Dine on California classics like lightly battered Baja-style fish tacos ($7.95) at Pike Restaurant & Bar, a former fifties diner now operating as a gourmet fish grill and live-music venue by night. The seafood-centric menu is served until midnight (1 a.m. on weekends), and the walls are crammed with local nautical memorabilia like a dried stingray carcass.
Line up during weekends outside Long Beach’s favorite brunch spot, the Starling Diner, housed in a former grocery store. Decorated with checkerboard linoleum and Tiffany-style lamps, this sweet little throwback specializes in comfort food like stuffed French toast with berries ($10.95) and potato polenta ($2.50). Don’t miss the Bloody Marys ($9.95), which come garnished with a crab claw and micro-greens in place of celery.
Make reservations a week in advance for At Last Cafe, a New American bistro considered one of the best restaurants in town, despite its strip-mall location. This tiny spot serves an eclectic menu, including a citrusy Thai beef salad ($9.75) and pork chops with apple-herb stuffing ($11.25), while the prices seem to come from another era. (The menu’s most extravagant entrée, a flat iron steak served with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions, will set you back just $12.50.)