Long Beach. Birthplace of Snoop Dogg and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, and home to the second largest port in the United States, a giant ship that doesn’t sail anywhere, people who drunk-ride their horses down highways. And, a whole bunch of great places to eat.
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 barbecue in a 50-mile radius to quite a lot of gastropubs, Long Beach has many excellent eating options. So we’ve narrowed things down for you to these - the best restaurants in Long Beach.
Bigmista’s is the best BBQ we’ve eaten in Los Angeles. It started as a farmer’s market pop-up, then became a brick-and-mortar in a Long Beach shopping center in 2014, and has since established its reputation as one of the greatest BBQ joints in Southern California. All of the BBQ at this order-at-the-counter spot is great, but Bigmista’s sandwiches need to be your priority. The brisket melt and the pulled pork with pineapple slaw are both equally fantastic, and worth braving whatever the 405 is giving you today. Don’t skip the mac and cheese either.
Cambodia Town is stacked with tremendous places to eat. 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 that will ruin all other beef jerky for you.
Phnom Penh is one of the best Cambodian restaurants in Long Beach, and also one of our favorite spots in the whole city. Open daily from 8am - 3pm, this tiny place specializes mostly in Cambodian breakfast - dishes like phnom penh (noodle soup made with pork bone broth), rice porridge, meat pies, and other delicious noodles. Wait times get long on the weekends.
One of the newer spots in Long Beach, Ellie’s is pretty special. It’s in a quiet neighborhood not too far from downtown, with a big front patio, a small dining room, and 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, and is made 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 it 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. Save room for dessert though - everything from the red velvet cake to the 10+ types of pie are worth trying.
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 Playa Amor is much more than that. This modern spot serves fantastic Mexican/Southwestern food in a low-key party atmosphere that’s great for anything from a low-key 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).
Thai District is a great Thai spot for work lunches and date night. 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.
Open since 2001, Enrique’s is an old-school Mexican restaurant in a stripmall 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 serves 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.
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 Street last night, and now you’re paying the price. Get yourself to The Attic. This converted bungalow house 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 candy 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.
Right in the middle of 2nd St in Belmont Shore, this newish spot looks a bit corporate, and doesn’t ever seen to get busy. But those two facts are misleading, because Lasher’s is excellent. Grab a spot on the small front patio, and feel free to order anything on the menu - it’s a bit all-over-the-place (with everything from crab cakes to a meat pie), but when the food is this good, that doesn’t really matter. The fried green tomatoes in particular are fantastic, as is the cioppino.
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.
This tiny Vietnamese cafe in Cambodia Town serves absolutely fantastic pho in a simple setting ideal for 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 medium-sized bowl is $6.95.
From the outside, 4th & Olive looks like yet another Long Beach gastropub. But this restaurant just on the edge of Downtown Long Beach is very much not that. It’s an Alsatian place, owned and staffed by veterans, with an interesting wine list. There’s a fairly big menu, but the main thing you need to know is that 4th & Olive is home to one of the best pork chops we’ve ever eaten. It’s enormous, perfectly cooked, and reason enough to get here. But if you needed another, there’s always the house made pretzel too.
A little down 4th Street from most of the action is Restauration, a small restaurant with a fairly terrible name. Walk through to the back and you’ll find a huge covered patio that’s sunny for brunch, and candlelit for dinner. They serve upscale bistro food, like carrots with burrata and sea bass caught by the server’s friend.
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 flaat-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 street 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 so are the lamb chops you should be ordering too.