Long Beach's Old School Diners
Great diners – the restaurants, not the people – are valued as much for their feel as for their food. These are the places that become part of the landscape, the kinds of joints that don’t count their days in the neighborhood in years, but in decades. The kind of place where everyone knows your name – well maybe not, but they probably know how you like your coffee. Check out some of Long Beach’s longest serving, most beloved diners.
Chuck's Coffee Shop
The Weasel may be the single, best-known dish in the city. The scrambled egg, covered in chili concoction is well-known not only for its deliciousness but utility – it gained fame with Cal State Long Beach students as a great antidote to a late night. The Weasel is indicative of some of Chuck’s (4120 E. Ocean Blvd.) hearty fare that includes Pork Chops and eggs, the Trash Can Burrito (ground beef, refried beans, cheese, chili), Banana Nut Pancakes with Whipped Cream and Chuck’s Special Hash. The food reflects Chuck’s vibe, unpretentious and comfortable. You want to meet locals and their dogs? Come here. Oh, and bring cash – no cards accepted.
Coffee Cup Cafe
With a wraparound breakfast bar, the Coffee Cup (3734 E. Fourth St.) is deceptively large inside where, for more than 25 years, they’ve been serving great food, and coffee, at great prices. Favorites include the Chicken Chile Verde Omelet, Enchilada Eggs and Mashed Potato Omelet.Coffee Cup offers opportunities to local artists to display their paintings on the walls. Firmly entrenched in its Belmont Heights neighborhood, the Cup is as much a place to come together, as eat. Because of that community feel, the Cup offers wall space to local artists to display their paintings. It’s cash only, also.
Known for its fluffy pancakes (try the blueberry) and thick shakes (you may want to give the Oreo a sip) Dale’s is equally famous for a friendly staff that, as one reviewer put it, “are so nice and welcoming, it feels like you are in a small town or Hallmark movie.” That’s not far off, since there have been times that Dale’s has had to close because some movie/TV outfit is shooting there to capture its requisite charm. If you’re looking for variety, the menu will put a smile on your face, everything from the classic breakfast fare to turkey burgers, pastrami sandwiches, steaks and liver and onions.
This longtime favorite proves you’re never too old to offer something new. Opened in 1956, Park Pantry (2104 E. Broadway) has long been known for great food – fried chicken, zucchini bread, corn chowder and Eggs Florentine are a few favorites – great service in a great location, across the street from a park, a block away from the Ocean Boulevard bluffs that overlook the Pacific. So what’s new? The Pantry, which has had beer and wine for a long time, is now offering cocktails. That’s right, you can get a Margarita, Long Island Iced Tea or Bloody Mary at this Long Beach classic.
George's 50s Diner
This place certainly does come with a pedigree. Originally opened in 1952 as Grisinger’s Drive-In, its building was designed by Wayne McAllister who also created the Original Bob’s Big Boy as well as the Sands Hotel and Casino. The site is listed as a “historic place” by the Los Angeles Conservancy. Now owned by longtime employee George Alvarez – hence, the name change – George’s (4390 Atlantic Ave.) menu reflects that classic feel with patrons digging such old school favorites as burgers and shakes to chicken fried steak, Polish sausage sandwich, tuna melt, chipped beef and Chilaquiles.
Known for plates loaded with big portions and servers brimming with big personalities, The Potholder is a beloved eatery – now with three locations – where some loyal customers will tell you that the stuffed French Toast is a must. Others will speak up for Tim’s Dugout – Super Spuds, steak and ABC (Avocado, Bacon, Cheese) omelet – while others will accept no substitute for the breakfast bowl, a deconstructed breakfast burrito. You’ll have no problem finding something you like, given that the menu is rather encyclopedic in scope and that the food is cooked, as one customer observed, “with all the care of a father making breakfast for the fam on the weekend.” The Potholder has three locations: 3700 E. Broadway, 301 W. Broadway, 2246 N. Lakewood Blvd.