It’s time to add more Animal-Style Fries to your life, Long Beach.
The massive sprawl of retail known as the Long Beach Exchange (LBX), the 26-acre development near Douglas Park, has officially opened its 266,000 sq. ft. of retail space to the public and brings new tenants with it—including an In-N-Out which opens today.
The complex started off with a bang after it announced that speciality coffee powerhouse Portola Coffee’s first location outside Orange County (and overshadowing the fact that LA staple coffeehouse Groundwork has already opened up shop in the complex). Following that, the retail complex announced it would host seven more new tenants in addition to its array that already includes Whole Foods’ 365 grocery store, Nordstrom Rack, Ulta, Orchard Supply Hardware, Mod Pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts, TJ Maxx, PetSmart, and a plethora of fitness studios.
Following the onslaught of mainly corporate introductions—some frankness: it is concerning that the mall-like complex is opening as similar complexes across the nation shut down in favor of Amazon Prime and hermit-like shopping behaviors taking over the current generation—their new announcements of more locally-based shops were refreshing.
Joining the crew of shops and stores on top of In-N-Out:
- Amorcito: Perhaps the most exciting of all the announcements is the addition of Chef Thomas Ortega’s newest culinary space. Following the success of Playa Amor—which I named one of Long Beach’s best restaurants of 2017—Ortega will be taking on a new concept that continues to play with his love of amor. Details are extremely limited but given the scope of his cuisine, this addition alters the entire food landscape of LBX.
- Bottlecraft: This famed San Diego-based beer shop has a status in the independent beer community that is hard to deny after it went from one location to three in the border city after its popularity skyrocketed amongst hardcore brew heads.
- DönerG Grill: This Turkish food icon has been around for over a quarter of a century in Orange County, having originally opened in Anaheim and spreading to three other locations before crossing the LA County border. They re-interpret other culinary classics like the Peruvian lomo saltado and put Turkish spins on it; in this specific case, their kabob meat over fries and rice pilaf with peppers.
- Plaid Sheep Grilled Cheese Bar: this sister off-shoot of Black Sheep GCB—which opened in the Anaheim Packing District, owned and created by the man developing a new concept in North Long Beach—isn’t looking to be much different than its OG sibling given that Cellar Site, the parent company of both, is intent on keeping the branding of its various locations separate but interconnected. Think sammies like goat cheese with arugula pesto.
- Popbar: This New York-based shop has a cult-like following (though that following remains to be seen after the seemingly ma’n’pop store decided to begin franchising—which explains this location). Their schtick is serving gelato on a stick. And don’t think too crazy; think classic pistachio or chocolate.
- The Kroft: This gastropub-y, pseudo-chain opened immediately with two locations—one at the Packing District and another in Tustin—with yet another coming to DTLA’s Chinatown in the coming months. It garnered a huge following for its plethora of poutine options (including a side of fried cheese curds if you want to amp up the clogged-artery factor).
- Bite Mi: This Vietnamese joint focusing on the famed dish of the country, bánh mì, mimicking the popular London-based street spot that has garnered a massive following.
Long Beach Exchange is located at 3991 N Lakewood Blvd.
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