Long Beach. Birthplace of Snoop Dogg and Tiffani Amber Thiessen, and home to one of the largest ports in the United States, a giant ship that doesn’t sail anywhere, and people who drunk-ride their horses down highways. Oh, and a whole bunch of great places to eat, too.
While you might be tempted to think of it as an outer suburb of Los Angeles, Long Beach (and Snoop Dogg) would very much beg to differ - and this city has the restaurants to prove it. From fantastic Cambodian food to the best Mexican seafood in a 30-mile radius to quite a lot of gastropubs, Long Beach has many excellent eating options. So we’ve narrowed things down for you. These are the best restaurants in Long Beach.
Cambodia Town is loaded with tremendous places to eat, but if you’re looking for the best entry point, make Sophy’s your first stop. The family-run restaurant has been in the neighborhood for years, and has a big menu filled with Cambodian staples. Get the red curry, the beef lok lak, and their beef jerky, guaranteed to ruin all other beef jerky for you.
If you’re looking for seafood in Long Beach, your first, second, and 100th stop should be Cheko El Rey, a small Mexican restaurant on Market St. It’s run by a former Coni’Seafood cook, and you can tell - the food is innovative, spicy, and fantastic. The first dish to hit our table is always the Tostaditas Locas, corn chips topped with marlin pate, shrimp ceviche, and a slice of octopus. The three types of seafood balance each other out perfectly, and the spicy chile de arbol sauce makes the whole dish. Next, get the langostinos, doused in a creamy, super-strong chili sauce. And don’t leave without getting the snook, which is flayed open and slow-grilled until it’s crispy on the outside, and juicy and delicious on the inside. Come with a group, because the portions are huge, and you’ll want to order a lot.
Phnom Penh is one of the best Cambodian restaurants in Long Beach, and also one of our favorite spots in the whole city. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 7am-3pm, this tiny place specializes mostly in Cambodian comfort dishes, like their house special noodle soup with pork bone broth, rice porridge, meat pies, and other delicious noodles. Wait times get long on the weekends.
Ellie’s is pretty special. Located in a quiet neighborhood not too far from downtown, with a big front patio and a small dining room, they serve some very tasty Southern Italian food. The pastas are fantastic - especially the shrimp and ’nduja tagliatelle - but the best thing here is the grilled bread and pork butter. Pork butter is as good as it sounds, but it’s even better when it’s spread on grilled bread and topped with one of the pickled carrots that come on the side. Be warned though, parking in this area is near-impossible at night.
The Bake-N-Broil is a Long Beach institution. They’ve been open in Bixby Knolls since 1965, serving diner food and incredible pies and cakes. Although there will probably be a wait when you arrive, if you’re cool with sitting at the counter (which you should be), just grab a seat when one opens up. The menu is huge, but you should really go straight for the chicken pot pie. It’s also worth noting that it comes with your choice of soup starter, and that choice should be the French onion, because you’re already getting a chicken pot pie for lunch - now isn’t the time to start holding back. But save room for dessert... everything from the red velvet cake to the 10+ types of pie are worth trying.
There aren’t a whole lot of options for Korean food in Long Beach - but that’s OK, because Sura BBQ does it all. It’s a small spot that serves all kinds of soups, bibimbap, and grilled meats. The dumpling tofu soup is huge, hearty, and pairs perfectly with a pitcher of Hite, and the grilled ribeye bulgogi is tender, salty, and garlicky. It’s also a great spot if you’re looking for vegan food - get the ddukbokki, a spicy, sweet stir-fried rice cake. This place is small, and it gets busy, so be ready to wait if you come on a weekend.
Playa Amor sits in the middle of a never-ending shopping center in the Marina Pacifica neighborhood and, from the outside, looks like a knockoff On The Border. But it’s much more than that. This modern spot serves fantastic Mexican/Southwestern food in a low-key party atmosphere that’s great for anything from an early-round date to one-too-many margaritas with your friends. There’s a wrap-around patio facing a not-sad pond, live music on the weekends, and mole tater tots you’re going to want to get involved with.
With a name like Tasty Food To Go, and a location inside an old house that doubles as a barber shop, this tiny Thai/Laotian restaurant certainly doesn’t lack intrigue. And we can tell you this order-at-the-counter, to-go only spot (owned by the same guy who also runs the barber shop) also serves some of our favorite food in Long Beach. Our go-to Thai dishes here are the panang curry and pad see ew, and on the Laotian side of the menu we love the nam tok (sliced beef with mint and chili peppers) and the larb (spicy minced chicken).
A great spot for an affordable lunch in Long Beach, Edna’s is a Filipino restaurant serving all kinds of classics. The woman serving your food also likely made it, and she’ll guide you through her favorite combinations of the moment (and probably give you a couple samples along the way). You’ll order a variety of stewed meats like pork adobo and dinuguan (pork blood stew), which they serve over vegetable pancit (noodles) or garlic rice. Combinations are all somewhere between $4 and $9, so expect to find yourself here twice a week. Don’t forget to add on a couple shrimp lumpia and pork sticks, and a banana turon for after the meal.
Thai District is a great Thai spot for work lunches and date nights. Located in the heart of downtown, Thai District’s two-story space has a more upscale feel to it, but prices are still reasonable and the atmosphere is friendly, not stuffy. We recommended concentrating on their soups (the tom kha is a must), their khao soi, and a coconut panna cotta dessert you’ll wish you had saved more room for.
A pizza, wine, and craft beer bar downtown, 4th Horseman is a very fun place to spend a night in Long Beach. It’s a horror-themed spot, with old-school movies like Night Of The Living Dead and The Creature From The Black Lagoon playing on repeat, movie posters and memorabilia lining the walls, and pizzas named after horror icons. None of those pizzas are going to totally blow you away, but that doesn’t mean you won’t still order three of them for two people. Our favorites are the Frailty, with roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, and caramelized onions, and the Death To Piggy, which has four different kinds of meat, along with mozzarella.
Portuguese Bend is a gigantic distillery right in the heart of downtown Long Beach. It’s a bright and modern space, with a huge patio on 4th St. And the gin and vodka they make here is excellent (especially in a martini). The food doesn’t quite live up to the high quality of the drinks, but it’s still good enough to get you through an afternoon. Get the pastrami chili cheese fries to start, and the pot roast melt for something bigger. The blackened chicken and shrimp pasta is also good, not to mention absolutely massive.
Open since 2001, Enrique’s is an old-school Mexican restaurant in a strip mall in Marina Pacifica. When your cat swallowed string again and needs surgery and you need soul-curing burritos, enchilada combo platters, and gigantic plates of meat, remember this place. If you only get one thing at Enrique’s though, the chile verde is your order. A football-sized pork shank sitting in a hot tub of tomatillo sauce with rice and beans, it’s truly fantastic.
Taste is the perfect neighborhood wine bar (that also has a full food menu). It’s dimly lit, so nice enough for a date, but also pretty casual, so you could walk in with a friend and get a table most nights. The menu changes depending on what they can pick up at the farmer’s market, and the wine list has a bunch of interesting glasses. Order a bunch of snacks to share (the pate is great), and also the Japanese fried chicken.
TIto’s in downtown calls itself a bakery - and while the baked Mexican goods (like pan dulce) are great, what you’re really here for are the burritos. This breakfast burrito is among the best in LA County, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the fillings. That’s because the house-made flour tortillas are fresh, soft, and an excellent vessel for whatever proteins and vegetables you choose to put inside them (when it’s not breakfast time, we like the buche best). Be warned, though - parking can be tough, and it’s cash only.
If you’re looking to impress somebody or finally wear that dress you bought for a wedding and never used, head to Michael’s. This Long Beach staple located on the mostly-residential Naples Island has been around for years, but is still the standard for special occasion dining in the area. Are they doing anything particularly different with their food? No. But sometimes it’s just nice to sit on an open-air rooftop patio, drink martinis, eat a whole branzino, and pretend you own one of those yachts down on the water.
One drink turned into two drinks turned into you crawling down 4th St. last night, and now you’re paying the price. Get yourself to The Attic. This converted bungalow is easily the most popular brunch spot in Long Beach, and everybody’s here for three things: A great side patio, massive Bloody Marys, and Long Beach’s unofficial/maybe official food icon, the Mac N’ Cheetos - a giant bowl of mac and cheese, covered in hot Cheetos, topped with everything from short rib to candied bacon, depending on what version you order. This seems like one of those things that was created solely for Instagram, and maybe it was. But it actually tastes pretty fantastic. Arrive before the rush, or plan to wait it out on the sidewalk.
The Ordinarie is a tavern in downtown Long Beach with a massive menu of modern pub fare. And, despite some gimmicky-seeming dishes, the food is quite good all-around. The chicken pot pie bites are like vegetable and chicken dumplings with a flaky, buttery crust, and the ham and cheddar popovers go surprisingly well with the maple butter that comes on the side. As far as bigger plates go, we always order the burgers and sandwiches instead of the actual entrees. Get the Tavern Burger with fontina cheese and caramelized onions, or the huge fried chicken sandwich. They’ve got good cocktails, an extremely impressive beer list, and live music most nights, so expect to spend a lot of time here.
On a quieter part of 4th St. is Aji, where they’re serving very good Peruvian food. The menu ranges from ceviches to causas (chilled mashed potato topped with seafood) to giant entrees that could feed a small family. It’s worth trying a bunch of different stuff from each section of the menu, but our favorites are the just-spicy-enough Ceviche Mercado and the creamy Aji de Gallina. The space is pretty simple, but the staff is super-friendly, and it’s a great spot for a casual weeknight dinner.
Wide Eyes Open Palms is one of the better “cool coffee shop” options in Long Beach. Along with iced cardamom-spiced lattes, they also serve great breakfast and lunch food. The space is bright and sunny, making it an ideal spot to post up with your laptop. Listen to the friendly staff when they suggest subbing out the toast in the Simple Egg + Toast for one of their biscuits - it makes for a truly excellent breakfast sandwich.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect a Southeast Asian spot to serve pizzas, but PowWow Pizza does just that - with some pretty great results. The Angkor, with lemongrass beef, fried garlic, pickled carrots, and a creamy garlic sauce is excellent (and extremely addictive), and the Filipino with egg and longganisa is also good. But our favorite of them all is the roast duck - which has crispy-skinned duck with watercress and a plum spread instead of sauce. It’s also right next door to Ambitious Ales, a brewery where you can bring in food, so we highly recommend bringing your pizzas there and getting involved with some hefeweizens.
This tiny Vietnamese cafe in Cambodia Town serves absolutely fantastic pho in a simple setting that’s ideal when you don’t feel like interacting with too many people. The 19 versions of pho here are made with dark rich broth and high-quality meat, and a large-sized bowl costs less than $7. One note: They’re currently closed, though they promise to reopen by October 2019.
James Republic might be at the bottom of a Marriott, but don’t let that deter you. This bright restaurant is one of the most reliable brunch spots in downtown Long Beach, with a modern space that’s so big you can always count on getting a table quickly. Plus, there are flat-screens everywhere, so it’s a solid spot to watch the game and bury your emotions in some mimosas. We get the shakshuka or the burger, and at least three sides of the habanero maple sausage for the table.
Sitting right on 2nd St. in the heart of Belmont Shore, Domenico’s is an old-school, red-sauce pizza and pasta joint, and the place you go for salty Caesar salad, crumbled-pepperoni pizza, and tons of wine with your friends on a Friday night. No one will tell you this place has the best food in town, but it doesn’t matter. You’re here to sit in a big red booth and feel like you’re in that restaurant from your hometown whose owners used to babysit you and still send you a holiday card.
There are a couple of George’s around Long Beach, but we like the Belmont Shore location best for its painted murals, fake columns, and general Greek kitschiness. It’s busy all day, with a mix of tourists, local moms having lunch together, and regulars sitting at the bar. Most everyone is here for the saganaki, which comes out in a skillet and is quickly lit on fire. We’re not sure the flames actually do anything, but the saganaki is great, and the lamb chops are, too. They’re not set on fire though.