The list of reasons why Belmont Brewing Company is the ultimate summertime lunch spot is a long one, but it starts with the incomparable waterfront view and ends with the award-winning house-made beer. In between is a thoughtful menu of beyond-brewpub eats, friendly local servers who have been around for years and the kind of casual beach-life atmosphere that inevitably surrounds a Long Beach creation like BBC.
Opened in 1990, Belmont Brewing Company is the oldest operating brewpub in Southern California, and its longevity speaks not just to its prime location on the Belmont Shore bluff, but also its epic happy hour, during which pub-grub favorites (like wings and pizza) are 40% off and pitchers of easy-drinking beers like Strawberry Blonde and Marathon Golden Ale are only $11.
But doing BBC during happy hour only gives you a partial experience, albeit one that includes a sunset view from one of the bar area's booths or high-top tables.
Arrive earlier–when the sun is still high in the sky–and the menu expands beyond cheap appetizers, into a realm of entree salads, meaty sandwiches and an impressive selection of creative seafood items.
Without trying to be a classic seafood restaurant, BBC's ocean-born dishes are more-elevated bar food, from the steamed clams (made with white wine, garlic and lemon) to the macadamia-crusted mahi mahi plate to the creamy lobster bisque. Ahi tuna permeates the remaining fishy offerings, and you can get the Yellowfin seared on a salad, raw in a wrap or grilled on a sandwich.
I've found a lunchtime staple in the Hawaiian Poke Wrap, a light-but-filling twist on their Hawaiian Poke appetizer that puts soy-sauce-marinated ahi in a tortilla with crunchy cabbage slaw, avocado and crispy friend wontons. The result is a refreshing handheld mixture of cultures, flavors and textures (the grill marks on the tortilla's exterior are just the icing on the aesthetic cake), similar to the restaurant's salmon burger (on a Hawaiian sweet bun) and shrimp enchiladas (doused in chili verde sauce).
Another excuse to dine at BBC during lunch is the complimentary half-loaf of warm bread that always comes out before ordering. Now, a plate of bread and butter might not seem like anything more than a tummy filler to nibble on while the kitchen takes its sweet time on your actual food, however, this soft and chewy masterpiece comes dropped on the table with a steak knife and ramekins of honey-whipped butter, small details that reflect the care and precision that goes into everything this stalwart brewpub does.
Even the beers are made with technical ferocity, though most who drink them could just as easily have a Coors Light. Still, Brewmaster Blackwell has been crafting a killer standing lineup of locally inspired beers since the late '90s when he took over the small behind-the-bar brewhouse, and the last few years has brought out even more of his talent with Ales of the Month like a Black IPA and a higher-octane version of year-rounder Marathon.
Removed from the sometimes-drunken chaos of nearby 2nd Street, BBC seems to cater to another Belmont Shore, one where people live more than they party and where getting a drink doesn't mean shooting the root. The offer of sun-drenched, beachside happy hours is arguably what draws most of the multi-generational customer base to BBC, but thoughtful food and quality beers keep people from across the city coming back to this local institution all day long.
Belmont Brewing Company, 25 39th Pl, Long Beach, (562) 433-3891, belmontbrewing.com