Vibe with the vegan homies
Vibe Health Bar
Sacramento, CA 95817
One time, I spent $7 on toast. And I became obsessed.
This particular piece of toast arrived as a thick, chewy slice of housemade brioche—with edges so buttery and crisp that they tasted like caramel—and thick smears of freshly made ricotta and strawberry-rose-geranium jam. It required a fork and knife.
The artisanal toast trend became nationally famous—and ridiculed over its price tag—after a Pacific Standard article about its San Francisco origins went viral in early 2014. Later that year, the New Yorker published a think piece calling toast the ultimate representation of our “intensifying obsession and fetishization of food.” Now, toast is featured on menus at fancy restaurants and hipster cafes across the country.
At last, Sacramentans can spend $6.50 on toast, thanks to Vibe Health Bar in Oak Park. If you weren’t thinking it before, you might as well shout it out now: “Hello, gentrification!”
Vibe’s toast is avocado toast, a subtrend that’s basically taken over the original trend. Vibe gives you whole-grain bread topped with a delightful—and remarkably vegan—pistachio pesto, mixed greens, thin slices of avocado and red pepper flakes. It’s tasty, of course. But the bread is so thin, with such a skimpy portion of avocado, that I am left pining after that $7 toast I ate that one time in Los Angeles.
Toast can be a magical, craveable thing. But the Vibe toast just seems to ride the trend without offering anything you can’t make in your own kitchen.
That’s more or less the Vibe experience: yummy, healthy, somewhat pricey food that you might wish you cooked yourself.
Still, if you cooked for yourself, you wouldn’t get the full vibe at Vibe, including its bright, relaxing décor. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of a very particular type of Los Angeles cafe—the ones with new age-y quotes on the walls, succulents on the tables and $6 cups of coffee injected with grass-fed butter and MCT oil.
Much of Vibe’s menu is made up of smoothies and acai bowls, which are expertly balanced and, in the case of the acai bowls, primed for Instagram. I especially enjoyed the refreshing and sunny City of Trees ($7.50), a blend of kale, pineapple, mango, jalapeño, basil, goji berry, ginger and coconut water; and the neon pink Dragon Bowl ($11), a tropical blend of pitaya—also known as dragon fruit—and pineapple, topped with sliced banana, crunchy granola, dried goji berries, floral honey and coconut flakes.
If this is all sounding very vegan-hippie to you, note that Vibe does offer some meals with chicken, though I didn’t find them as satisfying as Vibe’s veggie-centric offerings. The chicken wrap ($11) is the least successful item on the menu, mostly due to a Paleo barbecue sauce that resembles a mildly spiced, jarred marinara. The Mediterranean Mama ($8) quinoa bowl showcases Vibe’s pesto skills again, but it’s quite clumpy in this preparation, and its inclusion of chicken breast feels like an afterthought.
Instead, go for the Root Awakening ($9), a wrap that sounds too healthy for its own good but surprises you with brilliant flavor, largely thanks to an ethereally smooth ginger-beet hummus. There’s also quinoa, fermented veggies and carrots, all packaged up into a sturdy collard leaf. Throw in a smoothie and you’ve got yourself a feel-good lunch.