Cuisine Scene: Food Halls
The food hall is a relatively new, completely awesome development in dining that not only offers exciting food options but a solution to that sometimes flinty question of, “So, where do you want to eat?” Offering numerous and innovative options, food halls allow everybody to get what they want.
Not surprisingly, Long Beach, long known for its wide range of selection and innovation where food is concerned, has multiple food halls worth exploring. Steelcraft, The Hangar and Uptown Commons come with their own vibes and unique cuisines. Here’s a quick tour of all three.
Though this 5,000-square-foot space in Bixby Knolls is constructed out of shipping containers, somehow, someway, all that steel has been cut and situated to create an intimate, charming atmosphere – especially in the evening under strung lights. Eateries and drinkeries are arranged around a communal dining area of long tables, where guests partake of about a half-dozen very fun food and drink options.
On the hunt for burgers? Hangry Belly offers an innovative slate including the “We be Jammin” (beef patty, prosciutto, onion jam, Swiss cheese), the popular “Bok Bok” chicken sandwich to the equally popular “Trufflin Waffle Fries.”
Thirsty? In a town renowned for craft beer, Smog City Brewing (part of the “Brewery Knolls”) cluster of Bixby breweries, serves up some of the best in the city. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, the resident caffeine fix, Steelhead Coffee, is so highly thought of in Long Beach that it has three locations in the city.
If you’re in the mood for pizza, DeSano Pizza creates delicious, traditional pies following the centuries-old guidelines of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. Mexican cuisine? La Taqueria Brand relies on family recipes to turn out such delicious classics as street tacos, quesadillas and hefty burritos.
Waffle Love, featured on the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, offers a sumptuous twist on the Belgian Waffle, producing both sweet (Nutella!) and savory (Chicken and Waffles), of course.
In its way, The Hangar is historic, located as it is where McDonnell Douglas/Boeing once built so many military and commercial aircraft. Now, the 17,000-square-foot-space designed to look like an aircraft hangar is home to great eateries and drinkeries amid an energetic vibe. Plus, it’s got both indoor and outdoor seating options.
If you’re looking for international flair, Marinate Korean BBQ provides traditional fare like pork belly bowls along with the unexpected: Bulgogi Burritos. Bite Mi has perfected its fresh and interesting takes on Banh Mi, the popular Vietnamese sandwich. DonerG shares the unique flavors of Turkey, a cosmopolitan blend that includes Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences. Morning Nights has an extensive dim sum menu that can be paired with craft cocktails, beer wine and sake.
Amorcito is the “urban taqueria,” creation of Chef Thomas Ortega, one of the city’s most respected and innovative restaurateurs. Old favorites get new twists here, i.e. potato tacos come with a potato, mushroom, spinach mix, onion slaw and spicy cabbage.
Want some comfort? At Jay Bird’s Nashville Hot Chicken, the chicken and fries come with your choice of five levels of heat. The Kroft has great sandwiches, but the star is that beloved Canadian import, poutine. They fry their fries twice, pile them with fresh cheese curds, homemade gravy and signature toppings. Dig in, eh!
There are specialty outfits. Plaid Sheep is a grilled cheese sandwich bar while Pop Bar produces delicious gelato on a stick. Yes, that’s a (delicious) thing. Blue Bowl offers healthy meals in bowls made with a range of superfoods and topped off by natural performance-enhancing ingredients.
When it comes to those old stalwarts, beer and coffee, The Hangar has two excellent outfits. Portola Coffee Roasters is renowned locally for quality, and uses beans from Africa, Central and South America. Bottlecraft is a bottle shop and bar that curates the best in local, domestic and international craft beer. You might want to try this with the poutine. Just sayin’.
Located at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Artesia Boulevard, Uptown Commons’ mix of shipping containers, brick, wood and green spaces arranged around a central dining space, provides a haven to enjoy a curated blend of great tastes.
Shomi Noods continues a recent run of great ramen restaurants opening in North Long Beach. Offering both wet and dry ramen, Shomi combines traditional fare such as Tonkotsu ramen with such innovative fusion offerings as Hamachi Chipotle Ceviche, all of it plated in a manner that can truly be called artistic.
Serving the increasingly popular Nashville hot chicken, Main Chick offers its heat in different forms – breasts, sandwiches and tenders – and heat levels ranging from mild to supreme (the latter requiring that you sign a waiver. . . we think they’re joking). They have great sides like mac and cheese and slaw.
With its Filipino foundation mixed with Japanese and Korean influences, Oi Asian has grown quickly across Southern California. Its Uptown Commons location offers a large menu with a range of items from pork belly bowl and tacos, Adobo bowl and Oi burger –all of it balancing sweet, savory and umami.
While offering such classics as fish and chips, calamari and fish tacos, Chef Fernando Valladares’ Portside Fish Co. is known for fresh takes and fresh ingredients when offering new flavor combinations. Its Cali Shrimp Burrito, featuring jalapeno crema and pineapple habanero salsa is an innovative favorite.