It's not that there's anything wrong with ciabatta bread; in fact, there's plenty right with it. However, when you order the avocado jalapeño cheeseburger at Ahimsa Vegan Café in Long Beach, don't expect to taste avocado, jalapeño, Daiya cheese, tomato, the homemade patty, romaine or mayonnaise on the first bite. Or the second. Or maybe the third. That's because the La Brea Bakery ciabatta bread that the avocado jalapeño burger is served on is so large it takes a while before you get to the patty.
Thankfully, the trip to Ciabattaville is worth the wait, as the homemade patty has a smoky richness definitely not found in the freezer section at your local grocery store. In fact, the garbanzo-based burger kind of has a meat-esque flavor to it, which at other restaurants can be either delicious or disgusting. As someone who hasn't eaten flesh since Thanksgiving 1997, I'm here to say it's the former.]
The jalapeños make the smoky patty even better, which maybe goes without saying, because jalapeños make everything better. But in this case it's even more accurate, as the green pepper provides the right amount of kick when the ciabatta feels like it's about to dominate every bite you take.
And while a side of tortilla chips and salsa isn't much to write home about, Ahimsa's is much better than the average, as the serrano peppers make the salsa wonderfully spicy.
Ahimsa's decor features a large, Earth-tone mural depicting a cow peeking around a tree, so naturally you should get the hippy salad. Yes, the more common spelling of the word ends in “ie,” but don't let your inner grammarian prevent you from enjoying this dish. The grilled organic tempeh goes well with the homemade tahini ginger dressing; the baby greens and sprouts are fresh; and the assortment of cucumber, basil, beets and seeds (flax, sunflower and hemp) gives the plate some heartiness so often lacking in salads.
Finally, Yelp does something useful: a Yelp check-in will get you a free samosa (filled with cauliflower, peas, potatoes and spices) with a side of cranberry chutney. Even if you hate it, which you won't, it's free.
For dessert, there's no way to go wrong with a slice of homemade chocolate cake. The cake is soft and moist while the icing isn't overpowering, and there's even a strawberry slice on top.
If chocolate cake with strawberry doesn't sound like your idea of a good time, you could always order the ginger mint lemonade.