Cuisine Scene: Vegan
Long Beach is an absolute haven for vegan cuisine – one with plenty of variety, from meatless burgers to plant-based brunches. Whether you’re in the mood for fancy or fast, the local cuisine scene has it. Here’s 10 terrific spots to savor.
TRIED, TRUE & TASTY
It was just over a decade ago that Seabirds Kitchen (975 E. Fourth St.) moved into its present location and, with it, helped bring vegan cuisine into the local mainstream. Renowned for popular brunch items like Rosemary, Cheddar Biscuit Bombs and Chilaquiles Roja, it also features a full menu of such faves as Kimchi Tacos, Cauliflower Ceviche and Jackfruit Nachos. All of that and lots of yummy desserts and cocktails.
Though Wild Chive (2650 E. Broadway) has only been at its present location a couple of years, it has been serving great vegan fare around the city, via pop ups, for a long time. Also known for serving a great breakfast/brunch – Stuffed French Toast, Chive BLT – it also serves delicious Beignets, Mac ‘N Cheese and a terrific Vietnamese Coffee with housemade condensed milk.
Located just off Retro Row, VBurger (420 Cherry Ave.) appeared a few years ago on a mission to create tasty, plant-based burgers. And from its Straight up Single to the half-pound 4 X 4, it has delivered. Of course, it also delivers great Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Hot Dogs, Chili, Mac ‘N Cheese, and loaded French Fries, as well as Sweet and Savory Crepes.
Though Plant Power (5095 E. Pacific Coast Hwy.) has multiple locations in California – from San Diego to Sacramento – it remains one of the most popular vegan restaurants in Long Beach, serving up such fast food staples as Bacon Burgers and Chicken Nuggets that are meat-free and delicious. Its wide-ranging menu includes items such as Avocado Wraps and Kombucha Floats.
Perhaps one of the highest compliments to be paid to Vegan Castle (2400 Santa Fe Ave.) is the many customers who have ordered and enjoyed their sushi dishes and rolls without realizing that these are vegan creations. The Spider Roll, with soy-based spicy “tuna”, is terrific as are the Dragon, Crunch, Long Beach and Volcano rolls, just to name a very few.
While Vegan Castle puts a twist on Japanese cuisine, Tocaya Modern Mexican (6480 Pacific Coast Hwy.) does as much with its contemporary interpretations of beloved Mexican dishes. Located in the 2ND & PCH shopping center, Tocaya offers delicious, meatless versions of such comforting dishes as tacos, burritos, quesadillas, along with salads and bowls, all in a comfy atmosphere. Especially popular is the Mexico Burrito Asada.
An offshoot of health mecca Rainbow Juices, Under The Sun (244 E. Third St.) exclusively serves raw food that not only supports health and happiness, but does it using only organic, living food prepared under 118 degrees to ensure it retains maximum enzymes, vitamins and minerals. While that may sound a bit academic, know that their Mango Tacos, Papaya Sushi and incredible Guava Cheesecake are absolutely delicious.
Similarly diminutive and delicious is HipPea (2023 E. Fourth St.), the small shop connected to the Art Theatre, which offers falafel made fresh to order along with hummus and pita. Though its falafel recipe has Egyptian roots, it’s served Israeli-style, with chickpeas, herbs and spices.
WHOLE LOT OF EVERYTHING
One of the city’s most popular vegan spots, The Grain Cafe (4403 E. Fourth St.) offers a little bit of everything, from Mediterranean to Mexican (try the burrito drenched in Mole Negro), pizza and sushi rolls, nachos and soup, salads, curry and quesadillas. And that’s not even taking into account the breakfast options – omelets, waffles, crepes – as well as a long list of desserts made exclusively from organic vegetables.
Likewise, Higher Taste (340½ E. Fourth St.) casts a wide net from Vietnamese Spring Rolls to Avocado Jalapeno Cheeseburgers and Southern Fried Chik’N Strips. The great majority of their ingredients for sauces, dressings and condiments are organic, and increasingly their produce comes from their own pesticide-free, heirloom farm.
Perhaps something sweet and delicious – and fun! – is not what pops to your mind when you think of vegan fare. Two Long Beach shops offer creative, innovative, tasty creations. Hug Life (2707 E. Fourth St.), located on Retro Row’s fringe, calls itself the “anti-dairy creamery” and offers ice cream flavors such as Vietnamese Coffee, Mango, Chamoy and Roasted Black Sesame Seed. It also offers such tasty treats as milkshakes and ice cream tacos, folded with three scoops of ice cream, topped with condensed coconut milk.
Baked Vegan Sweets (718 Orange Ave.) started in a Long Beach home and now is a popular go-to spot for everything from wedding cakes to Maple Bacon Cupcakes. There are brownies, sugar, chocolate chip and Snickerdoodle cookies along with slices of Tres Leches cake as well as Cake Pops which are exactly what they sound like: delicious.