Long Beach's rich and diverse culinary landscape, and its ever-expanding beer and cocktail scene, mean there's no shortage of delicious food and libations to choose from. In our second division for Best of Long Beach 2015, we asked you to tell us about the places that keep your stomach happy and your glass full. You voted for your favorites, and here they are; your Best of Long Beach 2015: Food & Drink winners.
Best Brunch in Long Beach / Best Mac and Cheese in Long Beach
By Jason Ruiz
It’s been over three and a half years since Steve Massis took over the 1920s craftsman house at the corner of Newport and Broadway and transformed it into the local hub of comfort food and craft cocktails known as The Attic. To be nominated for multiple categories for the Long Beach Post’s Best Of 2015 and win for Best Brunch and Best Mac and Cheese served as a personal moment of validation that The Attic had been accepted by the city he grew up in.
“Not only do I own a business in this city, I live in this city and Long Beach means a lot to me personally,” Massis said. “To be nominated by the people that live here, my neighbors, my friends, it means a lot.”
The eatery's signature Mac and Cheetos—a monstrous concoction of a home made four-cheese sauce, pasta and a crushed Flaming Hot Cheetos topper—had already gained the Attic local notoriety. It’s such a hit, in fact, it has its own emoji and a line of t-shirts and tank tops. Massis said he never envisioned its success, and that his intention was to put a spin on the classic that traditionally uses bread crumbs. When he opened the restaurant he didn’t think that it would become the flagship of the Attic.
Massis swears that the Cheetos used are regulation ones, with no (added) addictive properties, despite the dish’s ability to hook those that order it from the very first bite. If the standard order isn’t adventurous enough, The Attic allows you to mix in candied cayenne bacon, shrimp, jalapeños and a host of other add-ins, but Massis keeps his own simple and to the point.
“My favorite is for sure the short rib, hands down,” Massis said. “But I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy and if you add short rib to anything I”m going to be a happy man.”
While mac and cheese is typically regarded as a lunch or dinner item, it is served all day, every day at the Attic. In fact, the only food you can’t order for breakfast is mashed potatoes, and that’s part of what Massis said makes The Attic’s brunch such a hit with patrons.
If you’re an early riser and you’re craving a Reuben at 8AM, no problem. Had a long night on the town and want chicken fried benedict at 3:30PM? The Attic has your back. Not only does it serve breakfast until 4PM everyday, but it’s staff wont judge you for ordering a burger with a Bloody Mary (with a short rib garnish) for breakfast. And the vibe, Massis said, is tough to beat.
“You’re in a 1920s Craftsman home and it’s just fun,” Massis. “It feels like you’re in someone’s backyard, hanging out. It’s a local place so you see a lot of your friends coming here and everyone’s hanging out having a good time.”
Bottom right photo courtesy of Niko Dahilig, others by Jason Ruiz.
The Attic is located at 3441 East Broadway, on the corner of Newport Ave. Visit the Attic's website for more information.
Working Class Kitchen
Best Burger in Long Beach
By Jason Ruiz
Photo courtesy of Basil Nabhan of Working Class Kitchen.
The Michael’s Restaurant Group is no stranger to accolades. Its pizzeria was recognized as the the best in the nation by Zagat in 2013 and late last year Chianina Steakhouse and Michael’s on Naples were included in the 50 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles for 2016. So it comes as no surprise that Working Class Kitchen—the restaurant group's own deli, butcher and sandwich shop—is now winning awards of its own.
Voted the best burger in Long Beach, Executive Chef of Michael’s Restaurant Group David Coleman said the Chianina Beef Burger—a marriage of the Italian cow’s porterhouse and ribeye topped with caramelized onions and a remoulade—was a no-brainer.
While the namesake cow of the Italian steakhouse can run upward of $5 per ounce in steak form, Coleman’s whole-animal philosophy led to the creation of burger which can be enjoyed at both Chianina and Working Class Kitchen, with a much smaller price tag.
Although it can be topped with a variety of ad-ons including avocado, cheese, foie gras or an over-easy organic egg, what separates it from all the other burgers in town, Coleman said, is in the patty.
“You have burgers that taste like beef, and then you have burgers that taste like meat,” Coleman said.
The “meat and potatoes” ethos that the shop exudes belies who it aims to serve. Coleman said the working class work there, but they hope to feed everyone. The shop’s motto “Sine Labore Nihil," or Nothing Without Work, reflects its dedication to serving up food with as much conviction as flavor.
Working Class Kitchen is located at 1322 Coronado Ave., off of Anaheim St. Click here for more information.
Bo-Beau Kitchen + Roof Tap
Best Brussels Sprouts in Long Beach
By Keeley Smith
Photo by Keeley Smith.
Brussels Sprouts have been making a comeback in the last few years in the foodie hall of fame, and 2015 was no different. With serious contenders that included Simmzy’s, Tavern on 2, Restauration and The Federal Bar, Bo-Beau Kitchen + Roof Tap won, for their delectable sprouts, doused with plenty of oils, parmesan and pepper.
The taste is one you won’t soon forget, and that smell will stay with you for days.
Former Executive Chef Katherine Humphus told the Post before the restaurant opened that the goal of the restaurant was to “create delicious, approachable food, and encourage people to try flavor profiles or combinations that they might not normally go for,” in regard to its restaurant food, while also creating a down-to-earth beer-centric menu for the Rooftap portion.
For unique flavor profiles, Bo-Beau most certainly wins. Beyond their aroma, the sprouts have an unexpectedly intense flavor, thanks to a slightly sweet balsamic glaze, rich duroc pork lardon, and fresh shaved parmesan. Suffice to say, it’s impossible to stop at one brussels sprout—you’ll be eating the whole serving before you realize it.
Bo-Beau Kitchen + Roof Tap is located at 144 Pine Avenue. Call 562.983.0056 or visit their website for reservations and more information.
The Caffeinated Kitchen
Best Doughnuts in Long Beach
By Asia Morris
Photo by Asia Morris.
It’s not a well-kept secret that the Long Beach Post is already a fan of The Caffeinated Kitchen’s sweet vegan treats, so when founder, owner and doughnut baker Jen Hackler took the cake for Best Doughnuts in Long Beach, we weren’t surprised at all. The doughnuts, whether you’re biting into a Lemon Poppy Seed, Pistachio-Rose or Maple “Bacon” flavor, make up part of Hackler’s to-die-for repertoire of delicious vegan baked goods, found at just about any Long Beach coffee shop, from Lord Windsor Roasters to Recreational Coffee.
The story of how The Caffeinated Kitchen won the votes for best doughnut in the city speaks to Hackler’s humility and the community’s adoration for the small town bakery’s product. Nestled in fifth place for what seemed like “the longest time,” Hackler never wanted to ask her fans and followers to “go out of their way to vote,” but, encouraged by Recreational Coffee owner Bobby Hernandez, she finally gave in and asked for a little assistance via Instagram; a call to arms against two major corporations, Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts.
“On the very last day of the poll [Bobby] texted one last pleading text, ‘Do it so I can say I serve the best donuts in the universe as acknowledged by the Long Beach Post. Totally selfish of me,’” said Hackler. “So I gave in and posted on Instagram and Facebook. Within a matter of hours we went from 5th to 1st place. It was unbelievable the way our customers and friends rallied for us. I didn't really expect us to win, I just wanted to beat Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme!”
Best Healthy Spot in Long Beach
By Keeley Smith
Photo by Matt Cohn.
It’s not all butter-infused veggies and alcoholic beverages here: the Post asked its readers what they deemed healthy in 2015, and they were quick to respond.
Rainbow Juices won by a sizable margin, boasting a juice cleansing menu, relationships with local farmers, local ingredients and healthy lifestyle values and embody Long Beach’s wellness culture.
“We work hard everyday to create the freshest, most nutritious juices for the people of Long Beach,” said Rainbow Juices co-founder Chrissy Cox. “This means sourcing the freshest local, organic produce - making 3 to 4 weekly trips to the farmer's market. Over the years, we've developed relationships with each farmer we work with. There is a lot of integrity that goes into growing the produce we juice, and a lot of love.”
Plus, the aesthetics of the store, with minimalist rainbow dots and a wood-paneled entrance, make it hard to dislike the business’ dynamics. Cox said Long Beach’s unique spirit and people that made it a no-brainer to set up shop downtown.
“Long Beach is a beautiful, growing community of folks who support local, who appreciate high quality, conscious products, and who understand how important it is to fuel their bodies with the very best food on the planet,” said Cox. “We are here to provide all of it! It's our mission to help keep Long Beach happy and healthy everyday.”
Long Beach Creamery
Best Ice Cream in Long Beach
By Asia Morris
Photo by Asia Morris.
The local community has truly taken in Long Beach Creamery as one of its own, as a treasure to be kept near and dear to the hearts and palates of ice cream lovers across our seaside city. Owner and founder Dina Amadril built the business from the ground up, but not without the help of Farm Lot 59 founder Sasha Kanno and the ten strangers who first sampled her homemade concoctions at the very first tasting in 2013.
One successful Kickstarter later, Amadril built what was supposed to be a diary room in Bixby Knolls, of which the scooping business has become more popular than she ever could have expected. Amadril creates new flavors every week to satisfy her instinctive creativity, but also to ensure that Long Beach Creamery is not a wasteful business. Some of her most popular flavors have come from using a little leftover pecan or a little leftover chocolate; you name the leftover, Amadril has a use for it.
As Amadril would say, “There’s nothin’ real sad about ice cream.” Especially if you’re contemplating the Cashew Fennel Chip ice cream bread with a salt and pepper glaze, paired with a steaming cup of Black Ring Coffee. Need we say more?
Long Beach Creamery is located at 4141 Long Beach Blvd. in Bixby Knolls. Visit Long Beach Creamery's website here.
Best Coffee Shop in Long Beach
By Asia Morris
Photo by Asia Morris.
Downtown Long Beach’s most recent and rampant recreational drug, third-wave coffee shop Recreational Coffee, has built a reputation for having some of the best coffee and service around. In a very short amount of time (since they opened just a few months ago), Bobby and Correne Hernandez have enticed the Long Beach community into trying their inspired creations, such as the sea salt affogato, delicious espresso shake and uniquely altered Americano.
Alongside serving “ridiculous” beverages, Recreational Coffee has also begun to host public cuppings and pour-over classes, serving Nick’s Breakfast Burritos on Sundays and giving $1 off mochas on Mondays. Recreational Coffee clearly wants to ensure the community’s cup runneth over when it comes to providing a great place to learn, to work or hang out and, obviously, to drink an above average cup of joe.
"We are beyond excited and privileged to have been voted Best Coffee Shop in Long Beach in such a short period of time since opening up the shop!" the handsome couple told the Post. "Thanks to our amazing customers who voted; we love you all and love to make you awesome coffee. Thanks also to the wonderful baristas of Recreational. They're the heart and personality of the shop who make it what it is. Looking forward to continually serving Long Beach some ridiculous coffee and smiles in 2016!"
Recreational Coffee is located at 237 Long Beach Blvd. Suite A in downtown Long Beach. Click here for more information.
Legends Sports Bar
Best Bar to Watch Sports in Long Beach
By Jason Ruiz
Photo courtesy of Legends Sports Bar.
Maybe it’s the giant projector screen that covers its western wall with the marquee game of the day. Maybe it’s the prime spot smack dab in the middle of Second Street in Belmont Shore, or its un-official crown as the “first modern sports bar in America.” There’s something special about watching a big game at Legends Sports Bar, and it being voted best place in the city to watch sports has just as much to do with its past as it does the present.
Co-owner Eric Johnson remembers walking into Legends for the first time when he was a child and getting to meet then Rams starting quarterback Vince Ferragamo and the team’s cheerleaders. When he helped purchase the sports bar he inherited a lot of memorabilia lining the walls that includes autographed balls from legendary athletes like Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio. When they took over, a “jaw dropping” gift to a his business partner—in the form of the Indy Car driven by Bobby Rahal during the Long Beach Grand Prix—was added to the interior decor.
“It’s much more than a bar or restaurant,” Johnson said. “It’s like a sports hall of fame kind of deal when you walk in. Certainly the big screen is what sets it at a whole different level. I hear it all the time when I’m at the front door."
Johnson’s ownership has made it a point to be a part of the community because he said as one of the businesses that’s synonymous with Long Beach, it’s a responsibility they hold to give back. They’ve sponsored local sports teams from area high schools and even hosted watch parties for Cal State Long Beach men’s basketball teams when awaiting their fates in the annual NCAA tournament.
Whether its Monday Night Football, March Madness or FIFA’s World Cup, Legends is always one of the busiest bars inside and out, as people walking by can stop an view the action on the projector through its open patio lining the sidewalk. Johnson said that vibe is a big part of their success and has helped build a loyal patronage. The allure goes past the wings, burgers and beer, it’s the feelings imbedded in the memories while watching sports history unfold inside Legends.
“We’ve got great food, great service, I love our location in the heart of Belmont Shore,” Johnson said. “But I think there’s a bit of nostalgia being the first modern sports bar in America, there’s definitely a nostalgia that goes with that. There’s been so many great games viewed in that location that there’s kind of an ambiance that you don’t get in other locations.”
Legend's is located at 5236 E. 2nd Street in Belmont Shore. Click here for upcoming events and more information.
The Stache Bar
Best Whiskey Cocktails in Long Beach
By Stephanie Rivera
Photos by Asia Morris.
A bit of rye whiskey, an in-house turbinado syrup, orinoco bitters, a cherry and an orange twist make up The Stache Bar’s most famous whisky cocktail—the Old Fashioned—and no doubt one of the reasons why the establishment won over our readers as the best place for whisky cocktails in 2015.
The drink, of course, is just one of many cocktails patrons can choose from, and it's this craft and unique experience that bar owner Brett Gallo thinks brings people to The Stache Bar.
“I think we owe it to them to make something special,” said Gallo, who created the original cocktail menu.
From a classic Manhattan to a custom whiskey mule, Long Beachers know to go to the Stache for a wide selection and a quality cocktail made right—and at the right price—and served up with a smile by one the friendly bartenders.
While Gallo said he plans to tweak the cocktail menu again—adding more locally-made vodkas to the menu—but whiskey lovers need not worry, their favorite cocktails will still be available.
The Stache Bar is located at 941 E 4th St. Click here for more information.
Tune in tomorrow, when we'll reveal your top picks in the Arts, Culture & Entertainment division.