Southern California’s premiere dining event, Dine Out Long Beach, takes place February 28 – March 5, 2016. This is a golden opportunity to try out those restaurants that have been on your list forever, but you haven’t quite gotten around to yet. It’s also good for those of you new to the area (including tourists) to find your dining groove.
The best Long Beach Restaurant Week options are the ones that entice foodies with a good deal that they can’t get any other time of the year. If you’re looking for a compelling reason to drop your precious dining dollars, this would be the event for you. This community event pulls people in through deeply discounted creative prix-fixe menus. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Restaurant Week Criteria
Because so many places participate, the Restaurant Week list can be overwhelming. As I pondered what my own Restaurant Week itinerary might be, I set a few criteria.
- Something that sounds good or has good buzz. (To hedge, I cross-reference with reviews.)
- I want to be blown away by a good value that I just can’t pass up.
- A well-thought out menu, that isn’t an after-thought.
- The owner, manager, chef and staff all have buy-in.
- Try all new (to me) restaurants this year.
- If you want me to return, be knowledgeable about the program, be happy to see me and thank me for participating in the program. You get bonus points for the chef, manager or owner coming over to the table to ask how I am enjoying myself.
How it Works
Participating restaurants are located in most every corner of the city, including downtown, Bixby Knolls, Belmont Shore, Naples Island, Belmont Heights, and 4th Street Retro Row. Every restaurant situated in Shoreline Village, which overlooks Rainbow Harbor in downtown Long Beach, will be part of Dine Out Long Beach, too.
Restaurants will offer lunch and/or dinner with 2-option menus for lunch starting at $10 and 3-option menus for dinner starting at $20. Some restaurants are offering a shared menu where two guests can split an appetizer and dessert, but enjoy their own entrée. As for settings and cuisines, California’s sixth largest city has an abundance of offerings, from the waterfront and Bixby Knolls to Downtown and Belmont Shore-Naples.
You can call for reservations or just show up. There are no coupons or tickets to purchase. It doesn’t get much easier than this. Just sayin’.
My Top Picks
After scouring the Dine Out Long Beach Restaurant Week list provided to me by the event’s savvy PR people, I decided to try the following four restaurants. If the rest of this list is as creative and tasty as the four I tasted, this is going to be a VERY VERY good week for foodies.
- Urban Table: Restaurant Week menu is quite the value at $15 for the Burger & Brew lunch (includes a beer, salad and fries) and $40 for a small plates and wine tasting dinner that is going to knock your socks off. Casual atmosphere with a sharp focus on food preparation, presentation and service. You can’t miss with either choice. It’s “all that” and more. Limited seating. Parking in back. Located in busy Belmont Shore area. The menu changes seasonally, so expect fresh choices and options. Highly recommend you make this chef driven cafe and market a stop on your food journey.
- Buonos Pizzeria : Dine authentic Italian with this 3-course dinner for two for just …wait for it…$30. If that doesn’t call your name, you’re just not listening. Select an appetizer to share, two entrees, and a killer dessert. I loved this placed. Family owned and operated. FRESH ingredients, authentic recipes and an attentive staff. Don’t expect to rush through your dinner. This place takes the time and care it needs to produce an amazing meal. Parking on the street or validated in nearby underground parking. In trendy downtown Long Beach.
- Fuego: This is your knock out waterside view choice. Casual attire is fine for this Latin/South American flavors fine dining option. Sit inside or out. For $20 your lunch includes choice of guacamole or tortilla soup and a choice of three fabulous entrées (Cubano Braised Pork, a Trio of Tacos or Jumbo Crab Cakes). Vegetarian entrée on request! Dessert and drinks are additional, but you’ll be glad you indulged. Their drinks are fantastic and the desserts are to die for (ask for the peach and berry cobbler). The dinner option is $40.You have three choices of entrees (Tortilla Soup, Argentine Beef Churrasco or Calamari), three choices of entrees (Pork Carnitas, Seafood Crepas, Pollo a la Parrilla) and to finish choose either the Molten Chocolate Cake or the Caramel Mexican Flan. Located in the Maya Hotel, but DEFINITELY NOT hotel food. Great place to take visitors.Validate parking.
- The Shore Steakhouse: This is a killer restaurant often overshadowed by the more well-known area restaurants up and down the street. It has a special vibe not available anywhere else on the Belmont Shore strip. $30 (excluding tax and gratuity) gives you a first course of ceviche (fish, mango, cilantro, red onion) or Brussels sprouts (flash fried, chorizo, caper berries, honey, whole grain mustard aioli). Second course features Butchers Burger (garlic aioli, bacon, caramelized onions, and a blend of cheeses) or Skirt Steak (mashed potatoes and zucchini) or 7oz New York Steak (mashed potatoes and zucchini). Third course is key lime coconut graham cracker bar or chocolate mousse. The food is worthy of your dollars and is imaginatively presented. The house-made Sangria is to die for. Knowledgeable and attentive wait staff. Metered parking is on the street or in back.