2013 Daily 49er Food Guide
Best Vegan Food
Angela Ratzlaff, News Editor
Address:6473 Pacific Coast Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90803
Vegan. The word often conjures up images of underweight cardigan-clad college students who wear expressions of “I could care less” under their non-prescription glasses.
Whether it’s a hipster trend or health fad, vegan and vegetarian food is certainly more delightful and much less guilt bearing than a grease-drenched burger from a nearby fast food restaurant. Long Beach’s Roots Gourmet proves that food sans dairy and meat can also be more flavorful and just as satisfying, if not more.
Roots owner and self-taught chef Dalet Hamby, who is an active athlete herself, opened the restaurant with health and nutrition in mind.
“I was vegan for a couple of years … I understood the demand for it,” she said.
Dalet, however, adds her Latin flair with something she calls “salzÃn.”
“[It means] to have passion, zest, spice and creativity,” she said.
Zest, spice and creativity jump from the menu items like their specialty Mexican Mayan mocha, a cinnamon infused coffee drink combined with a homemade chocolate mix. They also offer the traditional empanadas, with flavors including the plantain and black bean stuffed Cuban, chili-cheese, chicken and beef. A vegan and gluten free empanada is always available, of course.
The vegan empanada is stuffed with black as well as garbanzo beans, roasted red peppers and corn. The dough is fried to make a golden crust, and it is served with their homemade green salsa.
The cafÃ© does offer meat options, if vegan food proves to be too intimidating. One of their most popular dishes is the turkey albondigas, a traditional Mexican meatball soup that fills more than 60 bowls a day. The original recipe usually calls for pork; however, Roots revamps the nutrition level and makes the meatballs with lean turkey and house-made vegetable broth.
Other than spice-infused entrÃ©es and coffee drinks, the cafÃ© keeps prepared foods, like soyrizo-stuffed Portobello mushrooms and vegetable lasagna, in their deli case. A bakery filled with vegan and gluten free treats, like a gluten free carrot cake and vegan chocolate tortes, sits next to the deli.
After two years of business, Dalet said that the best part of Roots has been the Long Beach community.
“The success has been great,” Dalet said. “Community support has been tremendous … our goal is to foster a great sense of community.”
Roots is open on Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m..
Best Date Night
Address:6272 Pacific Coast Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90803
What a great little date spot! The ambiance is warm and inviting and the food is pretty exceptional, albeit a little overpriced if you’re not taking advantage of Sunday Brunch or happy hour. The menu has a variety of Asian inspired dishes and some of the best Kobe beef sliders around. Their calamari is mouthwatering and cooked to perfection, and their mac ‘n’ cheese comes in a hot skillet covered with toasted breadcrumbs. The transition from brunch to happy hour on Sundays is seamless, so the prices hardly change – only the menus do. They have live music Wednesday through Sunday and sits right on the Marina so the view is unbelievable. The bar lines an entire window-filled wall in this spacious spot-with cozy couches facing the water so guests can grab a drink and enjoy the sunset after a long hard day. Happy hour lasts all day Mondays, Tuesday – Friday & Sundays it is from 2:30 to 6 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 10a.m. – 2 p.m.
Best Weird Food
Address:929 Redondo Ave, Long Beach, CA 90804
Can’t decide between Italian and Thai food again? Look no further. Just a hole in the wall on an easily overlooked corner, Dean’s Pizza is home to one of Long Beach’s most unlikely hidden gems: Thai Curry Pizza. It’s really not as weird as it sounds. Instead of tomato sauce, Dean’s Pizza uses curry to give their unique creation its signature kick. Their menu has everything from pasta to pad Thai, although I’ve never been brave enough to try anything but the pizza. Stuck next to the smoke shop off of 10th and Redondo, Dean’s isn’t the most inviting place. But hey, they deliver on-time in a smart car and at $13 for a large, Thai Curry Pizza makes one hell of a late night snack.
Best Dive Bar
The Stache Bar
Address:941 E 4th St, Long Beach, CA 90802
The Quintessential dive bar has a bright red door with a mustache hanging above it that opens into a small room with a no windows, a pool table, and a jukebox in the corner. The vibe is warm and welcome and the bartenders are fantastic. They have homemade ginger beer and a great selection of organic classic cocktail like the Moscow Mule, Dark and Stormy and an Old Fashioned. They also have local microbrews, beer on draft, and PBR in a bottle. The $2.50 wells drinks at happy hour are also pretty hard to beat. One of Long Beach’s hidden gems — The Stache Bar is located on 4th Street between Alamitos and Orange. Just look for the red door with a mustache and you’ll be in the right place.
Best Taco Tuesday
Great Mex Grill
Address:5530 E. Atherton Street, at Bellflower Boulevard
Great Mex is so close to Cal State Long Beach that it might as well be a part of campus.
We’re still somewhat bitter over the increase from $1 to a 1.25 on taco Tuesdays for carne asada, chicken, ground beef, and carnitas tacos, but we’ll forgive them since taco Tuesday prices are also available on the weekends and mahi mahi tacos are only $2. The tacos run a bit small, so order double what you’d usually get along with a Jarritos soda on Tuesday after class.
Best Coffee Shop
Viento y Agua Coffee
Address:4007 E 4th St, Long Beach, CA 90814
When one ventures to “Viento y Agua” on 4th St., Timothy Leary’s immortal words of “tune in, turn on and drop out” come to mind. Set with over-sized chairs and a bookshelf that anyone can grab from, “Viento y Agua” is the place where one can withdraw from the world and experience the Mexican Mocha. Affordable, friendly and unique, “Viento y Agua” is the place for college students. Whether it’s studying for a midterm or writing a paper, “Viento y Agua” is the best.
Best Foreign Food
Address:5215 E 2nd St, Long Beach, CA 90803
Meals are both exotic and affordable at the Open Sesame Lebanese restaurant on 2nd street. Upon entrance, you will plunge into the lavish atmosphere of a Middle Eastern eatery, velvet couches with embroidered curtains and tapestries replace wooden chairs and plain tables, made complete by authentic decorations and the soft light of oil lamps. This restaurant is perfect for the diverse group of lunch or dinner-goers, for while beef and chicken shawarma is shredded in plain view, the menu offers a complete selection of vegetarian, vegan and raw dishes. Although you’ll want to fill up on the fluffy pita and your choice of Hummus, Baba Gannouj or Tzatziki, leave space for Kabobs or Falafel. The menu is full of variety and genuinely Lebanese, so the newcomer is able to experiment with something new or even opt for Pizza or sandwiches- Lebanese style. While the positive atmosphere and food is five-star quality, the prices are no higher than your neighborhood Denny’s.
Best Hangover Spot
Schooner or Later
Address:241 Marina Dr, Long Beach, CA 90803
Located right next to the Long Beach Marina, Schooner or Later is the perfect brunch spot to recover after a rough night out. The restaurant offers open-air seating and generous drink sizes and food portions. One breakfast-must is The Mess, which you are not advised to make alternations to. If the eggs, ham, onion, bell pepper and hashbrown combination proves to be too much on an uneasy stomach, the Half Mess is always an option as well. Be advised, the wait times for a Saturday or Sunday brunch can be long.
Address:5271 E 2nd St, Long Beach, CA 90803
If you’re looking for the next great burger joint in Long Beach, Simmzy’s on Second Street is, hands down, your most hip and delectable option yet. Whether you’re dining with your buddies, a date, or even by your lonesome -trust me, the Simmzy’s Burger is worth the embarrassment of announcing you’ll be a party of one- the atmosphere and service will make you feel like you belong – even if the alcohol hasn’t kicked in yet.
Made of woodfire-grilled sterling natural beef, topped with tender smoked onions, melted cheddar, garlic aeoli, and your classic lettuce and tomato, this is a burger I get “pregnancy”-like cravings for if I’ve deprived myself for too long. Meat temperature preference? Rare.
Not only is the entire list of fare full of flavors and textures one would imagine finding in a swanky five-star gastropub, but the atmosphere is hip and inviting with long communal tables running through the length of the restaurant, in case you feel like amping up your social life for the night. Oh yeah, and did I mention they have quite the extensive beer list? From frothy Belgian ales to creamy stouts, owner and home brewer Mike Simms knows good beer when he tastes it.
Expect to leave enamored and in good spirits – with perhaps a few less ten dollar bills in your wallet.
Address:1404 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90813
Babette Bakery is Long Beach’s hub for delicious baked desserts that won’t burn your wallet. Offering a split menu, with certain pastries only made in the morning, Babette Bakery brings an authentic French atmosphere to the heart of Long Beach. Come by for your classic favorites, cookies, brownies and cake – but don’t leave without trying the French classics, like an Ã©clair or the locally renowned fruit tarts. Babette Bakery closes in the afternoon, so stalk up early in the day if you think you’ll have a sugar craving come night. With a large variety of well-priced delicacies, Babette Bakery is well worth the drive and will have you coming back for more.