Cuisine Scene: Uniquely Long Beach Dishes
Given that Long Beach not only offers a wide range of cuisines and food styles, but a welcome landing spot for the innovative, it’s not surprising the city produces many one-of-a-kind, culinary creations. Whether enjoyed at cafes, coffee shops, holes-in-the-wall or traditional favorites, Long Beach produces an amazing array of unique dishes. So, whether Weasels or Cuties, Maharajas or Macs, here are a few of the unique dishes that add to the flavor of the International City.
MAC & CHEETOS, THE ATTIC
Deliciously, almost deviously simple, it’s a wonder that no one thought of this gooey-crunchy combination until the folks at The Attic (3441 E. Broadway). Arguably the most popular item at one of the city’s most popular eateries, the housemade pasta is coated in creamy cheddar, mozzarella and jack cheese sauces, then topped with crumbled Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and green onion. Though ostensibly an appetizer, you can add the likes of bacon, fried chicken, chorizo, crab, etc. to turn it into one fantastic, unforgettable entree.
CUTIE PIES, PIE BAR
Not surprisingly for a place that has all manner of pies – pot pies to quiches, vegan to gluten-free – Pie Bar (450 Pine Ave.) also produces a version that people can take on the go and enjoy at their own speed. Cutie Pies are basically pies created in glass jars that can be uncovered, enjoyed all at once or gradually. (Though we’d like to meet the person who can stop eating once they start.) The Cuties come in all kinds of flavors; banana cream, chocolate peanut butter, Tiramisu, vegan banana and white chocolate raspberry.
UNCLE MARCEE’S OMELET CASSEROLE, THE BREAKFAST BAR
It’s not easy to pick a single unique dish at the Breakfast Bar (70 Atlantic Ave./3404 E. Fourth St.), regularly recognized as one of the best breakfast/brunch spots in the nation. From its Hung Over breakfast poutine to Naked Cakes whole wheat pancakes, the whole menu is distinctive. Still, Uncle Marcee stands alone as its recipe has been passed down over several generations. Made with bread, jack cheese, milk and egg, and prepared 24 hours in advance for best flavor, it is individually baked, drizzled with spiced sour cream, and served with a potato pancake.
WHITE PIE, LITTLE COYOTE
One of the outfits that sparked the city’s current pizza renaissance, Little Coyote (2118 E. Fourth St./3500 N. Los Coyotes Diagonal) announced itself with this light and airy white pie, topped with a terrific balance of spinach, ricotta cheese, garlic, mozzarella, Calabrian chili and, of course, creamy, dreamy white sauce. These classic New York-style pies have a delicious crust, which make for easy folding and subsequent face-stuffing. Little Coyote sells its White Pies as whole pizzas as well as by the slice.
THE WEASEL, CHUCK’S COFFEE SHOP
It’s not unusual to see puzzled expressions when someone new to Chuck’s (4120 E. Ocean Blvd.) sees “Home of the Weasel” painted outside the Belmont Shore landmark and wonders, “What, or who, is the Weasel?” The correct answer is that the Weasel is delicious. Created by founder Chuck Tinkler himself for a customer who said he needed something substantial after a late night, the dish combines two scrambled eggs, smothers them in Chuck’s famous chili and tops them with onions and shredded cheese, then serves it with thin-sliced potatoes.
MAHARAJA BURRITO, APPU’S CAFE
Probably the most unique location for a cafe – a former storage space in a medical building–Appu’s Cafe (3816 Woodruff Ave. Suite 100B) serves an amazing array of Indian and Indian fusion dishes, ranging from mulligatawny soup to the Maharaja, which has been named one of the best burritos in both the state and the nation. This vegetarian burrito is filled with turmeric rice, chunks of saag paneer, lentils and mushrooms if you request it. There is also a fully vegan version called the Maharani.
SALTINE DREAM, LONG BEACH CREAMERY
For nearly 10 years, Long Beach Creamery (222 E. Broadway/4141 Long Beach Blvd.) has been reimagining what ice cream can be, using the freshest, locally-sourced ingredients in such handcrafted creations as ice cream bread, Fennel Cashew and Oolong Tea ice creams. And though they are always experimenting and producing new flavors, Saltine Dream (formerly known as Long Beach Crack) stands above them all: a vanilla ice cream mixed with caramelized saltine crackers then covered in chocolate and a rich fudge swirl. It’s sweet. It’s savory. It’s one-of-a-kind.