The only thing left to remind you that the spacious and beautifully clean-lined decor of the newly opened El Barrio Cantina was once Fourth Street’s dark and cavernous Ashley’s, is a single strip of red neon that accentuates the windows and adds a warmth to the pristine dining room.

It’s a more mature second location for the El Barrio Neighborhood Taco concept, one that allows co-owner and chef Ulises Pineda-Alfaro a little room to show what he can really do.

“Chef [Pineda-Alfaro] is the primary voice,” said co-owner Joe Lin of the creative process behind the menu, noting “the partners help influence the food.”

The new El Barrio Cantina in Alamitos Beach. Photo by Matt Miller.

This is the second project for partners Joe Lin, Jesse Duron and Chef Ulises Pineda-Alfaro, who launched their first venture El Barrio Neighborhood Tacos in Redondo Beach, and then moved to the Palms area of LA’s Westside.

“Long Beach is unique, diverse and exciting,” Lin said. “We have seen a trend with new innovative restaurants and bars now popping up in Long Beach, so we felt that the timing is as good as ever to showcase something new and exciting that the city hasn’t seen before.”

Lush, comfortable rose-colored chairs paired with high-backed dried sage-hued banquettes add a hint of privacy and an elegance perfect for a date, while spacious tables with wicker seating create an ambiance of a casual neighborhood spot for friends to gather.

Airy and bright, the white walls are accented with black dripping watercolor images of swimming fish, anchored by a wall mural of a giant plum-colored octopus wrestling a small, masked luchador.

The vapors of stale beer riding the up-draft of a fan from the Ashley’s days have been replaced by an ethereal waft of a grill-charred creations from the kitchen.

Intermixed aromas of citrus and sweet spirits escape the bar from such creations as the Holla At Chamoy ($12): “Illegal” mezcal, strawberry, red bell pepper shrub, house-made chamoy, lime and adobo-pineapple salt.

Holla at Chamoy. Photo courtesy El Barrio Cantina.

Botanas (snacks) offer a selection of starters from the Spicy Alitas ($14): Crispy chicken wings dressed with salsa piquin, butter, lime, and yuzu aioli. A perfect bite for you if you’re one who likes a kick.

Piquin peppers are usually five to eight times hotter than jalapeños with a Scoville rating of somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000, but the butter gives the capsaicin a point of focus and spreads the burn into an even and exhilarating linger, which is easily extinguished by the bright citrusy cool of the yuzu aioli.

Cauli Esquite ($10): A small portion of roasted cauliflower, salsa de cilantro, cotija cheese dusted with red chili powder and served with tostada is a perfect light starter while you peruse the menu and discuss all the amazing sounding dishes.

If you’re eating light, check out the Crudos and Temaki, two acquaintances from the raw seafood world separated by customs and countries brought together in one section offering: aguachile, campechana and do-it-yourself temaki (hand rolls).

Peruvian Scallop ($16) is an aguachile rojo with cucumber, radish and avocado. Delicate, mouthwatering scallops mirror ocean spray tinted with a slowing rising heat, freshened with crisp cucumber and then cooled with avocado.

If you’re not familiar with aguachile, it’s just as it sounds: chile water. Similar to ceviche, however rather than the seafood marinating for an hour or two allowing the citrus to do the cooking, the delicacy is simply tossed in chile water and served immediately.

Camaron marinero ($16): A crudo style dish, refreshing and light with just enough spice to activate your tastebuds. Shrimp with black sauce, cucumber, bright mango and avocado served with tostada.

Temaki Sets ($15): A unique offering on the menu, proving that El Barrio Cantina isn’t about regional food as much as it is about the celebration of food. Choose from either campechana dynamite, tuna macha. Served with sushi rice and roasted seaweed for you to create your own hand-rolls.

Mexican Hot Fried Chicken ($17): Jidori chicken thigh, drizzled with a sweet and spicy miel de piloncillo, and served perched high atop a huge hunk of cornbread. A “wow” dish that when it parades through the dining room will cause heads to turn in its wake. A hint of sweetness and a pop of spicy make this a savory comfort food a drool-worthy selection that is going to have everyone at your table asking for bites that are sure to cause cravings for weeks to come.

Mexican hot fried chicken. Photo courtesy El Barrio Cantina,

Jidori chicken, if you’re not familiar, is a term that roughly translates into “from the ground.” It’s a specific type of free-range chicken that’s never frozen, and known for its firm texture and bursting flavor.

Yellowtail Collar ($18): Wood-fired yellowtail collar, dredged in adobado, with a drizzle of chile oil and a smear of red yuzu kosho, served with warm flakey Sonoran flour tortillas.

Otherwise known as hamachi kama, this savory cut of yellowtail is succulent and rich with a delicate meaty flavor. The meat falls apart flaking and mingling with the outer char, so when wrapped in a tortilla all the flavors of the oils and spices create the perfect bite without the need for anything else. A must try!

Vegan? The veggieviche ($14) is a cleansing and flavorful blend of artichoke, jicama, lime, avocado and tomato all tossed in a vegan mayo and sprinkled with cilantro, served with perfectly crisp plantain chips.

El Barrio Cantina’s vegan veggieviche. Photo by Matt Miller

El Barrio Cantina is at 1731 E. Fourth St. 562-612-0585. Hours are Tuesday-Thursday, 5:30-10:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 5:30-midnight. The kitchen closes one hour prior to close.