Cuisine Scene: Small Plates

Small plates, tapas, starters – whatever you call them, they present a delicious culinary conundrum: though small, they allow you to go big. Big on flavor profiles that tend to be exciting and expansive. Big on trying something totally new, since they’re often enjoyed communally, meaning you end up sampling a lot of great food. Here are some terrific Long Beach restaurants and tapas bars ready to have you livin’ large, one small plate at a time.


Situated midway on the Rainbow Bridge which connects the promenade entrance of the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center with the Terrace Theater Plaza, Risü (207 E. Seaside Way) features small plates such as short rib to vegan roasted cauliflower tacos, charcuterie boards and truffle fries, along with a wide range of shareable flatbread creations. With a full bar, and a beautiful outdoor patio, Risü offers a great atmosphere for friends to chat, people watch or simply relax before or after a performance or meeting.



It was at this Downtown Long Beach landmark that many locals first experienced the Spanish wonder that is known as tapas. Now in its 36th year, Cafe Sevilla (140 Pine Ave.) offers more than 30, award-winning tapas plates, both cold (Spicy Octopus Ceviche) and hot (Queso Fundido), as well as traditional paellas, fresh seafood and savory meat dishes, along with a wide variety of Spanish wine and refreshing sangrias. It also serves up all manner of Latin music and keeps late hours to satisfy your cravings for either.



District Wine (144 Linden Ave.) is rightfully known for offering some of the best curated wine in the city – served by a helpful, never snooty staff, eager to assist you in making the right choice. It also serves some terrific, inventive small plates: citrus marinated olives, roasted shishito peppers, gorgonzola honey crostini, curry mac n’ cheese – as well as cheese plates and flatbreads. All of which, by the way, can be expertly paired with a nice glass of wine by the helpful, never snooty staff.



Ammatoli’s (285 E. Third St.) rapid rise to become one of the city’s most acclaimed and loved restaurants, has everything to do with the inventiveness of its Levantine dishes (cuisine emanating from Israel, Cypress, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine) and the freshness of their ingredients. This is clear in their voluminous mezza selection that includes hummus topped with shawarma and pine nuts, Mediterranean fries (fries dressed in olive oil, garlic, parsley, feta and parmesan cheese) as well as its roasted beets salad that inspires devotion in people.

About the Author
Steve Lowery