Having just gotten back from a week-long vacation filled with booze and gastropub fare, I was hoping to cleanse my body of toxins and start living that (somewhat) healthy Southern California lifestyle again.
So I went where any repentant Long Beach resident would: downtown, to the stretch of Third Street between Harvey Milk Promenade Park and Long Beach Boulevard. Here, you’ll find the new Yoga 108, Rainbow Juices and its new sister cafe Under the Sun (244 East Third St.). It’s a mini haven of clean-eating and self-care. I was feeling better already.
I walked into Under the Sun at lunchtime. The bright space opened by Rainbow Juices co-founders Chrissy Cox and Dawna Bass is a vegan raw food eatery, meaning every menu item is plant-based and nothing is processed or prepared over a certain temperature (118 degrees), which is said to prevent the loss of nutrients.
Full disclaimer: If you’ve read any of these columns you’ll know that I’m not vegan and I don’t prioritize raw foods in my diet (refer back to my comment about my vacation in the first sentence). But I do appreciate that eating plant-based meals is easier than ever before in Long Beach with the growing number of pop-ups, cafes and restaurants that cater to the non-meat-eating crowd. Under the Sun definitely does that with flying colors; the menu is chock-full of avocado toasts, wraps, sandwiches, rolls and salads that offer creative, super-healthy twists on familiar foods.
The Tu-Nah Wrap is one of the most popular items, featuring a mixture of sunflower seed “pate” and Greek Goddess dressing that lend the texture of the fish from which the wrap gets its punny name. It’s wrapped up in collard greens, and stuffed with a cornucopia of veggies, served alongside some wonderfully tangy sauerkraut. After eating half of this wrap, I was full. As a devout omnivore, this was completely unexpected, but a welcome surprise.
That didn’t stop me from sampling from Under the Sun’s selection of vegan desserts, which go well beyond conventional fruit and granola. Chocolate truffles, chocolate covered cheesecake stuffed dates and various cakes make the cafe a destination for anyone with a sweet tooth, vegan or not. The chocolate orange cake that was available during my visit was made up of a hard chocolate shell atop a creamy mousse sans dairy or gelatin—and, if you ask me, pure sorcery.
On another visit, I tried the zucchini pasta, made of long strands of soft zucchini covered in pesto with cherry tomatoes, spinach and a piece of almond bread. Again, very filling, but in a good, energizing way.
The space itself is beautifully designed, filled with natural light and lined with other natural, healthy goodies like teas and goji berries to peruse and purchase. My one hesitation to eat there every day is that the menu is on the pricier side as casual lunches go, but the downtown location and superbly clean, healthy meals make the eatery worth adding into your rotation whether you’re a full-fledged vegan or committed meat eater.