By night, Roxanne's Lounge in historic California Heights is an upscale neighborhood bar with dapper bartenders, a password-only speakeasy in the back and a lineup of house craft cocktails unlike anywhere else in Long Beach. During the day, however, Roxanne's swaps its dimly lit interior for sunny patio space and switches up its Latin-inpired dinner menu for a creative selection of lunch and brunch items that mix its owner's Central American heritage with American bar favorites.
The well-dressed bartenders (think: suspenders, slick hair and bow ties) double as floor servers during the four-hour lunch session–which returns this summer after ceasing for the last year or so. And despite booze being their main bread and butter, this daytime staff thoughtfully takes care of all diners, even if they don't feel like a Cali-Heights Shandy or a Whiskeyslap cocktail (water still comes chilled atop precision one-inch ice cubes in a highball glass fit for a fizz).
Though only a dozen items deep, Roxanne's lunch list is also not full of afterthoughts, but carefully curated dishes, perfect for every kind of customer.
Day drinkers will appreciate the standard pub-grub like buffalo wings, nachos and burgers (the last of which rotates toppings and flavors each month), but more adventurous eaters can just as easily dive into refreshing snacks like a five-piece shrimp cocktail or crispy fried empanadas topped with cider-y Salvadoran curtido slaw.
For more sustenance (or a handheld meal to go), the mango habanero wrap is a compendium of temperatures and textures with warm chicken, cold lettuce, crispy bacon, soft cheese and a spicy-sweet namesake salsa snuggled inside a grilled tortilla. A pile of salt-and-pepper shoestring fries comes on the side–an accompaniment that is delicious but not even necessary after a hearty, healthy wrap.
Most interesting on Roxanne's new lunch menu are the Latin breakfast specials, built to cure weekend hangovers and late-breakfast cravings. The Cali Wrap is a knife-and-fork breakfast burrito filled with soyrizo, potatoes, eggs and onions topped with a creamy, minty black bean puree that doubles as a dip for the house-made tortilla chips. And the El Tradicional is with any luck the dish that the owner himself wolfs down on quick breaks–a platter of rice and black beans, bacon, fried bananas and a sweet crema sauce that is so artfully presented it's almost a shame to dig in and topple the symmetrical majesty.
Constantly evolving to reflect the desires of its regulars and the establishment's dedication to craft in all consumable forms, Roxanne's is the local bar every neighborhood deserves but few actually receive. And now that its doors have re-opened for mid-day meals, the little lounge that could is the definitive all-day reprieve from the heat and fast food overload lurking in the part of Long Beach living above the 405.
Roxanne's Lounge, 1115 E Wardlow Rd, Long Beach, (562) 426-4777, roxanneslounge.com