My Five Favorite Eats in Long Beach. What Are Yours? (and why?)

Avenue Café closing down had me thinking; what food spots in Long Beach do I frequent the most? So, I made a list of my top five. Please keep in mind: I am not saying these are the five best restaurants in Long Beach, they’re just my favorites. I have to be honest, out of all the many restaurants in town, I’ve probably only been to maybe half of them. Perhaps I am missing out on something, so please tell me! What are your top five?

1. Sugo Café (62 W. Park Avenue). I love Sugo. I really do. I probably go here more than any other restaurant in Long Beach. Some folks seem to think their menu is “weird”, but that’s the whole point. Sugo offers quality, variety and great daily specials; plus they change their menu up a lot, so it’s always a new experience eating there. Baby Back Ribs, Pulled Pork Lettuce Wraps.. oh my stomach is growling. I love this place.

2. Swingbellys (909 West Beech Street). I am a total carnivore, so for me, Swingbellys is pure heaven. I usually stick with their pork and brisket platters with grilled veggies & corn bread. Yum! Yum! Yum!!! I think most of you agree that Swingbellys is one of the best places to eat in Long Beach. Am I right?

3. Paninis and Bikinis (896 West Beech Street) What’s not to love about this place? When I want to eat healthy, I go to P&B for a salad. Their paninis are the best in town (sorry La Bottega). Being an East Ender, I recently discovered that they serve breakfast! That’s nothing new to you West End folks, but it is for me. Amazing omelets! I just wish they opened a location in the East End too!

4. Duke Falcons (36 West Park Avenue). I am obsessed with one dish at Duke Falcons. It’s sooo good that It bumps this restaurant up to my top five list. It’s funny, because my favorite dish is so simple, but Duke does it soooooo well:

Marinated Skirt Steak
A 14oz. skirt steak, marinated in our own special BBQ sauce, and grilled medium-rare. Served with garlic mashed potatoes, crispy onion whips, and grilled vegetables.

5. Pita Grill (10 W Park Avenue). Yes, what the hell is this place doing on my top five list? I know there are better food places in town, but I go to Pita Grill a lot because I sometimes try to eat healthy. I really like their Sesame Ginger Rice Bowl. Other items like hummus, falafel and babaganoush, what’s not to love?

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27 thoughts on “My Five Favorite Eats in Long Beach. What Are Yours? (and why?)”

  1. I think the food in LB can leave a lot to be desired- but I love the places I’m about to name and would put them up against any similar cuisine style in a culinary mecca.

    1. Swingbelly’s – It’s good. So good. What else needs to be said? The owners there are LB locals and truly appreciate their customers, and it is the only place in town that I feel that way about. Wings, St. Louis Ribs, Mac and Cheese. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

    2. Speakeasy – Great atmosphere and food. It’s a beer joint that doesn’t make you feel like a derilicte. Their burger is probably at the top of the LB list and who doesn’t write sonnets about their avocado fries? Love their steak and eggs at Brunch as well.

    3. Gentle Brew – it’s coffee, but it’s not “just coffee.” It’s damn good and a welcomed alternative to Starbucks. The baked goods they serve come from vegan bakeries and LB locals. AND they take credit cards for purchases under $10- Coffee Nut Cafe, take note.

    4. Laguna – man, their pizza is good, and so is their filet mignon and pasta. Their wine is formidable as well, and the half priced bottles on Sunday make me not mind that tomorrow is Monday.

    5. Dough-Hut – the new Donut shop in the West End is coming out swinging. It’s only getting better the longer it is open. Inventive flavors (Bacon Maple to Peanut Butter icing topped with chocolate and crushed pretzels); sure, it does nothing for your waistline, but you don’t regret it. They gotta get with the Credit Card program, though- who carries cash anymore?

  2. I forgot about Laguna! I thought of adding Gentle Brew, but wasn’t sure if I should keep it restaurants-only. But they do have some great coffee. Never been to Speakeasy and I usually try to stay away from donuts, but I’m going to have to try that new place. Great List!

  3. I love Swingbelly’s as well but they don’t allow tips to go on credit cards. There are times I want to go there and don’t have cash so I choose another place based on that reason alone. Typically when I want to go out to eat I just walk down west and pick a place on the way. There are no ATM’s from my bank down there either. Life should be so simple!

    They really do have the best mac and cheese ever.

  4. 1. Sorrentos: They have amazing pizza if you get there to late they are sold out. Only makes one pizza at time.

    2. Bahia Social Club: Great tapas! The fish tacos are yummy! Love the sangria!

    3. Chaba Thai: Yummy Thai what more can you ask for

    4. Duke’s and Sugo: Love the food not one complaint with Duke’s! The decor at Duke’s is what kills me with this place very old and dated. Sugo is great lots of fun, tasty food, however can be a little salty for my taste.

    5. Hear me out on this one… the hotel’s tapas bar menu. A million times better than the restaurant which is terrible. However, the tapas bar menu is fabulous plus you can sit outside or inside and watch the ocean, boardwalk folk , and the cougars at the hotel on the hunt.

  5. Himawari is tops. Jimmy is the best as are the waitresses and the boys putting everything together.
    Swingbellys rules. Laguna can be great one night and ruined the next by a ditzy college waitress outside during the summer who forgets you’re there.
    Dukes has a great menu but the decor needs updating.
    What about Ginos? Best Italian food around but they’ve gotten chintzy by making you choose between salad and pasta.

  6. Nagahama & Himawari – sushi
    Sugo and Duke’s – good food
    merryland – best Chinese delivery
    Ay Caramba – mexican
    Gino’s – Italian (although i hear Sorrentos is da bomb just haven’t been there yet)

  7. Nagahama beat Himawari by miles, the help there is too pushir.
    Swingbellys rules I love the place, trouble is you can’t get in during the summer time. .
    Laguna can be great one night and not so great the next , it depends on how ambitious the chef is.
    Dukes is pretty good, BUT! The menu needs updating, and the quantities on your plate is to small for his prices and his drinks are tiny.
    Chaba.rules, I only wish it was larger, sometimes i cant get in.
    I also like Speakeasy’s but I think they are over priced.
    Sutton Place has good food, but the surroundings are not in my corner, to many drunks and loud mouths, that make if unfriendly for a family restaurant…
    John Henry’s makes a great burger.
    Billy’s Beach Cafe, also makes an awesome burger.
    Less than favorite’s places that I’ve tried but didn’t care for as much as the list above.

    Nagoya
    Lola’s,
    Gino’s
    Nick’s Tuscan Grill.
    Pitta Grill.
    Cuban Crocodile was pretty bland for Cuban.
    Grillfire. I’ll never visit this place again
    Blue Point, Had one of the worst dining experiences here, they need to start over .

  8. Hi there all. I am surprised by some of the lists here and I feel I need to throw in my lot.

    1. Sorrentos – you MUST go here and get the full experience. It is a butcher shop first and everything else second, but the sandwiches are incredible as well as the pizza. I would vouch for anything purchased in this establishment. There isn’t enough room in this website to fully describe how awesome this place is.

    2. Nagahama – If you think any other place in LB has good sushi, then you will be amazed how great Nagahama is. Ideally sit at the corner of the bar to be served by the best.

    3. Speakeasy – “West End Tom” really put it best above. My regret with this place is that they don’t have Delirium on tap all the time like they used to and they scrapped the peanutbutter burger from the menu. Think it sounds crazy? If you see it on a menu somewhere, order it.

    Honorable mention: Ay Caramba – don’t order from here, they take forever, but they have pretty solid “mexican” food. Swingbelly’s – the food has dropped off considerably in the past few years, but you can get a big-ass margarita and pour a Natty Ice into it and the atmosphere is tops. Paninis & Bikinis – I only started going here recently, but have been impressed with breakfast and lunch.

    I was shocked to see places like Chaba Thai (which is terrible, terrible thai food), Duke Falcons (which is pretty good but way overpriced), Cabana (the food isn’t very good and taco tuesday is a nightmare – the margaritas are a notable mention as they erase your memory though the bartenders assure me that tequila is the only active ingredient), and Pita Grill (which has ok food, but in the time it takes them to get it to you, you could have went across the street to the supermarket and bought/prepped/cooked your entire meal).

    You know what I find missing from LB? Indian food. It is something I miss as I am a huge fan.

  9. Nagahama, If you are a sushi lover, this place can’t be beat.
    Swingbellys, is a real rib lover’s treat, The beer and bourbon tastings are just incredibly tasty.
    Bahia Social Club: Great for Tapas and small plates, but priced too high.!
    Paninis & Bikinis is wonderful especially for breakfast
    Laguna is good but too expensive.
    Sorrento’s Pizza just can’t be beat. I cannot wait to return!!!
    Dukes is pretty good, but it seems to be a dreary place, it need some life.
    Chaba, If you’re looking for Thai, this place does it right all the time, never misses.
    Speakeasy’s is very good but they are over priced. But I love the food here.
    Sutton Place can also be very good, but I don’t care for their layout.And the service is a bit slow and the food is good but overpriced for what you’re getting.
    John Henry’s burger’s rules in Long Beach.
    Beach House, has good food, but I’m not crazy about their clientele
    Billy’s Beach Cafe, is very good for a lite bite.
    Geri’s is a real sleeper, but needs a fix up badly.
    Jake’s Wayback Burgers. You get a good burger, and the side portion of fries is huge and delicious.
    Biddy Mulligans , .Fun and good, not great but good.
    The Cabana Fun atmosphere. and I love Taco Tuesdays

    Places that I’ve tried and I can easily do without..

    The Hotel Atlantica, Alegria. Very disappointed, slow, over priced, and not at all good.
    Minnesota’s
    Nagoya, you can do much better elsewhere.
    Yummy Yummy
    Don Juan’s, You can do better at Taco Bell.
    Lola’s
    The Bungalow
    Gino’s
    Mediterranean Seafood Cafe
    Nick’s Tuscan Grill. Bad, since it changed owners.
    Pitta Grill.
    Whale’s Tale
    Cuban Crocodile
    Grillfire
    Blue Point. I can’t figure this place out.. Nuf said.
    Kev’s Caribbean Kitchen, a wannabee.
    Five Guys is highly over-rated.
    Pops Seafood Shack. Absolutely unacceptable

  10. I have to disagree about Pita Grill. I think their food is god awful, overpriced and bland, and the fact that Abe’s is so close makes it a no brainer when I’m in the mood for that kind of food.

    Outside of that, I love going to Chaba, Dukes, Swingbellys, Cabana, Speakeasy or Cuban for dinner. My current sh!t list includes Nick’s Tuscan, Grillfire, Lolas and Pita Grill.

    Lots of average food around here, hopefully the local businesses can keep improving. I good step would be to get a real Mexican place, the two we have are putrid. Hell, I’d settle for Green Cactus to come back.

  11. This was a great informative post! Thanks to all of you, I have some new places to check out! When all comments are finally in, an illustrated map would be a great follow up! Thanks Anthony

  12. Thanks Maureen, and great idea! That was the main reason for this post, for me to discover new places! haha. It’s still getting comments, so maybe I’ll wait until the end of the week with a followup. Thanks for checking out the blog!

  13. Hate to say it but the Park Ave Cafe wont be the last one you see this winter. Rents may be too high for the area. Add in tax increases, high utility bills, rising food and labor costs along with adjusted discretionary spending {eating out budgets} and its hard for stores without hands on operators to survive. Unfortunately many of these restauranteurs don’t really know how to please their customers..
    If I were in their place, when they have a loyal customer I’d bend down backwards to please them, especially in today’s economy.
    Some of these place would rather take their steady customers for granted and just forget about them and that’s a good way to lose them. Others just have that attitude thinking that they are owed your business because of one thing or another. Time to wake up boys, the party doesn’t last forever.
    Teach your help how to serve and to be pleasant. or your regulars will find other places to go to. Restaurants are a dime a dozen, don’t takey your customers cor granted.

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