If you want to know how to make perfect paella or need some guidance on choosing the most flavorful tomatoes, then Russ Parsons is your go-to guy. He has been writing about food for more than three decades, including some 25 years at the LA Times. As the paper’s Food Editor, Russ has his pulse on everything edible. We asked the Wrigley resident about Long Beach, its dining scene, and breaking bread with strangers.
How long have you lived in Long Beach?
Since 1992. I used to refer to my wife as Mrs. Long Beach because she was the public information officer for the city for many years and knows almost everybody.
You’re the food editor of one of the nation’s leading newspapers. Have you always been interested in the culinary arts?
Kind of. I was a sportswriter for 10 years and a music writer. But I now realize I was always abnormally interested in food.
What are some of your favorite Long Beach restaurants, and why?
I have lots of favorite restaurants. Probably the two that I go to the most are Jongewaard’s Bake ‘n’ Broil and Lola’s Mexican Cuisine. I love them because the food is very good, but more importantly, because they make me happy to be there.
What restaurant or restaurants might you stop by at during Eat LBC?
Definitely Berlin Bistro. I love the owner, Kerstin!
Is there a place restaurant that you tend to reserve for special occasions?
For special occasion meals in Long Beach, we have always gone to 555.
If you could invite 3 people to dinner, living or dead, who would they be and why?
Excluding family, of course, it would probably be three of my favorite people, with whom I’ve enjoyed so many dinners and from whom I’ve learned so much about cooking, the table and life: Julia Child, Thomas Keller and Michel Richard. What a dinner that would be.
Hole-in-the-wall taqueria or a table at the hottest new restaurant, what’s your preference?
Without a question, without a moment’s hesitation: hole-in-the-wall. And though you didn’t ask, my favorite hole-in-the-wall taqueria is Taco Loco No. 3 on Magnolia between PCH and Anaheim. Seriously delicious.
Are you a fan of the communal table?
I do enjoy sitting with strangers and listening to what they think about food.
We’d love to join you at a communal table for tacos! Russ…Russ???