A Search for Great Vegan Food in San Diego

Tag Archives: ocean beach

OB Noodle House and Bar 1502: Vegan Friendly

[caption id="attachment_2781" align="alignnone" width="640"]OB Noodle House Restaurant Sign OB Noodle House Restaurant Sign[/caption]

 

OCEAN BEACH.  OB Noodle House is something of an institution in San Diego.  Every time I’ve driven by or eaten there, the restaurant is busy.  Why is it such a hit with locals and tourists alike?  The Asian fusion restaurant serves up delicious appetizers, noodle dishes, and pho (many of them vegan!) at reasonable prices.  So it’s no wonder that the Food Network featured the restaurant on its popular “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” show.  (To read more about their appearance on the show, click here.)

 

After the show aired in 2013, OB Noodle House’s popularity rose to meteoric proportions.  Quite simply OB Noodle House could not keep up with demand.  The only solution?  To open up a second OB Noodle House location!  And so Bar 1502 was born.  Bar 1502 opened in 2014 with the same menu as OB Noodle House and is also located in Ocean Beach.  So now there are two locations to enjoy the same great food!!

 

One of my favorite vegan options on the menu is the Vegetarian Fresh Spring Rolls.  Tofu, lettuce, rice noodle vermicelli, and basil and bean sprouts are wrapped in rice paper and served with peanut plum hoisin sauce.  The rolls are light and fresh — I especially love the pop of flavor the basil provides.  Dunking the roll in the savory peanut sauce rounds out the experience.

 

[caption id="attachment_2743" align="alignnone" width="640"]Fresh Spring Rolls with Tofu Fresh Spring Rolls with Tofu[/caption]

 

Another great vegan appetizer is the Tofu Lettuce Cups.  Chopped tofu is mixed with green onions, water chestnuts, mushrooms, and garlic and served with lettuce pieces so you can make your own wraps.  I was hesitant the first time I ordered this dish, because tofu dishes are so often bland.  I should not have been worried — the herbs and spices ensure that this dish packs a flavorful punch.  Soon after it arrived, I was happily munching away!

 

[caption id="attachment_2774" align="alignnone" width="640"]Tofu Lettuce Wraps Tofu Lettuce Wraps[/caption]

 

This review could not be complete without mentioning the vegan Vegetarian Pho.  The rice noodles, onions, cilantro, lightly fried tofu, and fresh vegetables are served in a vegetable broth base.  Fresh basil leaves, bean sprouts, jalapenos, and a lime are come on the side.  The vegetable broth has a subtle but flavorful composition, and I love that customers are able to personalize the Pho by adding their own herbs and spices!  And of course, half the fun is slurping up your noodles!

 

[caption id="attachment_2744" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegetarian Pho Vegetarian Pho[/caption]

 

And of course there are the noodle dishes.  The Tofu and Veggie Hong Kong Chow Fun is made up of soft wide rice noodles and topped with tofu, veggies, and a savory, brown sauce.  Just remember to order this dish without the egg to make it vegan!

 

[caption id="attachment_2775" align="alignnone" width="640"]Tofu and Veggie Hong Kong Chow Fun Tofu and Veggie Hong Kong Chow Fun[/caption]

 

If you feel like noodles but are looking for something lighter, the Tofu and Veggie Dry Chow Fun is a great option.  The soft wide rice noodles are served with bean sprouts, green onions, and chinese broccoli.  Again, remember to order this dish without egg to make it vegan!

 

[caption id="attachment_2745" align="alignnone" width="640"]Tofu and Veggies Dry Chow Fun Tofu and Veggies Dry Chow Fun[/caption]

 

The interior of both OB Noodle House locations are casual and cozy.  (The picture below is from Bar 1502.)  It’s a great place to relax and catch up with friends.

 

[caption id="attachment_2777" align="alignnone" width="640"]Interior Bar 1502 Interior Bar 1502[/caption]

 

If you want to eat outside, OB Noodle House and Bar 1502 have you covered.  Both restaurants have extensive outdoor seating.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy your meal at either OB Noodle house location!

 

[caption id="attachment_2778" align="alignnone" width="640"]Outdoor Patio Bar 1502 Outdoor Patio Bar 1502[/caption]

 

OB Noodle House:

2218 Cable Street

San Diego, CA 92107

619.450.6868

 

Bar 1502:

4993 Niagara Avenue

San Diego, CA 92107

619.255.9858

OB People’s Organic Food Market: Vegan Friendly

[caption id="attachment_1072" align="alignnone" width="640"]People's Co-Op Sign People’s Co-Op Sign[/caption]

 

OCEAN BEACH.  Since 1972, People’s Co-Op has been ground zero for vegans.   It is a 6,000 square foot, member-owned vegetarian co-op (anyone can join!) in Ocean Beach.  How important is People’s to me?  I live in Ocean Beach, because I want to be able to walk to there.  It makes being vegan easy.  It makes being vegan fun.

I have wanted to write a review of People’s Co-Op for a long time.  The post has been slow in coming, because the task of highlighting all of People’s great features is daunting.  So my People’s posts will be done in separate parts – and this particular post will focus on breakfast.

 

People’s Basics:

 

People’s exists on two levels.  The first floor is a vegetarian grocery store, and the upstairs offers prepared food – strictly vegan!

 

[caption id="attachment_1082" align="alignnone" width="300"]People's Downstairs People’s Downstairs[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_1080" align="alignnone" width="300"]People's Upstairs People’s Upstairs[/caption]

 

Again, ALL of the food on the second level is vegan!  People’s provides ingredient lists for all of its dishes, but folks wary of hidden dairy and eggs can relax and order without worry.

And the variety is abundant.  There are always two home made soups, an extensive “do it yourself” salad bar, a cold case of specialty salads (usually between four and eight options), the hot dishes (yum!), a bakery case (double yum!), and an additional cold case of packaged “to go” items, drinks, and tempting desserts.  Choose a plate for here, or take anything to go.  Keep it simple with rice, beans, and broccoli for $3.99 per pound, or treat yourself to the main fare for $7.29 per pound.  You can order as much, or as little, as your heart desires.  Oh, and the friendly folks behind the counter are incredibly knowledgeable and quick to offer a sample of whatever catches your eye.

 

People’s Breakfast:

 

At 8:00 a.m, every day, the doors open to a piping hot breakfast.  The options are fairly consistent:  there is usually (1) a tofu scramble, (2) potatoes, (3) sautéed greens, (4) biscuits and gravy, (5) rice, (6) beans, and (7) breakfast sandwiches.

 

[caption id="attachment_1073" align="alignnone" width="640"]People's Co-Op Breakfast Entrees People’s Co-Op Breakfast Entrees[/caption]

 

Each option is excellent and beloved by the members.  The tofu scramble has subtle changes day-to-day (I love it when they put in sun dried tomatoes), but the seasoning is always perfect.  The potatoes come out of the oven crispy.  And believe it or not, the greens tend to disappear most quickly.  A popular version – called “Steve’s Greens” (pictured on my plate) – is a sauté of kale, garlic, onion, sunflower oil, and ume vinegar.  I could eat a whole plate full of these greens.  They are an easy way to get in a serving of veggies (or three) before lunch!

For vegans who miss comfort food, People’s offers their biscuits and gravy.  How can they make soft and fluffy biscuits without milk or butter?  Because the second floor is a vegan think tank.  These folks constantly brainstorm new ideas and experiment when the mood moves them.  For example, I walked in one morning to find (and devour) what might have been the best french toast of my life.  And why was it there?  Because, according to one inside source, “somebody felt like making it that day.”  This is the opposite of bureaucracy – this is a nimble organization driven by real people who want to offer healthy, creative food.

And at the same time, unsurprisingly, People’s knows how to do the basics well.  The brown rice is short grain perfection, and the beans (alternating between pinto and black) are firm, simple, and flavorful.  Standing alone, they are a great.  And paired with the other entrees, they provide a powerful foundation for a filling meal.

 

[caption id="attachment_1074" align="alignnone" width="640"]My People's Breakfast Plate My People’s Breakfast Plate[/caption]

 

Finally, People’s has created its own Breakfast Sandwich made up from spelt English muffins, tempeh sausage, vegenaise, and tomato. The tempeh sausage is spicy and hearty.  The vegenaise provides a rich flavor, and the tomato provides the token produce that makes us feel better about eating the sandwich!  If you arrive at People’s hungry and are looking for something easy to eat on the go, the Breakfast Sandwich is a great choice.

 

[caption id="attachment_1075" align="alignnone" width="640"]People's Breakfast Sandwich People’s Breakfast Sandwich[/caption]

 

You never know what vegan treasures you will find in the bakery section.  This morning, for example, People’s was featuring (1) Raspberry Chocolate Chip Scones, (2) Blueberry Muffins, and (3) Agave Raspberry Muffins.  The Raspberry Chocolate Chip Scones evoked my lust for chocolate and did not disappoint – I especially enjoyed where the soft raspberry flavor connected with the pockets of rich dark chocolate.

 

[caption id="attachment_1077" align="alignnone" width="640"]People's Raspberry Chocolate Chip Scone People’s Raspberry Chocolate Chip Scone[/caption]

 

People’s also provides bagels twists from Point Loma Bagels that are free from egg and egg wash.  I confess I have never tried a bagel twist (I am far too devoted to the other breakfast options), but I have noticed that they fly off the shelves.

 

[caption id="attachment_1076" align="alignnone" width="640"]People's Bagel Twists People’s Bagel Twists[/caption]

 

Finally, how could breakfast be complete without coffee or tea? People’s has set up a self serve station for both!  There are usually 3 coffees brews, one of which is decaf.  The tea rack is stocked with 12 different types of teas ranging from Yerba Mate to Lemon Ginger.  Need to add something to your drink?  No problem.  There is non-dairy creamer, sugar, and agave for your morning beverages.

 

[caption id="attachment_1078" align="alignnone" width="640"]People's Tea and Coffee People’s Tea and Coffee[/caption]

 

My review of People’s could not possibly be complete if I didn’t mention the employees.  Quite simply, People’s people are the best.  They genuinely seem to enjoy the job, support the mission, and know the members. Their smiles, suggestions, and positive attitudes ensure that every experience at People’s is a bright point in my day.

 

http://www.obpeoplesfood.coop/

 

4765 Voltaire Street

San Diego, CA 92107

619.224.1387

 

Ranchos Cocina: Vegan Friendly

[caption id="attachment_913" align="alignnone" width="600"]Ranchos Sign Ranchos Sign[/caption]

 

NORTH PARK AND OCEAN BEACH.  Long-time San Diego vegans know Ranchos.  Both locations feature a multitude of vegan options, including vegan pancakes, burritos, tortas, soups, salads, enchiladas, tacos, and desserts.  YUM!!

First, no Mexican restaurant would be complete without chips and salsa.   Here, we have a hand-crafted, mild salsa that disappears almost immediately.

 

[caption id="attachment_907" align="alignnone" width="600"]Chips and Salsa from Ranchos Chips and Salsa from Ranchos[/caption]

 

Second, I love that Ranchos serves breakfast all day, because sometimes dinner is the perfect time for breakfast.  On my most recent visit, I ordered the Vegan Breakfast Burrito, a mix of tofu scramble, house made tempeh sausage, potatoes, and beans and wrapped in a tortilla.  The tempeh sausage is spicy, which compliments the light scramble and hearty potatoes and beans.  This is a well-rounded burrito, a personal favorite, and something that I would recommend to vegans and non-vegans alike.

 

[caption id="attachment_909" align="alignnone" width="600"]Vegan Breakfast Burrito from Ranchos Vegan Breakfast Burrito from Ranchos[/caption]

 

Next up was the Grilled Tofu and Black Bean Torta.  Recently, I learned that a torta is really just a sandwich!  And this particular torta comes stacked with hearty tofu slices, black beans, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and onions.  The tangy guacamole is excellent.  Another great dish.

 

[caption id="attachment_910" align="alignnone" width="600"]Grilled Tofu and Black Bean Torta from Ranchos Grilled Tofu and Black Bean Torta from Ranchos[/caption]

 

If you are craving a burrito, but aren’t in the mood for breakfast, the Chipotle Seitan Burrito is a great option.  You might be thinking, “What the heck is seitan?”  Seitan is made from wheat.  It has a firm texture, making it a popular meat substitute.  If you want to know more about seitan, click on the link below!

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/glossary/g/Seitan.htm

Back to the burrito in question.  The chipotle seitan in the burrito gives the burrito a smoky flavor.  The guacamole helps to temper the spice of the seitan, resulting in a tempting burrito.   I planned to eat only half, so imagine my surprise when when I looked down and saw a clean plate!

 

[caption id="attachment_911" align="alignnone" width="600"]Chipotle Seitan Burrito from Ranchos Chipotle Seitan Burrito from Ranchos[/caption]

 

Even though I don’t drink dairy, I still enjoy creamy beverages.  So I was excited when I saw that Ranchos had a vegan Horchata drink made from soymilk, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla.  This drink can definitely pass as a dessert.  It tastes like a sumptuous, vanilla, cinnamon milkshake.

 

[caption id="attachment_908" align="alignnone" width="301"]Vegan Horchata from Ranchos Vegan Horchata from Ranchos[/caption]

 

Things to know about Ranchos.  Although there is some overlap, Ranchos North Park and Ranchos Ocean beach have DIFFERENT menus.  My blog post is based my most recent trip to the North Park location.  However, both locations offer numerous vegan options!

Ranchos Ocean Beach is also known for their salad bar.  Aside from having the usual fresh produce and veggies, the salad bar also boasts a wide variety of raw, vegan options and salad dressings.  (For an explanation on raw food, see my post on Go Raw L.I.F.E. Center: www.thefussyfork.com/go-raw-life-center)

Both locations have a relaxed and inviting interior with wooden tables and chairs.  But, again, the following photo depicts the North Park location.  Both also have a few tables outside for outdoor dining.  This option is particularly popular with dog owners!

 

[caption id="attachment_912" align="alignnone" width="600"]Interior of Ranchos Interior Ranchos[/caption]

 

North Park

3910 30th Street

San Diego 92104

619.574.1288

 

Ocean Beach

1830 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.

San Diego, CA 92107

619.226.7619

 

 

 

The Joint: Vegan Friendly

Joint Sign

 

OCEAN BEACH.  The Joint sits in the center of downtown Ocean Beach, on Newport.  From the sidewalk, it looks like a typical sushi spot.  The menu, however, reveals that it is more.  It is a sushi spot with excellent vegan options.

 I love seaweed salad.  And the Joint offers the Spicy Wakame Salad, a fun twist on the traditional dish.  Chili oil, serrano peppers, and jalapeño peppers spice up the seaweed.  Even better, the peppers are large enough so you can decide how many peppers to put in our mouth – it’s like having your finger on the temperature gauge.

 

Spicy Wakame Salad

 

The Joint offers three vegan rolls (nicely labeled with a “V” on their menu!): (1) Super Tempeh Salad, (2) Hippie Dream, and (3) The Green Machine.

The Super Tempeh Salad is my favorite vegan roll at the Joint.  But first, a quick digression.  I have received requests for definitions of the more obscure ingredients.  Personally, I had never heard of tempeh until I moved to San Diego, so….

Question: What is tempeh?

Answer: A popular meat substitute made from fermented soybeans that has a nutty flavor.

If you want to learn more about tempeh click on this link:  http://www.tempeh.info/

Now back to the Super Tempeh Salad roll!  The inside of the roll is tempeh, avocado, and a salad made from veganaise (vegan mayonnaise), mango, macadamia nuts, cilantro, and lettuce.  This vegan goodness is then rolled in soy paper and topped with a sweet chili lime sauce.  For me, the magic of this roll comes from the macadamia nuts.  The nuts provide a crunch and sweet taste, and in combination with the mango, give the roll a slightly tropical taste.

 

Super Tempeh Salad Roll

 

The Hippie Dream rolls up tempeh, enoki mushrooms, asparagus, pickled shallots, avocado, chives, kaiware, and hemp seeds in soy paper.  Kaiware was new to me.  Turns out it is a type of sprout popular in Asian cuisines.

The more “typical” sushi ingredients like the mushrooms, asparagus, avocado, and sprouts provide a satisfying base.  The chives, pickled shallots, and hemp seeds give the roll a more complex and unique flavor.

 

Hippie Dream Roll

 

The Green Machine is also a strong choice.  It is made from cucumber, yamagobo, bell pepper, kaiware, chives, enoki mushrooms, and topped with avocado.  I had not heard of yamagobo, either, but learned that it is pickled burdock root.  Who can resist burdock root, I ask?  All in all, the variety of color, texture, and taste makes the Green Machine another home run for the Joint.

 

Green Machine Roll

 

Additional Vegan Things of Note:

Lunch Menu: includes a Tempeh Ruben that can be made vegan if ordered without cheese

Starters:  Edamame, Miso Soup, and Shisito Peppers are available

Salads:  Spinach Salad and Sunonomo (Cucumber) Salad are available

Hand Rolls: In addition to the specialty vegan rolls, the Joint also has a Cucumber Roll and a Veggie Roll.

Happy Hour Menu: includes the Veggie Roll

The Joint oozes cool.  It is equal parts trendy bar and sushi bar.  On most nights, it is packed, bustling, and full of happy patrons.  And it has heart.  Every time I have been to the Joint, a manager has come around to check on my table and make sure everything was going well.

 

4902 Newport Ave

San Diego, CA 92107

619.222.8272