While there’s no shortage of food and drinks to be had on the lower West Coast, Long Beach’s diverse communities, celebratory events, and historic neighborhoods make the city an unparalleled place to dine, sip, and play. And, there’s really a long beach here, which means you can soak in the brininess of coastal life with an ocean view in many cases. Here, find some of the awesome spots where Dianderthal and Long Beach eat.

When your conference is in Long Beach:

Rubbery chicken and rice pilaf not your thing? It’s all good because the delectability of downtown Long Beach is close enough to save you. A short walk up Pine will get you easy access to the murky and fabulous Federal Bar, once a bank in its previous heyday. A couple doors down is Bo-Beau, where you can chat up colleagues downstairs, or get your flirt on with a fellow conference-goer at their “roof tap” bar. Also on Pine, Pier 76 Fish Grill will get you a fast, indulgent bite; and you can get yourself full and hungover enough to miss your next morning’s plenary session if you let Alegria take care of you the way it can, with amazing sangria and hearty Spanish plates.

After a long day at the beach:

There’s quite a bit of beach in Long Beach, so plenty of room for sunbathers, dog walkers, volleyball players, little splashers, and more. After all that fun, everyone wants to know: Where are we gonna eat? Just a short bike ride or jog up from some of LB’s sandy parts are plenty of great food finds. Like Manaow if you’re in the mood for Thai noodles and such; or its Broadway neighbor, The Attic, with selections to satisfy everyone in the group; and not to be left out in the same ‘hood is Taste, with plenty of wine and hearty plates to soothe a variety of appetites. Komo’s Cucina is small, but a nice stop if you’ve been sunning in Naples. If 4th Street is not too much of a trek or drive for you, Restauration satisfies well and lets you keep the vibe outdoorsy if you’re seated in their back patio. And Fuego is the ultimate in sensory overload, its outdoor seating offering some of the best views of Long Beach (*Bonus: It’s in the Maya hotel, a Doubletree property – be sure to ask for a warm cookie at the check-in desk on your way in; and on your way out).

In the mood for art and music:

Go to Tantalum in the Marina Pacifica for live music to spice up your night. District Wine, which doesn’t disappoint, is nestled snug in the heart of the Arts District, where you can also get your shop on. And food from EJ Malloy’s, (Atun now closed; replaced by The 4262, now closed; replaced by Art & Craft Eatery, which, solely by name, is a good fit for this category, so yay!!),  and The Factory (closed – replaced by Rasselbock (any takers for German beer and schnitzel?)) keeps you from getting lightheaded while strolling Atlantic on First Fridays.

When you’ve got a sweet tooth:

This list could go on for days. To make it easy, pick up scoops from Long Beach Creamery, enjoy cakes and pies from Bake N’ Broil, and throw yourself mouth first into the warm butter cake from Nick’s on 2nd. Pine Street newbie Romeo Chocolates is a richly fantastic shop with all things chocolate (and wine and a couple ice cream treats) that is owned and operated by a chocolatier named Romeo – how fitting. And a few doors down from him is The Pie Bar – I’m not a pie person yet still, somehow, I’m a Pie Bar person.

Those days when you need a little extra oomph:

Long Beach is home to many new favorites when it come to coffee houses. Try Steelhead Coffee in Bixby Knolls, Eco near LBCC, Portfolio or Rose Park Roasters when on 4th, and Recreational Coffee if downtown. I’m not a big boba fan (or a little boba fan either, unless you’re talking Boba Fett), but I hear that Hiccups‘s wide selection of tea drinks is quite good. And don’t sleep on new local fave Black Ring Coffee, which recently found a home in North Long Beach.

Great for unloading after work with your colleagues:

Yes, I’m talking happy hour, those outings that leave you with smeared memories of a great time. The bar at Panxa offers wondrous cocktails and crave-inducing bites (like their creamy poblano fries); Los Compadres is a local Mexican favorite with some of the best chips on earth and one of my favorite bebidas – the tamarindo margarita; Simmzy’s speaks to the gregarious ones with its communal table and ample beer selections on tap; Dutch’s Brewhouse along the Atlantic corridor boasts plenty of craft brews on tap and ah-may-zing pizza; and La Casita Rivera is just the right combination of mellow, accessible, and scrumptious.

Those nights when you’ve got a sitter (kid, dog, cat, or otherwise):

When it’s you and your love or your BFF or that favorite cousin you haven’t seen in years, it’s nice to get yourself out to a place with a cool vibe, hearty food, and a space that helps you connect. Thiptara has great Thai in a surprisingly lovely setting (you wouldn’t think you’d find such elegance when the outside appears to have been a Taco Bell once upon a time). Roe Seafood in Belmont Shore is relaxing, appetizing, and chill with plenty of sushi options, a fun happy hour selection, and refreshing drinks (and if you’re feeling antisocial, their Xpress space has a distinct and tasty menu you need to know). Downtown’s Padre offers just the right margarita for you and your companion, and several shareable dishes that set the tone for a relaxed evening [New Ownership Alert!! I hear thangs ain’t quite the same at Padre now that management has a new name]. And while wonderful for happy hour, Panxa’s dining side offers many a playful, sexy dish. And it’s hard not to feel like you’ve gotten away for the night when at Tantalum, all the senses aroused the moment you step across the threshold.

When it’s time for a celebration:

One of the favorite birthday lunch spots for the work squad is George’s, with Greek classics (available family style) and diner standards. The upstairs bar scene at Bo-Beau’s Roof Tap instantly makes you want to shout hooray, and that’s even before you’ve had a chance to take on one of their bold cocktails or a plate of their unforgettable brussels sprouts. Similar things can be said about Saint & Second, with a rooftop space of its own (though slightly smaller, though they make up for it with their mac & cheese). The staff at Restauration is happy to seat you and your party of six, of eight, of ten, in their rustic backyard patio, complete with a selection of pizzas. Social List‘s name says it all – land there to eat, drink, and be thrilled.

You’re in the mood for eating slowly and sipping weekend beverages:

Oh, you want brunch? You’ve landed in the right city. Lucky Long Beach – we have three Potholder Cafes to brag about, each of their griddles hot and ready to make almost anything you can fathom eating on a late Sunday morning. Berlin Bistro is small but fills big appetites with its hearty weekend menu. Lola’s (with two LBC locations) will give you mimosas, margaritas, and then some, mingling appetizing Mexican favorites with brunch classics. And while I’ve mentioned them earlier, The Attic, Restauration, and EJ Malloy’s all draw big crowds for their brunch offerings. And while they don’t serve the bubbly, you’re sure to get something hearty and filling enough to put you in a Sunday afternoon food coma if you enjoy breakfast at Bake ‘N Broil.

Those times when you’re desperate for seat cushion coins just to eat:

At El Pocho Grill (now closed), you can get mucho por su dinero – especially filling are their vampiros. If you want a nice burger and a good set of fries, take your pennies to Whistle Stop (closed also – another one bites the dust) and enjoy the foot traffic up and down 4th Street. You might burn ten bucks or so in gas searching for a parking space, but once you find one, California Fish Grill will serve up a mean plate of shrimp, fish tacos, and other seafood favorites for a fair price. If you’ve been lucky in that same overcrowded lot, it’s not a bad idea to pick up a tasty chicken sandwich or a juicy burger from Habit. And while it’s not strictly a local joint, you can do a lot worse in price and taste than a custom designed pizza from Pieology.

When you need an office away from home and away from the office:

My new favorite place to spend some alone time with my laptop or notebook is the Brass Lamp, (closed – may reopen soon) where I order a cappuccino to get me in the writing zone, then end with a glass of wine to reward my efforts hours later. It’s also a great spot to by a book or tackle a dreamy grilled cheese sandwich. Royal Cup Cafe on Redondo serves awesome sandwiches and digable coffee; and you’ll be inspired to write and write some more with their rotating exhibits featuring local artists.

You’ve Got LBC Tattooed on Your Forehead

Many of us are transplants, but there are those LBCers birthed at Long Beach Memorial, came up proudly through LBUSD schools, graduated from LB State (Go Beach!) and purchased a home in one of the city’s finely tuned neighborhoods (Wrigley, Bixby Knolls, Belmont Shore, the West Side?). They are truly Long Beach establishments in the flesh, as are new and old favorites that fragrantly reek of this city, like new favorite Working Class Kitchen, Thai archetype Panvimarn, nationally renown Michael’s Pizzeria, and recent newcomer Steelcraft – the container-built corner housing flavorful food vendors to satisfy all.

If You Decide to Tiptoe Across the Border

These lovelies are close to Long Beach, but can’t quite claim an LBC zip code. Still, it’s no problem to support our tastiest neighbors like Delius (its Signal Hill home actually surrounded by Long Beach on all sides – if you find yourself there, do yourself a favor and order the chips) or Humblebrags in Lakewood. And you’d find it hard to go wrong at Fronks in Bellflower, home to some of my favorite sweet potato fries and to THE most awesome peanut butter hot fudge brownie sundae.

For all my visits to Long Beach eateries, go HERE! (right now… go on, click it!)