Long Beach Lunch: Long Beach Vegan Eatery

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Sarah Bennett



 
Long Beach Vegan Eatery is all about taking vegan food mainstream with flavors that you didn't know could exist without animal byproducts --how many times have you heard that one before? But here's the real, tasteful deal.


Want macaroni and cheese minus the dairy? Done. Want a meatball sub without the greasy meat? Double done. How about some BBQ "ribs" smothered in a sweet and tangy sauce with a side of Southern-style baked beans? Yup.


Even LBVE's location--in a former burger joint just off the Traffic Circle--seems hellbent on changing people's vision of what vegan food can be. And judging by its surprisingly diverse lunchtime crowd (think Home Depot day laborers, local book store employees and motorcycle-loving suburban Long Beach dads alongside the usual vegan acolytes), the year-old restaurant is off to a good start.

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Sarah Bennett


The place itself is pretty low-key. You order at the counter off of pamphlet menus, the food shows up within a few minutes and you bus your own tables when you're done. Paper towels suffice as napkins and silverware is available cafeteria-style by the front window. There's no ego, no condescension and nothing but helpful advice to get meat-eaters started down the path of vegan comfort food.

With a recommendation from co-owner Jeff Terranova--who was behind the register when I showed up--I ordered the house specialty, LBV Beefless and Cheese Sub (aka "The Beefless"). The Beefless is basically a foot-long Philly Cheesesteak sandwich on ciabatta bread and comes loaded with mushrooms, green and orange bell peppers, onions as well as a generous portion of soy-based Gardein "beef strips" that melt in your mouth like a well-prepared pork belly and never once tasted rubbery like too many many awkwardly re-tooled protein products.


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5 comments
duncan_whitcomb
duncan_whitcomb

Seriously? I want to support the little guy as much as anyone, but are you living on a different planet from eleventy billion other reviewers (just check out their Yelp profile, for starters)?  Vegan comfort food is nothing new, to the world or to Orange County. Go to Native Foods and try THEIR meatball sub some time (or make the trek to Hollywood and try the mac & cheese at Doomie's) to get a taste of what it's supposed to taste like. 

 

The owners of LBVE are friendly enough, if a bit self-righteous when they receive negative reviews (even very constructive ones), but their food is pretty miserable. It really does taste like they opened a package of Trader Joe's Gardein and nuked it. I don't hold the fact that the owners aren't vegan against them–I'm not even a vegetarian myself–but they really need to sample local options so they can bring back something that I couldn't make with a microwave and 2.5 minutes.

 

Not everyone can be Native Foods or even Veggie Grill (which happens to be just a mile or two down the road), and they don't need to be. Steamed opened in Long Beach right around the same time as LBVE, and their food was bland as hell. Right down the street from Zephyr's, they had a lot of competition, too. When they got so-so reviews, they worked. They expanded the menu, spiced things up a bit, and they're a solid contender now with a dedicated clientele–and the reviews show it.

 

I'd love to see more vegan options in Long Beach, but LBVE has some seriously mediocre food, and they don't seem inclined to change that.

 

carolinevrescue
carolinevrescue

Sooo good!  I loved the chick'n parm sandwich and the whoopie pie!

666cookie666
666cookie666

@OCWeeklyFood No problem! Long Beach Vegan Eatery is awesome and your review was excellent!

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