Thursday, July 18, 2024

Favorite things I’m eating right now in Long Beach: May 2024


Missed out on Brian Addison’s Favorite Things of past? We got you covered—just click here.

Too many years back, I wrote a very self-indulgent listicle that was about so-called “essential” Long Beach dishes; dishes that I loved and could depend on as long as that place existed—and I wrote it because there’s something so elemental and useful about a specific great dish at a specific place. It was less about some grander proclamation than it was about, “This is just great food.”

And after a year of not doing such lists, I want to return to it: Hence Brian Addison’s Favorite Things. Not some grand list of “essential dishes”—that is too hard of a burden to put on a restaurant: You better have this and you better have it all the time. But for now, in this moment, I am happy to share some of my favorite things.

In other words: Why not just own the moment? Without further ado, and once again in the third person, Brian Addison’s favorite things he is eating across Long Beach…

Eggs Benedict from The Attic

3441 E. Broadway

One would be hard-pressed to find a more decadent, more refined, and outright more delicious version of eggs Benedict than Chef Cameron Slaugh’s version he slings out at The Attic.

The beloved Belmont Heights restaurant—which has seen nothing but a rise in reputation and respect thanks to Slaugh in the kitchen and General Manger Iano Davi in the front—has always had a leaning toward American-influence cuisine and this plate is no exception: He eschews the English muffins for cornmeal-dusted-and-fried grit cakes, crispy little rounds that are simultaneously creamy, salty, and a smidge sweet. He skips the Canadian bacon for a piece of a country fried steak-inspired pork croquette on one and shrimp on the other. And he incorporates a nice dollop of mustard seed in the hollandaise sauce that gives it a horseradish-like quality that is as surprising as it is delectable.

It’s the best eggs Benedict in the city. There. I said it.

Tamarind chicken wings from Manaow

3618 E. Broadway

In the world of Thai food, Long Beach has some genuinely great options—but we are just beginning to see spaces dive into the richer, more complex parts of Thai cuisine, like Chiang Rai (though it is not quite near the heights of spaces like Amphai Northern Thai Food Club in East Hollywood). But for the ones who stick to the safer, more common menus? We have a crop of restaurants that do it rather well.

And that includes Manaow (which I’ve talked about before on a previous underrated restaurants list).

While they have solid appetizers all around—their chicken satay is simple goodness at its finest—there is nothing I return to more than their tamarind fried chicken wings. Salty meets sour bombs in these delicious fragments of fried fowl, where one can attempt to incorporate a bit of the dried chile on it is wok’d with or ask for a side of mashed Thai chiles if you really wanna bring the heat. Either way, you can take it whatever level you like but even without the chile, these wings solid. (And yes, they fry them properly so they do take a bit—be patient, dammit.)

Raviolini at Michael’s on Naples

5620 E. 2nd St.

There are few enjoyments in life than something that somehow feels simultaneously casual yet cultivated, leveling pretense but also lacking pedestrian qualities. This is sitting at Michael on Naple’s rooftop bar, where you will things like master mixologist Jocelyn Jolly navigate you through amaros or offer what she sincerely describes as a “porch pounder” of a cocktail should one or the other serve you better. Or General Manager and overall wine king Massimo Arrone will direct you to a Vermentino that pairs perfectly with your pasta plate that you decided to order when you said you would just be having a drink.

It’s a wonderful space and the ability to do just that—order some pasta under the open roof, sip on a cocktail or glass of wine—is worth every damn penny.

Chef Eric Samaniego’s seemingly endless iterations of the mighty world of pasta is, next to Chef Cameron Slaugh’s own take on the carby wonder, the city’s most underrated: Like his raviolini that he filled with house made goat milk ricotta and layered with lemon, butter, and asparagus. A welcome to spring if there ever was one, where the tart’n’funk of the humble goat’s milk acts a beautiful counterpart to the oily heaven of the butter.

Look for a full feature on Jocelyn and her cocktail program in the coming days.

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To-go desserts from Pizza Parlor

2936 Clark Ave.

I know, I know: Long Beach is going through a pizza renaissance but I think it’s time to show off stuff about our pizzerias that aren’t just about the pies—and I wanna specifically talk about a person, Megan Waterbury, Pizza Parlor LB’s lead baker, pastry chef, and the queen of sweets at the pizzeria.

In unassuming plastic to-go containers sit what could be considered the city’s best panna cotta: Eschewing a plethora of options, one can have the classic French vanilla panna cotta or a coffee-based one (using, of course, coffee from Coffee Parlor). But the real star of these masterful takes on the Italian dessert are their textures: Not too gelatinous and shiny and but wonderfully silky with a matte finish, they are a masterful representations of the importance of mouth-feel and tinkering with a recipe until it feels just right.

Waterbury’s tiramisu eschews lady fingers in favor of denser, house-made Meyer lemon madeleine sheet cakes and soaks those with a seasonal single-origin coffee before layering whipped mascarpone cheese, whipped vanilla heavy cream (with house-made vanilla extract) that is folded in with marsala wine, and a healthy dousing of semi-sweet chocolate shreds. The result is, simply put, an amazing dessert.

And then there’s her cheesecake. Her cookies. Her brown butter rice crispy treats that also use Fruity Pebbles in one version and Cinnamon Toast Crunch in another…

Just go and get some.

To read Brian Addison’s full feature on Pizza Parlor, click here.

Smoked cream cheese and jalapeño jam from Big Brian’s Meats

Long Beach BBQ Festival on May 25

As the second annual Long Beach BBQ Festival approaches its day of taking over Shoreline Aquatic Park on May 25, I’ve been doing some features on some of my favorite vendors appearing there—amazing folks like the leaders behind Brother’s Keeper BBQ and Full Send BBQ—and that certainly includes Big Brian’s Meats.

Chef and grillmaster Brian Rodriguez—whose barbecue popup and catering business Big Brian’s Meats kicked off in 2022—will be serving many a great things at the upcoming festival, from chili and beans to a smoked pastrami burrito. But I can’t stop thinking about his smoked cream cheese topped with jalapeño jam and served with pita chips.

Taking a full bar of Neufchâtel-style cheese, smoking it and coating it a dry rub before topping it off with house made jalapeño jam, this warmed-up, borderline-melting cheese dip is, well, simply awesome.

The second annual Long Beach BBQ Festival takes place at Shoreline Aquatic Park, located at 200 Aquarium Way, on Saturday, May 25, from noon to 9PM. For tickets, click here.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.


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