Every now and then, you discover something so delicious, so profound, yet so simple, you can’t help but become obsessed. You tell your friends, family…anyone who’ll listen, really. You eat it once, and then perhaps, you go back the next week, or even the next day to have it again. It’s just that good.
Here’s a list of 8 of our current obsessions (in no particular order):
1. Quesadillas at Los Reyes Del Taco Sabroso
Blink, and you might miss this hidden mom and pop gem on Junipero. For $3 you can get a loaded quesadilla with Carne Asada (no extra charge). These are not…we repeat, NOT your average quesadillas. Large handmade tortillas are folded, stuffed with meat and cheese, pan fried until golden brown, and topped with lettuce, queso fresco, and crema. Vegetarian? Try them with chile serrano slices, cheese and potatoes. Just be sure to get more than one, or you’ll regret it.
2. Cashew Fennel Chip at The Long Beach Creamery
We know. You may be skeptical. Fennel??? Hear us out. This ice cream will change your life. It starts with salt and pepper cashews mixed in a fennel base. Ribbons of dark chocolate sauce are added to the mix and churned until the ribbons become tiny chocolate chips strewn throughout the ice cream. The fennel leaves behind a subtle sweetness that pairs well with the saltiness from the cashews and the bitter chocolate chips. Be prepared for your new addiction.
3. Khao Soi at Manaow
If you’ve never had Khao Soi, it’s time to hop on the bandwagon. Long gone are the days where you have to choose between a complex curry and a comforting bowl of noodles. This Burmese-inspired dish can be found in Laos and Northern Thailand. At Manoaw, egg noodles take a bath in a red coconut curry base with braised beef. The stew is then topped with crispy fried egg noodles, pickled cabbage, shallots and lime. The combination of the crispy and soft egg noodles make for an interesting textural contrast, while the hit of acid from the lime and vinegar from the pickled cabbage bring a welcome brightness to the creamy coconut broth. Good luck ordering anything else.
4. Beef Roll at Nomad Asian Bistro
Located behind the Claim Jumper on PCH, just before you enter Seal Beach, you’ll find Long Beach’s best Muslim Chinese restaurant. Large platters of cumin lamb and wontons in chili oil grace the tables of their loyal clientele. We highly recommend working your way through the entire menu…but be sure to order the beef roll. Although listed under “STARTERS,” the beef roll can easily be a meal for two. Thin-sliced roast beef (or crispy tofu) is wrapped in a homemade scallion pancake with cilantro, scallions, cucumbers, and hoisin. Just be sure to come hungry.
5. Popcorn Chicken at Honeysuckle
At the end of an unassuming strip mall on the corner of Obispo and PCH, you’ll find Honeysuckle. Our #1 destination for boba tea and perfect popcorn chicken. This Taiwanese variety can be customized to your spice level and comes with a container of satisfyingly sticky sweet and sour sauce for ample dunking. For $4.50, you’ll receive roughly a pound of their chicken, straight out of the deep fryer. Be sure to get one order per person…even if you’re “not that hungry.”
6. House Made Ricotta at James Republic
You’ll never be able to buy ricotta at the grocery store after you try the house made ricotta at James Republic. Although you can create your own cheese platter, we prefer to go all-in with their ricotta. It’s perfectly salted, irresistibly creamy and unmistakably made in-house. It’s served with large slices of crusty grilled country bread slathered in extra virgin olive oil. Pair it with a nice, dry Riesling and you’ll be in heaven. Can’t find anyone to go with? Take a seat at the bar.
7. Elvis Pie at The Pie Bar
The Pie Bar has taken this city by storm. If you haven’t graced their shop on Pine and Pie Ave, it’s about time. Owner, Lauri Gray, is a master of the classics but isn’t afraid to shake things up. Their newest offering, The Elvis Cutie Pie, is a humble ode to the King of Rock and Roll’s infamous peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich. The Pie Bar’s comes in the form of a peanut butter banana cream pie topped with candied bacon. We suggest you go ASAP…because their flavors change monthly.
8. Beef Jerky at Sophy’s Fine Thai & Cambodian Cuisine
There’s no shortage of Cambodian food in Long Beach. Sophy’s is considered to be the unofficial epicenter for the Cambodian community, and it’s easy to see why. Their signature dish sounds humble, but is a true luxury. Their Cambodian-style Beef Jerky is marinated, oven dried, and fried to order. It’s served with a slightly sweet garlic and vinegar dipping sauce. The beef is perfectly salted and can be easily pulled apart into smaller pieces for maximum enjoyment. Be sure to also snag a couple sticky rice desserts wrapped in banana leaves to be enjoyed later.