“Are you sure there’s no meat in here?” We pose this question at least a dozen times during our first visit to The Bumbling Bee. The self-proclaimed vegan junk food and burger bar is the first brick-and-mortar location of longtime food truck Cast Iron Catering Co. and has been tantalizing the tastebuds of meat-lovers and vegetarians alike since its October opening.
The cozy eatery on General Booth Boulevard in Virginia Beach is buzzing with bee-centric décor, bright bulbs, hand-painted menus and a lengthy entry wall riddled with clever vegan-friendly sayings like Hail Seitan, Good Thymes and Plant Slayer. A cooler at the end of the bar is filled with fresh brews and carbonated sips too.
We peruse the menu for nearly 20 minutes, eager to sink our teeth into every plant-based variation of classic American eats like a chili cheese dog, loaded nachos, the bacon and eggs brunch platter and a batch of dairy-free shakes. The smiling face behind the counter helps us select from her favorites—“The Godfather” Sizzlin’ Sausage, Spicy Buffalo Cauli Wings and the Sweet Southern BBQ Sandwich served with a side of sweet potato tots.
Our first bite into the tangy jackfruit barbecue prompts the equally doubtful and optimistic, “are you sure?” Its consistency is slightly softer than the usual pulled pork, but its flavor and familiar crunch of citrusy slaw boasts an uncanny resemblance to the animal-based classic.
Our response to the gargantuan stuffed sausage bun is one and the same. The juicy Beyond Sausage is bursting with the accustomed spice and zest and is deliciously loaded with caramelized peppers, onions, marinara and hearty drizzle of Bumbling Bee’s house cheese sauce.
Thinking ahead to the Super Bowl and March Madness, there is no doubt that the Bee’s buffalo cauliflower wings will be a huge hit in households throughout Coastal Virginia. They offer everything you seek from the traditional appetizer—hot on the inside, fried and spicy on the outside and dripping with a finger-licking-good buffalo sauce. The usual serving of carrots, celery and vegan ranch make an appearance as well.
This must-try restaurant, located at 1650 General Booth Blvd. #104, Virginia Beach, is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Full menu offerings can be found online here.