On New Year’s Day a new vegan restaurant opened up near us called Ben & Esther’s. It’s a vegan Jewish deli in the College East area.
We stopped by on opening day but the line was quite long so we waited a few weeks and then stopped by after a hike in Cuyamaca.
Ben & Esther’s is open from 7am – 3pm daily. The food is 100% vegan so keep that in mind when I list ingredients – they will be all vegan.
We got there at about 2:20p on Sunday, Jan 16. The line was significantly shorter than it was on Jan 1 but we still waited for about 20 minutes before getting to order and then about 10-15 minutes for our food. Based on this experience I think on Jan 1 we would have waited over 2 hours if we had stayed.
Ben & Esther’s has a variety of bagels & schmears. We did get 2 bagels for breakfast but no cream cheese.
They have a variety of bagel sandwiches, deli sandwiches, deli items by the pound and bakery items.
We tried 4 of the Deli Sandwiches today.
First up was the Turkey Bacon Club, which is turkey, bacon, swiss, lettuce, tomato, mayo & yellow mustard. All the deli sandwiches come on marbled rye bread
It sells for $15 and you can add on avocado &/or chips for an extra fee.
My thoughts: Vegan bacon just doesn’t compare to real bacon & I know this, but this particular bacon was like deli meat, it was completely uncooked and didn’t seem to be anything like bacon. The turkey was fine, I didn’t actually taste the swiss cheese. It did have 3 pieces of bread so it was very club like.
This was the sandwich I thought I would like the best. I used to eat a lot of turkey club sandwiches before I went vegan. I was disapponinted. I would have really liked the bacon to be super super thin and actually crispy. The bacon actually ruined the sandwich for me.
Sean’s thoughts: I thought this would be my favorite but when I went to eat it, it was the most disappointing. Limp, flaccid bacon which really made for a disappointing experience.
Benny’s Brisket, steak, swiss, grilled onions, grilled mushroom horseradish aioli. Sells for $14
My thoughts: This was my favorite of all the sandwiches. It was warm and the cheese & aioli kind of melted together for a really nice bite.
I will say though that I didn’t taste any horseradish which wasn’t a bad thing for me because I’m not a huge fan. If there was any it was really really mild.
Sean’s thoughts: In theory this was the least appealing to me because it’s not a sandwich I would normally choose but it had the best overall flavor. Cheesy & just popped with flavor.
Chicken Salad with lettuce, tomato, red onion & cucumber. Sells for $12
My thoughts: I found this to be really tasty, I never really ate chicken salad often before going vegan so I don’t have a lot to compare to. It looked like little tiny squares of tofu, which were a little tough to keep in the sandwich. I found this quite tasty though.
Sean’s thoughts: It was light & not heavy. I do think it needed something to spruce it up, I’ve had a lot of chicken salads and this was missing something like grapes, celery &/or walnuts
Egg Salad with lettuce, tomato, red onion & cucumber. Sells for $11
My thoughts: It’s a cold sandwich, it was the coldest of the 4 LOL. I was not expecting to like this one but was surprised. It was a mild flavor & made from what appeared to be a very finely chopped/grated tofu that had a yellow color. Overall it was a good bite.
Sean’s thoughts: It was really light & tasty. I liked the thinly sliced onion. I don’t have anything bad to say about it but it wasn’t oozing with flavor, it might have needed a little more seasoning. I think this would be really good on a toasted bagel.
The bread – a marbled rye. Both of us were kind of indifferent, it wasn’t bad, which is better than what I was expecting because I’m not a huge fan of rye. I would say it wasn’t at all memorable & I would have loved it to have been toasted on all of the sandwiches.
Overall we were pretty happy with the experience. They have only been open for 2 weeks so I’m sure there are still some kinks to work out.
I would love to see them have online ordering but I’m hoping that will come down the road after they get up and running.
It’s not inexpensive but that’s the way it goes 1) for vegan food & 2) in California but it’s worth a go every so often when you are craving a sandwich. Vegan sandwiches are hard to find.
Any other San Diegan’s been to Ben & Esther’s yet? What did you think?