds, they don't have beer there".

            I would look for a place that would able to give you a room to yourself - Lucille's on 2nd may be able to do that, Kings fish on Pine, Belmont Brewing Company, Maybe Jonny Rebs in N. LB.

            You might be able to talk a smaller place into closing. Cafe Gazelle would be great.

            Good luck.

            1. I have been very happy with the food at Los Compadres on Anaheim St. near Alex's Bar. The food is similar to that of the La Parilla chain in LA. Lots of parilladas and molcajetes - very authentic tasting food with fresh tortillas. And the place has a very family atmosphere for the kids.

              2 Replies
              1. re: oro3030

                That sounds great; I'll definitely try it some night before heading into Alex's. Thanks.

                1. re: oro3030

                  Wow, good to know.

                  Every time I go to Alex's I end up at Joe Jost's drinking ice cold Pabst Blue Ribbon and eating that polish sausage on rye.

                  I think that's what I get, anwyay. There is drinking involved.

                2. benley is open again. It's very good vietnamese food.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: orangepants

                    Ok, we finally made it in. It was really great. Food and service was excellent. I'll be going back definitely. I think I'll do pho for lunch next time. Thanks!

                    1. re: la_vena

                      Wonderful news! And I'm glad you liked Benley. Support from us locals keeps great little places like that open.

                      Mmmmmm..... Pho...!

                      Did George's work out well for your group, by the way? I'm really jonesing for their kleftiko right about now...!

                      1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                        yes! george's was great fun and good food. it's a bit over the top cheesey as far as atmosphere, but all were well pleased.

                        thanks to all.

                  2. I've only just registered at chowhound (hi rjw from fodors) but need to add the following Long Beach area Thai restaurant which has satisfied Bay AREA FOOD SNOBS (of the Alice Waters /Gary Danko) ilk as well as teenage children: Thai Corner on the Lakewood/Long Beach border (between the 7-11 and Me N Eds Pizza) at Carson and Paramount. Friend from London also insists on eating there multiple times when visiting despite also having Manhattan Beach family. Rjw you said you were going to check it out! Warning, spicy does tend to mean spicy there. For me, who grew up eating habanero/scotch bonnet peppers, "medium" spicy is just fine. Recommended dishes: Spicy chicken salad (grilled pieces of chicken tenders, not ground) and the eggplant with basil and black bean sauce (usually get it with tofu). Nephew enjoyed one of the pad see ew dishes. Also like their green papaya salad. The owners are sweet and the decor has improved a bit recently.

                    PS I like Benley also, but it's too cosy for a big party with noisy kids, maybe a few well behaved ones would do.

                    1. Being small, long and narrow, with all of the hard surfaces, I cringe at the thought of being trapped in Benley with loud kids.