There’s no getting around the fact that vegans always get the short end of the menu stick. Everyone deserves a good meal….regardless of diet. Luckily, Long Beach has solidified its place in the California vegan landscape. You can RSVP to any of the frequent vegan meetups around the city, or attend the annual Long Beach Vegan Festival…complete with a Vegan Chili Cook-Off! So next time you’re looking to dine out, cruelty-free, here’s a highlight (by cuisine type) of plant-based options to quell even the pickiest of herbivores.
Breakfast & Brunch
Several questions pop into people’s minds at the thought of a vegan brunch. But what about the egg? What if I don’t like salad for breakfast? What’s the point? Enter: The Wild Chive. Chef Soozee Nguyen was driven by the “yearning to recreate meatless versions” of her childhood favorites. Vegan eggs? No Problem. Vegan Monte Cristo? Yup. The catch? The Wild Chive is still a Pop-Up. Snag a seat at their weekly Vegan Brunch Pop-Up (complete with a full bar and table service) at MADE by Millworks, every Sunday 9am-3pm. Catch them for dinner in the same spot, every Thursday from 5pm-9pm. While you’re there, pick up some vegan pasta from Mod Foods Co. for dinner.
East Village gem, Berlin Bistro (brain child of Retro Row staple, Portfolio Coffeehouse), has a killer vegan breakfast menu….along with one of the best parklets in the East Village. Take comfort in knowing that all vegan items are denoted on the menu, and almost all vegetarian options can be modified to be vegan. We suggest the Tofu Scramble and a bloody, to start!
Long Beach Coffee Shops
We’re going to let you in on a little “secret.” Coffee is vegan. Just remember…you heard it here, first. Some of the best vegan breakfasts and brews can be found at any of Long Beach’s specialty coffee shops. But there’s one thing they ALL have in common. They all get their vegan donuts from The Caffeinated Kitchen. Chef, owner and creative genius, Jen Hackler, started the company with coffee pairings in mind. Jen uses applesauce instead of butter, and chooses to bake (instead of fry) her donuts. Regular flavors include: Churro, Chocolate Sea Salt, and Cookies & Cream. Be sure to try any and all seasonal flavors throughout the year. We’re obsessed with the blueberry!
If sweets aren’t your thing, there are plenty of savory vegan options, as well. Venture into Rose Park Roasters, Recreational Coffee & Steelhead Coffee for a variety of creative toasts. If you find yourself in Wrigley…stop by Fox Coffee House for vegan pot pie, bagels and breakfast burritos. You’re welcome.
Retro Row Juice Bar, Salud Juice, just got one hell of a facelift! It’s no longer just a grab and go juice bar. As their space has grown, so has their menu. Choose from several raw breakfast and lunch items, including their Oat Bowl, Spiced Quinoa Bowl (yum), and several Smoothie Bowls. Try their 24-hr fermented bread by ordering the Raw Avocado Toast or Almond Butter Toast. Just know that it WILL sell out!
After the all-vegan Seabirds Truck gained a cult following in OC for their fried avocado tacos, they were catapulted into the limelight to compete on Season 2 of the Food Network’s Great American Food Truck Race. Although they didn’t claim the top spot, Seabirds was able to roll their momentum into their first brick & mortar front in Costa Mesa. Lucky for us, they decided to take a chance on Long Beach for number two! Take your time working your way through their diverse menu. Favorites include their Purple Taquitos, BBQ Jack Sliders, and of course, the Beer Battered Avo Tacos.
The Grain Café
At The Grain Café (4th & Ximeno), the organic vegan menu gains inspiration from the owner’s roots in Oaxaca, Mexico. Choose from a variety of dishes from the “South of the Border” section of the menu, all served with a side of rice and black or pinto beans. We recommend the Mole Burrito. Stick around for a slice of one of their vegan cakes. Flavors include: Maca, Strawberry, Lemon, Green Tea, Chocolate & Coconut.
At the corner of Broadway and Redondo sits 1950’s-established art-deco-dive-bar, The Reno Room. attached to said dive bar is their popular and very affordable taqueria: CocoRenos. Spring for the Blackened Mushroom Tacos, or try your hand at one of their vegan tofu burritos. Just be sure to get ample chips and salsa on the side.
Lola’s Mexican Cuisine
Retro Row has quickly become a vegan haven. Lola’s is no exception to the rule. Opt for the vegan burrito, potato taquitos, mushroom & zucchini tacos, black beans and plantains. If you’re further north, head to their Bixby Knolls location….and for the love of God…get a cocktail.
Steamed – Organic Vegetarian Cuisine
Find Steamed on 3rd and Alamitos, at the edge of the East Village.The Steamed Mission is “to provide organic, local, fresh, fast food made with love, affordably to our community; always with a focus on the sustainability of our earth and humankind.” There, locals have been filling up on giant burritos, bowls and salads, since 2013. All heated components are prepared in a steamer (hence the name). Order anything on the menu that’s topped with their walnut-based “taco” meat. Just be sure to let them know you’re looking for a vegan meal, if you’re looking to avoid cheese.
As most long-time vegans already know, Middle Eastern cuisine tends to be naturally filled with ample plant-based options. Long Beach newcomer, California Kabob Factory, is no exception. Owners hail from Iraq, with roots in Anaheim’s Little Arabia. Choose a bowl, panini, pita or burrito, and get ready to be seriously stuffed. If you’re looking for even more food, order a side of hummus and pita chips, along with a $4 side of traditional tabbouleh. Prepare to be a regular.
Magic Lamp Grill
If you prefer more of a pleasurable sit-down experience, visit Magic Lamp Grill on 2nd street. With over 10 vegan options (all noted) in just the “Starters & Mezze” section, alone, you won’t even have to venture into the rest of the menu. We suggest starting with the Batata Harra (spicy potatoes), Dolmas and Fool Moudamas. Unlimited pita is always a plus. To drink, sample a glass of Jallab, made from dates, rose water and pine nuts. Get there on the right night and you might be treated to live music.
Retro Row hole-in-the-wall, The HipPea, is our go-to for falafel. The entire menu is vegan, which makes things easy. Fresh chickpea fritters are fried to order and either served in a cone or homemade pita. The real treat at The HipPea is their self-serve sauce station. Choose from pickled mango, tahini and hot sauce. We’re partial to dousing everything in a combination of all three. Their chickpea creations go far beyond falafel. Order their chickpea potato & leek soup, chickpea chocolate chip cookies, and the occasional fruit-infused chickpea churros (on special).
One might think vegans would need to avoid sushi, altogether. Thankfully, the creativity of Broadway’s Blue Bird Sushi makes up for the lack of fish. Diners are treated to several unique rolls, well beyond the standard cucumber and avocado. With an entire menu devoted to vegan specialties, you can choose from 8 unique rolls, and vegan tuna nigiri. In the mood for vegan ramen? You’ve come to the right place.
It doesn’t get any easier if you’re looking for vegan Thai food than Wrigley staple, I Love Vegan. No need to worry about modifying your dish, or making sure they omit the fish sauce. The owner was inspired to open I Love Vegan after growing up learning how to cook his native Thai cuisine from his mother. Although he loved his mother’s original recipes, he chose the path to veganism in order to improve his chronic battle with weight. We recommend the Drunken Noodles, Yellow Curry and Pineapple Fried Rice. Protein choices include tofu and soy chicken. Finish with a scoop of their coconut ice cream topped with chopped peanuts. Want to eat in your pajamas in front of the tv? No problem. They deliver.
If you find yourself driving down Broadway in Belmont Heights, try not to blink….because you might miss it! Nestled in a tiny shopping center between a laundromat and liquor store, you’ll find Manaow. Grab a seat inside and ask for their special vegan menu (yay!). Start your meal off with their signature drink sampler (sub for soy milk). You’ll get to try 6 of their iced (non-alcoholic) drinks, and then choose a full glass of your favorite for just $6. Spring for the Pad See Ew and any of their outstanding curries. And please please PLEASE….order the mango & sticky rice for dessert.
Dear Long Beach…..we are truly lucky. The city’s one-and-only true Korean restaurant also happens to have a full vegan menu. YUP. Owners, Brandon & Claire Sugano, took over Sura Korean BBQ from Claire’s mother. They kept the traditional Korean dishes, and added a wide range of fusion options to modernize it a bit. Order the Vegan Kimbab and Ddukbokki to start. Next, try the Vegan Tofu Hot Stone Bibimbap and a scalding hot bowl of Vegan Tofu Soup. Round out your meal with a one liter soju cocktail. Sounds like the perfect night, if you ask us.
Some of the city’s best vegan grub can be found on Sundays from 9am-2pm at the Long Beach Marina Farmers Market on Marina Drive, near 2nd Street. Get there early to have your pick of the menu from Plant Alchemy. Select a few of their specials to devour on site, then order a sampling of their plant-based proteins and cheeses to take home. Follow their Instagram to see the menu for the next farmers market.
Devi’s Donuts & Sweets
After you’ve filled up on breakfast and vegan charcuterie….head on over to Devi’s Donuts for a giant gourmet donut. We’re partial to the blackberry with raspberry and mint, and the jelly filled almond butter! Vegan or not, these are some of the best donuts we’ve ever had. Catch Devi on Tuesdays and Saturdays at Bixby Park, Thursdays at the Bixby Knolls Farmers Market, and Sundays at the Marina Farmers Market.
What is it about those humble little office building cafe’s? It’s like you can taste the love that goes into everything. Follow your nose to the back of the Woodruff Medical Doctors Offices. Inside, you’ll find Appu’s Cafe. Former musician-turned-doctor-turned-cafe-owner, V.R., opened his “retirement project” almost 5-years ago. All items are vegetarian, but tend to run vegan-heavy. Inform the staff if you’re vegan. Don’t skip out on the ever-rotating homemade soups. For a real treat, order the Maharaja Burrito, made with: rice, pilaf, lentils, Saag and V.R.’s “secret sauce.” Congrats on your new lunch staple.
Ahimsa Vegan Cafe
If you’re looking for something with a bit more atmosphere, make your way to Ahimsa, in the East Village. There, you’ll find the best vegan samosas in the city. Order the Pakora appetizer and the India Bowl, made with grilled seasonal vegetables, organic garbanzo beans, brown rice and an Indian curry sauce…served with a side of chutney and papadums.
Downtown Los Angeles Arts District Pizzanista! flagship, has been serving up some serious pie since 2011. in 2015, the owners decided to move to Long Beach, and opened up their second location in a renovated 1911 Craftsman bungalow on 7th in the Hellman Street district. Pizzanista! still hand-tosses their pizza dough, which is made fresh daily using 200-year old sourdough cultures from Naples (Italy…not Long Beach). Get your pizza by-the-slice or whole 18″ pie. Start with an order of vegan garlic knots and any of their salads (which can all be made vegan). We suggest ordering several different slices to sample everything. Regulars rave about the “Seitan Meats Jesus,” and their “Vegan Macaroni & Cheese,” only available on Sundays!
Long Beach is quickly becoming the very obvious choice for vegan dessert. Located on Wardlow, just east of the 605, you’ll find the very unassuming Twice Baked Baking Company. Owners, Dahlia Villegas and Judy Karni, were inspired to open their dream shop after growing up watching their mothers and grandmothers bake their childhood favorites. Due to their own family needs and dietary restrictions, they decided to specialize in gluten free desserts, while often mixing in dairy-free and vegan options. Pick up a mixed box of confections, including vegan: s’mores cookies, snickerdoodles, brownies, coffee cake, cupcakes, banana bread, & fruit pie bars….just to name a few.
The Pie Bar
If you thought pie wasn’t an option, then guess again. The Pie Bar is consistently upping their vegan pie game. Choose from apple, marionberry and rhubarb in the fruit category….and chocolate peanut butter or cookies & cream in the chocolate category. It doesn’t stop there. The Pie Bar will soon (aprés June 5th) be serving their vegan pies alongside vegan ice cream from Hollywood’s Cocobella Creamery. Flavors will include: Strawberry Fields, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Cookies ‘N Cream.
Long Beach Creamery
There’s really not a lot to be said here. The Long Beach Creamery is easily the best ice cream shop in the city…or maybe ever. Thankfully, they’re just as good at making vegan ice cream. Flavors are always rotating, but we’re partial to the Vegan Strawberry and CocoCoffee. Be sure to check their Instagram account to see what flavors they’re scooping, and where. Because everyone deserves to have their pie served à la mode.
Under The Sun
It doesn’t matter if you’re vegan, raw, gluten free, or dairy free. Under The Sun has you covered! Brought to you by Chrissy Cox and Dawna Bass, the same power-couple who gifted us Rainbow Juices. Although it’s a full service cafe, Under The Sun truly excels when it comes to their dessert case. We can’t even begin to imagine how many cashews go into their magnificent selection of raw cheesecakes. Or how many hours it takes to construct a raw, 8-layer carrot cake. Or how you could touch a packaged peanut butter cup after trying their scratch-made almond butter cups. To call these ladies creative would be a massive understatement.
Make your way back to Retro Row to visit vegan/raw chocolate shop, Anandamide Psychedelicatessen. There, you’ll find an assortment of raw truffles and chocolate bars, always made in-house. The shop is 100% transparent with their ingredients and methods. If you’ve never had raw chocolate before, be prepared for a wild ride. In order to truly get the full experience, splurge for the $25 Deluxe Signature Box, which comes with one of each truffle (8 pieces), 2 pieces of fudge, and 2 solid bars. Add a Chocolate Dipped Chewy Banana Bar ($4)…for good measure. Oh….did we mention they also ferment their own vegetables? Grab some kimchi and sauerkraut while you’re at it.
Post by: Beach City Food Tours