When a new restaurant opens up, yes I get excited, but when it’s a Mexican restaurant, my heart starts to flutter and my stomach begins to rumble. For most people, Mexican food means melted cheese—a lot of it—along with heaping servings of sour cream and meat. Well, Luna Verde Vegan Mexican Restaurant is about to change that image—for the better. (And if this article doesn’t convince you, check them out on Instagram.)
The members of the Hidalgo Family of Bradley Beach, owners of Luna Verde, also name Mexican food as their favorite. As a vegan family, parents Mahonrry and Eslin Morris, along with their son, Marel (who just happens to be an amazing guitarist), have wanted to share their love of delicious and homemade (vegan) Mexican food. When the right location became available, they decided to open a restaurant themselves.
After opening in July, they began to gain a quick following of not only vegans, but also foodies who enjoy made-from-scratch, flavorful, and innovative cooking. Located on Main Street in Bradley Beach, it’s very easy to drive right past their location. However, it’s what you eat that counts. Minimal signage and décor give way to bright and spicy salsas, rich guacamole, and plenty of tacos, burritos, flautas, and chimichangas.
Guac and Beyond
The guacamole is the perfect addition to their salsa and chips, which include three different salsas (all spicy), and are made from roasted and blended peppers, tomatillos, and more. The Tacos Dorados dish features four crispy, rolled-up tacos (similar to a taquito) stuffed with your choice of tofu or seitan, which is then topped with chopped lettuce, guacamole, and cream, and served with rice and beans.
However, the Tinga Tostada took home the prize, featuring three crispy open faced corn tortillas topped with smashed black beans, tempeh that’s cooked in a spicy chipotle sauce, lettuce, and “cheese,” and served with rice and pico de gallo salsa.
Normally, I’m not a huge fan of tofu, seitan, or tempeh, but the crew at Luna Verde has these vegan staples down—nothing chewy or out of sorts here. Instead of feeling like a meat replacement, they felt like the stars of the show.
We ended our meal with a tres leches cake (sans leche, of course) that could have fooled any carnivore. Perfect for those on almost any diet plan (or no diet plan), Luna Verde is not only vegan, but many of the items are gluten free. Most importantly, the dishes are delicious no matter what type of food you prefer to eat.
In addition to other classic Mexican menu items, there are plenty of dishes that stand out including the No Camarones a la Diabla that feature plant-based Mexican deviled “shrimp” with plenty of veggies in a roasted pumpkin seed and chili de arbol sauce. Then there’s the sweet pineapple tamales that have good-for-you turmeric. (Really, it’s just one more reason to eat dessert!)
Lastly there’s the Todo Corazon Community Bowl that gives back. Inspired by Café Gratitude in Kansas City, MO, the Hidalgo family took the idea of a plata para todos (a plate for everyone) to heart, offering friends and guests to give back to those who may not be able to afford a full-priced meal. Guests can contribute to the funds or, for those in tighter situations, the bowl is just $4.
“Thanks to the kindness of friends and guests, we have a dish for those who are in need of a warm and hearty meal,” said Eslin Morris. “With our community bowl and every item we serve on our menu, love, respect, and kindness are also served.”
“We are constantly blending, chopping, mixing, and cooking to keep everything fresh,” said Morris. “And yes, everything is made to order.”
Tuesday through Thursday, and Sunday: 3 to 9 p.m. (dinner)
Friday and Saturday: 3 to 10 p.m. (dinner)
Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (brunch)
Hours subject to change.
Local delivery also available. (Fees apply.)
Luna Verde Vegan Mexican Restaurant
400 Main Street
Photos all courtesy Luna Verde Mexican Restaurant.