EATS: Luna Verde Mexican Restaurant
Luna Verde has quickly climbed the ranks to become my favorite all vegan restaurant in our amazing state. Latin food has always been my favorite cuisine, even before my time as a vegan, so when I learned of an all vegan Mexican restaurant 15 minutes from my house I couldn’t wait to try it. Cherise and I have regularly frequented this place since they opened and have never been disappointed with a single meal. We recently grabbed dinner there a few times over a couple weeks, so I figured it was a good time to write up a review and highlight a few of the dishes we enjoyed while it was fresh on my mind. It should be noted Luna Verde management was unaware of my intentions to write a review, and this was completely unsolicited.
First I’d like to point out that the restaurant is cozy. There’s roughly 12 tables with half being configured for four guests. They’re capable of seating larger groups, as I’ve seen it done during many of our visits, I’d just recommend calling ahead and letting them know so they’re not caught off guard and you’re not stuck waiting for multiple tables to clear up. There is tons of street parking, as the building sits directly on the corner of an intersection, and some available parking spaces in their lot surrounding the building.
Each time we’ve gone we’ve had the pleasure of talking with the owners Mahonrry and Eslin, it isn’t because they’re giving us any special attention, but because they’re genuinely nice people. They love to discuss their dishes and there’s an obvious passion in the preparation of and sharing of their food. As many of you know we’re always doing what we can to raise funds for one of our favorite animal sanctuaries, Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue. Without going into too much detail I’d just like to point out that Luna Verde has stepped up multiple times with contributions towards our fundraising efforts without even a hint of hesitation. They’ve also began prominently displaying paintings crafted by Latin artists that donate a portion of the proceeds towards woman’s groups/shelters in New Jersey. I've been impressed with their willingness to step up to make a difference for a while now and I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge them for this. Make sure to introduce yourselves and let them know we sent you!
One of the nice things about Luna Verde is it’s BYOB, for those who partake. For those looking for what they’ve got in house, there’s a wide array. In addition to Mexican Cola, they’re also regularly stocked with fresh kombucha from Fine Health (our favorite kombucha, brewed in neighboring Neptune City). Also available are Aguas Frescas in Tamarind, Horchata and Hibiscus. All three are delicious, but the Tamarind is our favorite. Come desert time there’s hot tea, coffee and a hot chocolate style drink called Champurrado.
You’ll always start your meal with a basket of tortilla chips and a trio of salsas. The salsas vary in flavor depending on what’s available at the time. Appetizers are where I always struggle. I’ve had most of them and always have a hard time deciding. Whether it’s the pozole blanco, a quesadilla loaded with your choice of protein (my favorite is the Al Pastor seitan with onions and pineapples even though it’s rather salty) or ceviche, you won’t be disappointed. Cherise’s favorite is the Queso Fundido, a melty cheese sauce served in a skillet with tortilla chips. My favorite is easily the Todo Nachos. Just picture loaded nachos piled high with the majority of their protein options. It’s honestly my favorite thing on the menu.
The dinner options can be a bit overwhelming as there’s a ton to choose from. You can never go wrong with a classic burrito or chimichanga loaded with any of their many protein options (11 in total) and covered in your choice of multiple sauces. I always opt for the spicy, which is smokey like a chipotle sauce and not too overwhelming heat wise. If you’re feeling brave you can get the “Muy Muy Grande” version for an extra $5. This thing is scary in size and is enough for two people to get full off of. I grabbed one and the leftovers made a great lunch the next day. You also can’t go wrong with any of their tortas. My favorite is the Milanese, a breaded seitan cutlet topped with beans, avocados, jalapeños and loads of other fresh veggies all piled on a hard roll. Another entree of note is the Fiesta Taco platter which is 16 tacos highlighting multiple protein options. It’s definitely for sharing and is a good way of trying a bunch of different flavors from the menu. We enjoy all of them, I just recommend grabbing some extra salsa to pour on top. Lastly you should check out the specials area of the menu. They don’t always have each of the items, but they’re all worth your attention. The No Pollo Dorado is mind blowing. Picture of a bucket of fried “chicken”. Perfectly breaded fried oyster mushroom bunches with a creamy dipping sauce.
I'm impressed if you’ve still got room at this point, but there’s plenty of dessert if you can find extra space. They’ve got classics like fried churros, sweet pineapple tamales, flan and tres leches cake. Two of our favorites are the Frecas con Crema, strawberries and cream over ice cream and the chimichanga dulce, a chimichanga stuffed with rice pudding and served with ice cream. If you’re in a large group, or simply a crazy person, this is also available in a “Muy Muy Grande” version.
No place is perfect, and I’m sure someone out there with different taste buds will disagree with some of what I wrote here, but for me, this is some of the best vegan food out there. I really hope you give their food a try if you’re in the area, because in my opinion, it’s in a league of its own. Luna Verde can be found on the major social media platforms and are located at 400 Main St, Bradley Beach, NJ 07720. Be sure to check out my last blog entry on our weekend in Cape May and keep an eye out for future reviews.