Kress Market (443 Pine Ave.) is very Long Beach—yet somehow, at the same time, of another place. Reminiscent of cities much larger and denser than ours, this corner establishment comprises a deli and a gourmet grocery store, connected by a bright green walkway-slash-dining area.
But the details are what make it seem so at home at Pine and 5th. Chalkboards are filled with menu items, including local darlings Rose Park Roasters’ espresso and Fine Feathers Kombucha. Wine and beer (for just $4.50!) are also on offer, perfect for enjoying at the outdoor tables while partaking in first-rate people watching. During one of my visits, I saw a woman walk by with a bright red blazer, walking her dog who was wearing a sweatshirt of the same hue. It was 75 degrees outside.
It all gives off a fresh vibe, like the owners brought in the design firm from Whole Foods to create the interiors. It’s a meal you can feel good about, even if you’re planning a post-Kress Market trip to Saints & Sinners Bakeshop, Romeo Chocolates or Pie Bar—all of which are dangerously nearby.
Kress Market boasts all organic ingredients, with the menu being made up of some appetizers, salads, sandwiches, juices and smoothies. The small staff seems to make everything with the goal of getting fruits and veggies into diners’ diets. Sandwiches are stuffed with greens, sprouts, beets and other produce; even the Philly steak and cheese sandwich has roasted red peppers and onion spilling out of it. The steak—not too thick—tastes almost like gyros rather than what you’d normally find in the sandwich’s bigger, greasier uncle, the Philly cheesesteak.
The Kress sandwich exemplifies the little deli, with chicken, mozzarella cheese and a bevy of healthy accouterments; yogurt is even added for moisture. The Kress salad is another level of nutritious, served as a huge mound of spinach and arugula, with strawberries and kiwis for some acidity, and pumpkin seeds for crunch. Creamy goat cheese chunks add flavor and texture.
The best possible order at Kress, though, is the chilate. A popular drink in Guerrero, Mexico, chilate is not always available at the deli, since the owner makes it from scratch and doesn’t always have the time. It’s a special surprise, though, when a fresh batch is sitting on the counter. Made from chocolate, rice, cinnamon and other spices, it’s served ice-cold and is surprisingly not too sweet, but full of flavor. I’m unsure of the health benefits, but I feel pretty good after drinking it, so that’s all that matters, right?
Open until 8 p.m., the deli is great for lunch or a light dinner. Be sure to peruse the gourmet grocery—like a very fancy bodega, with produce, artisanal and bulk items like veggie chips and nuts, and craft beer, wine and spirits. It’s a perfect pre-picnic or dinner party stop.