It's no secret that I am a big fan of Beachwood BBQ and Brewing. I write about their award-winning beers frequently for our sister paper, L.A. Weekly, and can often be found escaping my work-from-home lifestyle for happy hour at the year-and-a-half old downtown Long Beach brewpub.
But while both Long Beach's Beachwood and its original Seal Beach location--a cozy, brewery-less version that celebrated its sixth anniversary in December--are continually touted as two of the region's best beer bars, the restaurants' meticulously curated menu of updated Southern BBQ favorites (rooted in owner and chef Gabe Gordon's molecular gastronomy background) often gets overlooked by foodies.
Known for being one of the few places around to have a commercial smoker, Beachwood offers finger-licking rib plates, North Carolina-style pulled pork sandwiches, and a long list of elevated comfort-food sides like bleu cheese grits and fried green tomatoes (they also have a seasonal wild game menu and often host prix fixe dinners). Constantly evolving his offerings, Gordon recently added osso buco to the dinner menu, changed his smoked beef sandwich to a higher-quality cut and re-tooled the recipes for his bread, which is made in-house daily.
Over the holiday, I met up with some friends for a casual, Promenade-side lunch--one of the few times I have allowed myself to enter the popular beer lair mid-day. With happy hour prices nowhere near kicking in, I was pleased to discover that Beachwood's menu of weekday lunch specials (valid 11:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.) was even more writer-budget friendly, offering four of its most popular sandwiches and half of a few salads for no more $9, including drink.
My bestie ordered half of a BBQ chicken salad off that menu and took the house-beer upgrade which turned her "drink" into a glass of one of their brewed-on-site masterpieces for $3 more. I ordered the smoked ham sandwich from the regular lunch menu--lured by its description as "beer and coffee glazed"--along with a side of the new kale and barley salad.
The BBQ chicken salad is one of my favorite things on the menu, a go-to meal in a bowl that though topped with a pile of mixed white and dark meat chicken and tossed in a buttermilk dressing, remains one of the lightest (and most traditional) things Beachwood makes. The sandwich, on the other hand, is a rich combination of unlikely flavors that takes the old school ham-and-cheese sandwich idea and injects it with flavor steroids.
A thick slice of smoked ham steak (like one that would come with a Cracker Barrel breakfast) serves as the sandwich's main protein component, its glaze tasting more of beer's malty sweetness than the dry dirt of a coffee rub I was expecting. The meat comes with some arugula, herb-spiced mayo and gooey melted brie all smushed between two halves of a brioche onion bun, making for a sweet-and-smokey literal ham-burger.
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Those looking for a lo-cal Long Beach lunch might be out of luck at Beachwood (even the meat-free options are fried), but a diverse menu of BBQ grub as curated by a former fine dining chef plus a dozen-deep lineup of best-of-L.A. house beers is worth a few slip ups on your New Year's resolution, no?
Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, 210 E. 3rd St., Long Beach, (562) 436-4020; www.beachwoodbbq.com.