A selection of the better restaurants in Long Beach, by Charles Perry, The Times' restaurant critic in Orange County. Prices listed are for food only; tax, tip and beverages not included.
The Atrium, 180 E. Ocean Blvd., (213) 491-0677. With glass walls, glass roof (motorized curtains shield against the sun) and pink neon lighting, this is a sort of Art Deco jewel box serving moderately recherche items: scallops with their roe, North Carolina duckling garnishedwith shredded radicchio . Open for lunch Monday-Friday and for dinner Monday-Saturday. Visa and MasterCard accepted. Dinner for two is about $55. Caffe Gazelle, 5325 East 2nd St., (213) 434-2049. Dainty and pink with twisty green art nouveau flower ornaments, this may look like a French restaurant, but it's Northern Italian with a few French indiscretions, such as shrimp Nantua. The menu goes on for page after page with a huge variety of fancy pastas--such as penne with four kinds of cheese. Open for lunch and dinner daily. Visa and MasterCard accepted. Dinner for two is about $25. Captain Pedro's, 5856 Naples Plaza, (213) 439-3474. Second Street is the Naples / Belmont Shore restaurant row of Long Beach, and in this fish-conscious town that means you'll find lots of seafood. The Captain has a new slant: Mexican. You can order broiled fish (which comes with an enchilada), build a fish taco or have the ultimate mid-'80s dish: shrimp or lobster fajitas . Open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday. Visa and MasterCard accepted. Dinner for two is about $25. Chez Jean Pierre, 5730 East 2nd St., (213) 439-9888. A Tout Va Bien is gone, and another country French restaurant has the pretty little room now. The menu is conservative (lamb bouquetiere , rabbit Chablis), but there are some recent additions from the Louisiana spectrum (blackened swordfish) and a couple of Italian dishes. Open for dinner nightly. All major credit cards accepted. Dinner for two is about $45. Filling Station, 762 Pacific Ave., (213) 437-3324. An old Mission-style gas station has been remodeled so that diners fill up right where the cars used to (indoors, however). The menu is far-out burgers, sandwiches and salads--all pretty good and definitely imaginative: say, a Mexican blintz that has a tortilla for the crepe and peppers added to the cream-cheese filling. Open for breakfast and lunch daily. Visa and MasterCard accepted for orders over $10. Lunch for two is $10-$15. 555 East, 555 E. Ocean Blvd. (entrance on Linden Avenue), (213) 437-0626. With its masses of solid, dark wood, its shiny brass railings and its expensive, pointed hush, this New York steak house makes downtown Long Beach feel like the big city. Mostly there's dry-aged steak, but you can also get your protein from things like fish and white veal in fresh dill cream. Open for lunch Monday-Friday and for dinner nightly; Sunday brunch. All major credit cards accepted. Dinner for two is about $40. Johnny Reb's Southern Smokehouse, 4663 Long Beach Blvd., (213) 423-REBS. Not fancy, but Southern for dang sure. They serve hush puppies; barbecued meats come with a mean, vinegary sauce, and there's always a plate of peanuts and a bottle of Tabasco within easy reach. Also: fried chicken, Brunswick stew and a fruit cobbler of the day. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Visa and MasterCard accepted. Dinner for two is about $18. Kalmegdan, 328 Redondo Ave., (213) 434-4327. A wide selection of Yugoslav favorites are listed on the menu here: cabbage rolls ( sarma ), meat or cheese filo pastries ( burek ), shish kebab ( cevapcici ) and so on. You can't miss the place; it must be the only stucco building in Long Beach with battlements like a medieval castle. Open for lunch Wednesday-Friday and for dinner Wednesday-Sunday. Visa and MasterCard accepted. Dinner for two is about $30. Russell's, 4306 Atlantic Ave., (213) 427-6869. Also at 737 Pine Ave., (213) 432-5033, and 5656 East 2nd St., (213) 434-0226. Fifty-six years old, an institution based on honest conservatism: old-fashioned hamburgers, ditto chicken pot pie, fruit pies and soda-fountain treats, all made with good ingredients and no shortcuts. People line up for it. Openpxfor lunch daily and for dinner Monday-Saturday; only the 2nd Street location is open for dinner on Sunday. No credit cards accepted. Lunch for two is about $10. Shenandoah Cafe, 4722 East 2nd St., (213) 434-3469. This place made a name for itself by serving excellent, precisely regional-American dishes: beer-batter shrimp from Key West, Fla., country-fried pork chops from Charlotte, N.C., and gumbo from New Orleans. Now it's in a far grander location. Open for dinner nightly. Visa, MasterCard and American Express accepted. Dinner for two is about $18.