Cosmic Comfort Food

Some might say that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich is as American as apple pie. The sticky delicious invention has crossed class boundaries since it first landed on the pages of Good Housekeeping Magazine over one-hundred years ago.

Since then, the classic sando and all its novel iterations have become the staple of so many diets as a quick cure for the munchies of all kinds. In fact, our favorite hip-swinging rock ‘n’ roller liked his version with fried bacon and banana some call, The Elvis sandwich.

It’s this affinity for the sweet sloppy Joe that led restaurateurs Payvand Salehi, Brad Greenberg and Jimmy Franklin to open a gourmet plant-based peanut butter and jelly joint aptly named PBJ.LA. All three partners not only shared a passion for cooking but Salehi experienced first-hand the health benefits of a meat free diet.

The team quickly put their heads together and with Greenberg’s direction, decided to offer up a selection of sandwiches that celebrated the mouth-watering collision of a fruit-and-nut pairing “often referencing how a culture uses those items as a base,” adds Salehi.

Like the start of any niche business, the idea for the first bites came through as a string of napkin notes and text messages.“If you didn’t get a text back that meant that the other two weren’t as excited by the idea as you were,” jokes Salehi. “But when texts started flying back and forth, it was time for Brad to start working on the recipe and for Jimmy and Payv to taste and make notes and adjustments. It truly was a team effort every time.”

The results make us salivate just thinking about them. For example, the ‘Red Eye’ combines the jolt of an espresso peanut butter with the tang of a dark chocolate raspberry jam. Between the bread of ‘The Superfood’ oozes the healing properties of blueberry, Açai and Goji berry jam slathered together with Cacao Nib almond butter.

If your tummy’s not grumbling yet, we suggest the explosive flavors in the ‘Indian’ that taps Salehi’s traditional cuisine in a drool-worthy creation consisting of curried cashew butter, spicy mango chutney, spicy arugula and sliced Daikon radish. And yes, they even praise The King with their variation on the heart stopping ‘Elvis’ oozing with peanut butter, banana jam and proprietary plant-based bacon.

While you can still order these creations and others off their takeaway menu in their Grand Central Market LA location, socially distant delivery is an option too. PBJ.LA is also providing snacks to front-line medical workers.

“We knew we wanted to feed the healthcare workers during these trying times. As we were discussing this strategy, we were invited to join Billie Eilish’s mom’s charity called Support and Feed. The initiative provides meals to homeless shelters, women’s centers and hospitals in the LA area. People can go to our website and donate, and in turn we use those funds to prepare the meals,” adds Salehi. A company called Conscious Cleanup streamlines the process by handling everything safely to take care of those who are taking care of us.

So the next time you go reaching for a spoon and a jar of lip-smacking peanut butter, consider an order from PBJ.LA. You’re not only supporting a delicious small business but you can also donate to help feed those who need it most.

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