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Long Beach & beyond, please help!

My husband and I are coming to Long Beach at the end of the month to visit some friends and need help deciding where to dine. (We live in Berkeley, so are spoiled by the vast dining options here).We will definitely be going to Mozza, but need help deciding which one? Our friends love the mozzarella bar at Osteria, but I'm more intrigued by the menu at the Pizzeria. Any opinions?

We will only be there for two days, so we need help deciding where to go for our other meals. Some places that our friends have mentioned are:

Campanile, The Foundry, Charcoal, Father's Office, Fraiche, Robata Bar, Angelini Osteria, or Holy Cow India Express...

Any thoughts on these places or recs for other places we should check out.

Thanks in advance, LA Hounds!

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  1. campanile is good.. def not one of the "hot" or "top" places for the past couple of yrs tho. Def go to Father's and try p.mozza at least for their grilled bread appetitzer and butterscotch budino dessert. YUMMERS!! i'm guessing by ur list that you're not rilly lookn for sushi but thas sumfn i think is def better down here than up there. if $$ is not an issue then try urasawa. :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: namstermonster

      The list is just what our friends threw out there for us to have some options to choose from. If there are better places, we are definitely open to suggestions!!

    2. Judging by your list of choices, it looks like you'll be headed up to L.A. for all your meals. But, if you don't feel like driving one night. Check out Benley, a Vietnamese Kitchen, on the perimeter of Long Beach. The restaurant is small and modern in design and the menu is simple and always delicious -- if you like this kind of food. It's still one of the best kept dining secrets in LB.

      3 Replies
      1. re: birdyyumyum

        Please see my previous post! We do not have our hearts set on driving to LA for all our meals. Those are just some of the options that my friend offered me. However, I'm the only CH in the group (but not the only foodie) so its my job to search out the good grub.

        Any other must-try places in Long Beach??

        Also, we don't really have any good BBQ, so suggestions for that would be appreciated as well.

        1. re: chemchef

          Next to Long Beach, there is Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach on Main St. Great BBQ and it is all about the smoke here.

        2. Campanile hasn't been a "hot" place for well over a decade. Fraiche is solidly very good, and is a current "hot" place. Pizzeria Mozza was not special, to me. Haven't tried the Osteria.
          It's actually very hard to make suggestions since this seems so open ended.
          A few "big name" places I've enjoyed: Sushi Zo, Providence, All'Angelo, Craft is also good.
          A couple of places from my to-try list: Mori Sushi, LA Mill.
          A few smaller name places I've enjoyed: Lal Mirch (excellent Indian), Upstairs 2, Neomeze.
          Can't get enough of the pancakes at The Original Pancake House.
          Guess I'm just throwing out a few names too.
          Haven't been to Robata Bar and probably never will. Not really into corporate-made aka factory-made dining. Much prefer izakayas like Honda Ya, Izayoi, Haru Ulala, and also Shin Sen Gumi.

          5 Replies
          1. re: slacker

            I appreciate your suggestions. Yes, I know that the question is fairly open-ended, but mostly I want to try places that are different from what's available here in the bay area. Are there any places that have an emphasis on fresh, organic, local, sustainable ingredients? We have a lot of that here, but I'd love to experience an LA approach to it.

            1. re: chemchef

              I love Tender Greens if you happen to be in Culver City, it's focused on salads.

              Lou on Vine. I still have not been and it's on my short list.

              I think there may be a recent thread related to what you're seeking, sorry couldn't find it.

              1. re: chemchef

                Perhaps try Tracht's in Long Beach. I haven't been, as I'm never in Long Beach. But she's a great chef.
                LA Times review: http://www.calendarlive.com/dining/cl...

                1. re: slacker

                  Tracht's is great. I love their side dishes like the purple Japanese yams and the brussels sprouts. They have a few service kinks to work out. The staff is well-intentioned, but not always as on top of things as they should be. The food, however, is wonderful. It's been too cold until recently to sit on the patio, but that will definitely be the best spot in the house on a nice evening.

                2. re: chemchef

                  If you're really passionate about fresh, local ingredients, keep going south to Brad Ogden's place, Arterra, in North San Diego County. It's an excellent kitchen inspired by one of California's best chefs, and they shop for produce a few miles away at Chino Farm, an American treasure (shipping daily to Alice Waters in your hometown). The only downside to Arterra is the big room -- in the Del Mar Marriott -- which needs baffles and soft surfaces to quiet the noise. If you go, request a table away from the bar.

                  Arterra Restaurant
                  11966 El Camino Real, San Diego, CA 92130

              2. i do live in long beach and i'll tell you that heading up to the city for dinner has turned into a bit of a nightmare with traffic and all. figure a minimum of 45 minutes to get there; often more like an hour. going home usually isn't so bad. you didn't say where you were from, but if it's a dining city where you can get good food most of the time, you might want to focus on the foods you might not be able to find at home. Long Beach is ideally situated for that. Benley is terrific, as has been mentioned. For Japanese, head up the 405 just to Western (before the dreaded South Bay Curve), and try the soba at otafuku, the yakitori at shin-sen-gumi or bbq at one of the korean places. for lunch, the best ramen i've ever had is at mitsuwa marketplace at Santouka. For Indian, head over to Pioneer Blvd. just east and go to woodlands. there is also, of course, tons of Mexican. if you want tacos, go to Taco Loco No. 3 on Magnolia. If you want a little nicer, go to Enriques on PCH. Then, of course, there's all of the Vietnamese food in Western OC, not 15 minutes away.

                10 Replies
                1. re: FED

                  Definitely second the opinion on Enrique's in Long Beach for Mexican. The pork shank is out of this world. Best salsa around.

                  1. re: FED

                    Actually, if you read my post, you'll see that I did say where I'm from (BERKELEY-food mecca of the country!)

                    1. re: chemchef

                      if you're from berkeley, you will only have snooty things to say about most of the restaurants you've cited. the main exception would be providence, which on a very good night can give FL-level food but almost entirely seafood-based. on an average night, it's still very good, but not transcendent.

                      1. re: FED

                        We are not snooty! We just like good food made with good ingredients. Also, we are not extravagant spenders, so not interested in FL type places since we can't afford the FL. We have been to Chez Panisse a few times, but its an affordable "splurge meal".

                        1. re: chemchef

                          didn't mean it to sound like that (well, not much). but seriously, if you've been to cp cafe, i'm afraid campanile, lucques, aoc, etc. won't hold much interest.

                          if i were you, i'd probably go to the pizzeria side of mozza, hit providence instead of grace, do shinsengumi and enriques for lunches and bake'n'broil for breakfast. just my (snooty) 2 bits.

                          1. re: FED

                            slight correction: thinking about it, i'm not sure shinsengum is open for lunch. mid-course correction: turn the other way on Western and go to Mitsuwa. walk around the market, pondering teh weird snack food, goggling the amazing fish and all that wagyu beef, and head to the food court for a big bowl of ramen. an ideal afternoon for food lovers.

                            1. re: FED

                              YUM. The place in the food court you want to go to for ramen is called Santouka (may be labelled "Santoka"). Get the shio (salt) ramen with toroniku (white pork).

                              Yes, it's in a food court, but it's still up there as the best ramen in Los Angeles.

                      2. re: chemchef

                        "BERKELEY-food mecca of the country!" Hmmmm. I love love chez panisse, but berkeley the food mecca? don't think I'd go that far.

                        1. re: slacker

                          Sorry, I live in Berkeley, but meant to say Bay Area=food mecca of the country. Obviously, I don't limit all of my dining to only Berkeley!

                          1. re: slacker

                            Well... I'll say this. If I could transport the Cheeseboard Pizza Collective (which we call "communist pizza") to anywhere in Los Angeles or Orange Counties, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

                      3. Ok, working on narrowing this down... Please critique my itinerary:

                        We will arrive on a Friday afternoon, so have Friday dinner, Saturday b-fast, lunch and dinner, and Sunday breakfast and maybe snack before we head home.

                        We will be going to Mozza for one of the dinner, and was thinking about Grace for the other. Looking at Beachwood BBQ, Shin-sen-gumi or Enrique's for the lunch and snack.

                        What about breakfast? Where are the best breakfasts (quick coffee & pastry type and/or full breakfast) in and around Long Beach.

                        Thanks again for all your help LA Hounds!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: chemchef

                          You didn't say where in LB your friends are. A couple of lunch/bkfst places to consider

                          Jongewaard's Bake & Broil (diner type but good bakery products).

                          Sweet Jill's In Belmont Shore for sugar rush /cinnamon rolls
                          And right down the street you can get a cup of Peet's

                          Also in San Pedro, if you want a big made from scratch breakfast, Gaffey Street Diner

                          Personally I don't think Enrique's is all that great and often requires a wait. If you want a quicker Mexican meal try the fish taco's, at Hole Mole. They also have some good breakfast burritos.

                          If you like Indian food I would definitely go to Artesia for a lunch buffet. Very close to LB. There are a lot of discussions on where to go, just do a search.

                          I also like Benley, recommended by many others above. Not sure if they're open for lunch.

                          My yuppie BIL/SIL from Berkeley love my local hole in wall Thai restaurant

                          Thai Corner

                          Gaffey Street Diner
                          247 N Gaffey St, San Pedro, CA 90731

                          Benley, a vietnamese kitchen
                          8191 E Wardlow Rd, Long Beach, CA 90808

                          Thai Corner Restaurant
                          2615 Carson St, Lakewood, CA 90712

                          Woodlands Indian Cuisine
                          11833 Artesia Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                          Hole Mole
                          5109 E Pacific Coast Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90804

                          Sweet Jill's
                          5224 E 2nd St, Long Beach, CA

                          Bake 'n Broil
                          3697 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90807

                          1. re: chemchef

                            Jongewaard's Bake and Broil is certainly the best breakfast choice in the area. I recommend the chicken fried steak. Also the hamburger and pie option for lunch. Their selection of pies, cupcakes and pastries is excellent. Just a great down home restaurant. I love their lemon lush pie and red velvet cupcakes. It is small and does get crowded, but worth the wait.

                            Bake 'n Broil
                            3697 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90807

                            1. re: chemchef

                              I hope you enjoy your stay in Long Beach. I just moved here after 15 years in New York and am still getting to know the area, but we love the Coffee Cup Cafe, 3734 E 4th St, Long Beach, CA 90814, (562) 433-3292 for breakfast. We bring guests here often and everyone loves it. It's not a high end brunch place by any means (no frisee salads here), but the baja breakfast burrito with veggie chorizo and a side of chile verde is truly transcendant. There can be a long line, but it moves relatively quickly. The service is some of the best I've ever had anywhere, and the crowd is quintessential Long Beach: it's diverse in every sense of the word (something I didn't see much of at brunch spots in New York). It's definitely a must!

                              1. re: 718eater

                                I totally recommend Coffee Cup Café. I used to live a few blocks from there, and it was a perennial weekend breakfast stop for me for years. Now that I live in east LB (not far from Benley's and Enrique's), I don't get there much, and I miss it! The crowd is quintessential Long Beach-- very laid-back but not a drop of attitude.

                                I LOVE Enrique's as well, but you have to remember that the menu is skewed to cocina jalisqueña, so it's not typical Mexican-- if you've ever lived in Guadalajara, it will be very familiar. For awesome fast-food Mexican, not too far from Long Beach Airport, try Baja Sonora (corner of Clark and Spring).

                                Benley's-- ahhh, I adore that place.

                                Long Beach is not a foodie haven, but boy you can eat well here!

                                1. re: 718eater

                                  The Coffee Cup Cafe is a great choice. I usually get the Eggs Florentine. If you are going on Sunday, get there early or be prepared to wait for a while. They do have a big coffee urn and mugs for those having to hang out. Bake and Broil would be a good second choice, especially if they have the lemon pancakes with raspberry sauce special.

                                  Enriques is one of our favorite places. Ask for the garlic shrimp; it's not on the menu except as part of one combo. They will substitute olla beans (called mixed bean soup) in place of refried pintos or black beans on request; it comes with some dishes, but not most of them.

                              2. Re: Mozza-- I concur with the Pizzeria suggestion (though, in fairness, I haven't been to the Osteria). I found it every bit as good as Chez Panisse cafe and the room has a similar, but a little louder, vibe. Most places have a spot on my "most memorable _____" list.
                                I can tell your time is limited so this may be moot, but I also agree with the Guelagetza recommendation. My entire tenure in the Bay Area was full of longing for good Mexican food. You can swing a cat and hit a good Mexican restaurant here, but Guelagetza is very special. My friend's opinion (a Mexican national from Puebla, who lived in Albany, but visited me in LA) was that he wanted to eat every meal there during the rest of his stay. You will not find anything like this in the Bay Area.

                                1. At last! I live in San Pedro, and much of the time on CH I feel like I'm on the outside looking in. This thread has enough enticing nearby recommendations to sustain me for a couple of months. Thanks, all!

                                  1. Scooner or Laters in Long Beach Marina. Great Breakfast and atmosphere. Outside dining. Order the mimosas with your meal.

                                    1. The food at Enrique's in Long Beach is ok, but it is NOT EVEN CLOSE to be as good as the Enrique's in Bellflower. Go there. It's worth it.