Welcome to Long Beach….

East Ocean Blvd, Bluff Park

We’ve lived in our neighborhood of Long Beach now for almost a year.  It’s the longest I’ve lived in one place in the last 10+ years, including 4 others in California, and Cate’s second location since moving out west.  We live in the Bluff Park area, which is a predominantly residential district by the harbor filled with a mix of historic homes, including some stunningly maintained craftsmans and small-scale apartment complexes.  It has a safe pleasant feel, and even a few ‘real’ trees beside the ubiquitous rows of Mexican palms.

We can both agree Long Beach in general, and Bluff Park specifically is the most ‘livable’ place we’ve been in SoCal.  Despite being close to several urban centers, the traffic is lighter, restaurants and coffee shops are within walking distance and the residents are an eclectic mix.   We thought we’d start off our posts with a shout out to a few of our favorite places for coffee, dinner and drinks.  If you have knowledge of the area, we’d love to hear your advice on more to add since a year isn’t that long in a place as diverse and growing as Long Beach!

Coffee- Always important to find a good local coffee shop when you move someplace new.  Luckily for us, it seems like half of the nightlife (and day…life for that matter) happens in Long Beach’s many independent coffeehouses.  In particular, we enjoy Hot Java on Broadway for a quick fix & local vibe.  If you’re a carnivore, try the bacon, chive, and cheddar scones (phosphate-free of course) they have on weekends.  For food & hipster/artsy atmosphere, Portfolio on 4th and its sister cafe Berlin are good bets.  Bring your appetite and tapered jeans.  They also serve quality illy coffee, which is great iced.  Also worth mentioning is Greenhouse in the East Village (formerly Sipology) who’s loft is a great place to read or work.  What’s striking about the coffee culture here in general is that they are open and busy late, but don’t serve alcohol like some cafe/bars that are this popular in other cities.

Food- There’s plenty of this around, so we’ll just pick a couple to start with (there will be plenty more restaurant reviews).  Our most frequented spots are some on 4th St’s ‘Retro Row’ which we can walk to.  In particular we enjoy Lola’s Mexican, which has a quiet back patio that’s great for groups, ‘wine margaritas’ and good zucchini and mushroom tacos for the discerning vegetarian.  Our other usual spot is just a few doors down at ‘Number 9’ for modern vietnamese.  Simple concept here, like it says on the windows- ‘Noodles + Beer.”  The Pho is veggie-friendly, though on a busy night this small dining room can get loud!  To counteract this, No. 9 is part of a Long Beach initiative to add ‘parklets’ outside of popular local restaurants, and so will have quieter outside dining soon!  Also notable places for vegan/vegetarian menus are Steamed and Zephyr, both in the East Village, very casual and reasonably priced.  Zephyr has the broader menu, but be prepared to wait a few minutes for your food on a busier night.

Drinks- Long Beach has its share of bars of all kinds, and especially in Downtown and Belmont Shore, an impressive amount of nightlife.  However, some of the more unique and honestly best run places are the wine bars.  In particular, District Wine on Linden tops the list for us when we want a night out.  The staff are extremely friendly, the wine list is good, and their happy hour prices are reasonable.  They have a modest food menu as well, and we’ve enjoyed just about everything we’ve tried.  The decor could belong in a much bigger city, with dark wood accents and exposed brick.  Go early when it’s quiet, and stay on into the night as the place fills up with locals enjoying a classy but relaxed night out!

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