Locals are transforming Long Beach from a commuter town into SoCal’s hottest creative hub. Here are our favorite spots to dine, drink, and shop
– October 21, 2016
The Pie Bar
Laurie Gray opened her Kickstarter-funded bakery this year after ditching her executive banking gig. What was once a Quiznos in formerly corporate downtown is now The Pie Bar, where Gray whisks coconut cream from scratch, crimps dough, and bakes all varieties of pies. You can sample four tastes when you order a “pie flight”; shot glasses are filled with popular specialties, from Key lime to bourbon pecan. Most flavors also come in mini mason jars for handheld pie on the fly. Gray’s Little Chef oven from her childhood is on display—a nod to how long she’s been dreaming of baking.
Therapist Bobby Hernandez is the brain behind Recreational Coffee, an avant-garde take on caffeinated drinks such as the Iced Basilfruit, which is iced coffee sweetened by a grapefruit, basil, and sugar reduction that brings out the bean’s bright, fruity notes. On the other hand, its evil cousin, the Hoppy Iced Coffee, combines cascade hops with iced coffee to create a remarkably IPA-like and pleasantly bitter punch of caffeine.
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Though true lambic can be made only in Belgium, Gabriel Gordon has built quite the homage to this style of beer at Beachwood Blendery. With his partner, brewmaster Ryan Fields, they’ve forged a barrel room designed to mimic Belgium’s temperature and humidity. Their beers are served in small pours and bottled in a rustic yet colorful space. Try the lip-puckering sour blondes as well as the Multi-Barrel Experiment, infused with Rainier cherries and a rich, oaky flavor.
6th and Detroit
The first time a shopper journeyed from L.A. just to visit Michelle Qazi’s new curated home-decor shop, Qazi was shocked; now, it’s commonplace for Angelenos to reverse commute to 6th and Detroit. Prices are kept low thanks to Qazi’s obsessive garage- and estate-sale-hunting skills. But it’s how the pieces come together that makes you want to linger. A neutral color palette is livened up by the fairy tale–like case goods, in addition to ceramic owls, macramé hangers, and rare tropical plants potted in wicker baskets.
Wild Child Party
Jolie Dionisio’s Wild Child Party may excel at unconventional decor for children’s fetes, like cactus birthday candles and marbleized paper plates. But adults can find plenty of inspiration here too, with a balloon bar, piñata making, and calligraphy workshops. Dionisio, who styles celebrity events in L.A., says Long Beach was her only consideration for setting up shop. After all, it’s a place that embraces fun and innovation—even a store devoted to quirky party pieces would be sure to find its audience.
Pro skateboarder turned restaurateur Salman Agah’s first Pizzanista outpost outside of L.A. is housed in a historic bungalow. The Meat Jesus is the crowning glory, with crisped pepperoni, bacon, and anise-seeded sausage topping a sourdough crust. “Long Beach was befitting for Pizzanista since it has a great music, art, and skate scene,” says co-owner Price Latimer. “It’s also an affordable and diverse community that feels untouched by time.”
An expansive outdoor area is the true heart of Restauration: brightly patterned pillows propped in wooden booths are perfect for cheerfully hungover brunchers pounding Rose Park coffee, and families flock in for early-bird dinners of crunchy parmesan churros. Aside from the eclectic wall decor (vintage tree saws), furnishings are industrial chic, with aluminum chairs and handmade wooden tables; hanging lights cast a flattering glow for the after-dinner crowd digging into the seasonal, international wine list.
When Dayna Mance first opened Prism Boutique, the former Anthropologie manager lured the area’s beachy crowd to a then-sleepy corner of Belmont Heights. Now a nucleus of businesses has opened. Together, they collaborate on block party–style events with taco trucks, temporary tattoo stations, and local makers. The shop is stocked with relaxed Coachella-inspired weekend wear, such as rock tees and cropped jeans. Moroccan rugs, geodes-turned-jewelry displays,and custom rope and driftwood artwork add a dash of wanderlust.