Top 20 restaurant of the week: Longbranch Cafe & Bakery

Top 20 restaurant of the week: Longbranch Cafe & Bakery

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In the Town Square District of Carbondale sits Longbranch Cafe & Bakery, a mainstay in Southern Illinois since 1998. With an exciting menu full of fresh vegetarian and vegan breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes, as well as a bakery offering delectable pastries and sweets, it’s no wonder why the eatery has remained so popular for more than 20 years.

Longbranch offers a variety of comforting and contemporary plant-based menu items. For breakfast, diners enjoy options such as biscuits and soy sausage gravy; the Nashville scramble, with grilled vegetables, tofu, and local brown rice; or the sweet and crunchy granola, full of nuts and seeds and served with a choice of milk or organic yogurt. Lunch and dinner favorites include lemon garlic fettuccine, with optional gluten-free rice noodles; calzones and pizzas with a variety of topping options' a portobello burger, smothered in gorgonzola and caramelized onions; and loaded nachos topped with black beans, salsa, sour cream, jalapeños and cilantro with optional vegan cheese.

The delightful diner offers up several recipes and specials throughout the week. Biscuits are made fresh from scratch each day. Grab-and-go breakfast tacos are available throughout the week while homemade quiche slices, with combinations like pesto and sun dried tomatoes, local mushrooms and Swiss cheese, or rainbow chard and gorgonzola, are on sale Saturday and Sunday mornings. Even the burgers, made with kidney beans, beets, brown rice, free-range eggs, and carrots, are wholesome and nutritious without sacrificing flavor.

Longbranch also continues to evolve with current global food trends while simultaneously paying close attention to what local patrons desire. In 2019, the eatery performed customer surveys to find out what customers wanted to see at Longbranch, and received more than 400 responses. General manager Elaine Ramseyer said that Longbranch continually strives to become more and more health conscious and the surveys helped usher in changes like offering the full menu after 11 a.m. each day, introducing options such as quinoa and rice noodles, and adding the now wildly popular power bowls to the menu.

With four options, the power bowls offer something for every taste. The Cabo bowl is full of quinoa, black beans, corn salsa, sweet potatoes and pico de gallo. The Buddha bowl offers rice noodles mixed with tofu, fresh basil, and cashews in a curry coconut sauce. The Little Egypt bowl comes with either brown rice or quinoa, homemade hummus, sautéed spinach, avocado, and slivered almonds in a lemon garlic sauce. And last but not least, the Shanghai bowl is a delight with rice noodles, tofu, portobello mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts, and edamame in a ginger sesame sauce.

The bakery staff has also expanded recently, as well, and constantly introduces tasty treats such as organic blueberry and cherry hand pies, gluten free cookies, and vegan cupcakes, while familiar favorites abound like fluffy iced homemade cinnamon rolls, carrot cake, and blueberry muffins.

The Longbranch motto, "real food, real people, real connection," rings true in every aspect. With nutritious dishes made from scratch in the local eatery and served in a charming atmosphere.

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