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CHEERS!

Springtime cocktails and mocktails bloom with flavor

By Jenn Tanaka | Contributor

MAY-JUNE 2021 ISSUE

Southern California’s warm weather and coastal breezes create an ideal atmosphere for alfresco dining. Locales such as Long Beach Exchange in East Long Beach and SOCO and The OC Mix in Costa Mesa offer a wide array of choices for discerning palates. At these eateries, the cocktail menus are equally focused on ingredients. The resident mixologists seek out locally sourced produce and elevate the cocktails with a gourmand’s take and a playful nod to the classics. For smooth summer sipping, taste these refreshing concoctions. 

ALOE-MITOS BAY

Located at Long Beach Exchange, 908 Restaurant proudly boasts its LBC love. The summer cocktail menu includes nods to SoCal neighborhoods. The Aloe-mitos Bay combines Ketel One Botanical Cucumber vodka with fresh mint, lime, and aloe juice. It’s a refreshing take on a vodka mojito with a Long Beach twist. THE908RESTAURANT.COM

Photo credit courtesy of The 908

ARC’s PIMM’S CUP

At ARC Food & Libations at SOCO in Costa Mesa, the herbaceous Pimm's Cup is mixed right. Chef Noah von Blöm and his wife Marin have always curated an impressive cocktail program. The summer drinks at ARC feature hand-cut garnishes such as cucumber ribbons. These flourishes add to the presentation of ARC’s bubbly Pimm’s Cup, which bursts with notes of lemon and ginger. It sips smoothly and is ideal after a day of shopping the stunning design showrooms at SOCO. 

ARCRESTAURANT.COM

Photo credit courtesy of Arc's Food & Liberations

HOUSE BLOODY MARY

Greenleaf Chop Shop at SOCO elevates the dining experience by educating its guests about ingredients. The cocktails at Greenleaf are made with sabe, a fermented alcohol produced in a similar manner to wine and beer. The cocktail menu reinvents the classics with an updated Southern California flair. Think: spicy chilies, lemongrass and organic fruit. The House Bloody Mary combines sabe with a spicy organic tomato base. Garnished with candied bacon, blue cheese, olives, and housemade pickles, this House Bloody Mary hits the spot.

GREENLEAFCHOPSHOP.COM

Photo credit courtesy of Greenleaf Chop Shop

TACO MARIA’S MICHELADA

Taco María at The OC Mix in Costa Mesa elevates the traditional michelada with a housemade guajillo chile base. A splash of fresh-squeezed lime juice and black lava salt create a dynamic blend of flavors -- salty, sour, sweet. This spicy Mexican-style cocktail is topped with Cerveceria Colima's Colimita lager for a crisp finish.

If you prefer imbibing at home, Taco Maria currently offers michelada kits for takeout.

TACOMARIA.COM

Photo credit courtesy of The OC Mix

CHAMANGO! (MOCKTAIL)

Are you seeking a refreshing beverage without alcohol? Try Tastea at Long Beach Exchange. The blended Chamango slushy is an ideal mocktail. The summer-inspired beverage evokes memories of hot summer days and quaint little fruit carts. Prepared with mango and a kick of cayenne powder, the beverage is finished with a drizzle of Chamoy and a sprinkling of Tajin. It’s a celebration of Mexi-Cali flavors. GOTASTEA.COM

Photo credit courtesy of Tastea

After more than a year of ordering in and cooking at home, you might be experiencing a bit of burn out. Thankfully, the weather is warming up and restrictions are being relaxed. We can’t think of a better time to dine out. So ditch your sourdough starter and TikTok pasta because there is only one thing you should be making this season and that’s dinner (or breakfast or lunch) plans! Start pleasing our palate with the new places and menu offerings below.

NEW FOODIE FINDS + FLAVORS

It's finally time to dine out and enjoy new eateries and offerings

By Sarah Mosqueda | Contributor

PINOY POWER

Photo credit courtesy of Modern Filipino Kitchen

Modern Filipino Kitchen by Aysee started serving Filipino soul food in Anaheim in 2017. Now Chef Henry Pineda brings the flavors of the Philippines to SteelCraft Bellflower. Choose from rice bowls or combination plates with entree choices like crispy sisig (minced pieces of crispy pork served with Thai chilis and lemon aioli) or bistek tagalog (beef steak marinated in citrus, soy sauce and onion.) And of course, there is Adobo. Regarded as the signature dish of the Philippines, every family has their own traditional version of adobo. Modern Filipino Kitchen channels authentic flavors in this dish of chicken or pork braised in vinegar, garlic and soy sauce. Chef’s bold approach to Filipino food is sure to make it a favorite. Modern Filipino Kitchen by Aysee is open at SteelCraft Bellflower Tuesday through Thursday from 11am-8pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-9pm and Sundays 11am-8pm. MFKAYSEE.COM

SLICE, SLICE BABY

Pizza Playa is a brand-new artisanal pizzeria concept open at SteelCraft Bellflower. Founded by Long Beach residents Marci and Christopher Gentzkow and inspired by California beaches, the couple is bringing quality craft pizza to SoCal. Pizza Playa offers two distinct pizza styles. Choose from Detroit-style pizza, which is baked in square steel pans for a thick crust with crispy cheesy corners, or New York-style pizza, with hand-tossed thin crust making for wide foldable slices. All of their pizzas are fired in a state-of-the-art PizzaMaster oven and made with the best produce and ingredients California has to offer. Consider Pizza Playa your new Pie or Die. @PLAYABELLFLOWER

Photo credit courtesy of Pizza Playa

SAUCE BOSS

Photo credit courtesy of La Taqueria Brand

Every ranch in Mexico has its own distinct mark, the brand (la marca), they stamp on their cattle. At La Taqueria Brand, burritos, tortas, quesadillas, and tortillas are branded with the LT brand, so you know it’s a legit La Taqueria Brand creation. This neighborhood taqueria concept makes timeless classics, like Tijuana tacos, and trending new favorites, like their birria beef dip sandwich. They even offer vegan options like vegan picadillo, vegan pastor, and vegan chorizo. Whatever you order, don’t forget to hit the salsa bar for a variety of complimentary homemade salsas. Ranging from mild to habanero, their guacamole salsa, tomatillo salsa, and signature birria salsa give you an excuse to get saucy. LT Brand is open at SteelCraft Long Beach Sunday through Thursday from 11am-9pm and Friday through Saturday from 10am-10pm. BRANDLATAQUERIA.COM

BIRD IS THE WORD

If you want to talk SoCal’s best chicken, think Bird Talk. SteelCraft welcomes the chicken aficionado to their Garden Grove location with a menu that includes chicken sandos, buttermilk waffles, tenders, wings and loaded tots. Try The Original, their take on a classic fried chicken sandwich with crispy fried chicken breast, buttermilk ranch mayo, coleslaw and crispy kosher pickles. Or The Grilled Bird with grilled chicken breast stacked with avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, applewood smoked bacon and mayo. If you’re looking for heat, try The Spicy or The Nashville. We can’t get enough of the Honey Butter, though. A fried chicken breast gets dipped in B.B.B. signature honey butter sauce, with lettuce and mayo for a sweet and simple sando. Bird Talk at SteelCraft Garden Grove is serving Sunday through Saturday from 12pm-8pm. BIRDTALKCHICKEN.COM

Photo credit courtesy of Bird Talk

SUPER BLOOM

Photo credit courtesy of Portola Coffee Roasters

It turns out florals for spring aren’t limited to the garden. Portola Coffee Roasters at The OC Mix in Costa Mesa and The Hangar at Long Beach Exchange in Long Beach is bringing the bloom with their new spring menu. Crafted to evoke all your favorite memories of spring from blooming flowers to buzzing bees, seasonal sips include the Lavender Vanilla Latte and Honey Bee Latte. We’re partial to the Rose Orgeat Latte, with house made Orgeat, rose, espresso, milk and topped with rose petals and the Jasmine Butterfly Milk Tea with house-made jasmine syrup, butterfly pea flower cold brew tea and milk. Portola Coffee Roasters at The OC Mix brews from 7am-5pm Monday-Saturday and 8am-5pm on Sundays. Portola at The Hangar at Long Beach Exchange is open Sunday-Saturday from 8am-5pm. portolacoffee.com