Long Beach has become one of my favorite cities to explore restaurants and the hidden gems tucked away here and there. Although Beer Belly is not hidden, nor unknown – it has made a name for itself in LA’s K-town – it is a relatively new spot in LBC, and proving to be a rather popular hangout for locals, and visitors alike.
I am at first, a little skeptical because the menu is gastropub fare, consisting of fried foods, and heavy offerings. It isn’t a style of food I typically choose to eat, but I must admit, it didn’t take much to sway my mind after tucking in.
I can’t resist wings, and Beer Belly Wings ($6.50/6pcs or $12.50/12pcs) immediately jumps out at me. Since I am not able to make up my mind on the sauces, I ask our server if it is possible to bring all the sauces in ramekins so I may try them all. The wings are incredible – crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside. The sauces range in heat level, my favorites being the buffalo blue, and chipotle volcano.
Then there’s Pork Belly Chips ($8.50) slices of pork belly rendered perfectly to a pleasant texture. They’re not quite crispy, but not quite chewy. They’re addictive, that’s for sure. I eat one, then two, then three, then I lost count. The Tabasco aioli is a lovely accompaniment to these morsels – and I don’t even like pork belly!
Our server suggests Death By Duck ($9.50) a pail of duck fat fries topped with duck confit. It is sinfully decadent, although the confit does lend moisture to the fries, causing them to lose their crispiness, so eat that part quickly! The dipping sauce adds a fruity, sweet, tart component which works very well with the richness of the confit.
I am curious about Catfish n Chips ($13.50) and I am glad I order it. Four pieces of beer battered catfish arrive in a brown paper bag with ramekins of horseradish aioli, malt vinegar, and seasoned salt. It is an interactive dish which you, the diner, is to sprinkle the salt and toss in the bag before enjoying. The fish is absolutely spectacular. The batter is light, but it is the perfectly executed fish which bowls me over. The dish is served with fries, but can be upgraded to duck fat fries or bacon fat fries for $3 extra.
We opted for Bacon Fat Fries ($9.50 a la carte) as a substitution and I do not regret it one bit. These crispy fries are tossed in bacon fat, chile morita, bacon bits, arugula, and served with maple vinegar. Beer Belly is a haven for French fries, and that’s a good thing!
If you’re there during brunch, order The Burrito Benny ($12), it’s as debaucherous as it gets. The burrito is stuffed with your choice of bacon or ham – we chose the latter – tater tots, black beans and cheese, then, topped with soft poached eggs, and a slathering of chile Hollandaise sauce. It is served with a side of pickled jalapeno discs — I suggest you ask for seconds – as it adds a splash of brightness to the dish, and helps cut the heaviness of the burrito.
The Fried Chicken Cuban ($14.50) is a toasted sesame baguette sandwich encompassing breaded chicken seasoned with Cuban spices, chile ham, apple beer mustard, those fantastic house pickled jalapenos, and Swiss cheese. I had some leftovers and warmed the remaining sandwich in the toaster oven, and it was still delicious the following day! I did add more pickled jalapenos to it though because I love them so much!
So if you’ve been wondering about Beer Belly, and have not had the chance to venture up to LA yet, you can head to the Long Beach location just the same. The food is solid, with or without a beer, but know that there is an extensive beer menu should you choose to go that route.
255 Long Beach Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90802