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.


Looking for a fusion of Asian cuisines? Make your way to the Tantalum Restaurant (6272 Pacific Coast Highway), where small plates showcase creative combinations of Asian ingredients and flavors. Hamburger lovers will relish the Kobe sliders and cheese enthusiasts will enjoy the warm fried brie. For adventurous foodies, the yakiniku calamari and sesame chili hummus are bursting with kicks of spices and rich textures.

A plate of small bites at the Tantalum Restaurant in Long Beach, CA.


Alegria (115 Pine Ave.) marries a vibrant atmosphere with traditional favorites like Lomo Saltado as well as imaginative tapas such as Pappas Rellanas, Ropita Viejas (braised shredded beef, beans pure, feta cheese, arugula), and Humitas (corn soué tamale, shrimp, green onion cayenne pepper cream sauce), just to name two. Another place that can indulge any cravings, especially Thursday through Saturday, when they stay open until 2 a.m.


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.


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.



Located in Retro Row, El Barrio Cantina (1731 E 4th St.) puts a modern spin in traditional Mexican cuisine. This dining spot features small plates as botanas, a series of snack-sized meals. Some of the must-try botanas are Peruvian scallops, oysters on half, spicy chicken wings, and wagyu birria-filled empanadas. Pair your tapas with a sweet and tangy craft cocktail.


Explore Latin-style cuisine and mouthwatering eats at Fuego Restaurant (700 Queensway Dr.) in Hotel Maya. With stunning waterfront views and chic decor, this restaurant offers an unforgettable dining experience for all foodies. For a tapas-filled night, enjoy the ceviche sampler, where decadent ahi tuna, seabass, and shrimp create harmonious flavors.



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About the Author
Steve Lowery
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