Cuisine Scene: Mediterranean
Few cuisines are as uniformly loved as Mediterranean. Indeed, it's hard to think of another food as celebrated for its delicious bursts of flavor or as renowned for the freshness of its ingredients prepared in such a clean, healthy manner. Whether their specialty is gyro, hummus, shawarma or countless other options, this list of Mediterranean eateries includes some of Long Beach's most treasured restaurants.
In just four years, Ammatoli (285 E. Third St.) has become one of the most acclaimed, and beloved, restaurants in Long Beach – well, pretty much all of Southern California. Specializing in Levantine cuisine emanating from the eastern Mediterranean (comprising Israel, Cypress, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine), its food and atmosphere has a beautiful, casual vibe. Ammatoli has all the faves you’d expect – mezze platters, kabob plates, baba ghannouj – along with some you might not, say, a beet salad (with feta, arugula, dates, pomegranates) that inspires devotion in people.
Amidst the bustle of 2nd Street, Open Sesame (5215 E. Second St.) stands out for the energy and people it attracts. One of the most popular restaurants in Belmont Shore, it offers generous portions of Lebanese cuisine featuring a variety of charbroiled kabobs, lamb chops, and chicken tawook, as well as their famous shawarmas and a wide selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Still, perhaps its most flavorful dishes are two appetizers: Roasted Garlic Potatoes and Fried Cauliflower, which have been known to inspire rather spirited discussions – some might call them arguments – about which to order for the table. Best to just get both.
GEORGE’S GREEK CAFE
The Loizides family opened George’s in 1999 and locally known as one of the first families of Long Beach dining. That’s what happens when you open, nurture and maintain eateries – George’s has locations Downtown (135 Pine Ave.), Belmont Shore (5316 Second St.) and Long Beach Airport (4100 Donald Douglas Dr.) – not only valued for what they serve but the memories they create. And whether it's the warmth of the staff or the hearty “Opa!” shouted when the Saganaki (i.e. flaming cheese) is lit at someone’s table, each visit to George’s is memorable. There are plenty of other dishes to shout about, of course, including succulent lamb chops, souvlaki, lemon rice soup as well as delectable baklavas.
GYPSY PERSIAN GRILL
Located just steps from the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier and the beach, Gypsy's (21 39th Pl.) has attracted a loyal clientele in nearly 20 years, not only attracted by its ambiance, especially its charming back dining patio, but its food which is lovingly created in an open kitchen. Their hummus–all kinds–is creamy and delicious, while the beef kabob is tender and packed with flavor. The chicken kabob pita brings with it a moist, creamy tang while the lentil soup and nivik – chickpeas and spinach – provide a comforting taste.
PANINI KABOB GRILL
With two Long Beach locations–Downtown (421 W. Broadway) as well as at the Long Beach Exchange (4101 McGowen St.) – Panini Kabob Grill has quickly made a name for itself by serving fresh dishes made from scratch with high quality ingredients. Whether it is the freshly grilled kabobs, delicious homemade soups or fresh salad dressings, Panini Kabob Grill dishes are made with ingredients delivered daily. Among customer favorites are its Green Lentil Soup, Flat Iron Steak Kabob, Romaine Avocado Salad and Salmon Kabob.