Melissa Almeraz is co-owner of Long Beach’s queer-friendly Let’s Yolk About It breakfast cafe. She comes from a breakfast family. The tradition of enjoying the morning meal together—whether at home or at a restaurant—gave her the dream of one day opening her own place.
Growing up in Fontana, a suburb outside of Los Angeles, Almeraz worked on her bachelor’s at Cal State Fullerton while immersing herself in the restaurant industry at chains like Dave & Buster’s and Yard House. Eventually, she moved up to Long Beach and began bartending at queer establishments like Ripples and Hamburger Mary’s. What began as a way to supplement her income quickly evolved into a full-time passion.
“I loved being around people and I loved the energy,” Almeraz recalls. “I also loved the connections, so I decided to jump into it full force. I started saving my money, knowing that I wanted to open something eventually.”
That time came when she started working at The Breakfast Bar in Long Beach’s downtown area. Previously a night owl, her schedule flipped from closing a bar at 4am to opening a restaurant at 6am. After a series of conversations with her co-worker Rebecca Hinderer, and in the interest of maintaining flexibility with their schedules, they decided to open a restaurant together. The next step was finding a location and space, which landed them on bustling Second Street in Long Beach’s Belmont Shore neighborhood.
Almeraz and Hinderer opened their new breakfast spot, Let’s Yolk About It (though first called What’s Crackin’), in December 2020. She describes the experience as being the hardest thing that she’s ever done, and trying to prepare for whatever obstacle would be thrown her way often felt futile. But her optimism and patience have served her well through the ups and downs of restaurant closures and ever-changing mandates. “My favorite word was ‘pivot,’” she laughs. “That’s all you could really do. And try to be grateful for the opportunity.”
She also believes that it is important for Let’s Yolk About It to be a safe space for the LGBTQ community. A Pride flag hangs in the front window, a symbol that Almeraz believes increases visibility in a neighborhood that may otherwise be lacking. “When you see certain indicators, like a flag or a sticker, and queer people working in these environments—then you feel it is a safe space.”
And the response has been overwhelming. Other than Ripples, a now-shuttered gay club that was located not far from Let’s Yolk About It, she didn’t feel that Belmont Shore offered much in the way of queer representation. But that has changed. “When we hung the flag out front for Pride this year, a lot of my friends who live in the area called me and were very emotional,” she says. “That means a lot to me.”
Providing that space is reason enough to celebrate a little while still enjoying an extended breakfast session. Long Beach has been home to Almeraz for 16 years, and her experience as both bartender and restaurant owner makes her doubly qualified to share her favorite boozy brunch spots.
The Breakfast Bar
Almeraz loves Breakfast Bar not only because she used to work there, but also for the restaurant’s owners, who have served as mentors. She feels that their cocktail program is great for breakfast, especially when paired with one of their signature Bloody Marys, such as “The Queen Mary.” “Josh Beadel is such a great bartender, and he puts a lot of passion into his craft,” she says. Josh and his wife Pamela also serve dishes like pork-belly skewers and shrimp bruschetta.
Schooner or Later
Dining at Schooner or Later has become something of a Long Beach rite of passage, much like “shoot the root,” the infamous root beer schnapps and Coors Light concoction from Shannon’s on Second Street. Almeraz recommends Schooner or Later in part because of its dockside location. She also loves being able to enjoy a drink at the marina. “Who doesn’t want to do that?” she says. “A nice view, plus you get to wait in the lifeguard chairs and have a cocktail.”
The Potholder Cafe describes itself as “the undisputed king of breakfast,” and Almeraz would agree. “It is a classic, and when I first moved to Long Beach, I was at The Potholder almost every day,” she says. With four locations, customers have their pick, but Almeraz prefers the restaurant on Broadway in Belmont Heights. “To me, it’s more nostalgic and a little neighborhoody. And I really like the energy that used to be in there.” Big-platter breakfast dishes like the “Mac Daddy Frankie” (an 18-inch pancake topped with eggs and bacon or sausage) or “Maritime Loco Moco” (two eggs on a hamburger patty over rice topped with brown gravy) are not for the faint of heart.
Overlooking Will Rogers Mini Park and Colorado Lagoon, Ubuntu is an all-day cafe that Almeraz appreciates for their coffee. “I’ve had a couple of things to eat there, and the ambiance is really nice,” she says. With fresh flowers on every table, this is the spot to enjoy a mimosa and egg sandwich served on a croissant while lounging outside. Or order a picnic basket that has been tailored to the occasion—from “Out on a Date” (charcuterie, cheese, olives, etc.) to “Breakfast in Bed” (fruit, yogurt, granola, croissant, and similar).
Almeraz describes The Wild Chive as a place to get “amazing vegan food for brunch,” and also praises the staff and owners. “I had a morning off the other day and went to The Wild Chive with some friends of mine,” she says. “I highly recommend it.” Order their Chick’n & Waffles or a Grilled Burrizo, and pair it with a Michelada or IPA. Now located on Broadway, the restaurant evolved from a pop-up to a brick-and-mortar restaurant where you can find delicious vegan dishes. A Pride flag hangs inside and guests are welcomed by a huge painting of RBG.