Seasonal comfort food and specialty coffee has become much more prominent pairing in L.A. County since SQIRL and G&B Coffee co-habitated in 2012. Chef Kat McIver and partner/barista Angie Evans execute both facets beautifully in Long Beach at Wide Eyes Open Palms, which started at the Sunday Alamitos Bay Farmers Market and now exists near 4th Street’s Retro Row. The concept is clearly derivative of SQIRL, but has developed a distinctive charm.
Brunch is the star at this tiny, but airy space that includes twin wood counters, art-lined white walls, and two sidewalk tables. WEOP celebrates multiple coffee roasters, rotating between beans from West Coast companies like Four Barrel from San Francisco, Heart from Portland, and during my visit, Augie’s Coffee from Redlands. Their two-group La Marzocco espresso machine helps fuel classics, plus specialty drinks like peppermint mocha and ginger cinnamon latte.
The Schmancy ($5.50) is a cold brew mocktail inspired by the Old Fashioned, a cocktail that typically includes either Bourbon or Rye whiskey, a sugar cube, Angostura bitters, one Luxardo cherry, and often an orange peel garnish. In this case, Evans favors chocolatey, fruity coffees from countries like Ethiopia and Guatemala. [This version featured Guatemalan coffee from Augie’s.] She adds sparkling water, Angostura bitters, a Luxardo cherry, and orange zest, and serves over ice, creating a drink that doesn’t deliver the wallop of brown spirits, but still packs a caffeine punch.