Vegetarian: The Beet Box Cafe

The Portabella Stache'wich from Beet Box Cafe.

Photo: Martha Cheng

How vegan/vegetarian restaurant reviews go these days:

  • proclamation of self as a devout meat eater
  • excuse for reviewing a vegetarian eatery (i.e. friend, in search of new experiences)
  • epiphany: hey, veggies can taste good!

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about Haleiwa's Beet Box Cafe, a welcome, vibrant eatery in a town overrun with places to drink beer and eat so-so food that goes with beer (fried food and tacos). Beet Box Cafe is squished into the back of Celestial Natural Foods store, with a bohemian vibe befitting Haleiwa. The funkiness extends to the open, tiny kitchen, run by two women who look as if they're truly having fun, with the music turned up and grooving (in short skirts, no less) as they cook. Ah, Haleiwa life.

Fresh offerings at Beet Box include a Beirut Burger with a pan-fried, homemade falafel patty topped with red onion, tomato and cucumber; and a Portabella Stache'wich–portabella and zucchini sauteed in what tastes like balsamic vinegar and shoyu (or, since we're in a health food store, is it Bragg's Liquid Aminos?) and stacked high with feta, bell pepper and sunflower sprouts.

The Beet Box Salad is a kitchen-sink affair: greens, cucumber, beets, carrots, avocado, walnuts, sunflower seeds and sunflower sprouts, served with a lilikoi vinaigrette.

Check out the smoothie menu while you're there, and don't overlook desserts: our raw, vegan, chocolate pudding pie left nothing to be desired. Except maybe another slice.

Inside Celestial Natural Foods, 66-443 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa,