MIRA MESA and UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS. I first experienced the vegan food at Loving Hut in Phoenix, Arizona while driving cross-country to my new home in San Diego. It was my first road trip as a vegetarian, so my research on lunch spots was intense. If you have ever driven for 8 hours a day for 5 consecutive days, you understand that the lunch stop is a big deal. Luckily, I found Loving Hut in a Phoenix strip mall. It was phenomenal. After a vegan “chicken” sandwich and fries, I jumped back on the freeway with a happy belly.
Even better, the Loving Hut vegan restaurant empire extends to San Diego, as well. Both the Mira Mesa and University Heights locations offer the full spread of appetizers, soups, entrees, and desserts. A majority of the dishes are Asian-inspired, but the menus include entrees like burgers and BLT’s.
On my most recent visit to the University Heights location, my friend and I started with the Fresh Summer Rolls—jicama, carrots, lettuce, basil, tofu, and soy ham wrapped in rice paper and served with hoisin sauce. The rolls are light and crunchy, and the sweet hoisin sauce is a perfect match. I love this appetizer because it curbs my hunger (a benefit for all those at the table) without ruining my appetite.
My favorite entrée is the Coco Tofu. The tofu is fried with coconut powder, garlic, and a vegetarian mushroom sauce, then covered with crushed peanuts. A scoop of white or brown rice on the side. The frying process injects the tofu with the coconut flavor and crisps the outer layer while the mushroom sauce keeps the tofu moist. The crushed peanuts on top add an additional layer of texture and rich taste to the dish. The side salad is crisp lettuce topped with homemade dressing, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots – a nutritional bonus to your meal.
We also tried the Eggplant Tofu. This entrée boasts pieces of eggplant and tofu covered in a light ginger sauce and served with fresh cilantro. Again, rice on the side. The vibrant, purple pieces of eggplant melt in your mouth. But the firmer texture of the tofu pieces prevents the dish from being overly soft. The ginger sauce brings a sweet and tangy taste, which makes the rice much more fun.
I’ll say it again. I love dessert. I love that I can be vegan and not have to give up the rich tasting sweets that I have always craved. So thank you Loving Hut for your German Chocolate Cake. Two layers of rich chocolate cake smothered with a thick coconut icing and topped with pecans and toasted coconut. Leftovers? Not likely.
The decor of the University Heights location is light and modern—the tables and chairs are white with cream walls. Good for those looking to escape a hectic workday or to eat a relaxing weekend meal.
I was wandering with my camera through the restaurant when I saw that the Loving Hut has its own brand of vegan dog food. I am a dog lover, with high hopes of again being a dog owner. And as a vegan who believes in the health benefits of the diet, I am curious to learn more about the benefits of vegan dog food. Have any of you tried the Loving Hut dog food? I would love to hear your thoughts, concerns, or advice on the topic!
9928 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92131
1905 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104