Music Tastes Good (MTG) is doing a lot for and bringing a lot to Long Beach. It’s supporting and highlighting local artists by giving them jobs. It’s supporting and highlighting local musicians by paying them to perform for a crowd they may have never seen before. it’s supporting and highlighting local culinary masters, permitting them to show off in a way that was perhaps inaccessible to them before.
While this is all unquestionably great, what makes MTG particularly unique is its location. While most festivals are in large, vast venues—be it an expanse of desert or a huge park—MTG lies smack in the middle of a downtown neighborhood, surrounded by buildings, streets, businesses, and strollers.
Which is why we want festival attendees to know about some of the off-the-festival-map joints you should hit up if you need some inspiration before or after you step inside the music’n’grub heaven that is MTG.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, we now offer you in no particular order…
Fingerprints Records (420 E 4th Street)
A local legend and regional rockstar, Fingerprints Records is one of the best record shops in existence, having survived the digital music revolution by offering good ol’ vinyl, cassettes, and CDs—along with providing Long Beach with some of the best live shows ever. We’re talking Weezer, Brian Wilson, Grimes, Foo Foo Fighters, Cage the Elephant… These musical legends have stopped by to do in-store performances on an intimacy level that is practically impossible to emulate. Owner Rand Foster, who also co-founded Long Beach’s long-running and well-respected Summer and Music series, has a love and knowledge of music that is both rare and charming. Add to that an incredible selection of books, tees, and a pretty dang delicious coffeeshop (Berlin Bistro) sharing the space and you’ll immediately know why Fingerprints is an incredibly special place.
The Blind Donkey (149 Linden Avenue)
After the beer-lovin’ bar owners opened two of LA’s watering hole staples, The Surly Goat and Little Bear, they ventured into the world of brown liquor with Blind Donkey in Pasadena. Never looking back, they expanded the Donkey brand to Long Beach with one of the city’s best bars: featuring more than 100 whiskeys from around the world, Long Beach’s Blind Donkey is nestled in the basement of the historic Broadlind building in DTLB. Even better? It boasts three times as much space as its Pasadena sister and comes with a storied history that dates back to the Prohibition era, when a tunnel supposedly connected the underground bar with the famous Lafayette Hotel across the street. An absolute must visit.
Recreational Coffee (237 Long Beach Blvd.)
Need something to wake you up from the excessive alcohol you’ve ingested? Something to break down the BBQ you just inhaled from Robert Earl’s BBQ? This tiny-but-mighty coffee shop serves up some of the best caffeinated beverages you can find, in or outside of Long Beach. From hopped iced coffee (yup) to the best damn adffogato your tastebuds will experience, the nerdy quality of owner Bobby Hernandez’s experiments are essentially what makes Recreational one of the most respectable coffeehouses in Long Beach—and that means challenging what coffee can be.
6th & Detroit (105 Linden Avenue)
When Michelle Qazi opened her store on online home business hub Etsy last year, she dreamed of switching from the digital world into a brick-and-mortar home for 6th & Detroit—and that she did, bringing her unique taste for vintage, mid-mod furnishings and decorations into a tangible space for people to touch, see, and take home.
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing (210 E 3rd Street) / Beachwood’s The Blendery (247 Long Beach Blvd.)
The best gastropub in the world? Well, it’s right here in DTLB. That’s right: it was been named the world’s best large brewpub at the Brewers Association’s 2016 World Beer Cup. Even better? The famed joint’s adventure into goses and sours, The Blendery, is open on the weekends and sits right around the corner from the main brewery, allowing you to taste some of the most sophisticated, intellectual, and well-made funky beers this side of Belgium.
MADE by Millworks (240 Pine Avenue)
The thing about MADE is that it is difficult to describe other than being pure Long Beach. This conglomeration of cottage businesses, crafters, creators, artists, bakers, designers, and more offers products made right here in the LBC. It’s been the launching pad for several of DTLB’s best joints like The Pie Bar and the soon-to-open Saints & Sinners and Romeo Chocolates, allowing new business ventures to skip the anxiety of investing in a full brick-and-mortar while having the capability of testing their products on a large swath of customers. Unique, charming, and wonderfully eclectic, it’s a must for any DTLB visitor.