A few years ago when we moved to Newport Beach, I challenged myself to see how long I could go without eating at the same restaurant twice. At the time, I was working a day job, so that really only left dinner and weekends to try new places. But I ended up trying 3 months worth of new places before I finally succumbed to my second go around at El Pollo Loco for a Chicken Tostada (of Forbes infamy).
It was a fun experience though and it really made me try a lot of restaurants that I would have not considered otherwise. I do have a soft spot for El Pollo Loco but almost every other place I tried was not a nationwide chain.
When we moved to Long Beach a few months ago, I wanted to do the same thing but on a bigger scale. So I decided to challenge myself to try 100 restaurants in 100 days.
So far, I’m off to a good start and I’m on pace to hit my goal, but it’s definitely going to take some hard work to get there.
Update (12/1/15): Didn’t quite make it to 100 but I think this review should suffice 🙂
I’ve already discovered a ton of great new places from Thai Pizza to Short Rib Poutine and I thought it’d be fun to share what I’ve accomplished so far. For each restaurant, you’ll find a link to their Yelp profile (if you don’t trust my review), category of food, my rating, what I ordered, a short review and a one-liner.
If you’d like to filter through all 50 of these restaurants, by category, rating, etc, please go here to use my 50 Restaurants in 50 Days LBC Spreadsheet.
1. Pinches Pizza (Day 1) – Pizza/Mexican – 3 stars
What I Ordered: Pepperoni Pizza, Veggie Pizza & Mexican Bandito
Pinches was our first meal in Long Beach and I needed something cheap and easy to feed the movers and ourselves. The name obviously caught my eye when I did a search on Yelp and the pizza turned out to be pretty decent. I’d say the best part about this place though is the price (only $5.99) of a large one topping pizza.
Takeaway: One topping pizzas are only $5.99
2. Olives Gourmet Grocer (Day 2) – Sandwich/Deli – 3.5 stars
What I Ordered: Daily Special: Turkey Jack Panini
After a little bike ride on the beach, I was craving a good sandwich but unfortunately, the place I wanted to try (On Broadway) was closed. Right down the street though, was Olives Gourmet Grocer. This small cute Italian deli had a great selection of sandwiches and a good looking salad bar that I may have to come back and try. I got the daily special (turkey jack panini) and it was solid but some of their other sandwiches are probably a lot better.
Takeaway: Will be back for another sandwich and maybe to try the salad bar.
3. Kafe Neo (Day 2) – Greek/ American – 3.5 stars
What I Ordered: Zeus fries, seafood salad, gyros pita
Even though we picked up food to go, this was still one of the ‘hipper’ Greek restaurants I’ve ever been to. But as for the food, the Zeus fries weren’t as good as I was hoping for, the gyros pita was average but the seafood salad was pretty good. It had a TON of seafood (fried calamari, shrimp, fish and scallops) and I really enjoyed the calamari.
I’d probably eat here again but maybe hold off on the fish/scallops in the salad. It did have a cool ambience though so would be cool for a gathering and their brunch menu (American) looked pretty good too.
Takeaway: Next time, I’ll probably get a calamari salad and maybe try dining in.
4. Tacqueria La Mexicana (Day 3) – Mexican – 4 stars
What I Ordered: California Burrito
This taco shop is about a 10 minute walk from our house and it did not dissapoint. I got a $5 California burrito and it was the perfect size for me, although they were a little stingy with the extra salsas. It’s cash only but I will definitely be back to try the carne asada fries, nachos and more.
Takeaway: Everything is good, will probably try the carne asada fries/nachos next time.
5. JJ Chinese Express (Day 3) – Chinese – 2 stars
What I Ordered: Chicken Chow Mein, Mongolian Beef, General Tsao Chicken
Based off the name of this restaurant, we weren’t expecting anything too gourmet and the food was about what we expected, just your average to go Chinese food. No better than a Panda Express or Pick up Stix BUT they do offer free delivery within 3 miles of the restaurant and online ordering. You also get a lot of food for the price so while the food isn’t all that great, they make up for it in quantiyt, price and delivery. And the old man that delivers your food is pretty cool too.
Takeaway: Won’t be back.
6. Rose Park Roasters (Day 4) – Coffee – 4.5 stars
What I Ordered: Latte, Cold Brew and a Chocolate Chip Cookie
This isn’t technically a restaurant but since I’m a big fan of coffee shops and there are some good ones in LB, I’m going to include it. Rose Park Roasters is a pretty cool hipster coffee shop right near our house and it’s a great place to hang out, work or just have some coffee. They have A/C, all the workers/patrons are pretty friendly and they have great wi-fi. the cold brew is really refreshing and I love the perfectly shaped ice cubes. It can get crowded at times though since it’s not a huge place.
Takeaway: Great place to get some work done, excellent coffee and the cold brew is great on a hot day.
7. Alien Sandwiches (Day 5) –Vietnamese – 3.5 stars
What I Ordered: Grilled Pork Bahn Mi & Vietnamese Iced Coffee
This was my first adventure to the downtown side of LBC and it was a good one. We stopped in for lunch at a small hole in the wall Vietnamese sandwich and pho place and I got the grilled pork bahn mi. The sandwich was good but the price, at $4.75 was even better!
My Vietnamese iced coffee was ok but at $3.50, it was almost as expensive as the sandwich. Solid sandwiches but I think I’ll be able to find better.
Takeaway: Coffee wasn’t that great, would come back for a sandwich and maybe even to try the pho.
8. The Social List (Day 5) –American Modern – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Patatas Bravas, Green on Green, Butternut squash/prosciutto toast, Meatballs
On this Wednesday night, we headed over to The Social List to get drinks with some friends. It was a nice 7-8 minute bike ride and I also got to scope out a bunch of other restaurants on 4th that I’ll be trying shortly.
The restaurant has definitely got a hip vibe going on and there’s outdoor seating but only for parties of two. When we arrived around 7 pm, it was somewhat empty but within 15-20 minutes, there was a decent crowd. It was Wine Wednesday (half-off wines) so we ordered a nice Chardonnay to start and then a Malbec. Surprisingly, I preferred the former, it wasn’t oaky like traditional Chardonnays and was very refreshing during this heat wave that we’re going through.
Our waiter was nice and really enjoyed using the word ‘BOMB’ to describe basically everything on the menu. We ended up sharing 4 appetizers and my favorites were the ‘Tatas (and not just because of the name) and the squash/prosciutto toast.
We’ll definitely be back to get entrees at some point as the main dishes looked pretty awesome too! Overall, this is a great place to grab drinks with friends, have a nice yet somewhat casual dinner or just hang out.
Takeaway: Great little hipster gastropub with good drinks and food. Nice weekday specials too.
9.Hole Mole (Day 6) – Mexican – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Tacos (Potato, fried fish, pastor & carnitas)
Hole Mole is a Mexican chain in Long Beach but the food was still pretty authentic. They have the grilled peppers on the counter just like in TJ and although the tacos aren’t quite as good (something in the TJ water that you just can’t get here), my favorites were definitely the Ensenada (fried) fish and potato tacos. The latter was actually only 49 cents and although it was small, it was filling and came in a fresh crispy taco shell.
For Taco Tuesday, all of their tacos are only a buck, although I’ve heard it gets a bit crowded. It’s not like it’s all that expensive on other days though, I think I paid $6.50 for four tacos and a bag of chips, which turned out to be the perfect amount of food for lunch.
Takeaway: Awesome tacos, need to try a burrito next time too.
10. On Broadway (Day 7) – Sandwich/Breakfast – 3 stars
What I Ordered: Roast Beef/Pastrami sandwich and a croissant
The best thing about this place is probably the price: $3.75 for a 5″ sandwich. Unfortunately, the roast beef and pastrami sandwich that I got was just ok. It was somewhat plain and the meat wasn’t that great either.
I did get a croissant to go that my wife enjoyed and since this place is a 2 min. walk from our house, I’ll definitely give it another shot at some point. They have a wide variety of sandwiches that are probably a lot tastier than what I got and they also have salads, breakfast sandwiches and bagels.
Takeaway: The sandwich I picked sucked but the other stuff looked much better.
11. The Attic (Day 7) – American Modern – 4.5 stars
What I Ordered: Short Rib Poutine, Fried Chicken, Mojito and Mint Julep
We heard great things about this place so we were expecting a lot. There’s usually a long wait and on this Friday night, it was no different (30-45 mins). But there are a couple bars nearby you can grab a drink at, or if it’s early enough, you can also visit some of the shops on Broadway.
They allow you to put your name/phone number in and they’ll actually text you when your table is ready (you have 5 minutes to return). The Attic is about a 5 min. walk from our house so I think next time, we’ll either make a reservation or just bike over and quickly put our name down and then go back home and wait.
As for the food, it’s a Southern style place so lots of Cajun/Southern options. We split a short rib poutine to start (with an egg on top) and it was very tasty. The fries were nice and crispy and the short rib was a unique but flavorful twist. It’s pretty big too and basically the size of an entree although it would be a lot to handle for just one person as it is pretty heavy.
For the main course, we split a Fried chicken entree that came with two succulunet chicken breasts and a drumstick. I’m not normally a huge fried chicken fan but the chicken here was really juicy, even for a breast. Again, it was pretty big and we couldn’t finish it so we had some leftover chicken that we threw into a salad the next day.
Overall, the meal was great and we’ll definitely be back since their brunch menu looks pretty bomb too. We ordered a couple drinks (mojito and mint julep) with our dinner but they weren’t great. Might try a bloody mary next time we’re at brunch.
Takeaway: Will be back for brunch and/or dinner but make a reservation or put your name in ahead of time if you don’t want to wait.
12. Paradis (Day 8) – Gelato – 3 stars
What I Ordered: Banana chocolate chip and Lemon Sorbet
This is a cute little gelato shop to stop at on a hot day or after a bike ride on the beach. We biked from our place over to Naples island and walked around the canals and stopped here for some gelato on the way back.
It’s a bit expensive at $5 for two small scoops in a cup but definitely good gelato – lots of flavor, creamy and the display looks just like the gelato shops in Italy.
Takeaway: Good gelato but I wouldn’t go out of my way.
13. MVP’s Grill (Day 8) – Burgers – 4 stars
What I Ordered: George Foreman V, Mike Tyson and Cajun Fries
MVP’s recently moved and is now a short 10 minute walk from our house so we stopped in and got a couple burgers for dinner. Their new setup is pretty nice since they have a bunch of flat screens on the inside and there is a nice patio in the back with outdoor seating.
I really liked my burger (The Mike Tyson), although one patty would have been plenty for me. The George Foreman V was pretty solid too and the cajun fries were pretty good (1/2 order is plenty for 2-3 people).
Takeaway: Will be back for more burgers on the patio or for to-go burgers.
14. Acapulco Inn (Day 8) – Bar – 3.5 stars
What I Ordered: Lots of Bud Light
We were with a few friends on Saturday night and for our night cap, we decided to swing by Acapulco Inn. Now the name is eerily reminiscent of the Mexican restaurant but this place is pretty much your standard 2nd street college bar. You definitely have to be in the right mood to show up here though and have fun. And by right mood, I mean drunk as hell. But they’ve got relatively cheap beer ($14 for a pitcher of Bud Light), pool tables, shuffle board and lots of people.
We had a fun time at this bar but the best thing about it is that it’s right next to Club Tre, where you can partake in Rap Superstars karaoke until 3 am. Acapulco Inn probably won’t be an LBC staple for me but I’d definitely come back if I was in the mood for a night of binge drinking and hanging out with my brother’s friends.
Takeaway: May come back if I want to get blasted.
15. The Whistle Stop (Day 9) –Burgers/Sandwiches – 2.5 stars
What I Ordered: Fried Green Tomatoes, Grilled Cheese, Grilled Cheese with pastrami and date shake
Whistle Stop is relatively new and took over the space vacated by MVP’s which moved down the street. The setup is pretty cool as it looks like the restaurant was just added right on to the front of an old craftsman house and I think the owner lives in the back. They have a small covered seating area and a nice outdoor patio with several covered tables.
I thought this place was more of a sandwich shop but it’s actually more of a burger type joint with burgers and grilled cheeses that you can add pastrami, fried green tomatoes, etc to. So for me, the meal was way too heavy and I was only able to eat half of my sandwich. I may come back at some point and try the burger, but I think I’d really have to be in the mood for a greasy grilled cheese to get that again (the pastrami was also just ok).
We also tried the date shake and it had good flavor but the consistency was way too watery and it was definitely no Hadley’s date shake 🙂
Takeaway: May come back and try the burger but everything else was just WAY too heavy for me.
16. Pho Hong Phat (Day 11) – Vietnamese (Pho) – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Rare Beef and Brisket Pho, Bread
This is one of my favorite Pho places in all of LB and they are all business. They already have the tray of spring beans, lime, peppers, etc on the table when you sit down and you’re greeted with a menu in your face! Only pho to choose from but lots of different choices.
I went with a large rare beef and brisket pho and it was just the right amount of food for a big lunch. The restaurant has A/C but it was pretty hot inside so by the end of the meal I was sweating, a lot. I love going here on cold or rainy days but that doesn’t happen too often in SoCal. My favorite part about this pho is the broth, the noodles and meat are just as good at other places but this place seems to really nail the broth, maybe extra MSG? I don’t know, I don’t care, all I do know is that it tastes bomb.
The place is cash only but the pho is around $6.50 for a a large and they don’t really care if you tip or not so if you want some good pho and you’re in a rush, this is the place. Like most Vietnamese restaurants, they are randomly closed one day of the week so on Wednesdays, remember, they are closed.
Takeaway: Good, quick pho, best consumed on colder days though.
17. Star of Siam (Day 13) – Thai – 2.5 stars
What I Ordered: Cashew Chicken
Like most Thai places, Siam has a nice lunch special for $8 and the meal started off pretty promising with a large bowl of hot chicken soup. I also like my Thai food spicy so it was nice that they had the A/C on full blast (still in a damn heat wave at this point).
I ordered Cashew chicken which is typically one of my favorite Thai dishes and although it was a large heaping of food, there were copious amounts of bamboo shoots and unedible chili peppers – very weird. Either way, it was nothing to write home about and while the chicken was tasty, the sauce wasn’t impressive and the veggies were way too bamboo-ey. The food looks really good though if that counts for anything.
Takeaway: Wasn’t that impressed, probably won’t make a point of coming back – there are better Thai places in LB.
18. Makai Coffee (Day 13) –Coffee – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Iced Latte, Breakfast Sandwiches
I’m a big fan of coffee shops, in part because I work at home in the mornings, and usually need a change of venue in the afternoon, but also because I like coffee. Makai makes a solid latte and I will definitely be back for more of those. I wasn’t nearly as impressed with the food though, luckily they are a coffee shop first and foremost.
It’s right down the street from my house and they have solid wi-fi, a good music selection and it’s not too crowded on the weekdays. It does get busy on the weekends but it moves pretty quickly.
Takeaway: Iced Lattes are great, solid wi-fi, ok A/C.
19. Ma n Pa Grocery (Day 14) – Sandwiches/Burgers – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Turkey & Roast Beef Sandwich
This has to be one of Long Beach’s best kept secrets and it’s such a hidden gem that I bet many people drive right by and don’t even realize it’s there. It’s tucked away in the heart of Belmont Heights on the corner of Roycroft and Colorado and although they do sell some grocery items, the real highlight was the food.
They actually offer catering services so there is a wide variety of home-cooking that you can order as a lunch or dinner meal. The prices for these meals are a bit steep but I suspect the food is very good – it looked and smelled that way at least. I stopped in for lunch though so I grabbed a sandwich although I was very tempted by the burgers and the breakfast burrito.
I ended up getting a sandwich that was good but nothing to write home about. But it was really the whole experience and ambience of the place that made me like it so much. I grabbed a bag of chips, a beer and headed to the back patio that is nestled in-between the street and a couple houses and listened to a podcast while enjoying the weather and serenity.
They don’t have wi-fi but I ended up working there for a few hours in the back patio and had most of the time to myself. When school gets out, this place appears to be a hang out spot for some kids but other than that, it was very peaceful, charming and I even met the owner, Zac, while hanging in the patio. I suspect this place will earn a 4.5 once I try some more of their food.
Takeaway: Great place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of 2nd street, must try a burger in the future and the dinner meals.
20. Coco Renos (Day 14) – Mexican – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Carne Asada Nachos, Shrimp tacos, guava margarita
Coco Renos is the closest Mexican shop to our hosue and it’s actually a small hole in the wall restaurant that adjoins with the Reno Room. The restaurant itself is tiny but cozy and alternatively, you can eat next door in the Reno Room.
Speaking of the bar, we ordered a couple margaritas (Reno Room provides drinks) and they were superb. I got a guava margarita on the rocks and even though it wasn’t the manliest drink on the menu, it was refreshing and had a nice kick.
I like spicy foods but the salsa they served with the chips was almost unbearably hot, tone it down a little guys! We ended up splitting a carne asada nachos that probably could have fed 3-4 people and some shrimp tacos. The former was superb with very fresh ingredients and lots of flavor. I wasn’t that impressed with the shrimp tacos though and next time I’ll probably try the fish burrito.
Takeaway: Hole in the wall restaurant but very cozy. Great margaritas and nachos, will have to try the burritos next time.
21. Tru Nature Juice Bar (Day 15) – Juice Bar/Acai – 3 stars
What I Ordered: Pink Flamingo Bowls
On this Saturday morning, we walked down to Tru Nature Juice Bar and ordered a couple acai bowls. The bowls were good but I just wasn’t in love with the consistency and the flavor of the acai. The fruit was good but I think my standards are just too high after two years of Acai bowls from Banzai Bowls in NB/HB. This place is good and I may give it another shot since it’s so close and it’s such a good post-workout meal but I was not impressed my first time around.
Takeaway: Decent Acai bowls but there’s gotta be somewhere better..
22. La Parolaccia Osteria (Day 16) – Italian – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Mushroom & Sausage Pizza, Salad & Nutella Cheesecake
We live directly across the street from this place and every day in the early evening you can smell the burning of wood and then the subsequent butter and garlic. Suffice to say, I was ready to try this place after smelling it for close to two weeks.
We decided to do take out though and ordered a basic salad and mushroom/sausage pizza. La Parolaccia uses a giant old school wood-burning oven and the pizzas taste straight outta Italy! Honestly, they are probably the most similar to Italian pizza that I’ve had since our trip to Rome two summers ago and suffice to say, we will be back!
The restaurant itself is actually pretty big and seems like a good place for big groups but somewhere where you can still get high quality Italian food.
Takeaway: Excellent Italian thin-crust pizza and lots of room for big parties on the inside.
23. New Pho (Day 17) – Vietnamese – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Spring Roll, Vermicelli with pork & egg roll
I’m more of a Vermicelli than a Pho man and this place has got some of the best Vermicelli in Long Beach. I generally order the bbq pork and egg roll vermicelli and New Pho has some very tender meat that isn’t too fatty and their egg rolls are always fresh. In typical Vietnamese style, the portion is also pretty huge for the price.
We also split an order of spring rolls and although I wasn’t in love with the dipping sauce, these were pretty tasty too. The only thing you have to watch out for with these Vietnamese places is that they’re all closed on random days of the week. This place is closed on Tuesdays.
Takeaway: Typical solid Vietnamese place, I come here for the Vermicelli though, never tried the pho.
24. Phnom Penh Noodle (Day 20) – Cambodian – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Loat Cha Beef, Student Noodles with pork and shrimp
This is a lunch only, cash only place that also happens to be closed on Sundays. It took us a few tries before we finally found a time that they were open and we wanted to eat there, but we made it happen. Actually, Postmates made it happen as we ordered delivery through them.
The portions are huge and the price is definitely good for those on a budget. We ended up ordering the student noodles with pork and shrimp and it definitely had a unique Cambodian twist. I’d say it was somewhere inbetween ramen and pad thai but lots of flavor and a copious heaping of noodles. I only counted 2 shrimp though so not sure what was up with that.
The other dish we ordered was good and unique but didn’t look as appetizing as the pictures I saw online. We also picked up some bread which is definitely a must try if you’ve never had ‘long bread’ as they like to call it.
Takeaway: If you’re in the mood for noodles, this is the place to go.
25. Portfolio Coffee (Day 20) – Coffee – 2.5 stars
What I Ordered: Iced Latte
I’m not a fan of this place, it is always crowded and the A/C doesn’t work very well on hot days. The coffee is decent but there always seems to be a line and there’s just too much going on for me. It feels more like a hipster Starbucks than a local independent coffee shop.
I think there are much better coffee shops just blocks away from here but Portfolio is one of the biggest, if that counts for anything.
Takeaway: I won’t be back unless someone makes me come here, too many other better options.
26. P3 Artisan Pizza (Day 21) – Italian – 4.5 stars
What I Ordered: Empanadas, Mushroom Cream Linguine, Pizza
This restaurant is nestled at the end of Retro Row and I have to say it has a nice vibe inside and out. The interior has a clean white look/decor with fresh pasta hanging behind the glass and there were a few people eating but not too crowded. It’s a casual place but also somewhere that would work well for any type of gathering really.
We ordered empanadas to start and they were very tasty (Choclo & Beef), only a few bucks too. I may stop by and grab one next time I’m in a rush and need a snack, although they do take some time to prepare since they’re made fresh.
After that, we split a prosciutto pizza and linguine pasta with musroom cream sauce. The pizza was good, straight out of the wood-burning oven, and a little thicker than your typical Italian style pizza. The pasta was the perfect compliment to the pizza though and despite being cream based, it was surprisingly light but extremely flavorful.
The fresh cooked pasta really makes a difference and they actually sell pasta/sauce to go if you’d like to make it at home.
Takeaway: Great place to go with friends for a light, super tasty Italian meal.
27. Canadas Grill (Day 22) – Mexican – 3 stars
What I Ordered: Wet Carne Asada Burrito & Chicken Quesadilla
This was our first meal in the US after a 2 week trip to Peru and I have to say I was a bit disappointed. The food was good but it wasn’t anything special. The chicken quesadilla had way too much chicken and the carne asada burrito was just ok. The meat wasn’t very tender and I wasn’t in love with the green sauce they smothered the burrito with either – a bit too tangy for me.
I did like the chips and salsa though and the beers we ordered were ice cold and came with a lime covered in salt which was a cool touch. This place is somewhere inbetween a restaurant and a taco shop but the prices are also closer to the former. If there weren’t so many other options nearby, I’d probably return but I think there are much better options.
Takeaway: Average Mexican food with slightly above average prices
28. Long Beach Thai (Day 22) – Thai – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Crispy Pork, BBQ Duck with Watercress and beef pad see ew
We ordered food to-go from this place and I have to say that I was pretty impressed. The iced tea and pad see ew were good but the crispy pork and duck were what really stood out to me.
Both of these dishes aren’t your traditional Thai dishes but they were by far two of the best dishes I’ve had in a while at a Thai restaurant. The veggies come with this super light and flavorful and are the perfect compliment to the crispy pork and tender duck. I will say the portions aren’t gigantic but that’s why it’s nice to get something a little more filling as a third dish (like a pad see ew).
We’ll definitely be back for the crispy pork and duck and maybe try the pad thai or a curry dish. The Pad See Ew was good but nothing extraordinary.
Takeaway: Crispy Pork and BBQ Duck FTW!
29. Gallo’s Italian Deli (Day 24) – Sandwiches – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Large Turbucado
While no Italian deli I’ve ever found comes close to Bay Cities in LA, Gallo’s is definitely a solid option in the LBC. I actually tried to order a sandwich initially from Angelo’s but they’re closed on Mondays. So their loss ended up being my gain!
I normally go for small/medium sandwiches but I was feeling particularly hungry this day and ordered a large! It was indeed large and my only complaint was that there was so much in it it was hard to get a little bit of everything in each bite 🙂
But all the ingredients tasted great and I especially loved the freshness of the avocado, the spicy jalapenos and the crunchy bacon. The turkey and the bread weren’t bad either. I don’t know if I’ll be able to find a better sandwich shop in the LBC but there may be a few out there on par with Gallo’s.
Takeaway: I’m sold on the Turbucado!
30. The Library (Day 25) – Coffee – 3 stars
What I Ordered: Iced Mocha Latte
One of the main reasons why I like working at coffee shops is because it helps me focus and concentrate. When other people are working hard and ideating around me, it motivates me to do the same.
The Library has decent coffee and a nice selection of food/drinks but it didn’t exactly inspire my entrepreneurial side. I’d say it’s better suited for reading, creative writing and things of that nature. It was a bit stuffy and I appreciate the grunge look that they’re going for but it’s a little much for me.
Takeaway: A little hot and stuffy but cool grungy vibe if that’s what you’re into.
31. Kashiwa (Day 27) – Japanese – 3 stars
What I Ordered: Chicken Teriyaki Bento Box
After my trip to Peru, I was really craving a bento box and Kashiwa seemed to stand out from the rest. Although most of the reviews talked about how good their sushi was, I figured that their bento boxes would fall right in line. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
For whatever reason, I have yet to find a place that serves great sushi and great bento boxes. Kashiwa may have good sushi but their chicken teriyaki bento box was sub-par. At over $11, it’s quite expensive (even for the LBC) and they really don’t give you a whole lot of chicken. Everything the box came with was good but nothing blew me out of the water.
The most disappointing part of the meal was the tempura and even though it wasn’t super fresh since I ordered to go, it was more a problem with the batter and the way they fried it. It just didn’t have that tempura crunchiness that I’m accustomed to.
Takeaway: Bento box was a disappointment but would come back to try the sushi.
32. Restauration (Day 28) – American Modern – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Burger, Clams and Chorizo, BLat Sandwich
We had a couple friends get engaged so we decided to take them out to dinner at Restauration. After a very leisurely 10 minute stroll from our place to 4th st, we arrived and there was plenty of seating inside at 7:30 pm.
It was a bit stuffy inside though and the best part of this place (as we would discover) is their patio. Fortunately, it was only a short 10 minute wait to sit outside so we grabbed a couple watermelon sangrias and chatted by the bar. The sangria didn’t exactly help me regain my man card but it tasted great – very refreshing.
I really liked the ambience of the restaurant too and everyone we encountered at the restaurant had a friendly yet unique personality. I had read about problems with lots of flies on the patio but maybe they were all asleep by the time the sun went down since we didn’t have any problems at all with flies.
I was definitely surprised to walk outside and see how large the patio was, it’s also beautfilly decorated and even dog-friendly. Definitely a great place for a date, casual dinner with friends or just to chow down on the good food.
We ordered a couple appetizers but they were out of the pork belly at 7:30 pm – that was really the only one that stood out to us but unfortunately we didn’t get to try it. For entrees, I ordered the burger and my wife ordered the Blat sandwich. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with the burger after our waiter told me it was in his top 5 of all time list. But my wife’s sandwich was very good and the onion rings we both got were also pretty good.
I had my eye on a few other items on the menu that I think would have been a lot better so I’ll definitely be back to try those out. Ultimately though, the entire experience was great and I think it may take me a few tries to figure out exactly what I like here as the menu is quite extensive.
Takeaway: Great ambience, make sure to sit on the patio, everything on the menu is good.
33. Seolumate (Day 29) – Korean Fusion – 4.5 stars
What I Ordered: Spicy Pork Burrito, Old Boy Burrito
This is an LBC staple so I won’t say too much about it, but in short, these guys combine all the best aspects of a burrito and Korean BBQ. The old boy burrito is good but I’ve never been a huge fan of traditional bulgogi meat (shredded, not a ton of flavor on its own). I prefer the spicy pork burrito which is a little fattier but packs WAY more flavor.
I definitely recommend adding avocado and the fries go well with the burrito too so don’t cheap out. I usually eat about 60-70% of the burrito since it is a bit heavy and a whole burrito will definitely sit in your tummy like a rock for the next few hours. It’s hard to not devour the whole thing but trust me, it’s the right thing to do!
Takeaway: Spicy Pork Burrito to go please!
34. The Federal Underground (Speakeasy) (Day 29) – Bar – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Old-Fashioned, Sidecar, Sazerac
I thought my friends were joking when they told me they were Google-ing speakeasys on Yelp but low and behold, they found one! The Federal Bar used to be an old bank and it really is a fascinating building. In order to get to the speakeasy, you’ll want to head to the back and take the stairs down to your first door on the right.
Apparently there is a password, but I’m sure you can just ask another patron, on the way down, what it is. Inside, you’ll find a dimly lit, windowless lounge with jazz music and lots of couches and great cocktail options. We ordered a few cocktails and you could really tell the bartenders here are serious about their drinks.
I probably wouldn’t spend more than an hour or two here but it’s definitely a cool place to hang out and grab a few drinks in a very unique setting.
Takeaway: Great spot for a drink or two and a really nice change of pace from your traditional bar experience.
35. Number Nine (Day 30) – Vietnamese – 3.5 stars
What I Ordered: Rare steak pho, veggie egg rolls, rare steak and brisket pho
I’m a big fan of Retro Row and Number Nine is right in the heart of things. This is definitely one of the hipper Vietnamese places I’ve ever been to and if you’re looking for the classic $3.50 Bahn Mi you’ll likely be disappointed.
I probably wouldn’t order to go from this place but if you want a nice place to hang out for lunch or dinner, and get some good reasonably priced food, this is your place. We both got pho and while it wasn’t the best pho I’ve ever had, combined with the ambience, it definitely makes for a place I’d come back to.
There were only a couple waitresses working so service was a bit slower than normal but we weren’t in a rush, so didn’t mind.
Takeaway: Don’t come here looking for a $3.50 Bahn Mi but nice place to dine in and get some good pho.
36. EJ Malloy’s (Day 31) – Bar/Irish – 2.5 stars
What I Ordered: Nachos and beer
This is definitely a locals only type Irish bar but we stopped in on a Monday night to watch some football. They’ve got plenty of TV’s but it’s more of a casual atmosphere than a raucous one. I really liked the patio in the back and it might be a nice place to have a drink but there were no TV’s outside!
The beers were nice and frosty and service was great but the nachos we ordered were something you’d expect your drunken roommate to whip up at 2 am. We didn’t really go for the food though, just to watch some football and have some beers.
Takeaway: Not a bad spot to watch some football and have some beers in a more relaxed sports bar environment.
37. Deans Pizza (Day 31) – Thai/Pizza – 4.5 stars
What I Ordered: Thai Curry Pizza, Pad Thai and Egg Rolls
I am so glad that I discovered this little Thai joint on Yelp. They actually serve a variety of Thai food but their specialty is their Thai pizza. If you’re only going to get one thing, you have to try the Thai Curry Pizza. I don’t know what it is about the pizza but all the flavors blend together perfectly and I ended up getting a stomach ache because I ate so much – it was that good. They also have a Tom Yum pizza that I’m eager to try although I heard it can get a bit spicy so buyer beware.
We actually ordered some pad thai from them too and it was really good! The egg rolls weren’t that great but I would definitely order the pizza and pad thai again, it turned out to be a great combination. Also, the curry sauce on the Thai pizza is so good, I might have to order a side of it next time to dip my crust in.
Takeaway: Thai Curry Pizza All Night Long.
38. Hot Java (Day 32) – Coffee – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Iced Latte & Cheesecake
I don’t know why it took me so long to check this place out but it’s only a half mile from my house and it’s a lot bigger on the inside than it looks. There is plenty of comfy seating, wi-fi, coffee and a wide selection of pastries/food.
I had a few problems with the wi-fi but it seemed to only last a couple minutes so not a huge deal. I really liked the ambience of the place though and you could tell there was a lot of ideating going on. They also have abundant outdoor seating so it’s a great place to have a drink with a friend or enjoy the sun. It was crowded when I went mid-day on a weekday but since it’s so big, it doesn’t feel cramped at all.
The drinks here are good, as are the pastries (cheesecake ftw!) but on hot days, this place really needs to step up their A/C game. It’s basically unbearable and for that, I have to knock it down to 4 stars. But if it’s below 85 outside, back up to 4.5 stars 🙂
Takeaway: Great place to grab a coffee and get some work done but beware the lack of A/C when it’s hot as balls outside.
39. Angelo’s Italian Deli (Day 33) – Sandwiches – 3.5 stars
What I Ordered: Italian Torpido & A Cannoli
Angelo’s is a Long Beach (and Seal Beach) staple but I don’t think their sandwiches are that great. They are definitely good and if you’re hungry like I was, they are very satisfying, but they aren’t anything out of this world.
I like the quality and variety of meats that they use but I’m not in love with the bread – it just isn’t as crusty as Italian bread should be. I would definitely eat here again but probably won’t go out of my way to do so. I think Gallo’s across the street makes a better sandwich but I will give Angelo’s credit for making a mean cannoli!
Takeaway: Not a bad sandwich but nothing extraordinary.
40. Long Beach Fish Grill (Day 35) – Fish – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Fish tacos (salmon and mahi)
Good fish at good prices is hard to come by but LB Fish Grill hits the nail on the head in both departments. I ordered a couple tacos with rice and beans and while the latter was nothing special, the tacos were full of flavor and had just the right amount of fish.
They also have plates and salads but it’s hard to go wrong with the fish tacos here. I got one Mahi and one Salmon but they also have beer-battered fish tacos that looked pretty delicious too.
It’s also interesting to note that the place is run by a Thai family so they have lots of Thai beers that you can order in addition to the normal favorites. Ka Pun Kap!
Takeaway: Tasty fish in the form of tacos, plates and salads.
41. 39 Degrees (Day 36) – Sushi – 3 stars
What I Ordered: Sexy Roll & 911
There’s a lot of hype around this place and I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. There’s no Jiro working behind the counter here and although there are a ton of offerings, most people come here for the specialty rolls.
We ordered two of the more popular rolls and while they were both good, they weren’t anything that I haven’t had at a million other sushi places. The prices aren’t great either, about what you’d expect to pay for decent to good sushi rolls. I may come back at some point but I’m definitely not going to go out of my way to make it a regular sushi spot.
Takeaway: Not sure what all the hype is about.
42. Gallaghers (Day 38) – Bar/Irish – 3 stars
What I Ordered: Fried Zucchini, Burger & Steak Sandwich
There are two Irish bars within minutes of my house and the first one (EJ Malloys) was kind of a bust so I was expecting and hoping for big things from Gallaghers. We went in on a Monday night for football and it was crowded but there were still a few tables open with decent viewing angles so that was definitely nice. It’s loud, but the atmosphere is roudy, but in a good, ‘gotta support the team’ type way.
We had fun watching the game and drinking beer but it was a pretty big let down once we ordered food. On this night, it was seat yourself so we grabbed a table and it seemed like we were on our own for finding menus too so I went and found some menus. Similarly, I had to do the same with plates/utensils/napkins later on.
As for the actual food, everything we ordered was just way too greasy. It all tasted decent and was more than edible, but we didn’t exactly leave feeling great. I know it’s bar food but still, that doesn’t mean the food should taste like shit. It is possible to make good bar food, but unfortunately this is not the place for food. I’ll probably be back to hang out/drink/chill/watch some games (basically anything but order food) though since it’s so close and the atmosphere is fun.
Takeaway: Food is way too greasy for me but the bar is a cool place with a good vibrant crowd to watch the games.
43. Open Sesame (Day 39) – Mediterranean – 3.5 stars
What I Ordered: Chicken Schwarma & A Salad
I have eaten a lot of Chicken Schwarma in my day so I have pretty high standards when it comes to ranking Mediterranean places. Open Sesame definitely makes a decent sandwich but it’s expensive and pretty small. It’s definitely enough to fill you up but the portions are not typical and there won’t be any leftovers.
As for the actual sandwich, I liked the flavor of the chicken but it wasn’t as tender/succulent as I’ve had at other places. The garlic paste and other fillers were pretty good but not worthy of a 5 or even 4 star experience in my book. I think I’ll be able to find a better Schwarma in Long Beach.
Takeaway: Food is good but portions are small and over-priced.
44. Qrious Palate (Day 41) – Sandwiches/Fusion – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Bulgogi Club Sandwich & Fries
I’ve always enjoyed waffle sandwiches but never made a point to go out of my way to try one until now. Qrious Palate serves all sorts of waffle sandwiches but their best seller by far is the Bulgogi Club and it does not disappoint.
The waffles are nice and light but full of flavor and the bulgogi, bacon and avocado mix together perfectly. It really is a unique sandwich combination and not as heavy as I thought it would be. The sandwich is almost $10 but the portions are huge and 3/4 was all I needed.
Takeaway: Bulgogi Club Sandwich baby!
45. Lord Windsor Roasters (Day 41) – Coffee – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Cold Brew & A Vegan Donut
Lord Windsor is situated in kind of an odd area of Long Beach with not a lot of other businesses nearby but it also means that it’s less crowded than most coffee shops. They do have A/C but I’m sure on hot days, it would be a struggle.
I love the name of this place, Lord Windsor, since it makes me feel like I’m a king or something. But the ambiance is also pretty cool, they leave the doors open and there is plenty of seating but there’s no wi-fi. I used my phone as a portable hot spot but no wi-fi makes it tough to earn more than 4 stars in my book.
Their specialty is cold brew when it comes to coffee. I actually had my first cold brew ever here and liked it so much, I even got one to go (they sell them in beer bottles). It’s got a lot of flavor and packs quite a caffeine-punch but it’s also very refreshing on a sunny afternoon day. I ended up spending 4-5 hours here drinking coffee, reading, working and the staff/patrons were all very friendly. It had a really nice local feel and I will definitely be back.
Takeaway: Great place to hang out and grab a cold brew. But if you wanna get some work done, bring your own wi-fi!
46. Donburi Cafe (Day 42) – Japanese – 3.5 stars
What I Ordered: Katsu Curry Don
It’s hard to find good Japanese curry but Donburi is a pretty solid, yet casual restaurant located in the heart of downtown Long Beach. I was on my bicycle but I could imagine parking would be tough since it’s situated right off Pine in a small shopping center.
I ordered the pork katsu with curry and it was a great value for the price. The katsu and the curry were both good, but the portions were definitely enough to fill someone up for lunch or dinner. I probably wouldn’t make a special trip to come back but if I was in the area and craving curry, I’d definitely hit it up again.
Takeaway: Good katsu curry if you’re in the area.
47. Lola’s (Day 42) – Japanese – 3 stars
What I Ordered: Margaritas, Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos, Taco Trio & Enchiladas
I really wanted to like this place since it’s close to our house and has a cool ambience with outdoor patio seating out front, indoor seating and a back patio. We started off with a couple margaritas and while they tasted great, they were kind of small for the price ($9), that’s pretty steep for a basic margarita. The waiter did reiterate several times though that they use fresh juices in all of their margaritas, maybe that’s what makes them so expensive?
Next, I went with the Yelp consensus of Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos and honestly I’ve had better. They were good, but the bacon was a little soggy and there just wasn’t a ton of flavor. I will say though that their chips and salsa are da bomb, especially the green sauce!
For entrees, I got carne asada enchiladas and my wife got the Taco Trio. My dish was not very good to say the least: there was barely any meat and there was just way too much going on with it. The sauce was too sweet and there were things like chopped almonds on top that just got in the way of me eating the enchiladas. The tacos sounded and looked great but were also pretty disappointing. They were stuffed full of meat but the tortillas were just your standard grocery store corn tortillas and the meat wasn’t all that tender.
If we lived anywhere but SoCal I could probably cut these guys some slack, but there are literally 5-10 better taco shops within a mile of this place. Even the 10% discount via The Art Theatre couldn’t save this meal.
Takeaway: I’d come back but only during happy hour and for the chips and salsa.
48. George’s Greek Cafe (Day 44) – Mediterranean/Greek – 3.5 stars
What I Ordered: Gyros Pita, Feta Fries & Salad
George’s is your standard solid Greek option if you’re in the mood for a gyros pita or kabob plate. We ordered a couple gyros pitas to go and I was surprised by how big their combos are for just $10. But in true Greek fashion, they don’t skimp on the portions.
I wouldn’t say this was the best Greek meal I’ve ever had but definitely a place I’d go back to next time I have a craving for a gyros pita. Their pita bread is nice and fluffy, the meat is full of flavor and they don’t skimp out on tzaziki or veggies or anything really.
Takeaway: Get a gyros pita to go and enjoy.
49. El Torazo (Day 46) – Mexican – 4.5 stars
What I Ordered: Shrimp, Lengua and carne asada tacos and chips and guac
Wow! After 2 months of Mexican places, I think I found one of the best taco shops in all of Long Beach. I love the ambience of this place and there’s always a line but it moves very quickly (I was really impressed with how efficient they are). We came here with a group of 4 on Taco Tuesday and it had a nice homey/locals type feel but there was still a decent amount of seating.
They had $13 pitchers of Modelo and $7 pitchers of Bud Light so good prices on beer and as for the food, it pretty much hit everything on my checklist. The salsa bar is legit, lots of options and some really tasty salsas. The chips are good and I was surprised how good the guac was – you could tell they actually took some pride in their guac.
But the real draw were the tacos. I ordered a variety of tacos but the ones that stood out to me were the shrimp taco, Lengua taco and carne asada. The fish taco and crunchy potato taco (among others) also looked really good. These tacos are probably the closest I’ve found in taste to TJ tacos and I will 100% be back to try more tacos and some of their other menu items.
Takeaway: Great tacos, salsa bar and guac!
50. Elephant Thai Kitchen (Day 48) – Thai – 4 stars
What I Ordered: Spicy Basil Chicken & Beef Pad See Ew
Of the hundreds of times I’ve had Thai food, I don’t think I’ve ever ordered Pad Kra Pao (Spicy Basil Grounc Chicken) and since I saw that this place made a mean Pad Kra Pao, I decided to give it a shot. I loved the spice of the dish, I ordered it spicy yet it still had a lot of flavor. It’s not your traditional Thai dish and I wouldn’t take down a whole order of it on my own but in small doses, it was great.
Beef pad see ew is one of my standard orders at Thai restaurants and it’s hard to screw it up. Elephant Thai definitely makes an above average pad see ew though and even though it’s difficult to judge a restaurant on only two dishes, I will definitely be back for more variety.
Takeaway: Lots of tasty options, need to try more though!
If you’d like to filter through all 50 of these restaurants, by category, rating, etc, please go here to use my 50 Restaurants in 50 Days LBC Spreadsheet.
What do you think about the 50 restaurants I tried and do you agree or disagree with my assessments? Any restaurants I need to try for my next 50 in the LBC?