Local’s Top 11 Spots to Eat in Long Beach

Wondering where to find the best food in Long Beach? Here are 11 spots to find great food and drinks in Long Beach, California.

A Little Long Beach History

People visit Long Beach for lots of reasons. The city has a large convention center, well-maintained waterfront parks, an aquarium, miles of beach boardwalks and bike trails, a major university, an off-leash dog beach, and of course the economic powerhouse Port of Long Beach. Whether you’re visiting Long Beach for business or pleasure, the city will likely surprise you for its charm, despite being nestled among one of the largest cities in the United States.

The City of Long Beach was incorporated in 1897. It is the seventh most populous city in California. It is one of the major cities that makes up the “Gateway Cities” area of southeast Los Angeles County. Hugging the 605, 110, and 710 highways, this area earns its name for being the gateway between the City of Los Angeles and Orange County. This region is notably one of the most densely populated municipalities in the United States.

city of long beach map of neighborhoods

Long Beach is also home to the largest community of ethnic Cambodians in the United States, although they make up very small overall percentage of the Long Beach population. There is a neighborhood dubbed “Little Phnom Penh” because of this.

Being part of Los Angeles County, a lot of Hollywood filming occurs in Long Beach. The popular show Jane the Virgin features shots filmed at the waterfront in Long Beach, claiming in the show to be Miami. Another show claiming to be set in Miami, but actually filmed in Long Beach is Dexter. The house from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is in Long Beach, found in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood (area in red in the map above). The Will Ferrel comedy Anchorman claims to be in “classy” San Diego when in fact many scenes are shot in Long Beach.

You may notice that the City of Signal Hill sits entirely within the City of Long Beach. This is because the city was incorporated to avoid higher taxes on oil shortly after it was discovered there. The general area of Long Beach is home to an oil field that was extremely productive in the 1920s. Huge derricks used to cover Signal Hill and many parts of Long Beach. Today you can still spot some of the oil infrastructure, some of which is still in use today.


Most of the featured restaurants on this list can be found in the Downtown, Belmont Heights, Central, East Village, and Belmont Shore neighborhoods of Long Beach. This list is made up of several hidden gem restaurants in Long Beach. In no particular ranking order, here are some of my favorite spots for food in Long Beach.

1. Padre

One of the most popular restaurants on this list, Padre is both a great destination for food and drinks alike. It is a lively place with a bar area that fills up on the weekends. Their primarily Mexican and Latin American menu features items like baja fish tacos and Peruvian lomo salto, to include a vegan version of the saucy French fry dish. They also have vegan ceviche, a favorite of the Mexican Executive Chef Manuel Bañuelos. Get there early or make a reservation if you plan to visit for dinner on the weekend.

2. Modica’s Deli

If you’re looking for a nice lunch in Long Beach, look no further than Modica’s Deli. Modica’s has been a Long Beach staple since 1996, providing over 25 years of service to hungry city residents and visitors. They specialize in sandwiches and pastas. My vegetarian friendly favorites are the spaghetti with two big slices of garlic bread and the fresh mozzarella cold sandwich. They also have a great selection deli meats and hot sandwiches, lasagnas, and a wide variety of desserts. Their huge slice of carrot cake is my absolute favorite.

They have some indoor seating, however it is a primarily outdoor sidewalk seating affair. For a restaurant near Long Beach’s downtown, this is a perfect spot for an easy lunch on a warm sunny day. Being on the corner of Ocean Ave, you can also steal a peak at an ocean view from the Deli.

carrot cake at modica's deli in long beach california
Carrot cake at Modica’s

3. Phnom Penh Noodle Shack

With Long Beach being home to the largest community of Cambodians in the United States, a quintessential Cambodian restaurant is a must visit. This multigenerational family-owned restaurant opened as a small-scale establishment in the 1980s. The inside isn’t exactly fancy, but it was in fact renovated in the last 10 years. The real reason to come though is the food. If you’ve never had Cambodian food, this is a great place to start. Try their noodle soups and round bread. Their menu also has lot of pictures to help you choose what you’re looking for.

4. Michael’s Downtown

If you’re looking for dinner in downtown Long Beach, this Italian restaurant located right off the promenade serves great food. They have stylish indoor and outdoor seating with a covered patio. Being on the promenade, they’re also removed from some of the noise and nuisance of street traffic sounds.

One of the best things I’ve eaten in Long Beach is their glazed pear, prosciutto, and burrata appetizer. Their menu consists primarily of pastas and woodfired pizzas. For something lighter, they also have a great selection of fresh salads and grain-based bowls. For dessert, try their affogato. They’re also open daily for breakfast, serving up Italian inspired skillets.

Dessert and espresso in downtown long beach california
Affogatos at Michael’s Downtown

5. Saint & Second

The most popular spot on this list, Saint & Second is found in Belmont Shores of Long Beach, near Naples. This buzzing 2nd Street Long Beach restaurant is a popular weekend brunch spot. Because of this, reservations are recommended for weekend visits. This is a trendy restaurant in Long Beach and a fun place to eat since they serve quirky specials like Captain Crunch Berry pancakes. Their typical dinner menu however offers plenty of refined, balanced plates like their porkchop and salmon.

6. Open Sesame

Another 2nd Street Long Beach restaurant, this Lebanese restaurant is found near Saint & Second in Belmont Shores. I highly recommend their Halloumi and Watermelon appetizer and Mezza platter for sharing with the table. Round off the meal with Lebanese wine and Baklawa for dessert.

First opening in 1999, Open Sesame conveniently has many vegetarian and vegan options and their meats are completely Halal. This location is the original, as they have also since opened a second location in Los Angeles.

7. Ammatoli

Another Middle Eastern restaurant on the list, Ammatoli is a favorite of downtown Long Beach. It is trendy both inside and out and serves great food. It was even listed by the Los Angeles Times as one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles County for the second year. The chef behind the establishment of the restaurant, Dima, was born in Jordan to Syrian and Palestinian parents. Look closely within the space and you’ll find lots of ways she has incorporated her life and story into the restaurant.

For lunch, I recommend the falafel plate or the three-way mezza platter combo. The platter is great for sharing with 1-2 other people. Cap off lunch with a cardamon infused Turkish coffee.

8. Portuguese Bend Distillery

Located near the promenade in downtown Long Beach, Portuguese Bend Distillery not only serves cocktails made with their distilled spirits, but also has a great menu. Portuguese Bend is a great spot for happy hour or drinks with friends in Long Beach. They are proudly the first distillery in Long Beach, producing a wide variety of spirits from rum to vodka to gin. They’re also a cool spot to pick up local merchandise if you’re looking for a souvenir.

Update: Portuguese Bend Distillery seems to have closed its restaurant operation. However, it still sells its bottle spirits.

Long beach cocktails
Portuguese Bend Distillery – known for their cocktails!

10. Risu

Risu is a great little local spot tucked away up on an elevated pedestrian path. This protects it from road nuisances like noise and cars. They are best for a happy hour or nightcap drinks as they specialize in wines, beers, cocktails, and gourmet bites. They can be found next to the Rainbow Bridge and garden space near The Crest Apartments and Long Beach Theatre.

What I really love about this spot is how tucked away and private it feels. It is well connected to walking paths to end the night strolling and they occasionally host musicians. The fire pit seating makes for a romantic date night in Long Beach too. Make your way to this hidden gem and you will not be disappointed!


10. Recreational Coffee

This cozy coffee shop offers primarily indoor seating. Inside they have a nice long bench seat with about a half dozen tables. Their coffees are Fair Trade and they serve local baked goods such as vegan donuts. Beyond baked goods they also have a small selection of brunch-like bites such as Prosciutto Ricotta Toast. For even more of a treat, they’ve even unveiled an espresso shake recently. Their hours are generally 7am-7pm, but confirm online.

11. Rose Park Roasters

Rose Park Roasters has a several locations, including a newly opened one in downtown Long Beach. This location has primarily outside eating in an enclosed courtyard. They source their beans from all over the word and even offer a subscription service. They meticulously prepare almost everything on their menu in house. Adding an unexpected quirk to their menu, you could choose to order a coffee flight by mixing coffee, cold brew, or latte varieties onto a tasting board. Perfect if you can’t seem to choose just one!

Map of Featured Restaurants and Cafes

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I’m Taylor. If you’re interested in contributing a guest post to the website, drop a message into my inbox. Thanks for visiting!

Santa Barbara, California


2 thoughts on “Local’s Top 11 Spots to Eat in Long Beach

  1. Great blog post! It’s always helpful to have some insider knowledge on the best spots to grab food and drinks. I’m curious, what made you choose these particular 10 restaurants and cafes to feature on the list?

    mr w


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