Cuisine Scene: Late Night Eats
If there’s anything worse than late-night hunger pangs, it’s the gnawing feeling that the only way to satisfy them involves yelling from a car window into an intercom only to be asked the classic culinary query: “You want fries with that?” Fortunately, in Long Beach, there are other, much better options. Options that span the gamut of cuisines and styles, from restaurants that serve well into the night, and early morning, where you not only can get great food but a great feel for the city after-hours.
140 Pine Ave.
It was at this downtown mainstay that many Long Beach natives first experienced the Spanish miracle known as tapas. Cafe Sevilla, now in its 35th year, continues to not only serve great Spanish food but celebrate the nation’s culture, whether musically–offering all manner of Latin music, everything from jazz to beats to soul–or through its popular flamenco productions. It only stands to reason, then, that it would further honor a culture known for keeping late hours, while keeping some of its own. In fact, Cafe Sevilla offers a complete, dedicated Late Night Menu, that offers the likes of Short Rib Coca Flatbread, Croquetas de Paella along with everyone’s favorite, Queso Fundido and lots more.
The Halal Guys
1804 Ximeno Ave.
If you’re looking for something fast that isn’t fast food, this bright, clean space offers something substantial and healthy served by a staff regularly lauded for providing some of the cheeriest customer service in the city. Located near the Traffic Circle, its menu–a coming together of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines–adheres to the healthy standards of halal food. The Halal Guys aren’t trying to redefine this cuisine, they just do it really well and efficiently. There is all manner of gyros and falafel, the tahini is light and tasty, and the white sauce is revered. Chocolate chip cookies are baked fresh and exude gooey awesomeness. Baklava? Of course, they have baklava, but have you ever had baklava cheesecake? Because they’ve got it!
115 Pine Ave.
So, those Long Beach folks who didn’t first have tapas at Cafe Sevilla very likely enjoyed them at Alegria, which also celebrates all things Latin and does it pretty much directly across the street. Alegria has music and dancing in a vibrant atmosphere while offering its own very popular flamenco shows. Indeed, this particular portion of Pine Avenue is usually alive with music, movement and a lot of happy people at night. Of course, who wouldn't smile knowing that Alegria is serving well into the night, and sometimes early morning, such classics as Ropita Viejas and Papas Rellenas, as well as full-plate meals such as Lomo Saltado, Pollo Campero and dessert and lots to wash it all down.
5242 2nd St.
Located next door to another late-night haven–sports bar icon, Legends–this place is proof positive that late-night eats don’t have to be unhealthy. Descended from a four-seat Tokyo ramen bar, Rakkan has built a reputation for serving authentic Japanese ramen, employing traditional dashi soup stock to create a hearty, plant-based broth rich in umami flavor. That broth perfectly accentuates its silky slim noodles and whatever you choose to add to them. The Garnet is a popular choice with grilled pork, green onion, bamboo shoots, seasoned egg and sesame paste. (There’s a spicy version with a pop of garlic.) Rakkan also has plenty of non-ramen options like sushi, rice bowls, takoyaki (octopus balls) and matcha mochi ice cream if you have a sweet tooth.
Ramen Hub & Poke
3900 Atlantic Ave. #101
Located in Bixby Knolls, the inarguable ramen capital of Long Beach, the Hub caters to aficionados seeking authentic Hakata-style ramen that employs a creamy, white broth cooked from pork bones. Ramen Hub boils its broth for 20 hours to achieve a depth and richness of flavor. They offer a 12-inch “slurpin” noodle and a signature 10-inch noodle, both handmade. Ultra-clean, this is another “fast-casual” restaurant that gives you the option of eating there or taking it home. While its original tonkotsu is probably its most requested ramen, its poke and sushi offerings are also fresh and popular.
Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles
730 E. Broadway
There’s comfort food and then there’s Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, as delicious and iconic a dish as there is–the perfect coming together of sweet and savory flavors with crispy and soft textures. And having it at Roscoe’s always heightens the experience in terms of fun and that feeling that you’re at the nexus of the city. Now, by the way, you know they have other items besides chicken and waffles, pretty popular ones: biscuits and gravy, greens, mac and cheese, it’s all good. Despite the fact that it’s a large restaurant, there is the possibility you may have to wait for a table, it’s just that popular. But relax, that just gives you more time for people watching and taking in the energy of the city. Just breathing in the smells from what’s cooking in the kitchen ain’t too bad either.
401 Shoreline Village Dr.
Known for the quality and quantity of its beer–which borders on mind-bogglingly large, everything from stouts to ciders, sours to wheat–this Shoreline Village staple has a menu to match. Voluminous? Let’s start with the fact they have more than 20 choices … of appetizers! If you’re looking for something more substantial, there’s a full selection of such favorites as tacos, burgers and pizza. If you’re really hungry, tuck into a steak, say, a 20 oz ribeye. What makes Yard House great, is not only what it serves but where it’s located: walking distance from anyone pulling a late night at the convention center or who’s just watched a movie at the Pike, or a play/performance at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center.