Long Beach Foodie Update: More Vegan Options Coming, Including LA’s The Grain Cafe and Vegan Monte Cristos

Above: Wild Chive Vegan Brunch at Portfolio. Photo courtesy of Stacy Michelson. 

The Vegan Revolution continues in Long Beach: following the announcement of Seabirds coming to 4th St. and Rainbow Juice’s opening their first restaurant endeavor in DTLB, vegans and vegetarians have even more reason to do the happy dance.

LA’s famed Grain Cafe—known for everything from their crepes to their tempeh bacon and tofu egg options—will be opening up shop at the northeast corner of 4th and Ximeno, taking over the old pizza’n’pasta joint, Mama Mia’s Pizza, that ran there for years.

The addition of Grain Cafe will offer an alternative to breakfast staple Egg Heaven, the much-loved shop diagonal to the Grain that seemingly hasn’t changed since ’83. And that alternative will be definitive: from sweet and savory crepes to gluten free pancakes and vegan huevos rancheros, fried bacon and heaping stacks of sausage’n’ham will not be making their way onto your plate here.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 9.44.46 AMPerhaps even more impressive is Portfolio’s weekly vegan brunch headed by none other than Brooklyn-based vegan chef powerhouse Soozee Nguyen. Operating as The Wild Chive, this spectacular spread is mouth-watering whether you’re a vegan or not.

We’re talkin’ stuffed french toast filled with house-made chocolate-hazelnut spread, fresh strawberries, bananas, coconut whip and topped with maple and almonds. A breakfast bánh mì filled with tofu, tempeh bacon and ham, pickled veggies, cucumber, cilantro, chile, fried shallots, and a chive-cilantro aioli.

Yes, there’s even a vegan Monte Cristo sandwich and vegan mac’n’cheese.

“When I became vegetarian at 19, I still yearned for the good stuff,” Nguyen said. “Not so much the actual food, but more what that food meant – a certain flavor, a texture and that kick I’d grown accustomed to after growing up in Texas eating meals prepared by my mother, a traditional Vietnamese cook, and my father, an experimental kind of guy with a taste for fusions.”

The Grain Cafe is soft opened while Portfolio’s Wild Chive Vegan Brunch runs every Sunday from 9AM to 2PM.

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.