At Long Beach's Linden Public, Skip the Coffee and Order the Mediterranean Food

Tawook, tawook, tawook is on fire.
Tawook, tawook, tawook is on fire.
Sarah Bennett

The corner of Broadway and Linden Avenue in Long Beach has, for some reason, always been a tough one for coffee shops. I’ve lived through several generations of them to prove it.  My first job when I moved to the city a decade ago was at the Broadlind Café, a short-lived shop named after the historic apartment building in which it sat on the bottom floor. Broadlind, in turn, had taken over where another caffeinated attempt, Blue Nile (with its spoken word and open mic poetry nights), previously existed.

After Broadlind Café closed, Sipology, a coffee shop with an upstairs balcony built for cozy-study dreams, went into the more spacious corner unit next door. But despite the best breakfast paninis in town and a staff of well-known local artists-turned-baristas, Sipology shuttered in 2011, quickly turning over to become The Greenhouse, a Rose Park-exclusive shop that closed in 2015.

A year of renovations later, the spacious corner unit re-opened as Linden Public, a neighborhood bistro from same owner as Greenhouse, Hend Elarabi. It just might be the first concept that finally sticks. That’s because Linden Public is more of a café than a coffee shop. In fact, the last thing you should order there is the coffee (it will be expensive and made from Stumptown beans and, somehow, even when brewed fresh, taste burnt).

Falafel burger with a view
Falafel burger with a view
Sarah Bennett

Instead, enjoy Linden Public for what it is: a counter-service eatery with coffee shop chill, Real Ceramic Plates, a spiffy new patio parklet and free wifi that also beckons your boozy desires with its newly installed bar, stocked with craft beer on draft and bottles of wine. I’ve already wasted more than a few days doing computer work in the two-story study space (alternating between cups of Moroccan mint tea and pints of beer) and I’ve decided that the most exciting thing to me about Linden Public so far has to be its food, which in many ways revives some of the best aspects of Elarabi’s other shuttered East Village project, ASHA.

ASHA was a sit down Moroccan-Mediterranean restaurant in the former Broadlind Café space next door (where a Thai place now operates). When I first reviewed it back in 2012, I was smitten by the intensely fragrant menu of North African meats, Middle Eastern salads and Moroccan sides, all based off Elarabi’s family recipes.

Lemon caper salmon bowl
Lemon caper salmon bowl
Sarah Bennett

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AHSA closed long before Greenhouse did and with it, the only place in Long Beach to get a plate of my favorite dish, the paprika-rubbed chicken tawook. Thanks to the expanded and exposed full-size kitchen now at Linden Public, the tawook returns, in the form of both a handheld wrap and a hummus-topped rice bowl. Dig even deeper past the otherwise American-leaning menu of omelets, paninis, salads and beef burgers and you’ll find a half-dozen more Mediterranean-inspired oddities tucked away, from a tangy lemon caper salmon bowl to a tzatziki-slathered falafel burger made from a house-fried falafel patty. Order them all (including a side of red lentil soup to start).

I’ve been hearing for months that a new menu is in the works, one that will include more ASHA-like dishes, though the roll out of that seems perpetually delayed. For now, enjoy the fact that the corner of Broadway and Linden is finally home to something with staying power, which the East Village needs so much more than just another coffee shop.

149 Linden Ave., Long Beach, (562) 491-1111; thelindenpublic.com


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