long beach airport layover [moved from CA board]
Nothing to walk to.. Marriott is accross the street, but don't go there.. Ive had 3 really bad experiences and would not recommend it. If your going by cab:
If its family. Just to the south of the freeway is a Holiday Inn. On the top floor is a restaurant called Panorama... I know the flags are flying - Hotel, Holiday inn... I've eaten there 3 times and had a great meal every time. They try to be a steak house but the meal is more varied. (2640 Lakewood Bl. - NE corner of Lakewood and Willow.)
For something a little less formal, there is a beer bar around the corner called Thirsty Isle (4319 E. Carson) Serves cold beer and the best Patty Melt (with very good fries as well) in the state. Handmade patty grilled on Rye.. really good.
Skip the Marriott accross the street. Sports bar is horrible.
Also on the less formal side is Curley's on the NW corner of Willow and Cherry (about 10 minutes past the above) another bar (I like bars) but has some of the best bar food I have ever had. Good burgers, Chicken Sands, Chile, etc..
Fine Dining is a little weak near the airport. A bit away (15 min) is Frenchy's on Anaheim or Go to Naples for Kelly's, Nico's or Bacchus.
Mexican go to Enrique's on PCH. (6210 Pacific Coast Highway)
Want to walk around and look (if you have a long layover) go to either 2nd street promendade or Pine Ave downtown (Cabs will know) and take your pick, lots of choices.
Glad to know about the Holiday Inn restaurant - was curious, since it's a nice hotel. I always stop off at the Mexican restaurant at the corner of Lakewood and Carson, just up the street from the airport. Solid So-Cal Mexican (combination plates, various shrimp dishes) that is perfect after a long trip away from home. It's always clean, with friendly service. They do have a loud TV but will lower it happily if you ask.
(seems like someone could do really well opening anything remotely appetizing and fast at that freeway exit, huh?)
I couldn't remember the name, but Google maps has this info:
La Postada Restaurant
4101 Lakewood Blvd, Lakewood, CA
Hang on everyone. According to the airport's website, there's more than just vending machines as the OP said. The Prop Room Cafe and Bar is open 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. with made-to-order burgers, sandwiches and salads. A full breakfast menu and a full dinner menu are also available.
There are also snack bars at LGB, open 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Check out this link for more info.
Iirc, the Prop Room Bar is upstairs, with an interesting deco style. Overlooks the runway. I recall having pre-flight drinks and snack there many years ago, but don't recall that it was anything out of the ordinary. Also near the airport, on Bellflower Blvd., is Hof's Hut, a good coffee shop/diner (a local chain). I'd recommend it if you're looking for burgers, breakfast, comfort food.
I'm a bit floored that no one has suggested the very worthwhile Mexican available at Baja Sonora, located at the southeast corner of Clark and Spring (exit LGB, straight onto Wardlow, right on Clark, go through next light and take left into gritty minimall on corner). Standard southern California Mexican menu, but cheap and generous and delicious.
Enrique's, if you have a car, is wonderful, but if you're going to be there after 6 PM Thursday through Sunday, expect a VERY long wait for a table (40 minutes to an hour is average). Bring your patience, gird your loins, whatever it takes.
Just off that corner of Lakewood and Carson is a nice little Thai joint called Tiny Thai (on Norse Way, a side road). It's not transcendental, just really good, hearty Thai food.
Thank you again for your replies. My layover was shortened, thankfully, from 4 hours to two. I'm a citizen of Chicago formerly of the Bay Area with little knowledge of the South(heh) outside of LA. It was wonderful spending time in the, compared to the Midwest, balmy environs of the Long Beach Airport. Unfortunately, I was not able to explore Long Beach proper, nor did I really have the time to even venture beyond the immediate airport confines. The Prop Room it was. Eh. I quite like all the art deco touches secreted here and there about the somewhat desultory airport. Pretty neat. The restaurant's food? Well, it's a case of trying to be all things to all people. Having offered that criticism...if you're in the mood for chicken fingers(I wasn't...flying companion was) they offer exceptionally juicy ones. Burgers and fries and sandwiches...etc. They interpreted my request for "medium" to mean I really wanted well-done. The fries were average. Sierra Nevada it is! Again, thanks...I wish I'd had the opportunity to explore more...c'est la vie.