The Long Beach Post is pleased to present the winners of the 2021 Best of Long Beach – chosen entirely by our readers. We received an overwhelming response to this year’s poll: close to 140,000 votes were tallied.
We present to you the top vote-getters in 112 different categories: 112 people, places, and things to do that are the best of our community.
It is a list of winners that are quintessentially Long Beach. Unique to our community, focused on excellence, and committed to making a great city even greater.
Please show your appreciation and support for local businesses by frequenting the winners within this guide. After all, they are the Best of Long Beach!
Called “refreshingly modern” by voter B.L., the week-long annual mural festival offers a variety of happenings throughout the city, including major art exhibits like the Long Beach Museum’s Vitality & Verve series, performances by POW! WOW! School of Music students, public interviews with visiting artists and, of course, the main attraction, local and international artists painting murals throughout the city.
Alex’s presents a wide swath of styles; everything from punk, to psychobilly to roots rock to yacht rock to tribute bands. It’s also one of the few local joints presenting local bands as well as big acts like The Damned. They do all this with a great, welcoming vibe, excellent bartenders, lots of beer—more than 20 on tap—and perhaps the best bathroom in the city.
Local alt-pop outfit Boy Called Cute may have only one EP and a handful of singles under their belt since forming in 2018, but to their 67,000 and counting monthly listeners on Spotify, audiences can’t seem get enough of the tunes by lead singer, 22-year-old Tommy Olaes, Max Leibl and siblings Ed, Bella and Lewis Marshall. If you’re not sure where to start with the band’s genre-blending indie anthems, we humbly suggest the song “Lobster.” You’re welcome.
For the last five years James Tir has been documenting the Long Beach food scene with his Instagram account, @lbfoodcoma, posting drool-inducing videos of our city’s vibrant culinary creatives. Visually mesmerizing, each video documents the step-by-step process of crafting each dish with a corresponding written review by Tir. From savory to spicy to sugary, you’re bound to find your next must-try meal, which is why his 21,000 followers keep coming back for more.
This towering mural of the iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo stretches the entirety of an exterior wall of Trademark Brewing in the Washington neighborhood. The piece features a monocrome tableau of Frida set against a bright floral and plant background. It’s observably impressive.
The only museum in the country dedicated to showcasing modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino art, MOLAA is a staple of diversity in the Long Beach community and nationwide. From showcasing works by well-known Latinx artists like Frida Kahlo to submissions from the immediate community, MOLAA has done, and continues to do, it all.
Not a nightclub in the classic, “Meet me at the Copa” sense, Alex’s does fit the bill as a place you not only can hear music but interact with a great staff, led by some terrifically chummy bartenders, have a drink and do all sorts of fun stuff ranging from themed trivia nights and karaoke, including the opportunity to sing with a live band. And, did we mention the bathroom?
Established in 1929, volunteer-based theater company, Long Beach Playhouse, is considered the longest-running community theater in the West. The group puts on 13 shows annually between its two stages and ensures an inclusive environment reflecting the city’s diverse residents. Providing “quality products at affordable prices,” accessibility and acknowledgement of cultural variances—including gender, race, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, class, religious beliefs, political beliefs and more—are key to this institution’s mission.
With 12,000 animals and sea life and over 100 exhibits, it’s easy to spend a whole day at the aquarium—there’s just so much to see. For chidren especially, the aquarium offers a host of educational experiences digestible for kids and equally as palatable for adults, with a host of interactive experiences (pet some sharks!) sure to leave a lasting impression. It’s the perfect place for kids, not just in Long Beach, but maybe in all of Southern California.
Owner Rand Foster opened Fingerprints Music in July 1992 in a small Belmont Shore storefront in the face of declining vinyl record popularity. In the subsequent 29 years, Foster has relocated his shop to the East Village Arts District in a much larger space to accommodate the city’s largest music inventory. The resurgence of vinyl in recent years has been a boon for Fingerprints, which boasts thousands of titles on vinyl and CD, as well as books, movies and art.
The Art does an exceptional job of presenting the latest in quality cinema, while also giving screen time to the kind of classic and hard to find content that puts the present in context. We love stumbling upon little-known or hard-to-find documentaries along with special events such as the upcoming 40th anniversary viewing of “Life of Brian.” Of course, every Saturday, it is THE place to experience the sublime strangeness that is Rocky Horror.
With the mission to make “outsider art” mainstream, The Dark Art Emporium owner Jeremy Schott runs the small gallery and oddity shop, dispelling preconceived notions of what art can be with every new patron who walks through his doors. From tarot cards and books about Satanism to human skulls and grotesque paintings, it’s easy to find beauty in the darkness at 256 Elm Ave.
Amanda Holzhauer has a talent for captuing those special moments, which is why hundreds have asked her to photograph life’s pivotal occassions—weddings, engagements, birthdays—with her company Mirage + Light Photography (@mirageandlight).
To say that POW! WOW! brings people together is an understatement. The Hawaii-based street art festival landed in Long Beach in 2015 and has since turned the city into an outdoor museum of murals—from North Long Beach to Downtown—by local and international artists. Each year for one week, the city is re-energized when the culture surrounding the collective comes alive.
Long Beach loves DJ Steven Andrew (@djstevenandrew) for his turntable mastery fusing alternative, indie, disco, new wave, synth, post punk, electro, techno, ’80s and ’90s hits and classic hip hop. You can find the creative DJ spinning vinyl at bars and nighclubs all over Long Beach, but most frequenly at the New Wave bar in Lakewood.
Mexican multimedia artist and photographer Eddie Jelinet (@eddiejelinet) has been painting since he was 10 years old. His impressionist-reminiscent art features delicate linework, exquisite detail and bold colors that often incorporates religious iconography and Latino culture. Now a Long Beach resident, the artist has graced galleries in Long Beach and Greater Los Angeles.
This tiny but mighty mostly take-out pizzeria is a recent entry on Fourth Street’s Retro Row and it took off, rapidly becoming a favorite spot for its old school New York style pizza with hand-stretched thin crust that is, most importantly for devotees of the style, foldable. It has become so popular that a second location, in East Long Beach (on, obviously, Los Coyotes Diagonal), will be opening soon.
Taqueria La Mexicana specializes in what many taquerias call “Mexican tacos”—corn tortillas with some kind of protein (or grilled vegetables), onions, cilantro and hot sauce. They’re simple, satisfying and incredibly delicious. Here your filling options are asada, carnitas, lengua, pollo, al pastor, chile verde or vegetarian.
Locally grown and locally sourced, Chef Paul Buchanan and his crew over at Primal Alchemy have mastered the creation of vegan and vegetarian delights that quickly become center stage at any wedding, birthday or large office party. Their seasonal catering options give customers the chance to indulge in once-in-a-year crops sliced, diced and often charred to perfection to leave guests at the party fully fed.
With a menu that includes 42 sushi and sashimi preparations, 31 additional special sushi dishes, 8 sushi combination plates, 32 hand and cut rolls and 69 special sushi rolls, there is little doubt that readers were on the money by naming this their favorite sushi bar. Favorites include the Hello Kitty Hand Roll (tuna, yellowtail, salmon, crab salad, masago, green onions, red onions, and shrimp tempura wrapped in soy paper) and the Beach Boy Roll (shrimp tempura, snow crab, shrimp salad and avocado, topped with spicy tuna, shrimp, scallops and masago mixed with spicy mayo and sweet and spicy sauce).
Maybe you want a house-made patty topped with barbecue sauce, fried pickled onions, American cheese, shredded lettuce, herb mayo and dill pickles, served on a whole-wheat bun with natural cut fries. And then for dessert, an apple caramel crumble with local apples, warm spices, oat and walnut crumble, house-made caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Go ahead and order it all at Seabirds, because everything they make is vegan–the sandwiches, nachos, burgers and even the desserts.
When it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, voters chose District Wine as their number one spot to pop open a bottle of wine and sip the evening away. They specialize in white, red and dessert wines as well as bubbling chardonnays, cocktails and draft beers. Small bites like sliders are available as well as catering options. Did we mention there’s wine tasting offered every day?
HiroNori Ramen calls its tonkotsu, shoyu and vegan ramen options the best in Long Beach, and readers agreed. Over 15 years of authentic Japanese cuisine culminates into every spoonful of their ramen offerings, which include simmering pork bone broth with noodles, bean sprouts, green onions, spinach, egg, seaweed and grilled pork chashu. Sake and other alcoholic beverages are offered at HiroNori as well as mochi ice cream.
Loose Leaf Boba Company has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a swap-meet vendor. The Downtown Long Beach location has customers coming back for more to try their unique blends of boba teas, matcha drinks and iced coffees. Stopping by for one of their refreshing drinks on a hot Downtown stroll is cool, but Loose Leaf also offers boba milk tea gift sets to make from scratch at home, you know, for the boba addict in your family.
If anyone should take the crown as Ice Cream Queen of Long Beach, it is certainly Dina Amadril. She began making ice cream at home in 2013 and has grown her business into a mini frozen empire with three locations, including Downtown and Bellflower. Amadril has grown a dedicated following thanks to her wacky and sometimes outrageous flavors, including chocolate oolong, Goat Cheese Whiskey Fig and Sweet Summer Corn. In the wake of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last year, the creamery even crafted a flavor dubbed “Honor Ruth,” based on the late Supreme Court Justice’s favorite dessert, Frozen Lime Soufflé.
The HipPea freshly made-in-house falafel, hummus, fries, Israeli style pita steamed baked to order, gluten-free chickpea chocolate chip cookies made daily and house sauces of tahini, amba and shatta. Their fresh, gluten-free falafels and homemade dressings are based on an old but secret family recipe. The business is known for its savory and sweet flavored falafel, often paired with their crispy French fries.
Readers said Retro Row’s most popular pizza place not only won the Best Pizza category but also said its White Pizza is the dish that best exemplifies the culinary wonders of Long Beach. The pie features a fine mix of toppings: spinach, ricotta, garlic, mozzarella, calabrian chile and white sauce, which we’re guessing is where the pie got its no-nonsense name.
Taking over Lasher’s——one of the city’s longest-running restaurants and one which re-opened in Belmont Shore——The Attic has since become a brunching institution thanks to its ability to host multiple large groups and a patio space that is perfect for enjoying the sun and the restaurant’s absurdly decadent Bloody Mary menu.
To no one’s surprise, Long Beach’s horror-themed pizza parlor is also a favorite spot for happy hour. From 3 to 6 p.m. every day you can get $1 off all slices, $1 off all draft beer, $2 off glasses of wine and $2 off select appetizers and 16-inch pies. That you can enjoy it all while surrounded by monsters and horror movie imagery makes everything just a bit sweeter.
Oscar Barajas and Fernando Lule opened the first MVP’s in the late 1990s, and have been serving giant, delicious burgers (as well as sandwiches and hot dogs) ever since. The George Foreman V, with cheese, bacon and avocado is always popular, as is the Duke Kahanamoku, with pineapple, bacon, avocado and cheese. Then again, there’s something to be said for the Fridge Burger, which is just a one-third-pound patty loaded up with pastrami and Swiss cheese.
You can put on 10 pounds just looking at the menu listing of the pies at Jongewaard’s. They offer more than 45 varieties (though not at the same time; call ahead to order a pie) that include the obvious ones, but also a breathtaking array of unique specialties, such as the mighty Lemon Lush, boysenberry cream cheese, butterscotch meringue and iced peach raspberry, to name just a few.
Winning top votes as the No.1 coffee spot in a city abundant in exceptional coffee joints both big and small is no easy feat, and this year Coffee Drunk takes the crown. Having just opened in December 2020, shopkeepers Breezy and Matthew Church bring their love for caffeine to Retro Row offering specialty brews such as iced espressos shaken with maple and brown sugar, espresso tonics, vegan and non-vegan small bites as well as classic lattes, Americanos and iced coffees.
Since 1965, this (still) family-owned restaurant has been a favorite—for all of Long Beach, judging by the wait at peak hours. For comfort food, we’d recommend the pot roast sandwich, or, if you’re lucky, the chicken pot pie “while they last,” warns the menu. And they often don’t. And, though it’s tough, try to save room for Bake N Broil’s top-notch desserts. Or better yet, for maximum comfort, just go straight to dessert.
Chocolate-dipped strawberries, delectable macarons, cream-filled sugar doughnuts, cookies, cake pops…the list goes on over at Getting Caked, which takes the cake as this year’s top-voted sweet tooth haven. The bakery also offers specialty birthday cakes that will wow guests at little Johnny’s next birthday party.
The city’s dive bar scene is expansive but none have been around longer than Joe Jost’s, which was founded in 1924. Anyone can serve a beer, so dive bars need a hook to make them stand out. This Long Beach institution is renowned for the Joe’s Special (Polish sausage, Swiss cheese, a pickle spear and mustard served on rye bread) and its pickled eggs. Throw in an ice-cold Shiner Bock on draft—a rare find in SoCal—and you’ve got it made.
6400 E Stearns St
Like all good doughnut shops, Simone’s, in East Long Beach, is open 24 hours and constantly offers fresh treats made in the traditional way. Don’t come here for over-the-top concoctions. Go elsewhere for your octopus croissants. Try the lemon-filled with a light dusting of powdered sugar, or just buy a sack of glazed. You won’t be disappointed, until you realize you should’ve bought a dozen.
Every Sunday the Harbor Area Farmers Market sets up at the Alamitos Bay Marina. There you can find a plethora of fresh food from 32 certified farmers and 23 craft food producers–reishi mushrooms from Bihshan Farm, bison from Diamond Mountain Ranch, hibiscus flowers from Azteca Farms. You never know what there will be, but you know it will be outstanding. And they even offer free dog valet, allowing you to shop while someone else holds Rover’s leash.
For 74 years, Santa Fe Importers has been serving up Old World Italian delicatessen fare, from meatball and Italian sausage sandwiches to lasagna and salads to cold-cuts and pizza. The semi trucks can often be seen parked out front the Westside eatery due to its proximity to the port but locals citywide praise the Long Beach staple. The deli doubles as a market, featuring many specialty Italian ingredients. The company also includes Marisa Foods, which produces sausages, meatballs and other foods for wholesale.
Strictly speaking, the Attic is a bit west of what we think of as East Long Beach, but why quibble over a few blocks when you can dine out on the lovely patio or in the cozy indoors with a sprawling menu that takes in a breakfast of ricotta French toast, a lunch with an Attic burger and a dinner of spicy gumbo, along with, perhaps, your favorite cocktail, which in the Attic’s case, might very well be a spectacular Bloody Mary?
This traditional favorite Mexican restaurant serves dependably superior Mexican cuisine, and plenty of it, amid a festive atmosphere. Start your meal with one of the restaurant’s 10 styles of stellar margaritas before diving into a giant platter of Enchiladas de la Casa or any number of other dishes from its large menu.
Open Sesame is a bustling Mediterranean grill located in the heart of Belmont’s famed Second Street. Being the top-voted spot in the same category during 2019’s Best of Long Beach, it’s easy to see why it’s still the reigning champ. Open Sesame is a popular spot for grilled kebabs, baba ganoush and other savory Lebanese plates.
Look, if you were stuck on a deserted island but you could take one restaurant with you—we know, just play along—you could not do better than by choosing Jongewaard’s Bake N Broil, a perennial No. 1 pick in just about every category it’s eligible in. From outstanding breakfasts to outstanding lunches to outstanding dinners…guess which one word we’d use to describe Bake N Broil?
If you like horror movies, gruesome art, arcade games, red light, beer and pizza…well, have we got a spot for you. The 4th Horseman serves up apocalyptic pies from the basic cheese and pepperoni to the extreme El Puerco Loco, which features spicy carnitas, pickled red onions, jalapeno and avocado tomatillo salsa. Paired with a local beer and horror movies, you can’t go wrong.
Breakfast burrito, breakfast burrito, breakfast burrito. That’s all you see when you scroll down Yelp reviews for Tito’s Bakery on Fourth Street. They’ve perfected the art of a hearty breakfast burrito filled with egg, chopped potatoes, grilled veggies and the choice of chorizo or ham. But it doesn’t stop there; the bakery has seasonal offerings of pan dulce and other Latin pastries.
Super Mex has five locations in Long Beach and one in Lakewood, but voters favored the North Long Beach spot as the region’s top restaurant. Manuel Orozco hails from a small pueblo, Villa Jiménez, in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, and is the co-mastermind, along with his wife Socorro, behind the Super Mex chain. Customers can find familiar Mexican comfort foods like their signature “Super Mex Burrito”—your choice of shredded chicken, beef, carnitas or al pastor with rice, beans and lettuce and then covered in sauces and cheese.
Customers who stop by for a drink at Steady Brewing praise the cozy corner brewery for its friendly staff, relaxed and laid-back atmosphere alongside its wide selection of IPAs, stouts, hard seltzers and other hoppy drinks. This year Steady dethroned the Best of Long Beach’s 2019 winner Beachwood Brewery.
With three locations, including its OG location in Belmont Heights, The Potholder has become a Long Beach institution in and of itself. A massive menu with equally massive portions, its cult-like following can be seen on the walls of its interiors: pictures of patrons in other parts of the world, holding signs that say, “Eat at The Potholder,” to showcase how much they miss this neighborhood eatery even abroad.
Salud Juice opened its first store on Retro Row in 2015, adding a second location on Second Street in Belmont Shore in 2016. At its two locations, the juicery serves cold-pressed, organic and raw juices designed for cleanses, boosting immunity or as a healthy breakfast option. Orders can be placed and picked up at the shop or delivered.
Dim lights, cozy tables, vigilant but unobtrusive servers, a quiet pianist, expert bartenders, candles on the table. The 5’s is the perfect setting for a romantic date, anniversary, and any other love-struck celebration, or just an extra-special night on the town. Dine on the heated patio or in one of the restaurant’s intimate rooms. Allow us to suggest a dry-aged USDA Prime Chateaubriand for two and perhaps a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé.
Gusto Bread has humble beginnings. Owner and baker Arturo Enciso began baking bread as a hobby in 2013 and fell in love with the craft. He founded Gusto baking out of his home kitchen, selling his European- and Mexican-style breads by word of mouth and eventually through local eateries. The business has grown exponentially, having moved into a brick-and-mortar location and being named one of the nation’s best bakeries by Food & Wine last year.
Profiled by VoyageLA.com in 2019, Larissa is a legend in Long Beach’s waxing community for her vegan waxes and cruelty-free philosophy. One reader said he trusts her because “I’ve got a forest on my face and it needs a good machete… or waxing.” Another reader said she usually just waxes his back “but she’s so amazing at that I bet her eyebrow work is just as dandy.”
Apex Chiropractic + Physical Medicine offers services that include chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy, physiotherapy and percussion therapy for its clients. Yelpers say they often go here to help with back pain.
If you thought Shore Doggs, that little dog walking service in Belmont Shore was just for dog walking, think again. They also do pet sitting! And you know how tough it is to find a good dog sitter these days. And your pooch undoubtedly prefers hanging in its home rather than in a kennel.
The housing market is intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. For readers, Danielle Fehmel is the best at making buying and selling a home a manageable, doable experience. She’s a consummate professional, serving on the Charity Foundation for Pacific West Association of Realtors. She also helped found the PWR Young Professionals Network and is a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors.
If you like food, or have an interest in local development and transportation, you’re probably familiar with the work of Brian Addison. He’s the man behind the popular Facebook group Long Beach Food Scene, and runs his own blog Longbeachize in partnership with Streetsblog LA. Brian, who formerly worked for the Post, has been an advocate on a range of urban mobility issues, culture and diversity and of course all things food. He’s also on Twitter and IG: @BrianAddisonLB.
Cats & Dogs Animal Hospital has your pets’ needs covered from teeth cleaning and allergies to microchipping and an online pharmacy. If you can’t make it in to see their award-winning team of veterinarians, they can come to you. Their mobile clinic offers house calls for your furry or feathered friends.
“Movement is medicine,” Nicole Bushong often says. Readers said she’s the best in the city for yoga instruction, but she also provides nutritional guidance, personal training and Reiki energy meditation. Check her Instagram (@nicolebushong) to find her latest community events, which include yoga on Alamitos Beach as well as Eee Vee’s Boutique (2315 E. Seventh St.).
Kari Barba has been tattooing for over four decades and is the owner of the oldest continuously operating tattoo shop in the country in Outer Limits Tattoo and & Museum. Barba is known as much for her impressive portraits and realism as she is for her philanthropy. Barba hosts an annual fundraiser for breast cancer research.
It says everything about Erin Carey, the varsity girls’ basketball coach at Wilson High, that she won this category with her team having a losing record this season. With Carey, winning is defined much more significantly “She brought out talent and confidence in our daughter that we never knew she had,” reader Julie Ann S. said, while H. Banks said Carey “embodies the phrase, ‘Service Beyond Self.’ Put even more succinctly was this summation by reader “Sea” who wrote about Carey: “She’s good peeps.”
Justin Rudd is involved in all kinds of community work. He throws July 4th bike parades for kids, beauty pageants for bulldogs, monthly cleanups for the beaches, fun runs for everybody. His Community Action Team is probably cooking up something right now, before starting on another project tomorrow. Rudd moderates no less than 39 Facebook groups and runs 14 websites. We thought we were busy. Turns out we’re not.
While no one really enjoys going to the dentist, Dr. Greg Campbell has spent the last 30 years making sure his patients’ visits are as pleasant and painless as possible. Readers praised Campbell for his great sense of humor and ability to provide a “calming atmosphere.” He’s also an expert in both cosmetic dentistry and digital dentistry, including the vaunted “single visit crown system.”
Shore Doggs is a boutique dog walking business in Belmont Shore that’s really popular with our readers. Though it’s only been around a few years, they do good work when it comes to taking your dog for its constitutional and exploration.
According to their Instagram account, Gabi Bellaluna proudly serves all gender identities seeking short, androgynous or masculine haircuts, such as buzz cuts and fades. Yelpers praise Gabi’s haircuts as “absolutely phenomenal” and “amazing.” Prices start at $20, and clients can book appointments in advance.
Kaitlin Kellogg is the managing partner and lead attorney of Sunset Legal LLP, an estate planning firm she and her husband William founded in 2018. She graduated from Pepperdine University School of Law and University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. Readers said she welcomes questions, communicates easily and is brilliant, efficient and patient.
Conor @ Poor Richard’s Cocktails
6412 E. Stearns St.
On this, perhaps the most important question in all of Best of Long Beach, readers were clear: Conner Treffry is tops. “He has a great sense of humor,” said one reader, noting that’s a pretty much mandatory requirement for someone who earns money by serving alcohol to people. Another reader noted that “he is a fantastic listener,” which, again, is one of those required attributes for a barkeep. Another reader said simply, “He’s the GOAT.” We’re certainly not going to argue with that.
Finding the right chiropractor can be difficult, but readers agree that Apex Chiropractic is their preferred choice. Apex offers chiropractic adjustments, digital X-rays, trigger point therapy, allergy testing, PRP therapy, B12 injections, acupuncture and massage therapy. They’ll treat all patients of all ages, whether you’ve been in an accident or, as they put it, “just need your spine aligned to help your golf stroke.”
The homeless man who fixed my flat tire on the San Gabriel River Trail
No name, no permanent address, no website. Just a Good Samaritan helping out for no salary, no tip, no ties to unions or special interest groups, no aspirations for higher office and no glory, except for winning this category by getting more votes than people who call themselves civil servants.
Dubbed a “master colorist” by one Yelper, many love Stephany Van Stone for being meticulous and sweet. She has many loyal customers, and she can offer a consultation. Services range between $75 for a haircut package to $320 for custom specialty color.
This 9,000 square-foot gym specializes in personal training, with over 50 trainers to choose from. It’s open to clients of all levels—from beginner to advanced—and offers a variety of disciplines from yoga and meditation to mixed martial arts. Both in-person and online training options are available.
With multiple locations in Long Beach, HAVEN cannabis dispensary promises a welcoming and comfortable experience whether you’re shopping for medical or recreational needs. HAVEN offers delivery and pick-up services and have grown their reputation through their excellent customer service.
This beautiful, serene and meditative garden is a beautiful setting for a wedding or other events, with its koi pond and explosions of color from the blossoming foliage. Rates for weddings start at $2,295 and for wedding plus reception from $3,700. The garden was closed at press time until further notice.
Rosie’s isn’t an enclosed dog park, it’s a 4-acre stretch of beach where, between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day, dogs can run freely and splash happily in Long Beach’s vaunted gentle surf. Rosie’s Dog Beach opened in 2003 after the idea was spearheaded and promoted by this year’s Best Community Leader Justin Rudd and named for his beloved bulldog. There are generally waste bags available, but it’s best to bring your own or suffer the wrath of others.
Founded right at the beginning of the pandemic, Oh Mai Joy! is run by experienced nail stylists Joy Jalapit and Mai Lam who specialize in gel and gel extensions—fans of acrylic nails, be aware, they’re not on the menu. Both artists’ books are currently closed, but there’s a waitlist for new clients. Check out their Instagram page @ohmaijoy for examples of their colorful, highly detailed designs.
Little-known architect Richard D. King came up with the structure of a lifetime with the Villa Riviera, built in 1929. The 16-story structure was, at the time, the second-tallest building in L.A. County, just behind LA City Hall in an era when no buildings in the country were allowed to be taller than City Hall. It was expertly constructed and was the only building taller than three stories to survive the 1933 earthquake. With its style combining French Châteaux, Gothic and Renaissance styles, it remains the jewel of the Long Beach skyline.
The Japanese Garden is a peaceful and meditative spot to escape from the city’s noise and worries. Koi glide through the garden’s lake and under its wooden bridges and flowers bloom all year round amid stands of bamboo. As of August, the garden has been closed until further notice.
The Maya is the closest thing to a seashore hotel in the city. It’s a popular tropical staycation for locals and tourists are drawn to its seashore location with views of the bay and the city skyline. It’s a tropical setting, with 14 acres of grounds dotted with some 500 palm trees along with the city’s largest man-made beach, the Playa at Maya, featuring 285 tons of real sand with fire pits and comfortable chairs and lounges. For dining, there’s Fuego, with a full menu of Latin-inspired dishes and a large tequila menu.
Our readers, bless their hearts, don’t just consider Shore Doggs the city’s best dog walker or pet sitter—they also see the little Belmont Shore operation as Long Beach’s very best neighborhood business. What a time to be alive.
Readers love LB Holistic Tree not just because the landscaper employs only certified arborists or experienced orchardists to work on your trees, but because the people who run the company really love trees. “When I’m not working on your fruit trees I’m either in my own orchard or out walking with the ancient redwoods,” says company president Ben Fisher, who is a certified arborist. LB Holistic Tree offers simple tree service, but also pest management, soil amendments and drip irrigation.
The good people at Circle Marina know your time and money are precious to you, which is why they developed an express car wash that takes less than five minutes. What’s more, the wash uses just 32 gallons of water per car–nearly a third of what you’d typically use washing your car in your driveway. And self-service vacuums are free!
This Downtown lash salon offers lash lifts, curls and extensions in a variety of styles and lengths. Located in a cozy suite on North Pine Avenue, Mouk Beauty also has aftercare kits for sale, to keep new lashes clean and set in between fills. Appointments and deposits are required.
This spacious Belmont Shore salon offers a full range of services from cuts to color to styling and blow dries. Head stylist Meredith Ackerman has 22 years of experience as a hairdresser specializing in color and styling. A self-proclaimed animal lover, Ackerman uses cruelty-free products.
For more than 80 years, the Assistance League has administered a variety of philanthropic programs for the people of Long Beach. Programs include low-cost orthodontic treatment for kids in low-income families, clothing and hygiene kits for sexual assault survivors and one-on-one mentoring for students at city high schools and Long Beach City College. A thrift and vintage shop, often staffed with students with mild to moderate disabilities, raises money for the League.
A local chain with five locations in Long Beach, Orange County and San Diego, Shara boutiques’ selection is SoCal boho beach glam galore. Shoppers can head to Shara’s website, Instagram and brick-and-mortar stores to pick up all the dainty gold jewelry and distressed denim one could possibly desire. Another perk: their super-friendly staff, according to Best of Long Beach voters.
Out of the Closet is, like most thrift shops and consignment stores, brimming with treasures—books, records, home decor, clothing, antiques. It may take a little digging, but you’re sure to find something cool. The nice twist at this store—one of many nationwide—is 96 cents of every dollar collected at the store directly funds AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s HIV/AIDS programs and their new housing services. The stores also offer on-site pharmacies and free HIV testing.
According to Dig Magazine, this skatepark is “loaded with steep banks, which are perfect for airing out, but require solid experience dealing with awkward roll-ins. Ledges are scattered around the outside with a couple pyramids in the middle of the park to string together a solid line of tricks for your next Instagram story.”
With 18 stores throughout Southern California, Centinela Feed is known not just for its animal food. It provides a variety of services like vaccinations, dog training, adoptions and wash services—making it a one-stop shop for your small pet’s needs. The first store opened on Centinela Avenue in Mar Vista in 1926 and owners eventually opened a branch in Long Beach on Pacific Coast Highway.
Since 2010, Long Beach Skate Co. has provided skateboarders—new and old—with great boards, technical assistance and advice. If you’re even thinking about stepping onto a board, this should be your first stop. They even have an assortment of Long Beach-specific equipment, like decks adorned with the Queen Mary and wheels sporting imagery of the Lions Lighthouse.
This massive warehouse of high-end collectibles is paradise in particular for fans of mid-modern furnishings, but there’s so much more: a ton of vintage skateboards at $100 (and up), old movie lobby cards, gas station signs, old typewriters. Look, here’s a leather camel! And a dentist chair! You’ll have a blast in this place, whether you can afford it or not.
Healing Hands is revered by customers not only for the “healing” part of the business, but also the professional, therapeutic and relaxing atmosphere that customers have come to expect when seeking treatment.
Barbers at American Vintage Barbershop have been doling out fresh cuts since Carlos and Annie Gomez opened the Belmont Shore shop in 2011. But four years later, Carlos died and Annie has been carrying on his legacy ever since. Under normal circumstances, the shop is a community partner, participating in parades and attending neighborhood events. So, if your hair is looking shaggy and you don’t have a regular barber, pull up a chair and crack open an ice-cold Tecate (COVID guidelines willing) at American Vintage.
Kids can have fun and learn in the immersive, historic environment of Rancho Los Cerritos. Whether they’re panning for gold, making real adobe bricks or clay pots, the summer camp can get kids out of the house and learning new things.
Founded in 1935 as a credit union for Long Beach teachers and school district employees, LBS Financial has provided reliable banking and more to the community ever since. Since 2000, the credit union has donated more than $660,000 to schools and community groups and $285,000 for scholarships. It also runs LBS CARES, in which employees get paid hours while volunteering at various community events and groups.
A private Christian school, Lakewood Village Community Church Nursery School serves children ages 2-5 in its half and partial day programs, with a teacher-student ratio of 1 to 12. The school’s curriculum in the areas of arts, science, math, languages, imaginative play and motor skills is designed to foster students’ self-esteem and aid their social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. All classes participate in prayer, Bible stories and monthly chapel service.
The Aquarium of the Pacific has been a major tourist attraction for Long Beach since opening its doors in 1998. The facility has more than 100 exhibits that display about 12,000 animals found in the Pacific Ocean, including the frigid waters of the Northern Pacific, the Baja region and the coral reefs of the tropical Pacific. The sea otters and Magellanic penguins are especially adorable. Under normal circumstances, about 1.7 million people visit the Aquarium of the Pacific each year, making it the fourth-most visited aquarium in the country.
For nearly a century, sailors and landlubbers alike have had their skin permanently decorated by artists at Outer Limits. The tattoo studio is the oldest continuously operated tattoo shop in the United States and second oldest in the world. Aside from offering top-tier work from world-class artists, Outer Limits is home to a collection of historical artifacts from the era of The Pike amusement zone, which included the tattoo shop and was open in Long Beach from 1902 to 1979. Owner Kari Barba, a living tattoo legend, took over the Long Beach shop on April Fools Day 1983 under the name Twilight Fantasy Tattoo. She changed the name to Outer Limits in the early ’90s.
JAX has 10 locations throughout Southern California, and readers feel the Long Beach location is the best bike shop in the city. They offer a huge selection of road and mountain bikes as well as every accessory that can fit on a frame and operate a fully stocked repair shop. And if you want a new bike but aren’t happy with what they have in stock, they’ll help you design and personalize your own dream machine.
Pity the other fine parks in the city. El Dorado just runs roughshod over them with its huge collection of recreational facilities spread out over two regional parks, a golf course, a disc golf course, a nature center and even more parkland with picnic/party areas and play equipment. Beside golf, there’s an archery range, a skatepark, a dog park, a duck pond, a few lakes for fishing, bike paths and, yes, more.
This challenging 6,921-yard course was designed by golf legend Ted Robinson, Sr. and built in 1962. It’s home to the prestigious Long Beach Open and includes immaculate practice facilities, instruction from certified PGA professionals and beautiful event venues.
There are three Trader Joe’s in Long Beach, which is probably not enough for our readers, who have long loved the grocery chain’s eclectic selection of foods and beverages. Whether you’re there for a tub of Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, fresh plumcots or a bottle of Watermelon Cucumber Cooler, or you just want to wander the aisles and see what fancies you, a trip to Trader Joe’s won’t disappoint.