I can’t decide whether it’s a blessing or a curse that Long Beach has two distinctive restaurant weeks. After several years of just one seven-day celebration of all things culinary here, a rift among its two founders left the city with two: Dine LBC, returning in August, and Dine Out Long Beach, Restaurant Week 2.0, which runs through March 3.
The upside is there’s double the time to celebrate Long Beach’s growing reputation as a regional dining destination. The downside? Keeping your waistline and bank account in check through two different weeks of prix fixe lunch and dinner menus at dozens of popular restaurants. There are worse problems to have, to be sure.
To help you sift through the massive number of meal deals, we compiled this list of must-try dishes.
Little Havana Skillet at Sweet Dixie Kitchen
#Popeyesgate aside, Sweet Dixie Kitchen remains an indelible force on Long Beach’s brunch scene, serving overflowing sandwiches on truly home-made biscuits and mini cast-iron skillets bubbling with grits and meat. For this year’s Dine Out Long Beach, the daytime-only spot will be staying open until 7 p.m. and serving a $25 three-course dinner with a new item at its center: the Little Havana skillet, which tops a brick of skillet cornbread with rice, cumin black beans and traditional Cuban picadillo, a beef hash with onions, olives, and figs. 401 E. Third St., Long Beach, (562) 628-BAKE.
KBQ at Steamed Cuisine
The quesadillas at Steamed Cuisine are perpetually knife-and-fork affairs, more like overflowing giant tacos that have fallen on their side. Though the LBQ is a house favorite (rice, beans, spinach, tomato, cucumber, onions), others come filled with pesto, olives, sauerkraut and more. As a seasonal ode to its classic dish, Steamed’s Dine Out Long Beach exclusive is a KBQ that’s piled high with red beets and wilted Tuscan kale. It’s available as part of a $20 deal that comes with a beer and a chocolate bar from Anandamide Psychedelicatessen.801 E. Third St., Long Beach, (562) 437-1122; steamedcuisine.com.
Salmon Gravlox Chowder at Gladstone’s
Gladstone’s might be part of the Shoreline’s corporate casual-restaurant overload, but the Long Beach location of the Malibu icon is actually locally owned and operated, making the seafood stalwart worth a trip south of Ocean Boulevard. Dine Out Long Beach is the perfect time to try Gladstone’s occasionally available salmon gravlox chowder, a smoky riff on the famous stew found at Pike Place in Seattle. Here, the salmon is cured in-house with salt, sugar and dill for two days, then diced and tossed in a cream base with asparagus and potatoes. A cup of the goods is available as part of the $19 lunch, $34 dinner and $54 prix fixe menu for two. 330 S. Pine Ave., Long Beach, (562) 432-8588; gladstoneslongbeach.com.
Pasta Primavera at Taste WBK
Chef Brad Neumann is always switching things up at Taste WBK, the four-season, small-plates wine bar in Belmont Heights. Dine Out Long Beach will be no different with a $30 three-course dinner that includes two dishes only available through the end of the week. The pasta primavera pulls peas, asparagus and herbs straight from local farmers’ markets that are tossed with handmade noodles in a Parmesan cream sauce. For dessert, Neumann created his own take on strawberry shortcake with berry-and-mint cream puffs that are part New Orleans French Quarter, but entirely SoCal spring. 3506 E. Broadway, Long Beach, (562) 433-1000; Taste-WBK.com.
Sarah Bennett is a freelance journalist who has spent nearly a decade covering food, music, craft beer, arts, culture and all sorts of bizarro things that interest her for local, regional and national publications.