It wasn’t that long ago when the best meal at Long Beach’s third-wave coffee shops was a vegan doughnut and the closest you’d get to a meal at a cannabis dispensary was the edibles. But a growing number of Long Beach chefs and influencers are taking advantage of these underutilized spaces and launching on-the-fly food popups that interrupt people’s days with creative, hot meals like never before.
There’s a lot to be said for cooking in this minimal-investment manner: no lease, no expectations and the flexibilitya growing number of Long Beach chefs and influencers are taking advantage of these underutilized spaces and launching on-the-fly food popups that interrupt people’s days with creative, hot meals like never before. to switch up the menu whenever you please. This is the food that, were it not for the low-risk setup, might not even make it onto a plate outside the home kitchen much less into the stomachs of locals. Here are five popups that are currently running in Long Beach. Dates, times and availability always subject to change.
Pogisilog at Commodity and Rose Park Roasters
By night, Brennan Villarreal is on the kitchen team at Los Angeles’ beloved modern Filipino restaurant LASA. By morning, though, he’s cooking his own animal-free takes on Filipino breakfast at coffee shops across Long Beach. Under the name Pogisilog—“pogi” means “handsome” and “silog” is the word for an entire genre of Filipino breakfasts served with fried rice—you can find Villareal at Commodity for black garlic fried rice bowls topped with mock longanisa, roasted squash, coconut cream and pickled long beans every Sunday. The last few Fridays, he’s been at the Rose Park on Fourth Street with a breakfast sandwich and pungent fried rice tossed with tofu that is spiced and smoked to emulate SPAM.
Chef Melissa Ortiz at Stache Bar and Rose Park Roasters
When we last caught up with chef Melissa Ortiz, she was in the kitchen at Bamboo Club, trying to bring her palate for flavor-layers and fine-dining precision to Long Beach’s Tiki bar scene. She quietly left that gig last month in anticipation of a deployment to Afghanistan, but with her clearance process moving at a normal (read: stagnant) bureaucratic pace, you can find her most nights at Stache Bar, where she’s experimenting with true dive bar food in anticipation of opening an eatery in the empty La Frida space next door (order chili cheese dogs and hamburgers at the bar for now). Saturday mornings, she’ll be stretching her creativity at Rose Park with a menu that includes a soba noodle bowl and a sweet potato tartine with spicy maple, tahini and pickled apples.
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LB Meatless Mondays at Modern Buds
Get a Beyond Burger with your blunt (or a vegan taco with your vape) every Monday at the new Belmont Heights dispensary Modern Buds. Seal-Beach-based vegan influencer couple Happy Healthy Vegan started bringing swarms of animal-free food to east Broadway back in August and now their LB Meatless Mondays campaign averages about seven vendors each week, from doughnuts to pizza to Peruvian. The lineup is always evolving and so far has included a healthy rotation of who’s who in the regional vegan pop-up scene, including Chicana Vegana, Voodoo Vegan, Lobo Cuban Bowls, Mala Noodles and V-Burger, which serves both the Impossible and Beyond Meat patties and will be opening up a permanent spot on Cherry and 4th Street by the end of the year.
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Hamburgers Nice at Commodity
You may have heard about Long Beach’s first breakfast burger from this episode of Suppertime in the LBC. If not, Hamburgers Nice is the first venture behind the griddle for Wilmington native (and long-time Long Beach local) Jairo Bogarín, whose main gig is beertending and booking food vendors at Monkish Brewing in Torrance. Through trial and error over months of backyard experiments on friends and family members, Bogarín perfected his smash burger recipe before taking it live, settling on a maple-infused sausage-beef patty, a spreadable Sriracha mayo and a smooshy potato roll a la Martin’s (pop that yolk for the Instagram shot). Catch Bogarín on a rare non-Thursday popup for a taste of Hamburgers Nice’s lunch burger—a smashed-and-burnt, all-beef classic that was the original inspiration for breakfast.
Rice and Shine Eats at Bebot Filipino Soul Food
The wait is over. After five years of pop-up Filipino brunches and Wu-Tang Clan-themed dinners, chef AC Boral of Rice and Shine Eats soft-opened Long Beach’s Bebot, his first brick-and-mortar restaurant, earlier this month. Yes, we know this is a list of popups and that previous sentence clearly says “brick-and-mortar,” but hear us out. Bebot—pronounced “beh-boht,” Boral’s late father’s nickname—is what happens when these popups go permanent. The restaurant still has the barren walls and community-focused spirit of a remixable, temporary space, but the music is less ‘90s hip hop and more reggae, the menu less in-your-face Filipino fusion, more nostalgic “soul food.” Boral says he plans on hosting more Rice & Shine and Enter the 36 Courses events in his 4th Street space soon, but for now, enjoy new dishes like the barbecue chicken plate (inspired by Bebot’s home cooking) and mushroom pancit (which is somehow vegan). If you’re lucky, Executive Chef Raquel Jubran is in the kitchen and Sous Chef Janice Dig Cabaysa’s cakey banana bread is on the menu. You’ll be glad this one isn’t going away.
Listen to the latest episode of Suppertime in the LB, all about local food popups, below.
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