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Long Beach’s 100-Year-Old Bar Goes Through More Than 450 Pickled Eggs a Day

"This place is a church, everyone respects this place."

10:33 AM PST on February 16, 2024

    pickled egg joes jost

    pickled egg joes jost

    Bradley Nowell of Sublime famously sang “40 ounces to freedom,” but at Joe Jost's, it’s more like 20 ounces… served in a frozen schooner and washed down with a spicy pickled egg. 

    Can a fluorescent yellow hard-boiled egg swimming in vinegar, spices, and juicy brined banana peppers be just as iconic? 

    The answer to that question lies somewhere between the number of random Joe Jost's-branded t-shirts and hoodies you encounter while living in Long Beach. On any given week, either while picking up some eggs at the market or taking your dog for a walk, you’ll see plenty of them out in the wild. These are all worn by followers of Long Beach’s famed pickled egg-cult. 

    Pickled eggs and pretzel sticks at Joe Jost's. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

    “People come in and buy jars of nine eggs to go,” John Husak casually tells L.A. TACO as he waits for his 20-ounce frozen schooner to be filled to the brim with Shiner Bock for $8. He’s a bartender who’s been working at Joe Jost's for 16 years.  

    A Latino couple sits down at the bar next to me for a post-shift brew after working the ports nearby during my interview with Husak, and he immediately serves them an egg each, served on a nest of pretzel sticks atop a piece of butcher paper, shaped like a cone. Husak doesn’t even ask what they want to order. He just brings them a couple of beers and quickly greets them.  

    “We’ve been here since 1924 and were originally a real barbershop-speakeasy during prohibition; that’s why we have all those mirrors still up, says Husak.” 

    That explains why the bar appears to be fragmented. As you walk in, the first part feels like a dilapidated barbershop sewn together with unleveled, framed firemen portraits running amok across the walls. The part out back where the restrooms feel more like a textbook dive bar, just much more brightly lit and with calendars full of women in bikinis, though urban lore has it that those women were once completely nude.  

    The pickled egg is a recipe from the original Joe Jost, who immigrated to Long Beach from Hungary in the 1900s and opened this bar. The secret recipe is strictly Eastern European and was born more out of the necessity to preserve food rather than a preferred way of enjoying eggs, as for the flavor of that pickled egg itself. It’s proudly nothing fancy. No jammy or oozy, perfectly cooked yolk, just a hard-cooked mass of powdery protein that is best when eaten between bites of the pickled yellow peppers it comes with and the pretzel sticks it’s served with. 

    “Joe Jost's is a beautiful business model and the most efficiently run business I’ve ever seen,” says Husak. “The only cooking here is cooking of the eggs and the warming up of our hot dogs—that’s it.” 

    Those delicious hot dogs go into their “Joe's Special,” which is probably one of the cheapest sandwiches left in California, setting you back only $3.99 for a butterflied hot dog with cheese and mustard between two freshly baked slices of rye bread that can hold up on its own to the sliced rye masterpiece offered at Langer’s. 

    “This place is a church. Everyone respects this place.” 

    John Husak

    The sandwich satisfies that itch for a pastrami sandwich for one-sixteenth the price, and when combined with a couple of pickled eggs and a schooner of beer, that’s one helluva protein-packed meal to beat for under $20 anywhere in L.A. County.     

    “Our prices are one of the most beautiful things about running a business where you own the property—there is very little overhead. Go ten blocks in that direction, closer to the ocean, where you are enjoying a beer on a leased property, and you’ll get a 12-ounce bottle for $9. Here, you get 20 ounces on draft for $5,” boasts Husak.

    If you want to feel old-timey, order a bag of Joe Jost’s peanuts, which are roasted every morning on the premises.  

    On August 10th, Joe Jost's will officially celebrate their 100th year of being open.

    “This place is a church,” Husak says. “Everyone respects this place.” 

    Joe Jost's ~ 2803 E Anaheim St. Long Beach, CA 90804. Closest transit lines and stop: Long Beach Transit Lines 41 and 46 - "Anaheim/Temple" or Long Beach Transit Line 131 - "Redondo/Anaheim."

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