By Vanessa Payes
Although it is officially a part of Los Angeles County, Long Beach is a far stretch from being anything like Los Angeles. The overall lax attitude of its residents gives Long Beach a laid back and unassuming quality that many of the locals thrive in.
Aside from its main tourist attractions in Downtown, Long Beach’s vibrant multicultural communities are vividly expressed through the variety in its eclectic bars, restaurants, and specialty shops that lie East of the harbor.
If you’ve never really had a chance to explore the outlying neighborhoods of Downtown Long Beach, grab yourself a beach cruiser and take a ride from Pine Avenue through the East Village Arts District and into Belmont Shores and get to know some of city’s beloved hangouts.
From vintage shops to record stores, gourmet eats and funky themed bars, check out some of these local treasures in Long Beach.
Start your morning off with a loaded three egg omlette at the Omelette Inn. This cozy little mom and pop breakfast establishment boasts over 18 different hearty omlettes, homemade salsa and delicious micheladas. Demonstrate your devotion to the almighty beer at Congregation Ale house with a breakfast pizza and a tall glass of brew. With its impressive list of malty libations, beer lovers will not be disappointed.
For an exotic Mediterranean meal, drop into Cafe Sevilla for an authentic Spanish “bocadillo” sandwich and a bottomless sangria. Head down Pine Avenue toward The Pike at Rainbow Harbor for a ride on the historic crousel and giant ferris wheel and take in a sky high view of the harbor and historic ocean-liner, The Queen Mary.
If you want the relaxing feel of an island vacation, kick back on the outdoor patio at the Mai Tai Bar and grab yourself some Thai chili shrimp and super fruit mojito while you bask in the ocean breeze.
East Village Arts District
Admire the classic art deco architecture along 4th street as you explore the cooky shops and hip eateries of the East Village Arts District. Get your bo-hippie grub on with a savory organic farm-to-table vegan snack at Ahimsa Vegan Cafe. The delightful “Cocoa Loco” smoothy made with almond milk, coconut water and tropical fruits is definitely worth the visit.
Check out the string of vintage shops along 4th street’s “retro row.” Bounce from La Bomba to Meow Vintage, then to Liberty Vintage and Moxi Roller Skates, as you try on groovy dead-stock sunglasses, hats, accessories, vintage apparel, and give old school roller skating a whirl.
Gobble up some of the magically wonderful wonka-esque chocolate creations at Anandamide Psychadelicatessen where these imaginative chocolatiers have taken their confections to the next level. Stop by Fingerprints music store and dig through collectible vinyl in their record room for a one of a kind find. This vast record store has been the local the go-to source for music, movies, books and live in-store performances for two decades.
Belmont Shores may be the most relaxed beach side community in all of Los Angeles. The streets are lined with bicycle lanes and just about everyone is taking their day in stride. For over thirty years, Polly’s Gourmet Coffee’s, has been roasting their coffee beans in-house making their cup of joe distinctly exceptional .
Walk over to Frosted Cupcakery and check out their moist and airy cupcakes with real buttercream frosting. For an exquisite Parisian croissant, try Babette’s Feast where the delectable French pastries are baked fresh daily. Just a few blocks away, Sweet Jill’s Bakery taunts passers-by with a window full of giant glazed cinnamon rolls and a smorgasbord of home made sweet treats.
Stop by indie bookstore, Apostrophe Books and pilfer through their endless collection of titles. Authentic Lebanese restaurant, Open Sesame, not only serves up the best charbroiled Kabobs in Long Beach but their menu caters to true aficionados of genuine Middle Eastern cuisine. Drop in on local favorite, Olives Gourmet Grocer, where a densely packed deli case of fresh home made salads and prepared gourmet foods draws local denizens in droves. Grab one of their mouthwatering pressed panini melts before heading to Alamitos Bay for a sunset ride on a hydrobike along the coast.