Updated October 2012
Long Beach is quickly becoming just as vegan-friendly as West Hollywood and Silver Lake. If there was ever a reason for me to love Long Beach more than I already do, this is it. Though I really don’t think I could love Long Beach any more… Here’s what’s up in the LBC if you’re a fellow veg-head, or if you’re simply trying to eat more healthfully:
Cafe Ambrosia 1923 East Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90802
The Scoop: Greek and American food w/ a nice perk: a menu with a separate section that lists the vegetarian and vegan options. Some of the vegan items include dolma, falafel, skordalia (a garlicy dip served with pita), homemade vegan burger, vegan mousaka (eggplant, auchini & potatoes in a creamy soy-based sauce), vegan loaf (veggie-based “meatloaf”), charbroiled veggies, tofu & avocado wrap, tofu burrito, tofu pita, tofu with roasted bell pepper sauce platter, and BEST of all…a vegan DESSERT! Apple Loukomades are a not-so-healthy-but-vegan-so-who-cares apple=pie like concoction: “Crispy Granny Smith Apples covered in fluffy Batter, lightly fried to crisp Perfection, topped with honey and chopped walnuts” <– hm make sure you ask for it w/o the honey if you are a honey-restricting vegan.
Corner Bakery 6507 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, CA 90803 *opened April 2012*
The scoop: I don’t often eat at Corner Bakery myself, but I tend to be there often enough regardless because my boyfriend and family love the place. When I used to work at the law firm (and was not vegan), CB was always the caterer of choice. I grew to love their tuna sandwich on olive bread and their cheesecake. If you’re vegetarian, this place has plenty of options. After looking at their PDF nutritionals, there are also seem to be quite a few options for us vegans…if you’re crafty and open to a potato chip sandwich Per their PDF of Nutritional Data for 2012, the items are vegan: Breakfast: breakfast potatoes, harvest toast, salsa, fruit medley, all oatmeal toppings (but not the oatmeal itself lol), all bagels; Salad dressings: Asian Wonton, Harvest balsamic vinaigrette dressing, house dressing & pomegranate vinaigrette dressing; Salad toppings: harvest crisps, toasted walnuts, tortilla strips and wonton strips; Salads: avocado wedge salad; Sandwich spreads: tomato mozzarella spread (how something with mozzarella in the title is vegan is suspicious, so I’ll double check that one); Sides: bakery chips, fruit, pickle, carrots, focaccia roll, and harvest crisp; Breads: country boule, country small oblong, country large oblong, Harvest, raisin pecan miche, steakhouse rye, traditional sesame baguette, white rye oblong, focaccia loaf.
Fresh Foods Cafe* 340 Golden Shore Street, Long Beach, CA 90802 (Shoreline Village)
The scoop: Not much for vegetarians and vegans, but this place does offer plenty o’ sandwich, soup and salad options that are healthy enough if you opt for the right stuff. Try anything from the “Fresh and Fit” line-up. The sides are cool with seasoned black beans and brown rice, steamed broccoli, and grilled vegetables. If you’re vegan, opt for the salad bar and the “Hearty Vegan Vegetable Soup.” If you’re vegetarian, you can also have any of the burgers done with a veggie patty. Steer clear of the cheese and chipotle sauces — those are always ridiculously high in calories and fat. News: They’re opening a Fresh Foods Cafe Express at CSULB! [See here]
Kafe Neo 2800 East 4th St., Long Beach, CA 90814
The scoop: Plenty of salad and fresh-fish options on the menu. As long as you’re cautious of dressings and added sauces, this place is excellent for health-conscious eaters. There’s a specific section calling out the vegetarian dishes. According to Kafe Neo, their veggie burger is vegan (ask for the bun not to be buttered), so is the falafel, and plain pita with hummus.
Long Beach Vegan Eatery 2246 N. Lakewood Blvd(at Stearns Street), Long Beach, CA 90815
The Scoop: Opened last year, 2011, Long Beach Vegan Eatery’s presence gives Long Beach a total of two (yes, only 2!) straight-up vegan eateries. And, while I’m so stoked about it being here, I really hope they spice up their menu a bit because, as it stands, it mostly consists of mock-meat dishes. And, that’s great for transitioning vegans, but not so great for those of us who are super health-conscious &/or just not into eating foods that look & have the texture of real meat. When I visited with my boyfriend, we both had the “California Chick’n,” which is a chicken-less patty on a bun with lettuce, tomato, avocado, & Veganaise. For $8.95 without a side. I really want to patronize vegan places, but I also honestly don’t have the funds to spend nearly $10 on a fake chicken burger. Also, not impressed that Veganaise is on most items, too. Come on, guys! Vegan food can be so amazingly delicious, creative & healthful! That said, I had two of my veg friends also patronize this restaurant for an unbiased and non-cranky perspective. They were both happy with their mock meat dishes. So, there you go! Go try for yourself. You can check out their menu here.
Magic Lamp Lebanese Mediterranean Grill 5020 East 2nd Street, Long Beach, CA 90803
The Scoop: Symbols on the menu categorize dishes that are spicy, vegetarian and/or vegan, which is great! Some of the vegan dishes include fried cauliflower, garlic fries, fattoush salad, tabbouli salad, & falafel pita sandwich. The vegan dishes here are nearly identical to the dishes offered by Open Sesame (listed below & located across the street), another Lebanese restaurant across the street. In fact, the only vegan dish Magic Lamp offers that Open Sesame does not, is the garlic fries. And Open Sesame offers a raw veggie platter that Magic Lamp does not. Clearly, both restaurants offer vegans quite a few fried items (oy), but they are balanced out with some nice salads
Nekter Juice Bar 6467 Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, CA 90803 *grand opening 2/20/12*
The Scoop: Fresh pressed green juice blends, raw vegan smoothies, Acai bowls and specialty concoctions that are sweet to taste but loaded with healthy low sugar ingredients.
Open Sesame 5215 East 2nd Street, Long Beach, CA 90803
My pre-vegetarian/pre-vegan favorite: Chicken Tawook w/ whole-wheat pita
The scoop: Healthy Lebanese food fit for omnivores and vegans alike. The menu has symbols that easily indicate which menu items are raw, vegetarian & vegan. You also have the option of whole-wheat pita. I personally think the vegetarian platter offers the least bang for your buck, so I opt instead for ordering the raw vegetable platter with an order of falafel patties. Falafel patties typically have about 55-100 calories each, which is quite a range, but considering most servings include only 3 (as does Open Sesame’s), you can’t do too much damage if you avoid the creamy dips accompanying them and opt for hummus instead. Also, portion sizes at Open Sesame are just right — you won’t be overwhelmed with too much on your plate.
Sababa Lounge 6527 E. Pacific Coast Highway Long Beach CA 90803
The Scoop: There’s plenty of vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan options at this modern restaurant & lounge. Vegetarian: Seasoned Fries. Falafel, Flatbread with Dips, Sabba Grilled Pizza, Hummus, Grilled Eggplant, Nachos, Zucchini Soup, Sababa Salad, Green Salad, Spinach Salad, Shakshuka (zucchini, tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers, tomato sauce, poached eggs, pita bread), Stuffed Mushrooms & Penne Pasta. Vegan: Seasoned Fries, Hummus, Falafel, Grilled Eggplant, Zucchini Soup, & Sababa Salad. Gluten Free: Seasoned Fries, Zucchini Soup, Sababa Salad, Green Salad, Spinach Salad, & Kabob Kobb (can be ordered without chicken). They also have several meat-based GF dishes, but I decided not to list those
Steamed Restaurant 801 E/ 3rd St., Long Beach, CA 90802
The Scoop: Vegetarian restaurant with mostly quesadillas as the menu choices. Clearly, when I visited this place, I was not impressed. I imagine this place works best for vegetarians who aren’t too health-conscious ‘cuz there’s loads of cheese on everything. You can, however, make your own bowl with brown rice, veggies, tofu & pesto, which sounds quite delicious and healthful. I also loved the homey feel of the place (I think it is actually a converted house, so…). Loved the flavor waters.
Tantalum 6272 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, CA 90803
The miso soup, supposedly vegan, is full of ‘shrooms and has a dark base. I’m used to no ‘shrooms and a light broth, so this was different!
The scoop: Open only for dinner; a few vegetarian options including salads; vegan options include the miso soup (waiter said it was vegan), edamame, house salad, and wok-fired marinated tofu.
Roots Gourmet 6473 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, CA 90803
The Scoop: Roots Gourmet is a small cafe featuring vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options made with fresh, all-natural ingredients. The website boasts: “Nothing is ever frozen. Local, sustainable and organic farming practices are supported whenever possible. With recipes passed down from four generations in Mexico, and delectable influences from Spain, Cuba, Argentina, Columbia and Brazil, a viable menu spurred by heart, passion and good health is provided to hungry patrons.” Some cool things? Mayan Mocha Mondays: Receive 15% off Mayan mochas (made with real dark chocolate, a secret blend of spices & a nice kick of heat) all day; Whet You Palate Wednesdays: Free plantains with the purchase of any entree; and Thank Dog it’s Friday: Receive a free meal for your dog with the purchase of an entree. Some of the vegan options include: two sandwich options (use the sourdough bread — it’s vegan) such as “The Grilled Veggie” ((seasonal veggies topped with alfalfa sprouts and basil pesto) and “The Vegan” (filled with tofu, portabella mushrooms and caramelized onion jam) and vegan chili.
The Veggie Grill 6451 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, CA 90803 *Coming Summer 2012*
The Scoop: I can’t even tell you how excited I am that the Veggie Grill is coming to Long Beach!
In addition to Native Foods, The Veggie Grill is my favorite place to eat! Delicious vegan food that even the pickiest omnivore can enjoy. I recommend the Baja Fiesta Salad, the Bali Bliss Burger (blackened tempeh, chipotle ranch sauce, avocado…yum!) and the nachos. And the sweet potato fries. And the VG Rollers. And the dessert. And EVERYTHING, who am I kidding?!
Viento y Agua 4007 East 4th Street, Long Beach, CA 90814
The Scoop: This is an awesome coffee shop decorated in Dia de Los Muertos style. While you can’t technically get a meal here, I thought I’d point out that they have a lot of vegan and organic drink options and snacks (including some salads, bagels with Tofutti, vegan cookies & more). You gotta try the peanut butter oat smoothie – I’m sure it’s a caloriefest, but yummo! I’ve got a special place in my heart for this place since my band and I performed here recently
Zephyr 340 East 4th Street, Long Beach, CA 90802
Daily special “Texas ‘Burger’”- my friend Ryan loved it
The scoop: This place is straight up legit. Healthful AND vegan food (I found the mothership!). The coolest things about Zephyr are 1) the extensive menu (including salads, sandwiches with seitan, tofu, tempeh, or nut butter, “burgers,” (including a chicken-style one) & more! ), and 2) the daily specials (once there was a black bean tamale special, holyyumfactor!). If you’re watching your caloric intake, this place is the shizzle — get a salad, skip the dressing; get the spring rolls, skip dippage in the tahini sauce; get a veggie burger, skip the veg-mayo.
…And then there’s always the chain restaurants in LB that offer healthy options, such as:
Chipotle 1800 Ximeno Ave., Long Beach, CA 90815
The scoop: If you get a salad with romaine, black beans, fajita vegetables, guacamole, & salsa, you’ve only got 320 wholesome vegan calories on your hand. Add chicken and make it 510 calories. Not bad for a big and filling meal – the majority of the calories come from the guacamole (150 calories per 3.5-oz serving), so either use or ask for half or ditch all together if you’re sweatin’ it. If they would start serving brown rice instead of white cilantro rice, we’d have a total winner!
Claim Jumper 6501 E Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, CA 90803
The scoop: There’s the produce bar, a vegan vegetable soup, plenty of salad options (you’ll want to de-calorify), the vegetarian baked potato and plenty of healthy vegetable sides, assuming you order them without butter. See my previously-published guide to eating at the CJ here and avoid ordering the chocolate Motherload Cake at all costs…
The Yard House 401 West Shoreline Drive, Long Beach, CA 90802
The scoop: Check out their “Healthy Dining Options” menu section, which includes an ahi salad for 300 calories (if ordered w/o “crunchies” and dressing; use salsa instead), BBQ chicken pizza, 2 slices @315 calories (not bad!). Vegans, you can order a salad with Gardein meat substitute! Take off all the unnecessary junk from your salads (obvs. cheese & bacon, anything “crispy” and use salsa as dressing. If you “need” dressing, opt for the peanut thai peanut vinaigrette – it has the lowest cals at 45/tbsp, which still isn’t good. Eek.). Vegetarians, stay away from the appetizer menu unless you think over 1k calories is suitable for some lettuce wraps with mushroom. No joke!
Wahoo’s Fish Tacos 6449 E. Pacific Coast Highway C-1, Long Beach, CA 90803
Scoop: You can get any starter off their menu for under 417 calories — that’s pretty damn decent. With tons of burrito, taco and salad options – this place rocks. You can get the vegetarian chopped salad with banzai vegetables, black beans and brown rice (love this!) for only 378 calories and 4g fat! If you choose to use dressing here, use the roasted pepper cilantro – it’s got 39 calories per 3-0z serving in comparison to the 283-325-calories price-tag of the others.
My Surrounding-area Faves
Fortune Cookies 11151 Los Alamitos Blvd., Los Alamitos, CA 90720
The scoop: Did you ever think you’d find a Chinese restaurant that cared to post the nutritional info. of their food right on the menu? This place does and they needn’t fear — their menu was designed with a registered dietitian. No MSG, plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, brown rice is available upon request. One thing to note is that nutritional info listed on the menu and site is per 1/2 serving — so, if you plan to eat the whole thing, multiply the numbers by two! You can eat an entire (that’s two servings) plate of Spicy Fortune Tofu for 42o calories or an entire plate of Buddha’s Delight for 200 calories, for example!
Kabuki 11431 South St., Cerritos, CA 90703 [my original review here]
The scoop: Obvs. if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, you can get loads of brown rice sushi as a healthy meal — just avoid anything with cream cheese, a sauce, mayo, the words “dynamite” or “explosion” and you should be good to go. Miso soup is always a low-cal option coming in around 40 calories per cup. My fave items on the menu are the avocado and cucumber rolls with brown rice (brown rice, add $1.00).
Vegi Wokery* 11329 183rd St., Cerritos, CA 90703
The scoop: Vegetarian Asian-style food with no eggs & no MSG; only one dish has dairy. You can try things as daring as “vegi eel” and “vegi squid” or choose something that actually sounds delectable, lol, like the yam ball with basil in brown sauce!
To my fellow LBers & So-Cal peeps, where are your fave places to eat that have healthy food options? Have any of you been to these places? What chain restaurants do you think have the most healthy options?
*Recommended by a friend
The Cranky One
Tags: cafe ambrosia, Chipotle, Claim Jumper, corner bakery, fortune cookies, fresh foods, Gardein, healthy dining, healthy fast food, healthy food, Kabuki, kafe neo, long beach, magic lamp lebanese mediterranean grill, Open Sesame, roots gourmet, sababa lounge, tantalum, the veggie grill, the yard house, vegan restaurants, vegetarian restaurants, vegi wokery, wahoo's fish tacos, zephyr