Gastropub fare, craft cocktails mix well at Padre in Long Beach

Broadway, Long Beach.Information: 562-612-4951, Latino gastropub.When: Brunch, Saturday and Sunday; dinner every day.Details: Full bar. ★★&#xbdAddress: 525 E. Reservations important.Prices: About $25 per person.Cards: MC, V.

There’s even free parking. And there’s a daily happy hour, from 4-7 p.m., with great discounts. No problems there. You can get a bucket ’n beers. There’s a bottomless mimosa at Sunday brunch. And those cocktails do have such names as Holy Water, Poor Man’s Eulogy, Tijuana Pharmacy. Somebody had lots of fun putting together the drink menu here. They serve margies, sangria and rum punch by the pitcher. Casual dining experienceBut lest I give the impression that Padre is some sort of fancy pants joint, let me assure you that it’s refreshing, cool, laid-back, chill.

There’s an upstairs for special events as well. It sits in an imposing structure, serious enough to be a government building — or at least a major banquet hall, which in a way it is.It sprawls over an indoors and an outdoors, with three patios. That’s where the heart of the restaurant is and where the many craft cocktails are made. The first thing you’ll notice about Padre is that it doesn’t look quite like any other restaurant in Long Beach. But most folks, myself included, head for the coziest room, which is the bar and its adjacent tables.

They have to. There’s a penchant for sweetness in unexpected places: the orange jam in the duck tacos, the spicy tomato jam in the patatas bravas, the watermelon salsa on the fried chicken taco. But mostly, there’s a lot of culinary cleverness, wit even, coming from a kitchen that seems to do a lot of things in house. The menu is a good match for the cocktails, with lots of “say what?” variations on familiar dishes. Where do you get ingredients like the sunflower pesto in the veggie taco and the garlic bread crumbs atop the Peruvian mac ’n’ cheese made with nice gooey Peruvian huancaina sauce, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen anywhere but on potato huancaina.
There are plenty of exotic margaritas. The cocktails are divided into sections, with colorful names: Fruit Takes the Lead, Refreshingly Savory & Earthy, Stirred Boozed & Spirited and more. Another is with a sweet syrup called falernum, that tastes of almond, ginger and more. And the cocktails are suitably obscure, in the current style of often befuddling mixology.Several of them involve an ingredient called “shrub,” which is a venerable term for a syrup flavored with vinegar, as in the “balsamic and watermelon shrub.” One of the cocktails is made with crème de mure, which is fancy lingo for raspberry. Make sure your smartphone is charged so you can figure out what you’re drinking. No surprise in a restaurant with Latino roots.