The Long Beach Post is pleased to present the winners of the 2019 Best of Long Beach – chosen entirely by our readers. We received an overwhelming response to this year’s poll: close to 168,000 votes were tallied.
We present to you the top vote-getters in 101 different categories: 101 people, places, and things to do that are the best of our community.
It is a list of winners that are quintessentially Long Beach. Unique to our community, focused on excellence, and committed to making a great city even greater.
Please show your appreciation and support for local businesses by frequenting the winners within this guide. After all, they are the Best of Long Beach!
With the mission to make “outsider art” mainstream, The Dark Art Emporium owner Jeremy Schott runs the small gallery and oddity shop, dispelling preconceived notions of what art can be with every new patron who walks through his doors. From tarot cards and books about Satanism to human skulls and grotesque paintings, it’s easy to find beauty in the darkness at 256 Elm Ave.
While terrific at not only getting a beautiful shot, usually in some beautiful place at just the most beautiful time, Barron’s real secret to success seems to be her ability to marry utmost professionalism with a patient, human touch that earns the trust of her subjects, allowing her to capture beautifully what lies within. As reader Shannon W. put it: “She captures the world beautifully through her lens.”
To say that POW! WOW! brings people together is an understatement. The Hawaii-based street art festival landed in Long Beach in 2015 and has since turned the city into an outdoor museum of murals—from North Long Beach to Downtown—by local and international artists. Each year for one week, the city is re-energized when the culture surrounding the collective comes alive.
Cal State Long Beach’s College of the Arts has it all; students can study dance, design, film, theater and even electronic arts, or enter the School of Art within the college, and dive headfirst into a multitude of visual art mediums. And even if you’re not a student, there’s plenty to get inspired by, including dance recitals, open studio nights, exhibits at the student galleries and much more.
Described as “the coolest without even trying because he truly loves music” by Best of LB voter Nadith Schuster, DJ Dennis Owens brings the funk wherever he goes, whether he’s spinning vinyl at The Good Foot, his monthly funk and soul night at Alex’s Bar, or a special event elsewhere—it’s been 20 years since Owens helped kick off The Good Foot legacy at Que Sera.
When you see a work of art by artist Dave Van Patten, you recognize his pop-surrealist style right away. From detailed illustrations you have to put your nose against to see, to towering murals throughout town, his works are full of quirky characters, some without limbs, others with extra, that speak of the human condition and his own imaginative world.
Called “refreshingly modern” by voter B.L., the week-long annual mural festival offers a variety of happenings throughout the city, including major art exhibits like the Long Beach Museum’s Vitality & Verve series, performances by POW! WOW! School of Music students, public interviews with visiting artists and, of course, the main attraction, local and international artists painting murals throughout the city.
Alex’s presents a wide swath of styles; everything from punk, to psychobilly to roots rock to yacht rock to tribute bands. It’s also one of the few local joints presenting local bands as well as big acts like The Damned. They do all this with a great, welcoming vibe, excellent bartenders, lots of beer—more than 20 on tap—and perhaps the best bathroom in the city.
This seven-piece band specializing in blues, soul, funk and old school R&B plays all over the Southland, including a fairly regular, monthly gig at Kobe Steakhouse in Seal Beach. Wherever they play it’s certain people are gonna move; they really have very little choice in the matter. As reader Sandra B., put it, one “can’t help but dance like a fool when they play!” Consider yourself warned.
How well do you know your neighbors? Or do you know them at all? We Love Long Beach’s mission is to connect people block by block by encouraging residents to step out of their homes to socialize through communal breakfasts, ice cream socials and pumpkin carvings. The nonprofit’s Instagram reflects this mission to end social fragmentation with inspirational quotes, gorgeous photos of the city and a focus on neighbors helping neighbors.
Check out Dave Van Patten’s mural at Alex’s Bar to the tune of “With a Little Help From My Friends” or consider it a more sinister situation akin to the iconic cantina scene in “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.” The mural was painted during POW! WOW! Long Beach 2017; Van Patten said it’s a “Star Wars-meets-The Last Supper-meets-Alex’s Bar situation.”
The only museum in the country dedicated to showcasing modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino art, MOLAA is a staple of diversity in the Long Beach community and nationwide. From showcasing works by well-known Latinx artists like Frida Kahlo to submissions from the immediate community, MOLAA has done, and continues to do, it all.
Not a nightclub in the classic, “Meet me at the Copa” sense, Alex’s does fit the bill as a place you not only can hear music but interact with a great staff, led by some terrifically chummy bartenders, have a drink and do all sorts of fun stuff ranging from themed trivia nights and karaoke, including the opportunity to sing with a live band. And, did we mention the bathroom?
Long Beach is bursting with standout performing arts, musical and cultural groups. Ranging from baroque chamber music, to vocal ensembles, to the oldest established opera company in Southern California, our city has it all. But for our readers, the Long Beach Symphony stands out. And we understand why: a diverse annual program of traditional and contemporary offerings, the annual POPS! concerts and popular family music festivals. As one reader said about the symphony musicians: “They love what they do and it shows.”
For many families with young kids, the Aquarium of the Pacific has become a second home on the weekend, so Mom or Dad can catch up on sleep or get a break. It’s the perfect place for kids, not just in Long Beach, but maybe in all of Southern California. With the Pacific Visions expansion opening this year, there will soon be even more of the Aquarium for kids to love.
Owner Rand Foster opened his shop in a relatively tiny spot just off Second Street at a time when vinyl records were rapidly falling from grace with music listeners, and CDs were on the rapid rise. Since then, largely because of Foster’s never-waning enthusiasm for and knowledge about music, Fingerprints has grown into an 8,000 square-foot space in Downtown, with a large section of the store devoted to the renaissance of vinyl LPs to complement an impressive collection of CDs, video and books.
The Art does an exceptional job of presenting the latest in quality cinema, while also giving screen time to the kind of classic and hard to find content that puts the present in context. We love stumbling upon little-known or hard-to-find documentaries along with special events such as the upcoming 40th anniversary viewing of “Life of Brian.” Of course, every Saturday, it is THE place to experience the sublime strangeness that is Rocky Horror.
The HipPea transcends all food labels and categories, standing tall as just some darned delectable falafel. The mouthwatering creation, an Egyptian recipe–served Israeli-style–is a family formula, passed down from co-owner Vered Azari’s grandmother. Crispy on the outside and moist to the core, the falafel is made fresh to order by the half or full dozen, or packed inside a pita pocket.
Not only did this newcomer score readers’ choice as the best restaurant in Downtown, it nudged out plenty of fair competition in this category—and for good reason. Chef Adam Schmalz’s style is wonderfully distinct: not Neapolitan-style, not New York-style, his pizzas are odes to the Californian culture of fusion; a chewy, not-too-thick-not-too-thin crust that comes with an abundance of options.
One of the more shocking wins given Long Beach’s array of taco offerings, readers went with a chain that has built up a reputation as a sturdy stand-by in the wee-hours of the night after too much drinking along the Fourth Street crawl. Greasy, quick and cheap, it makes sense that Long Beach has a love affair with Hole Mole.
Partners Laurie Semon and Erin O’Hagan have over 30 years of experience in the food industry—and it shows. Their catering powers meet brick-and-mortar realness in their two spaces, the grocer/eatery that is Olives and the next-door restaurant Taste. Through their persistence and ambition, they continually try to provide quality food for for Long Beach, whether they’re catering for a party or for an intimate private dinner.
Nestled near the city’s Rose Park neighborhood, this sushi bar is brought to you by the same folks behind I Luv Sushi in Lakewood. 39 Degrees boasts fresh fish at a reasonable price. While it serves traditional style sushi, this place also gives customers the option to try fish with zesty sauces, tangy spices and fresh fruit. Some customers appreciate its vegetarian and vegan options while others enjoy its variety of specials.
Seabirds Kitchen is helping shape Long Beach into a vegan food mecca as one of multiple restaurants with extensive, diverse and high quality offerings. Owner Stephanie Morgan started the concept as a food truck before she opened a permanent spot in Orange County and then graced Long Beach with its presence in 2017. With dishes like Cauliflower Ceviche and its beer-battered avocado tacos, it’s no wonder they have a cult-like following. “The Beet Burger is the ultimate healthy reward meal post-workout!” says voter Bonnie V.
This cozy wine bar tucked in the heart of Retro Row is a favorite local hangout, but also a staple music venue to any and all types of local or touring musicians. With live performances almost every night of the week, tapas and small plates to snack on, and a frequently rotating craft beer and wine selection, 4th Street Vine offers a unique experience every visit.
HiroNori might be new—they haven’t even been open a year—but the hype is merited. Their vegan ramen and Asahikawa-style ramen—often misnomered shoyu ramen because that is the name of its soy-based broth—is astounding, but it’s the Hakata-style ramen that is the true star of this Irvine-based, tiny-but-mighty ramen shop.
While Long Beach has no shortage of places to pick up some sweet bubble tea, it seems this Taiwanese rooted operation has won the slurp of approval from the community and CSULB students who happen to wander off campus. Not interested in experimentation, the shop offers the classic iced, milk and hot tea flavors that allow customers the liberty to adjust sweetness and choose their dairy preferences. While they only serve one kind of chewy tapioca pearl, the black boba, they do also offer pudding, aloe, and fruit jelly.
What began as creamy culinary curiosity and ultimately led to a sugar-frenzied cult following, Dina Amadril’s humble beginnings churning handmade ice cream out of her kitchen, is a true Long Beach sucess story. Long Beach Creamery, located in both Downtown and Bixby Knolls, offers some of the most unique flavor experiments to tempt any frozen dessert fiend. Signature scoops like burnt caramel, whiskey vanilla and cashew fennel chip are just some of the recipes that catapluted the creamery into the ice cream hall of fame, but with rotating, and sometimes eyebrow-raising flavors like chamomile, amarena cherry and thai tea, it’s easy to see why people are so obsessed.
Part of Belmont Shore’s well-known Mediterranean scene, Open Sesame has a variety of options if you’re craving pita sandwiches, shawarmas, kabobs and even Lebanese-style pizza. “The food is amazing,” says Amanda M. who called the restaurant a healthy institution. They have gluten-free menu options too! Word of advice from the restaurant: “let the bread act as your utensil with which to eat.”
Every neighborhood needs a Bake N Broil. A family place with a menu packed with standards: meatloaf, chicken pot pie, chicken-fried steak and miles and miles of pies and other great desserts. Little has changed over the course of the restaurant’s half century in Long Beach.
The 4th Horseman has already built itself a reputation as a pizza empire after only a handful of months since their opening. Bringing the aesthetic of horrorcore mixed with high-brow-to-low-brow offerings—it’s home to one of the few Miller High Life tap handles while offering a slew of independent beer offerings—it has created a viable, community-driven hangout.
Tito’s eschews the heavy-cheese-and-egg concoction that buddies-up with the American palate. This is a taqueria rolled up for your pleasure. Chorizo or chicharrones are just a few of the stars you can choose before it is wrapped and tossed into a small paper bag with a grilled jalapeño. This is the kind of breakfast burrito that by its end will be soaked, hard to hold, and bring a sense of sadness when the last bite is consumed.
A spot of southern decadence, Johnny Rebs’ has been serving up a big ol’ plate of southern comfort food in North Long Beach since 1984. Their ode to signature recipes from Georiga, Lousiana, Texas and North Carolina feature smoked, slow cooked meats slathered in BBQ sauce, cajun shrimp and sausage, fried catfish, chicken and okra with homemade biscuits and gravy to boot.
We don’t have some of the best beer in the region; we have some of the best in the world thanks to Beachwood. Winner of the Best Brewpub at the World Beer Cup and more medals from the Great American Beer Fest than one can fit above a tap, Beachwood’s stellar array of IPAs, milk stouts, porters, dunkles, pale ales, and more make it a hop-centric must of a destination.
With three locations, including its OG location in Belmont Heights, The Potholder has become a Long Beach institution in and of itself. A massive menu with equally massive portions, its cult-like following can be seen on the walls of its interiors: pictures of patrons in other parts of the world, holding signs that say, “Eat at The Potholder,” to showcase how much they miss this neighborhood eatery even abroad.
Taking over Lasher’s——one of the city’s longest-running restaurants and one which re-opened in Belmont Shore——The Attic has since become a brunching institution thanks to its ability to host multiple large groups and a patio space that is perfect for enjoying the sun and the restaurant’s absurdly decadent Bloody Mary menu.
Chef Arthur Gonzalez’s first full-fledged cuisine affair with Long Beach since he returned from Santa Fe is this Belmont Heights restaurant that has earned the love of both its neighbors and visitors. Its happy hour is no exception, with options like the astounding creamy poblano fries and the Frito pies—each Gonzalez’s Californian play on Southwest food.
Owners Oscar Barajas and Fernando Lule opened the first MVPs in the late1990s, at its much-missed, smushed-in-front-of-a-house location on 4th that is now home to the stellar Prime. With three locations in Long Beach, MVPs offers an array of burgers that are not only solid but cater to all palates. Our suggestion? The mighty George Foreman V: burger, cheese, bacon, and avocado—and don’t forget the cajun fries.
We could tell you about the 50+ varieties of sweet and savory pies. We could share how many of the recipes are as old as the Bixby Knolls institution where they are baked. We could talk about cream pies, strudel pies, and quiches. Or we could let Bake n Broil’s own description of their famous seasonal specialty explain why this is the best place for pie in Long Beach.
Andrew Phillips and Nathan Tourtellotte faced a dilemma in 2009: How could they get quality coffee into the homes of Long Beach? The best way, they discovered, was by roasting with masterful dedication and delivering directly. By bike, to be specific. Since then, they have not only become one of the most stellar examples of third wave coffee but have also opened up a second location with a full kitchen in Downtown. And yes, they still deliver by bike.
The pot roast sandwich. The chicken pot pie. The pumpkin pancakes. No matter what you choose, it’s going to take you right back to Grandma’s kitchen. Trust us: get there no later than 7:30 a.m. or the wait could carry you right past lunchtime – and for good reason. Don’t forget to check the daily specialty menu. Order the breakfast quiche, and the orange glaze muffin, also a coffee cake, and the coffee. Stick around for the patty melt, take a break, then come back for the baked mac and cheese, the French onion soup, and, of course, the desserts… oh… the desserts.
Long Beach Creamery is the stuff of Long Beach legend. Like her friend-in-business, Laurie Gray over at The Pie Bar, Creamery owner Dina Amadril began her work out of her home in August of 2013—and it was there she held her first tasting, with ten strangers sampling twelve flavors, from Lord Windsor Coffee to Biscuits & Jam, Madagascar Vanilla to Goat Cheese Whiskey Fig. That is the humble beginnings of what has ultimately become a local ice cream empire.
Can any city really top our dive bar scene? We’ve reached optimal performance in Long Beach, ranging from the Stache Bar to the Interlude (which is more a dark hallway of libations), to dozens in between. But then there’s Joe Jost’s. An institution’s institution, in business for nearly 100 years. You’ll head there on the milestone occasions, because it’s what we do and where we go after milestones in Long Beach. You’ll take your father-in-law there after his retirement party, when all he wants isn’t a gold watch, but a frosty schooner of Shiner, a Special, and a couple of pickled eggs.
6400 E Stearns St
This East Long Beach, 24-hour carb-n-sugar staple is a piece of mall strip heaven that has been serving the community for well over a decade. One of the few donut shops that stays true to the create-all-day-all-night mantra of donutteries, this is the go-to for classic donuts. From blueberry cake to customized donut letters to spell out whatever message you like, Simone’s is a classic in more ways than one.
Commonly called the Marina Farmers Market, this stretch of fresh sustenance heaven that lines the Alamitos Bay Marina is not just one of our most beautiful farmers markets but also, genuinely, one of the best. You can find flowers and herbs and produce that is sustainable and local or attempt to score a seat at The Wild Chive’s utterly spectacular vegan brunch. Or, just take a stroll, talk to sellers, and learn about how we get our food from farms to your mouth.
While this Italian deli and market has two other branches, its history began on Santa Fe Avenue in the city’s Westside when Italian immigrant Vincent Passanisi established Santa Fe Importers in 1947. Known for its meatballs, lasagna and Italian sausage, Yelp reviewers say you don’t want to miss this go-to lunch spot!
The Attic is known for its signature Mac n’ Cheetos (featuring crumbled Flaming Hot Cheetos) and its Bloody Mary variations but according to Post reader Lucy K. they also have a “great atmosphere” which may be why it won readers’ hearts as favorite restaurant in East Long Beach. It’s got a great dog menu as well, says Lucy K! Just make sure you call ahead or prepare to wait a while because this place can get quite busy.
It is very hard to not love Los Compadres. Its dark, stool-filled bar serves up stellar margaritas and micheladas while its expansive restaurant—loud, boisterous, family-centric—is perfect for the staple’s large plates of molcajete or pozole (which is only at their Pine location). But perhaps most warming? It’s one of the first places in the city that has always served handmade corn tortillas, an abuelita’s ode to any meat you order on the menu.
“Cheers to your health,” a pink fluorescent lighting proclamation on the wall of Salud, is more than a salutation. It also reflects owner Angela Almaguer’s ambitions and dedication toward healthier food options—and in less than four years, she has expanded her original Fourth Street location into a full-on mini-bistro while opening a second location in Belmont Shore’s Athletic Club.
Michael’s on Naples offers outstanding food and service, craft cocktails and an impressive wine list. Voters believe there’s no better place to share a celebratory evening with a loved one, whether it’s at an intimate table indoors or on the restaurant’s beautiful rooftop patio.
Jill Kinney Pharis’ cookies, cakes and her claim to fame, the old-fashioned cinnamon roll, have turned Belmont Shore (and satellite locations at the Long Beach Airport terminal and Seal Beach) into a sugar-laced space of joy: Frostings (or Snickers) cover every brownie while the variety of cakes can oftentimes be overwhelming (in a good way).
Passionate, caring, and supportive are just some of the words voters used to describe yoga instructor Heather Carroll. Carroll hosts events that educate and motivate the younger generation in Long Beach to find joy in trying new yoga poses. As reader, E. shares, “Heather cares about each and every person in her classes. Whether it’s our form, health or overall well being, she makes each of us matter.”
Working in the oldest continuously operated tattoo shop in America, Outer Limits Tattoo, isn’t the only thing that makes Kari Barba a Long Beach icon. She has dedicated herself to the art of tattooing for 36 years and is world renowned. Her tattoo knowledge and wisdom makes her the artist of choice for anyone looking to get a stylised design.
Krista Trust, Sage Salon & Spa
4240 E. 4th St.
If the eyes are the windows to your soul, your brows are the frame, and readers say nobody shapes and styles them better than Krista Trust at Sage Salon & Spa. Clients say Krista has the expertise and personality to boot. As one fan says: “She can turn eyebrow caterpillars into butterflies.”
Dermatologist Dr. Misha Heller cares about your skin care. If you’re looking for professionalism and exceptional service during a doctor’s visit, Dr. Misha Heller at Heller Dermatology is the number one pick. From a quick check up, to helping you manage the health of your skin you can feel confident that Dr. Misha has your best interests in mind.
It is difficult to find someone you can trust to take care of your cuddly best friend, Pet Waggin’ has done the hard work for you by putting together a team of people you can trust with your cat, dog, bird, guinea pig, and even rabbit. “They went above and beyond while caring for my dog when she was ill. She loves her two caregivers!” said voter J.B.
For 23 years, Mike Dunfee has been selling, leasing and managing Long Beach Real Estate. His extensive knowledge of all things regarding properties in Long Beach makes him respected throughout the city. Voter H.L. put it simply, “He truly cares and always has your best interests at heart.” Voter C.B. shared, “Would recommend to my 95 year old mother!”
Who doesn’t know and love Justin Rudd? From the Bulldog Beauty Contest to adult spelling bees, turkey trots and beach cleanups, Rudd has become the unofficial mayor of Long Beach who makes it all happen. Through his nonprofit Community Action Team, he is known for his tireless efforts in making Long Beach a better place to live.
It’s notable that readers nominated over 130 educators as their favorite teacher. In many ways, Mrs. Kellam, Principal of St. Barnabas School in Bixby Knolls, is representative of the similar comments so many readers left about others: “She holds students to high standards and supports their educational success with structured kindness.” Mrs. Kellam makes the grade at a standout school and in a city filled with extraordinary teachers and educators.
Elijah scored a bunch of rave reviews from his customers, from concise (“He’s the best”) to more elaborate reviews, including a convincing one from a customer who commented, “I’ve been getting cut by the guy when I first met him in Santa Bárbara, then down in San Fernando Valley, and even made a trip to visit him now that he’s in Long Beach. Great personality, humble, and knows the importance of establishing a connection with his clientele and makes it seem so effortless. And don’t get me started with how well the man can cut!!!
One half of a dynamic father and daughter law firm in Downtown Long Beach, Lawrence Lallande has over 30 years of experience in personal injury, medical malpractice, vehicle collisions, premises liability and other consumer litigation, with a long track record of substantial verdicts and settlements for his clients. Like other finalists on our list, his is a recognizable name in the community, long engaged in civic organizations and charitable groups, giving back to the city in many ways beyond their professional accomplishments.
Part friend, part therapist, part mom, part bouncer… a great bartender wears many hats and readers say Dan at the neighborhood pub KC Branaghan’s in Naples is all of those things and more. As one reader says, Dan is “hands down what it means to be a bartender.”
Dr. Karen Bloch has worked on some of the most finely tuned bodies in the world, including the players on the men’s and women’s water polo teams in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and a varety of other athletes, rangng from bobsledders to Women’s Pro Softball League.
Diko has been a beloved fixture at Long Beach Parks and Recreation since his days working with kids during the summer in city parks. He has worked his way up to the position of manager of the city’s Environmental Services Bureau.
It says everything about Erin Carey, the varsity girls’ basketball coach at Wilson High, that she won this category with her team having a losing record this season. With Carey, winning is defined much more significantly “She brought out talent and confidence in our daughter that we never knew she had,” reader Julie Ann S. said, while H. Banks said Carey “embodies the phrase, ‘Service Beyond Self.’ Put even more succinctly was this summation by reader “Sea” who wrote about Carey: “She’s good peeps.”
For more than a decade, Scott Jones has been keepng the farflung neighborhoods in the city closer to each other through his We Love Long Beach orgnization, throwing several citywide events, such as the Citywide Breakfast, Ice Cream Social, Pumpkin Party and Homebrew Festival.
Dr. Serafin Hosena
2743 E. 4th St.
If you’re like us, you howl in pain the second a dentist puts a leaded bib on you for X-rays. Dr. Hosena is the closest to pain-free that you’ll find. And he’s great at what he does. Let’s go to the readers: “Most gentle and honest.” “I can smile and chew my food again!” and “He is sooooooooo nice. Always follows up by giving me a call a the end of the day to make sure everything went well.” The only disappointment we’ve had with him is he doesn’t let us pick out a toy at the end of the visit.
Taking the win in both pet sitting and dog walking catagories, it seems voters are saying the Pet Waggin’ team are the people to trust with all of your pet care needs. Pet Waggin’ knows that different dogs have different needs when it comes to walking, so they have created a system that caters to each individual dog’s lifestyle and puts your mind at ease. “They are professional, reliable and extremely loving to our pets,” said voter L.V.
Introverts rejoice! If you have social anxiety issues, and the thought of sitting and having a conversation with someone while they cut your hair also gives you great concern, then you need to find your way to Robert Orgill’s chair. Remarkably skilled at finding the best look for you under that mop of hair, but also passionate about our community and always ready to share what he loves about Long Beach – you’ll leave a visit with Robert with a great cut, yes, but also a new understanding and appreciation for the people and places that make this city special.
Located steps from the beach near the Belmont Pier sits perhaps the city’s swankiest fitness club. Here you’ll find an array of group excercise classes, a cafe and juice bar, the newest gym equipment, and clean, classy locker rooms with steam rooms. The gym promises that it won’t oversell memberships, and the results are evident: you’ll never have to wait for equipment or worry about overcrowding.
Syndicate Barbershop: This Broadway corridor gem is the perfect place to get lined for an old school haircut, beard trim or even score one of the shop’s unique T-shirt designs. Established in 2002, Syndicate Barbershop has been churning out some of the best haircuts in Long Beach for nearly two decades inside of its shop that’s decked out in throwback memorabilia. Our readers says it’s the best, the shop’s front door doesn’t back down from that designation. “Once tried, always satisfied.”
Kids can have fun and learn in the immersive, historic environment of Rancho Los Cerritos. Whether they’re panning for gold, making real adobe bricks or clay pots, the summer camp can get kids out of the house and learning new things.
Whether you’re looking for friendly, professional service, low rates on loans, competitive savings rates, or convenient mobile account access, our readers feel that the search should stop at LBS Financial Credit Union. The member-only institution has four locations in the city and has over 83 years of experience in serving Long Beach. Founded in 1935, it started as a teacher-run credit union that at one point was run out of a Wilson High School classroom but has grown into one of the healthiest credit unions in the country serving anyone who lives or works in the local community.
The Shore is the city’s top shopping and dining area and it’s a place where you can check out some of the other winners in the Post’s Best of Long Beach contest, including Open Sesame, voted the best restaurant in the area, and Rosie’s Dog Beach, the best dog park, in case your guests brought their pooches for a visit. And between eating and shopping, be sure to haul your visitors to the east end of the Shore to check out Alamitos Bay and its famed Horny Corner.
As both the longest-running tattoo shop in America and one of the oldest in the world, Outer Limits is also the legendary historical tattoo site at the Pike. The shop is owned by Kari Barba, a legend in the tattoo industry, who runs a “tight ship” with keeping her shop clean and running on time.
Since opening The Bicycle Stand in 2011, Nicole Maltz and Evan Whitener have built a tight-knit community around their love for restoring classic steel frames. Although the shop specializes in vintage restoration, the team will work on just about any type of bike, and also organizes a monthly Velo Caravan ride. Family owned and operated and housed in a historic building, the space is welcoming to all levels of cyclists.
If you’re looking to get lost in Long Beach – El Dorado Regional Park is the closest thing we have to wilderness in the city and for good reason: there’s something there for everyone. Hike the trails and stare at the turtles, play on some of the best playground equipment in town, model airplane flying, picnic spots, fishing, and our own version of an Old West theme park. History fans should check out the exhibits in the Nature Center building to learn how this park was carved from soybean fields thanks to forward-thinking residents who taxed themselves to pay for the development of this remarkable place.
Awarding the title of Best Golf Course is a little like awarding the title of Best Torture Device for all the pain and heartache each provides. That said, El Dorado does an exceptional job of handling a heavy, daily load of golfers not only in an efficient manner but while maintaining its grounds and greens in exceptional condition for you to lie to your friends that the nine strokes you just used was actually a six.
One of the first marijuana dispensaries to begin selling recreationally in Long Beach in 2018, One Love Beach Club on Broadway boasts a large selection of cannabis flowers, edibles, extracts, pre-rolls and even topicals. Customers say the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. “They consistently provide high quality affordable products,” says Jedidiah H. Far from the days of sketchy window-tinted dispensaries, One Love may seem unassuming from the outside but inside budtenders stand behind sleek display cases ready to answer any newbie’s question.
Sprawling and stunning, the grounds and gardens of Rancho Los Cerritos make an ideal setting for a wedding of up to 300 guests. Looking for a more intimate setting? The Rancho has several options, including the sunporch, the inner garden, the private garden and the backyard – home to the expansive branches of the Moreton Bay Fig Tree, an Australian native knockout that’s the perfect spot for a first dance.
This stretch of beach down Ocean Boulevard between Roycroft and Argonne avenues is likely the most-used site for all the adorable dog photos Long Beach denizens post on their social media, depticing their sandy, sopping wet K-9, tuckered out after a beachside frolic. Plastic bags readily available (in case you forgot yours, tsk tsk), restrooms close by, and easily accepsible parking make for a convenient, stress-free afternoon excursion with your furry best friend.
This clean, well-kept nail salon Belmont Shore is known for its unique designs and quality work. Opened in 2012, the salon prides itself on hiring the most skilled technicians and having the best customer service. As one reader said: “They keep up with the trend, treat you like a friend, & don’t make you over spend!”
To have an appreciation for the history of Rancho Los Cerritos is to have an appreciation for the history of Long Beach. Several different tour options are tailored to the house or the garden and for different ages, but any opportunity to interact with and hear from first-person interpreters will bring the history of the rancho to life in an intimate, insightful way. And the best part? Admission to Rancho Los Cerritos is always free.
The designers of this beautiful meditative garden made great use of a relatively small, 1.3-acre bit of Eden on the western end of the Cal State Long Beach campus. You can sit for a while alone with your thoughts and a pond full of koi and feel your worries disappear into the lush landscaping. And the Japanese Garden is not only great for introspection and serenity, it’s also a popular spot for weddings and small social gatherings. And kids love to feed the fish.
The Hotel Maya is Long Beach’s own Riviera Maya, a getaway where you truly feel like you’re getting away. Guests can relax on a lounge or oversize chairs by the firepits on the sand, sipping margaritas, enjoying the food from the Fuego restaurant and watching the boats sail down Queensway Bay, while pelicans and cormorants soar overhead. Putting the Maya over the top is the fact that its grounds provide visitors with the finest views of Long Beach, glittering across the water..
Ma N Pa Grocery
346 Roycroft Ave
This quaint market—plunged in the middle of a Belmont Heights residential neighborhood—has a little bit of everything: an assortment of locally-produced and artisanal food, a deli and food counter (try the breakfast burritos), catering service and even a few chairs for seating if you’re so-inclined. It is a true local gem.
Star not only helps homeowners make their yards more beautiful, but helps them to do it creatively and responsibly. As its mission statement puts it, “we do everything ‘For The Good of The Earth.’ “ Star accomplishes that through personalized service which includes a thorough consultation phase before any installation takes place. Star also is a leading proponent, and installer of California-native and drought-tolerant plants to replace wasteful, thirsty lawns.
Serving the community since 1990, Circle Marina Car Wash, has established an ongoing trust that they are the ones who will provide you with a quality, handy dandy car wash. Their friendly and prompt service makes them the place with a line of cars waiting for that morning early bird special.
Eyelash extensions are the new hair extensions. So, if you find yourself admiring a lady’s thick fringe, chances are she’s had them done at one of the many eyelash salons popping up all over town. And readers say the best is My Chick Habit in Bluff Park, rated for its top quality and fun vibe.
Salon Wire is a newly established salon with a modern twist. Owned by brother and sister duo Chris and Margeaux Hamrock, their ideas on business have already separated them from other salons in the area. Their commitment to only using all natural hair products and environmentally conscious approach in all aspects of their business is being welcomed with love by the Long Beach community.
The mission of this small nonprofit is simple: equip kids with shoes. It’s not something most people think about, but forking out $50 to $100 for sneakers isn’t easy for those without means—especially considering how fast kids outgrow them. The nonprofit relies on donations from public and private companies, and its influence and inventory is growing.
This adorable boutique offers the latest styles in clothing, home decor, jewelry, accessories and loungewear. If you’re looking for the perfect gift, this is the place to go. And, as one reader said, this store has the best customer service and “positive atmosphere” in Long Beach.
Painted bright pink and practically impossible to miss while taking a drive down PCH, Out of the Closet is a thrift store any seasoned thrifter knows not to pass over. The attention to detail the staff put into selecting and organizing their donations is evident from their spick-and-span establisment down to their rainbow color-coordinated clothing racks. Besides providing Long Beach thrifters with a dependable shopping high, Out of the Closet offers free HIV testing to anyone in need while giving back 96 cents out of every dollar profits to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s HIV/AIDS programs and services in the U.S.
Originally a DIY park created by local skaters within Bixby Park, “often mistakenly called “Cherry Park,” officially became recognized by the city in 2015 when it was revamped by California Skateparks. It’s remained a beloved free and “unbranded” skate park with a robust community of skaters since.
With 18 stores throughout Southern California, Centinela Feed is known not just for its animal food. It provides a variety of services like vaccinations, dog training, adoptions and wash services—making it a one-stop shop for your small pet’s needs. The first store opened on Centinela Avenue in Mar Vista in 1926 and owners eventually opened a branch in Long Beach on Pacific Coast Highway.
With its pastel pink storefront, this shop in the heart of Retro Row is known for its expert staff and involvement with the local Roller Derby scene. The store specializes in quad roller skates specifically and can even turn almost any pair of shoes or boots into skates.
Whatever decor you’re going for, you’ll find plenty of items to complement it at this sprawling warehouse store. From weathered farmhouse style tables and cabinets to mid-century credenzas and stereo consoles, to industrial stools and carts to eclectic modern art. Urban Americana also has a lot of memorabilia that’ll make you feel horrible about throwing out your old stuff.
Long Beach has three Trader Joe’s within its borders and sometimes it seems like its not enough. Whether it’s a bottle of “Two-Buck Chuck” or a wedge of their huge assortment of cheese, voters are happy with the selection and prices at these grocery stores.