There’s a point in my daily trip down Atlantic Avenue, when passing Anaheim Street, where it seems like the city of Long Beach changes before your eyes. It’s at this intersection that the beach the city is named after feels distant, as a great deal of popular weekend destinations immediately follow the shore.
As a resident of the city’s northside, it’s easy to feel like the gems found past Poly High School are ignored by those on campus. I don’t blame anyone for not venturing beyond what’s closest to them. The fast-paced world we live in makes taking a moment to explore the unknown difficult. But just as I have found with the city’s bustling downtown, a trip to the other parts of Long Beach is well worth the visit.
A city as diverse as this one is bound to have great variety in its culinary offerings, and this logic carries through on the side outbound of Anaheim Street as much as it does across the well-known establishments nestled between downtown’s high-rises. The following are only a few examples of what the city’s north, west and center have to offer.
Apologies in advance, the parking for all of these places is abysmal.
Phở Long Beach
Address: 511 W Willow St.
Though phở is its namesake, the titular dish is not the only offering at this Vietnamese restaurant found in the South Wrigley area of Long Beach. I’ve been told that some of the other meals, the rice plate in particular, are good. But personally, I can only speak for one order on the menu—the chicken broth phở bowl that includes rice noodles, long pieces of chicken, cilantro and onion slices.
This single bowl is so good that it’s all I’ve ordered for most of my visits. The chicken is tender and numerous, the broth has a tea-like quality that makes it a great drink on its own and the meal is large enough to leave anyone satisfied for about $8. This bowl is the complete antithesis to ramen in all but their potential to be delicious.
Phở Long Beach has a decent amount of seating but lacks parking as the restaurant shares space with a few other establishments. As such, I recommend arriving by bus or calling ahead of time to ensure you’re arriving at a good time. Just know that if you choose not to dine in, you’ll miss out on a delicious tapioca dessert that comes free with each meal.
Address: 3396 Atlantic Ave.
A small hut near the 405 freeway, Dave’s Burgers offers a few items for a minimal cost. The cheeseburger with either the beef or turkey patty is most worth a purchase. Like most other places, the burgers here can be ordered with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and thousand island dressing. Both options are fulfilling without leaving one bloated, making it a satisfying meal for under $5.
The fries leave a bit to be desired, as the seasoned salt used on the fries is inconsistent and you aren’t given too many. However, the fries are a newer addition to the establishment’s offerings, as shown by how it appears written on what little space is available on the menu’s top left corner. Skip out on them and just get the burger.
Los Reyes Del Taco Sabroso
Address: 2345 E. Anaheim St.
Found in the outskirts of Cambodia Town at the end of a small block of shops that appear abandoned, this small restaurant offers a variety of Mexican cuisine such as chilaquiles, enchiladas, tacos and tortas. Its name translates to “The Kings of the Tasty Taco,” and it could only be more accurate if “and more” were at its end.
In my visits to Los Reyes, the best meals are the milanesa torta and the al pastor tacos.
The tacos sell for $1.25 each and are large enough to satisfy a small craving or fill an empty stomach, depending on how many you order. Each taco’s meat is chopped so fine that no piece is too large to bite into.
You can’t really go wrong with most items on the menu — the enchilada plate is also a favorite of mine — but the milanesa torta is my recommendation because of the variety packed between two pieces of bread. You get the milanesa, which is breaded steak; tomato; avocado and cheese, along with sliced jalapenos and carrots on the side. This $7.50 meal alone is enough food for one sitting, and the place is only about 10 minutes away from campus when driving, making it a perfect spot for a lunch break.
Carlos Villicana is a senior journalism and film student who manages the production of the Daily 49er’s special issues. Since joining the paper as a staff writer in the fall 2017 semester, Carlos has also worked for the 49er as an Assistant Arts and Life Editor and City Editor, writing and editing news, features and reviews. As Special Projects Editor, Carlos has produced issues focused on food, local small businesses and the 2018 Long Beach primary election. Carlos also served as managing editor for the first Spanish-language edition of DIG Magazine. After graduating from Long Beach State, Carlos wants to create projects covering politics, cinema, professional wrestling and the city of Long Beach.