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Long Beach Food Scene Intel is a series from Brian Addison that will recap food news throughout the city, both news that needs just a quick mention or repeated news where you might have missed the full features.
The Harbor in Downtown Long Beach permanently shutters; looking for new investors
It’s a space that has been persistently plagued in the heart of DTLB.
It was once Hooters before it moved to the Pike Outlets. Then it was an off-shoot of the now-closed La Creperie of Belmont Shore. Then it was La Shish which was anything but the shit. Then it was Moonshiners, a not-so-craft craft cocktail bar.
And now, we can add The Harbor to the list of businesses which have shuttered at 130 Pine Ave.—a sad loss considering it is the last of business owner Christopher Krajacic’s Long Beach businesses. The restaurateur owned the (very much missed) Pier 76 and was looking to alter the vibe of Pine with The Harbor—and for a second, it worked.
Then, with a needed step back post-pandemic, the space spiraled—leaving it currently boarded while investors have toured the space.
Portuguese Bend signage removed to make way for Broken Spirits Distillery
In some beautiful photos captured by Jesse Lopez and shared on the Long Beach Food Scene, crews have begun to remove the former Portuguese Bend sign as Broken Spirits continues its move into the space.
When it was announced in October of 2023 that the group behind Orange County’s wildly popular Smoke & Fire and Villains Brewing concepts would be taking over the former Portuguese Bend space, there was a huge sigh of relief: Portuguese bend was wrapped up in bankruptcy and drama following its abrupt closure in the beginning of 2023, marking the downfall of the city’s first formal distillery.
So it was only a good thing that the space (and its distilling equipment) wouldn’t be tossed away—and if there is anything to say about master distiller Max Stecca’s first look he provided me, we are in for a treat: In a serendipitous exchange, Stecca’s former workspace, Blinking Owl Distillery, found itself in its own between-owners drama, abruptly closing before Stecca was able to serve his first offerings of rums, whiskies, and aquavit. So he bought them back—and they will be among the first offerings when the distillery and restaurant hopefully opens in the first quarter of 2024.
El Esquite opens brick-and-mortar in West Long Beach
It was a story destined to be told: After three years as a revolving popup at everywhere from the bluff at Bixby Park to Dodger Stadium, Long Beach-based El Esquite has opened its first brick-and-mortar in West Long Beach at 2533 Santa Fe Ave.
The tostilocos-meets-street corn concept, birthed by husband-and-wife team Cristian and Jessica Campos, shared the news on Instagram before their Jan. 20 grand opening earlier last week.
Tacos La Carreta to open brick-and-mortar in West Whittier
Taquero José Manuel Morales Bernal Jr. of Tacos La Carreta will be opening his first brick-and-mortar in West Whittier, as reported by Bill Esparza at Eater LA.
They first opened back in 2020 when they first moved to Long Beach—and I discovered that much of what José learned he knows from his father, who was born in Mazatlán, the Sinaloa city whose love for carne asada is so pervasive that every single urban sector has the sweet smoke and savor of carne asada on the grill.
Since then, they have blown up: From being declared the unanimous winner for LA TACO’s Taco Madness 2023 to the very editor of LA TACO, Javiar Cabral, calling them some of the best tacos in the region to their inclusion in LA Time’s 101 Best Restaurants.
They will be located at 11402 Washington Blvd. in West Whittier.
LB Beer/Bread Lab’s ‘Lab 2’ hosts formal grand opening, to be open 7 days a week
The “Z Station” location of Long Beach Beer/Bread Lab will finally be celebrating its formal grand opening come Saturday, Feb. 3, and Sunday, Feb 4. from 11AM to 9PM each day.
“We are excited to fully engage and serve the Zaferia friends, neighbors and community,” said co-owner and carb master Harmony Sage-Fried. “We hope to see everyone at the opening weekend to come out and celebrate with us. The following week, this location—or ‘Lab Two’ as we have been calling it internally—will be open seven days a week.”
Announced abruptly last October, Long Beach Beer/Bread Lab took over the former Bar Envie space in Zaferia. with former Bar Envie owner Geoff Rau partnering with wife-and-husband, master baker-and-master brewer team Harmony and Levi Fried of the Labs to formally convert the space.
ICYMI: My most anticipated restaurants opening in Long Beach listicle is continually updated
My listicle outlining the nearly 25 new restaurants opening across 2024 is continually updated—so check it out!
ICYMI: The history of the ‘Bertos that are found throughout SoCal—and how one of the originals landed in LB
Roberto’s. Rigoberto’s. Alberto’s. Luisberto’s. Filiberto’s. The ‘Berto’s of SoCal are as ubiquitous as they are treasured among college students and cheap-eats seekers alike—and that definitively includes one of the originals, Adalberto’s, which opened at the northwest corner of Market and 25th Streets in 1986.
It is where we know rolled tacos from—the rolled-and-fried stuffed corn tortillas slathered in cheese and guacamole. The San Diego-birthed meat-only burrito. Carne asada fries. Breakfast burritos. These are the contributions of the ‘Bertos—and Adalberto’s is one of the oldest around.
For many who have depended on the yes-but-not-quite San Diego-style of La Taqueria Mexicana on 4th, there is a sense of joy that, very quietly, the Adalberto’s family has decided to expand well beyond San Diego and opened their first shop quietly on 7th Street last year.
ICYMI: Long Beach restaurants are testing the waters with late hours—but patrons need to stay up with them
Long Beach restaurants have long struggled with maintaining late hours, both pre- and post-COVID—and in a huge sense, it’s the snake that eats itself: People consistently claim that they want places open later so a handful do but don’t receive the patronage because it is presumed that, well, no one is open late. Hence the vicious circle.
But a handful of restaurants are starting to test the waters with later hours, harkening to the days when 24-hour diners like The Shore House in Belmont Shore outshone cheap corporate tricks like Denny’s. The only thing is that we, as patrons, need to not only stay up with them but actually go to them.