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The Eight Best Places to Eat On the North Side of Long Beach

From Cambodian-style lemongrass chicken wings to dinner on a Black-owned farm, here are the seven best places to eat on the north side of Long Beach. 

North Long Beach is an area of LBC that often gets overlooked—even by its own residents. As its name suggests, this neighborhood sits atop the city’s northernmost border and has been called a “food desert.” However, this neighborhood has dining experiences that cannot be found anywhere else in Los Angeles. From Cambodian-style lemongrass chicken wings to dinner on a Black-owned farm, here are the seven best places to eat on the north side of Long Beach. 

El Pollo Imperial. Photo by James Tir for L.A. TACO.

El Pollo Imperial

Long Beach is a city with a multitude of Peruvian options, including the charming visage of Westside’s Casa Chaskis, to the Michelin-acknowledged Sushi Nikkei. Between all of them, El Pollo Imperial is the city’s longest-standing. Opened in the former shell of a drive-thru KFC in 2010, this family-run establishment serves Peruvian meals that feel closest to home cooking. Every order comes with fresh rolls, accompanied by some of the best ají verde sauce I’ve had, and a small bowl of aguadito de pollo. Most people would opt to order lomo saltado. However, I would recommend trying their picante de pollo (a creamy chicken and potato stew with rice) or their seco de cordero (stewed lamb). If you go during lunch hours, their specials come with all accouterments at a very affordable price. And yes, you can still order a meal through the drive-thru window.

5991 Atlantic Ave. Long Beach, CA 90805. Closest transit lines: Long Beach Transit Line 61 - "Atlantic/60th" or Long Beach Transit Line 192 - "Atlantic/South."

Pupusería Brisas de Acajutla. Photo by James Tir for L.A. TACO.

Pupusería Brisas de Acajutla

North Long Beach has a handful of Salvadoran businesses, and I’ve found Pupusería Brisas de Acajutla to be the best. Salvadoran classics, of which they have many, include traditional breakfast plates, tamales, mariscos, and caldos. Being a pupusería, they specialize in the delightful, cheese-stuffed masa cakes known as pupusas, the national dish of El Salvador. They have a variety of interesting pupusa options, such as those with pumpkin or shrimp. However, I’m a sucker for the pupusa revuelta, which comes stuffed with refried beans and chicharrón. When paired with the curtido (cured Salvadoran cabbage slaw) and tomato salsa, these rather wholesome bites become a fully balanced dining experience. Note that this pupusería is cash only.

5303 Atlantic Ave. Long Beach, CA 90805. Closest transit lines: Long Beach Transit Line 61 - "Atlantic/53rd" or Long Beach Transit Line 192 - "Atlantic/Market."

Organic Harvest Gardens. Photo courtesy of Brian Addison.

Organic Harvest Gardens

Nestled in the northeast corner where the 91 Fwy meets the Los Angeles River, Organic Harvest Gardens is a small, Black-owned farm that shares a space with a ranch tending to chickens, goats, and horses. Chef Rod Dodd, the owner, and caretaker, prepares themed, monthly dinners at the farm, with a focus on Soul Food, barbecue, and traditional American cuisine. These often entail macaroni-and-cheese, collard greens, fried catfish, and smoked ribs, among many others. The hefty, multi-course, family-style meals are prepared with herbs, fruits, and vegetables that are grown on-site. Beyond food, these events often involve music, dancing, and a fair bit of wine (BYOB). Follow their Instagram for future dinner announcements. 

A po' boy at Sal's Gumbo Shack. Organic Harvest Gardens. Photo by James Tir for L.A. TACO.

Sal’s Gumbo Shack

Sally Bevans opened Sal’s Gumbo Shack in 2012, quickly turning it into a neighborhood staple. Sal’s focuses on soul food, Creole, and Cajun cuisine and is locally famous for serving up a hearty gumbo that consists of shrimp, chicken, andouille sausage, and crab swimming in a savory, dark, roux-based broth poured over white rice. Other must-tries include their oxtails, jambalaya, and seafood boils—and if you’re looking to get a quick bite—ask for the Rex Po’Boy Sandwich, which has both fried shrimp and fried catfish stuffed between the po’boy bread with a smattering of mayo and sliced lettuce.

6148 Long Beach Blvd. Long Beach, CA 90805. Closest transit lines: Long Beach Transit Line 51 - "Long Beach/Harcourt (southbound)" or "Long Beach/Cambridge (northbound)."

Wings at Shlap Muan. Photo by James Tir for L.A. TACO.

Shlap Muan

Widely regarded as the best chicken wing spot in the city, Shlap Muan is building an empire by popping up in various Long Beach locations, as well as in DTLA’s Smorgasburg food market. Their original location continues pumping out batches of golden Cambodian chicken wings, typically fried to a crisp, tossed in seasoning, and served with a side of chili garlic sauce. At their North Long Beach location, they serve over eight different flavors, including both dry and sauced wings. I’m a particular fan of “Cambodian Dirt” wings, dry wings coated in a citrusy lemongrass and pepper seasoning, and the “Elvis” wings which are wok-tossed in a sweet, soy-based lacquer. If inclined, their other choices are also awesome, including the battered-shrimp fried rice. 

2150 E. South St. Long Beach, CA 90805. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 265 - “Paramount/South.”

Tacos La Carreta. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A.TACO.

Tacos La Carreta

This taco truck needs little introduction, as La Carreta was crowned the winner of L.A. Taco’s “Taco Madness 2023,” by the unanimous decision of the judges, beating out 64 taquerías across the region. They’re a Sinaloan-style taqueria located in a part of North Long Beach that nearly borders the cities of Lakewood and Paramount. They solely serve beef-related proteins, namely asada and tripa, in the form of vampiros, chorreadas, papas locas, and more. I’m very fond of the torito, a flour tortilla taco that is lathered in beef fat and stuffed with mesquite-grilled asada, roasted Anaheim chile, melted cheese, minced cabbage, and house salsa. The resulting taco is a textural treat with crunchy cabbage and tender asada, the vehicle to a smoky, savory, and bright taco encounter. 

3401 E. 69th St. Long Beach, CA 90805. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 266 - “Lakewood/Flower” or Bus Line 265 - "Paramount/70th."

Shrimp musubi at Shootz. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

Uptown Commons

The Uptown Commons is one of the latest in the city’s shipping container-turned-food halls. It has become a culinary haven for both neighborhood residents and the students of the local high school. They have a diverse roster of eateries, including Main Chick (Nashville hot chicken), Shootz (Hawaiian-inspired bites), and LA. Super Birria. The most urgent obtainables are the Spam brûlée musubi from Shootz,  topped with spiced Japanese mayo, green onions, and torched brown sugar for a savory treat that has a nice sweet-crunchy element serving the flavor of Spam surprisingly well. 

6600 Atlantic Ave. Long Beach, CA 90805. Closest Metro line and stop: Bus Line 260 - “Atlantic/Artesia.”

Red chile-stained tamales at Nehemia's. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.
Red chile-stained tamales at Nehemia's. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

Nehemia’s 

Some of L.A.’s very best tamales are offered out of a car trunk in a Home Depot parking lot in Long Beach. Ramon and Andrea Martinez, he from Honduras, she from Veracruz, sell red-chile-stained tamales made from a painstaking, thousand-year-old nixtamal masa process instead of relying on the typical, cheaper masa harina found too commonly around town. They are also sold up the street at their restaurant, Nehemia’s, which offers five different tamales, broken down by pork and chicken in either red or green salsa, as well as one made with cheese and jalapeño slices. All are exceptionally moist, thanks to a masterful use of lard providing subtle flavor.

The Home Depot at 2450 Cherry Ave. Signal Hill, CA 90755, starting at 7:30 a.m. every day except Sunday and at Nehemiah's Restaurant, 5439B Cherry Ave. Long Beach, CA 90805

The Home Depot - Closest transit lines: Long Beach Transit Lines 21, 22, 23, 102, and 104 - "Cherry/Willow."

Nehemiah's Restaurant - Closest transit lines: Long Beach Transit Lines 21 and 23 - "Cherry/Market."

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