Monday, February 26, 2024

Long Beach’s ISM Brewing introduces its food (including $15 sandwich’n’beer lunch combos and $1 wings)

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ISM Brewing—master brewer Ian McCall’s brewery that took over the former Beachwood space after it was announced they were shuttering their OG Downtown Long Beach location, leaving Beachwood’s Blendery as the sole representative of the brand in an ever-changing neighborhood—has begun to serve food in the hopes that people will not only visit during all hours but that it will attract both worker and visitors to Downtown.

On top of this, come Jan. 8, ISM Brewing will join The Ordinarie and Michael’s Downtown in being open seven days a week.

Wait–are there really $15 sandwich’n’beer combos at ISM Brewing? Yes.

“ISM, from the get-go, has been about the community,” McCall said. “At first, I wasn’t sold entirely on the idea of having food because I wanted to focus on the beer but the beer will always be on lock; that is my responsibility. And it just made sense that we have to food for our patrons and our brand.”

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And that includes an introduction of lunch specials that offers a choice of some five sandwiches and fries or two salads with a beer starting at $15, give a buck or two for other items. From tri-tip and braised beef to salmon with smoked gouda and veggie sandwiches, the offer is not only beautifully affordable but a vocal “Come on in” from McCall and the crew.

“I can’t just open my business and expect people to come by default,” McCall said. “I have to welcome them in and I hope this not only brings in the lunch crowd but also encourages other businesses in Downtown to follow the lead with making our neighborhood the best.”

And this isn’t just the lunch combos: Come every Wednesday, ISM Brewing will offer $1 chicken wings.

“Yup, one buck on Wednesdays,” McCall said. “No limit for now so have at it. Just order a beer also if you don’t mind—it’s the perfect combo. Because that’s ultimately what we’re aiming for: Quality food that goes extremely well with beer.”

Chef Alfonso “Fonzy” De Zuniga, the man behind the food at ISM Brewing

Chef Alfonso “Fonzy” De Zuniga, who led Descanso’s kitchen in Costa Mesa, is the man behind the food operation at ISM Brewing—and his approach echoes exactly what McCall was reaching for: food that pairs well with beer but doesn’t lack quality.

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Take his salmon sandwich, a play on the tuna melt that opts for salmon salad, smoked gouda, and lightly pickled cucumber slices.

Or his tri-tip—already a crowd favorite—where layers of thinly slice, house-smoked tri-tip are stuffed between layers of chimichurri, spicy mayo, corn succotash, and Swiss cheese.

Or his veggie sandwich, a happily light and healthy dish that layers cream cheese with various veggies and sprouts.

You have your option—and starting at $15, its kind of a win-win.

Why ISM Brewing’s presence is important for DTLB

With the soon-to-open Broadstone Promenade—a 189-unit mixed-use residential tower that sits directly in front of ISM Brewing—McCall knows that Downtown Long Beach will be, once again, king of the neighborhoods. And this is all despite the bad press the neighborhood has been getting for being unsafe and un-patronizable.

“In a few months, I genuinely believe the Promenade will be an entirely different place for both businesses and patrons,” McCall said when he first took over the space.

And he’s right: That alleyway which is connected via a paseo in the Broadstone Promenade is the back entrance of Altar Society, Pine Avenue’s first brewery since the closure of Rock Bottom. This little pathway creates a brewery/bar/restaurant hopping connection that will be par none in the city: One can go from the Pine Avenue-facing entrance of Altar Society, have a beer, exit out the back, walk straight to ISM Brewing (the brewery taking over the former Beachwood space) or jump to The Ordinarie and then jaunt over to the now-regularly open Blendery. And in the coming months, take a walk over to the space that was once home to Lupe’s that is being taken over by the owners of Padre and Broken Spirits, the distillery taking over the Portuguese Bend space

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Add on top of this additional residents from this project, the now-fully complete Broadway Block, and the soon-to-be-complete Aster over on Broadway at Long Beach Boulevard, all clutch for making this particular area of DTLB feel more Downtown than Construction Zone.

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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