Spent about 10 days in Southern California last week and wanted to put in my 2 cents about the restaurants I was able to go to.
OPEN SESAME, 5215 E Second Street, Long Beach, 562.621.1698
Once I had a few bites of my lunch from Open Sesame, I kicked myself for never having been before. First day I went, I had a veggie plate - approximately $7. The tabbouleh salad had a primary ingredient of parsley and very little bulghur wheat. I estimated that it took about 1 bunch of parsley for each serving. The taste was bright and fresh, and the overall effect was addictive. Their falafels are a dark color inside ... not sure what they do differently to them, but they were delicious. Served with a side of tahini. The hummus was smooth and wonderful. Only disappointment was the pita which was cold and seemed store-bought. Generous portion of pita, however, to scoop up all the delectables on the plate. Went back a couple days later for lentil soup, which was vegetarian and just delicious. I couldn't identify the spices in it, but it was a wonderful simple lentil soup.
AROMA DI ROMA, 5327 E. Second Street, Long Beach, 562.434.6353
Stopped in Aroma di Roma for a gelato a couple times. Really enjoyed the coconut. Enough true coconut in the gelato that I ended up chewing it! The other flavors were too sweet for me and didn't really standout compared to the gelato that I eat here in the bay area. Decent coffee drinks. I have had their sandwiches in the past and they are good.
THE AULD DUBLINER, 71 South Pine Ave, Long Beach, 562.437.8300
Full disclosure here - The Auld Dubliner is a restaurant that was just opened by a friend in The Pike area. It's an Irish Pub that is serving a full menu of food - Irish and American. The restaurant is seat-yourself, and has a cool local feel. The partners used to own a part of Limerick's in Naples. The chef is Matt Hewitt - formerly of Christy's and Bono's. I ate there about 4 times on a limited menu that they had for their opening weekend. My favorite dishes were the shepherd's pie and the fish and chips. I had the fish and chips with a side of curry sauce that was great too. The fish is cod filleted pretty thin and a very generous portion. The shepherd's pie was traditional style with ground beef (and lamb?), peas, carrots, topped with mashed potatoes. I am really pleased to see an independent restaurant in the Pike area among all the chains down there ... Here's a link to their menu: http://www.aulddubliner.com/food.html
THE SMALL CAFE, 5656 E Second Street, Long Beach, 562.434.0226
We were looking for somewhere casual to eat breakfast with 8 people fairly quickly and decided on the Small Cafe in Naples. Had a decent breakfast in a cozy, local location. Everyone seemed pleased with their meal. I wasn't paying much attention to the specifics of the meal, but remember eating all of my hash browns because they were very plain and cooked with a great crust. Just the way I like them.
ENRIQUE'S MEXICAN RESTAURANT, 6210 E Pacific Coast Hwy, Long Beach, 562.498.3622
Had to make a trip to Enrique's which I have tried to go to everytime I am in town. Love their simple cuqio salad, with avocadoes, tomatoes, queso fresco, red onion and a bit of dressing. Perfect to eat with chips. The chicken enchiladas were too dry to hold my interest. Chile relleno was good, made with a large dark green pepper (pasilla?) as opposed to the lighter green peppers I usually see in chile rellenos. Potato taquitos are a favorite with me, though this time they tasted a little like the oil wasn't hot enough. Had bites of the carnitas and the carne asada, both of which were excellent - i think these two dishes are the things that Enrique's specializes in. If you decide to go, call first to check on the wait. It is easy for that place to have a 45-minute wait during meal times.
BACCHUS OF NAPLES, 5618 E Second Street, Long Beach, 562.434.5250
You may have seen my plea here last week for a San Pedro restaurant for a family dinner -- [BROKEN LINK REMOVED]. Due to logistics, we ended moving the dinner to Long Beach and I decided on Bacchus. My worry about the Grand Prix drama were unfounded at Bacchus, as the restaurant wasn't too busy. Their roof-top dining (which I have a feeling is a huge draw in the summer) wasn't open due to the chilly weather on Saturday. I haven't seen a full review of Bacchus here on the boards. I decided on the restaurant because the menu looked good for our group, it was small and relatively quiet, and it is owned by the same people who own Angelo's Deli in Belmont Shores.
Jason and I arrived a few minutes early so that we could look over the wine list (corkage not allowed for 8+ person parties). Our server came over and asked if we needed any help selecting wines. When we pointed to the two proseccos offered and asked about the driest of the two, he only was able to tell us about the one that was the "most popular" so we went back to deciding for ourselves (g).
The menu has a few meat dishes on it (no beef, a couple of chicken dishes, a pork chop, and a veal dish) and about 10 pasta dishes. There were about as many specials recited, however, as the length of the printed menu. 4 of the 8 people at the table decided on a special pork tenderloin with scalloped potatoes. They all seemed to be pleased with the selection. The entrees were served with a choice of soup or salad. The soup was pasta e fagioli which had a thin broth and was unlike most pasta e fagioli soups that I have ever been served. My grandmother liked it, but announced that the broth reminded her of menudo (g).
It turns out that they were out of the special that I asked for (which was weird - why not just remove that special from your recitation?). So I had a shell pasta dish with a creamy tomato/wine sauce and ground veal. I really enjoyed it - it was a comforting type taste -- kind of like a grown up hamburger helper.
Overall, this restaurant worked for what we wanted. I would return. However, the server really got under our skin. It was an evening where I wanted the service to be seamless, however, I really had to babysit things in order to make sure that we were taken care of -- get up and pour the wine myself, tack him down when he'd disappear, ensure the guy that, yes we HAD ordered 4 espressos when he argued with me that we only ordered 3, etc.
I would like to go when we it was warm enough to sit on the rooftop.