Just about a month ago, three of my very dear friends from Louisville, Kentucky came out to California and got to spend a weekend with me. Daniel and Halie Thompson (Whompson for those of us in the know) were doing a week long California trip starting in San Diego, spending two days in Long Beach and then heading up the coast and finishing with two days in San Francisco. Katie Carrico, now a resident in Colorado, came to hangout with us while The Whompsons were here in Long Beach. Now while work did get in the way, I was able to spend time with my friends and add even more great memories of all of us hanging out together.
Being a proud son of Long Beach, and given it was all three of their first time in California, I was coming up with plans of where to go WEEKS before they got here. I really wanted to show my friends the city I love but didn't want to just do all the touristy stuff. Which bars do we hit? Where do we go to eat, how do I fit this all in while still needing to go to work? While we didn't get to see/eat everywhere I wanted to take the three, I feel there was a good representation of Long Beach. So here is the unofficial Afro on The Rocks tour guide to Long Beach.
Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles is one of THE places you need to take people when they visit. It has been mentioned in so many movies and songs it's an experience all on its own. And as I told my three friends, I hadn't been to Roscoe's since my Freshman year of College, so I was almost as excited as them to go. And even though we went to the one in Long Beach and not the one President Obama went to in West Hollywood, we did get to sit under the picture of Mr. and Mrs. Obama leaving with leftovers. After putting everyone in a food coma, I had to go to work, so the three of them, who had an Airbnb close to Roscoe's, took a little nap then headed to the beach. Because when you visit a city with beach in the title, you have to go spend time on one right? Close to the end of my shift, the three of them showed up, slightly more red in color than they were in the morning, and then it was off to one of my favorite bars in Long Beach.
See to me the Prospector is a double whammy. Not only can you get a tasty cocktail, especially when Wade Hammond is working, but if you want a nice steak dinner, it's your one stop spot. While all four of us were hungry, it was just a single drink then off to the next for us. We were only there for 30 minutes, but the Kentuckians learned a fun nickname we have for the city of Fontana; Fontucky. Daniel and I were talking to a gentleman at the bar and I mentioned that Daniel, and the two ladies, were from Kentucky. The man misheard me and thought I said Fontucky and started making some desert jokes. Daniel being confused, looked at me wondering what this guy was talking about and I had clarify with the Gentleman where Daniel was actually from. After our drinks, it was off to dinner, and while this place isn't in Long Beach, it is one of my favorite places to eat in Southern California.
Brodard Chateau is one of the best Vietnamese restaurants I have ever been to. And while my first choice for dinner with my friends was Los Compadres (in Long Beach) a weekend with 8 people would be a LONG wait, and while worth it, I was trying to show them the town and couldn't spend that much time in one spot. Joining us for dinner was my Mom and Dad, Aunt Amy and my buddy Katy Wade. So much food was ordered, including the spring rolls pictured above. They have a seafood noodle dish that you can get with crispy noodles, I would have to say it was the favorite of the night. Daniel the next morning told us he had dreams about the crispy noodles. After our delicious meal in Garden Grove, it was back to Long Beach for some more drinking.
Event planning trip advice; when planning to take people on a tour around your city to spots you think are really cool, make sure to see if any events are going on around said spots. I really wanted my friends to check out the Blind Donkey because it's a fun location with a REALLY good Whiskey program, something I knew Kentuckians would enjoy. What I didn't realize that there was a BBQ festival and some type of music event going on in Downtown Long Beach on Saturday, one on Linden Ave. Needless to say it was a bit packed that night at the Donkey, so it was a good thing we were only gonna be there for one drink anyways, it was just finished a little quicker than planned. At this point I could tell my friends were getting tired, the combination of all the delicious food, drinking and being sun burnt had taken the toll on the three so I knew I had only one more place before it was time to drop them off. And knowing that they'd be going to bed early Sunday night, I knew I had to take them to my favorite Dive Bar in Long Beach.
Louisville loves Dive Bars. Most the places I went when I lived there can be considered Dive Bars and I was never alone in those locations. So I knew I had to take my friends to The Interlude. And as it always does, the Lude sucked us in until last call. The dim lighting, the inexpensive drinks and the friendly locals made the three of them feel at home. Having Tammy, who has a little bit of Southern attitude, behind the bar sure did help too. After last call was made it was time to take my friends to their Airbnb, which also ended up being where I slept that night. Well saying "night" is hard, because just like anyone who is meeting up with old friends who they haven't seen in a little bit, none of us wanted to go to bed. We ended up staying up til about 4 am enjoying beers from Modern Times Brewing, talking about life in both the past and present tense and just enjoying each others' company. When we woke up it was time for breakfast, more importantly to me, it was time for a Bloody Mary.
"Much of Signal Hill was built in this place." Is what any regular of Curley's will tell you when you visit. And while I don't know if all the stories are true about Curley's, I know they build a really good Bloody Mary and a damn tasty breakfast sandwich. Joining us for breakfast again were by Parents and Aunt Amy. After much needed food and a helpful Bloody Mary I took my three friends to my favorite location in Long Beach; The top of the Hill in Signal Hill. I know, I know Signal Hill isn't technically Long Beach, but come on, just because it's a landlocked island created by the Oil Rich so they didn't have to live in Long Beach doesn't mean you can't count it. The first picture of this post was taken by a nice couple for us on top of the Hill. It was just unfortunate that it wasn't a super clear day, because then you can really see almost all of L.A. County. After a little time on the Hill, it was off to our next spot. A Long Beach staple that has had their t-shirts all around the world.
There really isn't a whole lot I need to say about Joe Jost. Get a Special (a hot dog sandwich on rye bread with Swiss cheese, mustard and a pickle), pickled eggs and a schooner and you have yourself a right of passage in the LBC. The once barber shop turned bar (thank you Prohibition!) is a place where families have gone for generations. Just like me, I have friends who went with their Grandpas when they were kids and plan to do the same when they have Grandchildren. It has been in movies and if you take time to check out the photos that are covering almost all the walls, you can see just how far the love for the bar goes with people in their Joe Jost shirts all over the world. Time was winding down on the four of us hanging out, damnit real life getting in the way! So with just a few hours to hangout there was one area we needed to visit; The Promenade in Downtown Long Beach.
Before Daniel came out he told me "Beachwood is somewhere I REALLY want to go while we're in Long Beach." Which makes total sense, Daniel and I's friendship started with Craft Beer. The few times I've gone back to Louisville, I have at least one Beachwood beer with me. It is one of the more popular Breweries out here and for sure one of the most renowned Independent Breweries in the United States. And it just so happens that the Long Beach Beachwood is less than a 3 minute walk to their Blendery. So it was a twofer, we got to taste some of their classic beers by Julian and then the fun funky stuff being made by Ryan. As it had all weekend, time flew by and it was time for me to say goodbye to my friends. After two awesome days it was sad to say farewell, but my liver wasn't too mad about it.
I find myself lucky to have so many close friends. My last post was about two of my favorite people leaving California and this one is about three of them coming to visit California. With the Whompsons and Ms. Carrico I had an amazing time, it was like we were back in Louisville on a Friday night partying at Fraggle Rock (College House), or at Halie and Daniel's wedding 2 years ago, which was a hell of a time. It was fantastic to see the three of them and I loved every second of it. Nothing like having a little bit of Kentucky Love in Long Beach.