Every block in Long Beach seems to have its own classic burger stand, the kind of post-war place that once subsisted on selling cheeseburgers and fries that now pads its menu with everything from carne asada burritos to teriyaki bowls (often depending on the ethnicity of the current owners).
Technically built into a former fried chicken restaurant and not an old-school burger stand, Qrious Palate serves the same essential purpose. With burgers and fried chicken dinners and bacon-and-egg sandwiches served all day all for under $10, it’s the sole spot for people living near the corner of Anaheim and MLK Boulevard to grab an all-American counter-service breakfast, lunch or dinner on the cheap.
Its timid exterior – proclaiming “teriyaki” and showing the same generic Coke-sponsored combo-advertising window posters as every other burger place – gives no hint at what is actually in its handmade three-ring-binder menu of dish photos, or how curious (for Long Beach, anyway) its concept truly is.
Spoiler alert: it’s all waffles everything, without the Instagrammable Bruxie bullshit. Qrious Palate’s opening last year might seem to coincide with the waffle trend’s slow slide out of coolness, but this isn’t about being cool as much as it’s about having that giddy feeling of having your dessert and eating it to by replacing all instances of bread with waffles.
That means no buns for your pesto-sauce-slathered burger, no sliced sourdough for your buffalo bulgogi sandwich. No toast with your two-egg breakfast plate. No rolls to dip in your soup. Instead, every sandwich comes wrapped in (and every dish accompanied by) a thin, light, slightly sweet waffle, which is pressed to order from a custom batter recipe that includes egg whites but eschews fat and butter.
Keeping the waffle guilt-free is a slick move on the owner’s part, since the novelty neither fills you up nor wears off, even when hammering through a Southern-style pulled pork waffle sandwich or a so-called Qrious Chicken Waffle Sandwich, which pits a slab of fried chicken and tangy cole slaw against the edges of its proprietary grooved carbs.
A serving of house-made spicy maple syrup, which has a serious kick of cayenne and comes with the helpful staff’s urging to dip away, also helps to make otherwise ordinary deli selections like a tuna melt or turkey club an entirely new adventure, bringing out all the sweet, savory, spicy flavors our palates crave in one bite.
Qrious Palate’s obsession with waffles seems to always find the employees fielding the same question from confused first-time customers (including myself, once) — “Why?” But after multiple satisfying lunches there over the last year and a half, the better question to ask might be, “Why not?”
Pushing the dessert side of breakfast into every meal might be the best improvement to the all-American burger stand since the invention of Cajun-style fries. And by serving even salads and soups with a side of the whipped butter-coated breakfast treat (honey maple syrup is available too), Qrious Palate is turning this once neighborhood-only spot into a citywide destination.
955 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach; (562) 599-5088; qriouspalate.com