A Search for Great Vegan Food in San Diego

Tag Archives: point loma

Native Foods: 100% Vegan

[caption id="attachment_2533" align="alignnone" width="652"]Native Foods Cafe Sign Native Foods Cafe Sign[/caption]

 

POINT LOMA and ENCINITAS.  If you have never been to Native Foods, you are missing out.  It is a haven for vegans and is guaranteed to impress even habitual meat eaters.  The menu boasts an array of starters, salads, bowls, burgers, and desserts that will leave you feeling satiated, happy, and planning your return trip!

On my most recent trip to the new Point Loma location, I started with the chili — white beans and Native chili meat simmered with tomatoes and special spices — and cornbread.  I thoroughly enjoyed this starter.  It has a great flavor thanks to the spices, and I enjoyed dunking my generous piece of cornbread in it!  We’ll just say that it disappeared (with the help of my lunch partner!).  Quickly.

 

[caption id="attachment_2534" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Chili and Cornbread Vegan Chili and Cornbread[/caption]

 

You can’t go wrong when ordering one of the bowls from Native Foods.  The Rockin’ Morrocan is a satisfying mix of grilled veggies and quinoa mixed with tofu or Native Chicken and topped with homemade Moroccan sauce, currants, and toasted almonds.  There is a lot going on in this bowl, but it is all good!  I love the crunch from the toasted almonds mixed with the sweetness from the currants.  Plus, you end up eating a good number of veggies without even realizing it!

 

[caption id="attachment_2535" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Rockin' Moroccan Bowl Vegan Rockin’ Moroccan Bowl[/caption]

 

I have fond memories of inhaling fish tacos on San Diego’s pervasive “Taco Tuesdays.”  Since becoming vegan, I’ve looked for a replacement.  And I finally found it in Native Food’s Baja Blackened Tacos.  These tacos are comprised of two grilled soft corn tortillas stuffed with blackened Native Tempeh and topped with creamy chipotle sauce, salsa fresca, shredded cabbage, and guacamole.  Delightful!!    Native Foods completely transforms the tempeh, so it is soft and tender to bite.  The best part?  The creamy chipotle sauce and guacamole give these plant-based tacos a rich, full flavor and ensures they are not dry.

 

[caption id="attachment_2536" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Baja Blackened Tacos Vegan Baja Blackened Tacos[/caption]

 

Native Foods doesn’t rely on typical offerings to prop up the burger section of their menu.  Instead, you will find unique items like the Portobello and Sausage Burger.  Juicy grilled portobellos and home made Native Sausage Seitan make up the base of this burger.  It’s then topped with caramelized onions, salsa pomodoro, sweet roasted garlic, creamy pumpkin seed pesto and mayo.  The full-bodied sausage seitan contrasted nicely with the mellow portobello flavor.  Plus, the caramelized onions were cooked to perfection.  And who can say no to pumpkin seed pesto?  This is a choice that is sure to please everyone.

 

[caption id="attachment_2537" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Portobello and Sausage Burger Vegan Portobello and Sausage Burger[/caption]

 

Native Foods has some great home made beverage options that are great alternatives to soda.  Pick from Lavender Lemonade, Watermelon Fresca, or home brewed iced teas.  The Hibiscus iced tea pictured below was a refreshing option.  Particularly, if you are visiting Native Foods during part of a heat wave like I was!  And did I mention that you get unlimited re-fills?  That means you can rotate among the drinks if you want to try them all!

 

[caption id="attachment_2540" align="alignnone" width="460"]Hibiscus Tea Hibiscus Tea[/caption]

 

Of course, I couldn’t get out of Native Foods without a dessert.  They are too good.  And for a chocoholic like me, the chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting was the perfect choice.  The desserts are all made in house, and you can tell.  Each chocolately bite was well worth the indulgence.

 

[caption id="attachment_2538" align="alignnone" width="523"]Vegan Chocolate Cupcake Vegan Chocolate Cupcake[/caption]

 

Native Foods has a friendly, bright interior.  It’s perfect place to pick up a “to go” lunch when you’re in a hurry or to sit and linger with friends and family.  The staff is also extremely helpful in offering suggestions whether it’s your first time visiting or you just want to try something new.

 

[caption id="attachment_2539" align="alignnone" width="640"]Interior Native Foods Interior Native Foods[/caption]

 

Native Foods also provides outdoor patio seating with umbrellas.  A perfect spot to enjoy warm weather and relax.

 

[caption id="attachment_2541" align="alignnone" width="640"]Native Foods Interior Native Foods Interior[/caption]

 

Native Foods is also a great to place if you have any additional dietary restrictions or preferences.  The restaurant offers gluten-free, soy free, and nut free menus for customers’ convenience (check out the links below).  So enjoy!

 

 

Point Loma:

3369 Rosecrans Street

San Diego, CA 92110

619.225.1155

 

Encinitas:

127 N. El Camino Real

Encinitas, CA 92024

760.634.7607

 

Luna Grill: Vegan Friendly

[caption id="attachment_2279" align="alignnone" width="640"]Luna Grill Sign Luna Grill Sign[/caption]

 

CARLSBAD, MISSION VALLEY, CARMEL VALLEY, HILLCREST, EASTLAKE, POINT LOMA, SCRIPPS-POWAY, POWAY.  San Diego county is lucky enough to be home to Luna Grill, a Near East and Mediterranean inspired chain of restaurants.    Don’t be fooled by the fact that this restaurant is a chain — the vegan dishes, many of which are made from scratch — are truly delicious!  And Luna Grill clearly designates which items on the menu are vegan, so you can easily order.

First up was the lentil soup, a delicious blend of lentils in a savory and flavorful broth.  It’s the perfect way to begin a meal or to stay warm on a cool day.

 

[caption id="attachment_2280" align="alignnone" width="640"]Vegan Lentil Soup Vegan Lentil Soup[/caption]

 

The next plate truly shined.  I first dug into the falafel drizzled with tahini.  The discs of falafel were soft, warm well-spiced, and not too oily.  And yes, Luna Grill grinds the chickpeas and sesame seeds to make the falafel and tahini from scratch.  After a bite of falafel, I moved on to the two types of hummus: regular and spicy (and yes Luna Grill also makes the hummus from scratch!).  The hummus was thick, smooth and paired well with the falafel and rice.  I will definitely be ordering the falafel and hummus on my next trip to Luna Grill.

 

[caption id="attachment_2281" align="alignnone" width="640"]Falafel, Hummus, and Rice Falafel, Hummus, and Rice[/caption]

 

The next plate boasted stuffed grape leaves, carrots, roasted veggies (green peper, mushrooms, zuchini, and onions), and salad with home made dressing.  It would be impossible to overstate how much I enjoyed these stuffed grape leaves — the citrus flavor blended perfectly with the spices.  I then moved on to the grilled veggies which were hot and tender — eating a serving of vegetables was never so easy!  I crunched on some carrots to cleanse my palate and then enjoyed the fresh greens and home made salad dressing.

 

[caption id="attachment_2282" align="alignnone" width="640"]Veggie Platter and Salad Veggie Platter and Salad[/caption]

 

Next up were the fries, regular and sweet potato.  Although fries don’t in my mind typify Near East or Mediterranean food, I appreciate their appearance on any menu!  And these did not disappoint.  They were crunchy with just the right amount of salt.  In fact, it was difficult not to eat them all!

 

[caption id="attachment_2283" align="alignnone" width="300"]French Fries French Fries[/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_2284" align="alignnone" width="300"]Sweet Potato Fries Sweet Potato Fries[/caption]

 

The highlight of my trip to the Point Loma Luna Grill was the service.  Everyone was so friendly and patient while answering my many questions.  Luna Grill also has a bright, cheery interior with white walls, tables, and light fixtures that are accented by red chairs for those dining in.  It provides a great environment for those looking to grab a meal and catch up with friends.

 

[caption id="attachment_2286" align="alignnone" width="640"]Luna Grill Interior Luna Grill Interior[/caption]

 

Want to eat outside? Luna Grill has you covered.  There is an extensive patio area that provides plenty of sun and shade.  I hope you’ll enjoy Luna Grill as much as I did!

 

[caption id="attachment_2285" align="alignnone" width="640"]Luna Grill Patio Luna Grill Patio[/caption]

 

CARMEL VALLEY:

7825 Highlands Village Place

San Diego, CA 92129

858.566.5862

 

MISSION VALLEY

2245 Fenton Parkway

San Diego, CA 92108

619.516.5862

 

CARLSBAD

2681 Gateway Road

Carlsbad, CA 92009

760.438.5862

 

HILLCREST

350 University Avenue

San Diego, CA 92103

619.296.5862

 

EASTLAKE

2275 Otay Lakes Road

Chula Vista, CA 91915

619.656.5862

 

POINT LOMA

2400 Historic Decatur Road

San Diego, CA 92106

619.224.5862

 

SCRIPPS-POWAY

10585 Scripps Poway Pkwy

San Diego, CA 92131

858.693.5862

 

POWAY

14727 Pomerado Road

Poway, CA 92064

858.679.5862

Go Raw L.I.F.E. Center: 100% Vegan

Go Raw L.I.F.E. Center Sign

 

POINT LOMA.  If you are curious about vegan food, there’s a good chance you have heard about vegans who only eat raw foods.  And if you are like me, you have questions.  What are the parameters of raw vegan diet?  Is raw veganism healthier than the typical vegan diet?  How difficult is it?  Do you have more energy on a raw vegan diet?  Before answering these questions, however, I want to make sure everyone is on the same page.  So let’s start at the beginning…

What is a Raw Food Diet?

Raw food is food that has not been heated above approximately 118 degrees.  Why would you not want to heat your food, you ask?  Raw foodists argue that important enzymes and nutrients are destroyed when they are heated and, thus, the nutritional content of raw food is typically greater than its cooked counterpart.

Also, many raw foodists describe their diet as a lifestyle choice.  And this lifestyle includes eating “mindfully.”  The concept is simple.  When you are eating, just eat.  In other words, they discourage multitasking with television, talking on the phone, driving, etc. – it diminishes the connection with the food.

Whether or not you are interested in adopting a raw diet, eating mindfully is a small, healthy choice we could all make for ourselves.  If you want to learn more about mindful eating, here is a link to great article on the subject:

http://www.rawpeople.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=695&Itemid=110

Tracing the boundary of raw food is tricky.  Proverbial “gray area” is everywhere.  Can you take supplements?  What about coffee and tea?  Are frozen foods included in a raw diet?  For answers to these questions and more, take a look at the comprehensive FAQ page produced by Rawpeople.com:

http://www.rawpeople.com/index.php?option=com_simplelists&view=simplelist&layout=toggle&category_id=73&Itemid=111

 

How do Vegan Food and Raw Food Intersect?

Often, raw food is also vegan.  But not always.  For example, some raw foodists eat things like sashimi (raw fish without the rice) or raw cheese.

In general, however, raw food restaurants are trending in favor of raw vegan food.  Ingredients include a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, sprouted beans, spices, and herbs.  If that list sounds short, don’t fear!  If there is one thing I’ve learned about raw foodists, it is that they are CREATIVE.  They make cheese out of nuts, bread out of seeds, and desserts out of almond meal and dates.  Amazing!  To learn more on the basics of the raw vegan diet, click on the link below (and don’t miss the “Recipes” tab!)

http://therawfoodcoach.com/what-is-raw-food/

 

The Go Raw L.I.F.E Center

Tucked away in a quiet corridor between a fitness studio and a fitness club, you can find Go Raw – a 100% vegan, organic, raw food restaurant.  Actually, they don’t call it a “restaurant.”  Rather, it is a L.I.F.E. Center—Living Inspiration For Everyone.  And for me, it has been an opportunity experience the surprising creativity of the raw food community.   The L.I.F.E. Center makes a variety of delicious juices, smoothies, snacks, appetizers, and entrees.  The juice and smoothie selection remains constant, but the food options evolve throughout the year based on the shift in seasonal ingredients.

Go Raw built its name creating and distributing healthy raw snacks.  Some of you have probably seen their energy bars or granola in specialty stores like Co-Ops, Jimbo’s, or Whole Foods.   They distribute products nationwide – including online – but San Diego is lucky enough to have the only L.I.F.E. Center.

 

[caption id="attachment_889" align="alignnone" width="600"]Go Raw Juice and Smoothie Menuenu Go Raw Juice and Smoothie Menu[/caption]

 

I started out by picking up a snack or juice at the L.I.F.E. Center every once in a while.  One day, however, I read a handout explaining the raw food meal “program.:  I became curious.  Go Raw would prepare all of my food for the day and all I had to do was pick it up?  I had to try. How could I not?  I wouldn’t have to shop, cook, or think about what I had to eat.  So, I signed myself up for the 6-day program.  After extensive documentation – and eating! – it is now time to share my experience with you . . .

 

How Does the Go Raw Meal Program Work?

Go Raw offers 1-day, 6-day, 21-day, and 90-day meal programs.  You can sign up for these programs in person or by phone.   Call two or three days ahead of when you want to start, and Go Raw will add you to the list!  There are three different sized meal packs: small, original, and large.  (I chose the original.)

The Original Program includes: 1 specialty entrée, 2 salads, 2 fruit bowls, 1 snack, 1 dessert, 1 small Go Raw bar, 1 oz. of Go Raw Cookies, and a smoothie or juice of your choice.

If you decide to participate in the Small Program, you will receive 1 fruit bowl and 1 salad (instead of the 2 you receive in the Original Program).  If you decide to participate in the Large Program, you receive 3 fruit bowls (instead of 2), 3 salads (instead of 2), and 2 small Go Raw bars (instead of 1).  If you are not sure what size you should pick, simply ask someone at Go Raw!  They will walk you through all of your options and answer all of your questions.

Two options for picking up the food: (1) Visit the L.I.F.E Center on the morning of your program (opens at 7am) or (2) Come the day before, anytime after 3pm.  Either pickup puts a full day’s supply in your arms – including the drink of your choice!

Those who are on programs that are longer than 1 day also get a 6-day membership to the Point Loma Sports Club, located next door to the L.I.F.E. Center!

So let’s get started . . .

 

DAY 1 MENU 

Go Raw Menu Day 1

 

I showed up my first day hungry and ready for some raw food!  First impression:  everyone is in high spirits.  Despite the early hour, the person behind the counter was excited to walk me through the process:  (1) a big bag of my food emerges from the back; (2)  I pick out a small Go Raw bar (any flavor that I want, and I choose a new one each day); (3) I pick out two large packages of raw cookies (these will last me for the entire 6 days); and (4) I order any juice or smoothie (even the Sunbutter smoothie!).  I walked out of there with a full arsenal.

I drank my Sunbutter Smoothie on the way home.  It is made from raw sunflower seed butter, banana, raw cacao, carrot juice, coconut oil, and dates – officially on my “favorites” list.  I never would have thought to pair sunflower seed butter with carrot juice and cacao, but I’m glad someone else did!  The smoothie is rich, creamy, sweet, and filling.  I could drink one every day.  Forever.

(Editor’s note:  I don’t know if drinking the smoothie while driving home is “mindful” eating.  But I challenge anyone to possess a Sunbutter Smoothie for an entire ride home without taking a sip.  Not easy.)

 

Vegan Subutter Smoothie

 

Go Raw doesn’t have rules about when you are supposed to eat what.  After my smoothie, I decided to try sample some fruit.  I tried the grapefruit.  It was farmer’s market fresh.

 

Vegan Grapefruit

 

I was feeling so good that I went for a run.  I came home hungry and ready to try a salad.  I opened up the Sorta Caesar salad made up of red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, cucumber, red pepper, tomato, spicy chia chips, and “Is This Caesar?” dressing.

I liked all of the different types of lettuce in this salad and loved the dressing.  As a vegan, I don’t usually get the chance to eat Caesar dressing.  This one tasted creamy and smooth and like a lighter version of the not-so-good-for-you traditional version.

 

Vegan Caesar Salad

 

The salad was good but, like I said, I was hungry!  The Flax Snax with Nut-Cho Cheese caught my eye.  I first tried a flax cracker, which was shaped into a convenient bite sized circle.   On its own, the cracker had good crunch but didn’t taste like much.  But with the cheese, this snack came alive.  The Nut-Cho Cheese was rich and spicy with a slight barbecue flavor.  It disappeared fast!

 

Vegan Flax Snax

 

Later in the afternoon, I tried the juicy looking honeydew.  Again, super fresh.

 

Vegan Honeydew

 

It was also time for the next salad – That’s Amore – made up of green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, arugula, red bell pepper, cucumber, celery, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and Italian dressing.

All of the ingredients were fresh, and the salad was chock full of vegetables.  Not my favorite meal of the day – because I am not a fan of Italian dressing – but it’s hard not to feel healthy eating all of those veggies!

 

Vegan That's Amore Salad

 

So what did I do next? I dove into the small, apricot Go Raw bar that I had picked out that morning.  It was small but surprisingly full of flavor.  It also took the edge off of my hunger.

 

Vegan Go Raw Apricot Bar

 

I saved the Teriyaki Bowl for dinner.  (Usually, I lack this type of discipline.)  The bowl includes cucumber, red bell pepper, portabella mushrooms, and teriyaki sauce, layered over a tasty bed of butternut squash rice.  Yes, “rice” made from minced, raw butternut squash!  Pure creative genius.  In addition, the mushrooms were firm, the flavors were bold, and the bowl proved filling.

 

Vegan Go Raw Mint Chocolate

 

I love chocolate.  Choosing the Chocolate Super Cookies that morning at Go Raw had been an easy decision.  The cookies are made from organic coconut, sprouted organic sesame seeds, organic dates, and organic cacao.  They were crunchy and had a good chocolate flavor.  I always appreciate a food that helps satisfy my sweet tooth without making me feel guilty!

 

Vegan Super Cookies

 

Finally, it was time for dessert – the daily piece of raw chocolate.  It has a consistency like fudge, and this particular piece tasted like a Peppermint Patty.  A great way to end my first raw day!

 

IMG_1615

 

The Next Five Days…

Juices/Smoothies:

The next 5 days continued much the same.  I can ruin the surprise about my future juice/smoothie orders.  I had the Sunbutter Smoothie EVERY morning for 6 days.  Each day, I knew I should order something else, so my blog post could have more variety.  And yet everyday the words “Sunbutter Smoothie, please” came out of my mouth.  It is good.  Really, you should try it.

Salads:

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the quality of the salad dressings Go Raw provided.  Some of my favorites included Sesame Ginger Dressing, Rawzy Ranch Dressing, Honey Mustard Dressing.  They made eating salads more fun.

Fruit:

The fruit continued to be fresh and exceeded my expectations.  I also appreciated the variety.

Go Raw Bars and Super Cookies:

The delicious Go Raw Bars come in a variety of different flavors sure to keep anyone from becoming bored.  During my 6 days I tried the apricot, pumpkin, banana bread, and spirulina flavors.  The Carrot Super Cookies also turned out to be just as delicious as their chocolate counterparts.

What continued to be extraordinary were Go Raw’s “specialty entrées” and “snacks” included in the meal packs.   Below I am sharing the menus and pictures of these items for each day.

 

 

DAY 2 MENU:

Go Raw Menu, Day 2

 

Tex Mex Bowl:

 

Raw, Vegan Tex Mex Bowl

 

Broccoli Sweetness:

 

Vegan, Raw Broccoli Sweetness

 

 

DAY 3 MENU:

Go Raw Menu, Day 3

 

Avocado Sandwich:

 

IMG_1600

 

Rise and Shine Cereal:

 

Vegan, Raw Rise and Shine Cereal

 

 

DAY 4 MENU:

Go Raw Menu, Day 4

 

Pesto Pasta:

 

Vegan, Raw Pesto Pasta

 

Chocolate Granola With Sprouted Almond Milk:

 

Vegan, Raw Chocolate Granola with Sprouted Almond Milk

 

 

DAY 5 MENU:

Go Raw Menu, Day 5

 

Not Ahi Spicy Sushi:

 

Vegan, Raw Not Ahi Spicy Sushi

 

Butternut Bread and Spread:

 

Vegan, Raw Butternut Bread and Spread

 

 

DAY 6 MENU:

Go Raw Menu, Day 6

 

Tostada:

 

Vegan, Raw Tostada

 

GuacaKhan Flax Snax:

 

Vegan, Raw GuacaKhan

 

Takeaways:

Thank you Go Raw L.I.F.E. Center for making raw vegan food accessible.  And for six days, I did not have to think about grocery shopping or cleaning dishes.  I did not have to worry if I was tipping a server too much, or too little.  I did not have to debate whether to go back for “seconds.”  So much of my day can be spent on answering the question, “What am I going to eat?”  The absence of this question for six days lowered my stress level considerably.

Go Raw did a great job of providing creative dishes.  Sushi with no fish (or rice) that tastes like sushi?  I didn’t even know such a thing was possible!

I was hoping I would notice a noticeable increase in my energy.  Although I felt good on the raw vegan diet, I did not feel a difference in my energy.  I did, however, appreciate that I could continue my normal exercise program during the entire six days.

Although the salad dressings were great, by the final day, I was ready to take a break from eating salads.  I was also ready to eat something warm.  Personally, I think my body might benefit the most from a combination of raw and cooked foods.  But the investigation is ongoing – probably for a lifetime.

I would recommend trying the Go Raw meal program to anyone curious about the raw vegan diet.   But even if you’re not ready to take that step, try one of the raw juices, smoothies, snacks or entrees to see how you respond!  And when in doubt, start with the Sunbutter Smoothie.

 

2751 Roosevelt Road, #103

San Diego, CA 92106

619.222.3600

Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens: Vegan Friendly

Stone Sign

 

POINT LOMA and ESCONDIDO.  Quite simply, Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens is like no other restaurant in San Diego.  Stone Brewing’s food – the restaurant is committed to using local and organic produce and its ambiance – quiet, nature inspired open spaces, make a trip to the restaurant an unforgettable experience.

 

Meatless Mondays:

I first heard the phrase “Meatless Monday” a few years a go on an NPR segment reporting on a group of Manhattan restaurants that had decided to take meat off of their Monday menus.  I was excited that some of the most talented chefs in America were going to devote their efforts to meatless dishes!

It turns out that Meatless Monday has a surprising history.  During World War I, the United States was focused on feeding its soldiers and its European allies.  The newly formed U.S. Food Administration declared that “food will win the war” and encouraged Americans to participate in “Meatless Mondays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays” so more food could be sent to Europe.  If you are interested in learning more about Meatless Monday’s history click on the link below!

http://exhibits.mannlib.cornell.edu/meatlesswheatless/meatless-wheatless.php

 

In 2003, two heavyweights re-introduced the idea of Meatless Monday.  Health advocate, Sid Lerner, in association with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future, framed Meatless Monday as a health campaign to raise awareness about excessive meat consumption.  In the following years, the idea has gained momentum worldwide.  More information can be found at the following website:

http://www.meatlessmonday.com/international/

 

San Diego is also part of the Meatless Monday movement!  In March 2012, San Diego County public schools incorporated Meatless Mondays into their lunch program.

http://www.meatlessmonday.com/meatless-monday-is-on-the-menu-at-san-diego-schools/

 

Stone Brewing and Meatless Mondays:

Stone Brewing has two locations: Escondido and Liberty Station.  Every Monday servers hand out special meatless menus.  All items are vegetarian and many are vegan or can be made vegan.  Although the regular menu is also available, Stone Brewing Liberty Station estimated that 55% of the patrons order from the Meatless Monday menu!

 

The Options…

Appetizers:

  • Housemade Hummus
  • Mushroom Ceviche
  • Housemade Kimchi
  • Soft Pretzel (Escondido location only)

 

Entrees:

  • Tempeh Chili
  • BBQ Avocado Taco Trio
  • Tempeh Shepherd’s Pie
  • Tempeh “Fuego Burger”
  • Tofu Soba Noodles**
  • Tofu Stir Fry**

 

**  The menus at the Escondido and Liberty Station locations contradict each other.  For example, the Escondido menu notes that the Tofu Stir Fry is vegan.  By contrast, the Liberty Station menu does not identify the dish as vegan.  Similarly, while the Escondido menu does not list the Tofu Soba Noodles as vegan, Liberty Station features the dish as vegan.  Is this confusing? Yes! But the folks at Stone Brewing provide excellent service, including a rapid investigation that revealed both dishes are vegan.  So enjoy!

 

 

I was very excited to have my first Meatless Monday experience at Stone Brewing and started by ordering the Housemade Kimchi—a spicy Korean style mix of fermented cabbage and vegetables.  This appetizer is spicy and tangy.  It takes the edge off of hunger without ruining your appetite.  I don’t want to digress too many times, but in case you haven’t heard, fermented foods are GOOD for you! For more information on why, check out this link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-parenting/post/fermented-foods-bubble-with-healthful-benefits/2012/11/19/db70ea76-329b-11e2-9cfa-e41bac906cc9_blog.html

 

Spicy Vegan Kimchee

 

Next up was the BBQ Avocado Taco Trio.  Fried avocado, Stone Levitation Ale BBQ Sauce , microgreens, and habanero-pineapple salsa are served on local Esperanza corn tortillas.  Brown rice, black beans, and tomatillo salsa dress up the rest of the plate  Don’t forget to ask your server to skip the Asiago cheese to make this dish vegan!

Fried avocado for the base of this vegan taco embodies creativity.  The breaded exterior of the avocado contrasts nicely with its smooth, creamy interior.  The BBQ sauce and habanero-pineapple salsa add spice and additional flavor.  The tortillas are soft and warm, and the beans and rice are expertly seasoned.  A great choice for a lunch or dinner entrée.

 

Vegan BBQ Taco Trio

 

Finally, we tried the Tempeh “Fuego Burger.”   The burger is made from house-made tempeh, topped with aioli and sliced jalapenos, and served with a side of chile lime tortilla chips.  Again, don’t forget to order this one without Cheddar cheese to “veganize” the dish.

For me, tempeh has the best texture of all the meat substitutes and gives this patty a hearty consistency.  Plus, the jalapenos added spice.  However, I suspect that this burger benefits from the salty Cheddar cheese that tops the non-vegan version.  Perhaps, Stone Brewing will start offering vegan cheese in the future.  Normally, I am not a “chip person.”  I tend to like sweets.  These chips, however, were special.  They were extra crispy and had a delicious salty lime flavor.  I could not stop eating them.

 

Vegan Tempeh "Fuego Burger"

 

If you should find yourself at Stone Brewing on a day besides Monday, don’t worry! Vegan options are still available.  There is an excellent Housemade Hummus appetizer, and many of the salads can be made vegan, if you order them without cheese.  The vean Tempeh Shepherd’s Pie entrée is available on the regular menu.   The Fussy Fork Tips: (1) you can substitute tofu for Chicken to make the Yakisoba vegan and (2) Stone can prepare vegan mashed potatoes!

 

Stone Brewing: Escondido

The attention Stone Brewing gives to its dining spaces deserves special mention.  The flagship Escondido location encompasses almost 12,000 square feet of dining space and a one-acre beer garden.  Stone used reclaimed materials and quarried stone and leather “rejects” to create a luscious, green oasis that has won numerous landscaping and architectural awards.

Stone’s 19-acre farm is close to the Escondido location and offers guided tours.  For more information on the farm click on:

http://www.stonebrewing.com/farm/

 

Stone Brewing: Liberty Station

After 4 years of development including 2 years of construction, the Liberty Station location rivals its Escondido counterpart.  On May 15, 2013, the doors opened and the crowds followed.

The restaurant was huge, the ceilings tall, and the outdoor patio expansive. Upon further exploration, I found dining alcoves, indoor and outdoor bars, seating areas with rocking chairs, and a bocce ball court.  Stone can seat 720 but holds 1,200.

 

Interior Stone   Stone Patio   Bocce Ball Court

 

The word is definitely out.  Both locations are BUSY.  Make a reservation or arrive ready to relax until a table is ready.

 

Escondido:

1999 Citracado Parkway

Escondido, CA 92029

760.294.7866

 

Liberty Station:

2816 Historic Decatur Road, #116

San Diego, CA 92106

619.269.2100

 

Naked Cafe: Vegan Friendly

Naked Cafe Sign

 

POINT LOMA, SOLANA BEACH, ENCINITAS, and CARLSBAD.  Naked food is good food.  Specifically, Naked Café offers satisfying dishes built from natural, whole foods.  Beans, greens, and rice play a large role in the bowls, plates, and wraps, while fresh herbs, spices, salsas, and sauces produce robust flavors.  The vegan options are excellent.

My favorite item on the menu is the “OM.”  The product of an enlightened yogi, perhaps?  Lotus root, corn, celery, carrots and shitake mushrooms are sautéed to perfection, then laid enticingly over brown rice and black beans. A whole grain tortilla and fresh salsa come on the side.  I like to mix everything up together and pile it onto my tortilla.  This dish is filling, but not heavy.  Perfect.

While writing this post, I realized I didn’t know anything about one of OM’s ingredients, the lotus root.  I have learned that the lotus root is an aquatic tuber that offers a strong nutritional punch with nutrients like Vitamin C, copper, and iron.  For more information and facts on the lotus root check out:

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/lotus-root.html

 

The "OM" Vegan Bowl

 

Next, the Green Transcendence Wrap.  With a name like that, how could it not be good for you?  Your spinach tortilla holds tofu, siracha, basil, onions, tomato, and fresh spinach.  The tofu in this wrap may catch your eye, but it is the siracha, basil, and onions that will make your taste buds dance.  The dish comes with two sides: (1) organic quinoa and  (2) organic baby greens.  The quinoa is light and fluffy with a tangy dressing.  I could eat a whole plate of it.  And the greens do not disappoint.

 

Vegan Green Transcendence Wrap

 

And what would lunch be without a sweet ending? Cool and refreshing, the Banana Blackberry Smoothie is an excellent choice.

 

Banana Blackberry Vegan Smoothie

 

Naked Café has four locations.  The restaurant in Solana Beach is tucked away next to the grass park overlooking the ocean.  It is a beautiful spot to walk around with your smoothie.  The Point Loma and Encinitas locations are ensconced in strip malls.  It is a testament to the quality of the food that people drive into these vicious parking lots.  As for Carlsbad, it is next on my list!  Note: all of the locations I’ve visited have outdoor seating areas that are pet friendly and the perfect place to enjoy the San Diego weather.

Finally, keep your eye on the clock.  Naked Café closes at 2:30pm, because it is focused on the breakfast and lunch crowd.

 

Naked Cafe Interior

 

Point Loma

3555 Rosecrans St #109

San Diego, CA 92110

619.226.7866

 

Solana Beach

106 S. Sierra Ave.

Solana Beach, CA 92075

858.259.7866

 

Encinitas

288-C N. El Camino Real

Encinitas, CA 92024

760.635.7866

 

Carlsbad

300 Carlsbad Village Dr.

Suite 107A

Carlsbad, CA 92008

760.720.7866

True Food Kitchen: Vegan Friendly

True Food Kitchen

 

MISSION VALLEY.  I am not a shopper. I can go months without visiting the mall. I especially avoid eating at the mall. Until now. True Food Kitchen has moved into the Fashion Valley Mall – next to Bloomingdales, across the street from the Cheesecake Factory – and it offers delicious and creative vegan dishes.

 

Even the menu is thoughtful, listing a “v” next to every vegan option. Although True Food Kitchen has separate menus for lunch and dinner, the vegan options are the same for both meals and include:

 

  • Miso Soup
  • Shiitake and Tofu Lettuce Cups
  • Winter Ingredient Salad (currently in season)
  • Andy’s Favorite “TLT” Sandwich
  • Organic Tomato and Roasted Kale Pizza
  • Teriyaki Brown Rice Bowl (with delicious tofu)
  • Note: the brunch menu has all of those vegan options plus a Tofu Scramble Wrap.

 

My new favorite item is the Winter Ingredient Salad, which has roasted cauliflower, brussel sprouts, squash, mulberries, and pomegranate seeds topped with a horseradish vinaigrette. Somehow, the flavors hum in perfect harmony. Normally, I don’t even like cauliflower, so I would suggest trying it even if you are not usually a fan of one of the ingredients.

 

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Also, True Food Kitchen offers a vegan sandwich called Andy’s “TLT,” which combines tempeh, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and vegenaise between slices of whole grain bread. But the sides overshadow the sandwich. You choose between a side of sweet potato hash and kale salad, but I highly recommend that you request half and half (at no extra charge).

 

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The main vegan entrée is the Teriyaki Brown Rice Bowl with tofu, vegetables, avocado, and a teriyaki sauce. Its simplicity allows the quality of the ingredients to shine. It was my first meal at True Food Kitchen, and it never disappoints.

 

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Vegan food is not the only reason to visit the restaurant. A significant portion of the menu is dedicated to “Natural Refreshments,” a collection of creative non-alcoholic drinks. My favorite is the Kale Aid which is a blend of kale, apple, cucumber, celery, and lemon juices, infused with ginger. It is best to ignore the prices – call it a special occasion.

 

Finally, True Food wraps its food in a fun dining experience. At the front door, an enthusiastic host – equipped with the latest glowing tablet – welcomes you and inquires as to indoor vs. outdoor seating. The inside features high ceilings, plants, and a vibrant decor. And the restaurant has an open kitchen, so you can observe the frenetic chaos of the food being made, prepped, and rushed to the tables. The outdoor seating area is also great option, especially when the San Diego weather hits its stride or you want to eat with your dog!

 

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True Food Kitchen has become very popular. Although the restaurant is very large – seating perhaps several hundred – there is often a wait list. Upon arrival, the hosts’ busy fingers type your name into their tablets, and you are released to walk around the mall or shop. Your phone will receive a text message five minutes before your table is ready. As an alternative to waiting, eating at the bar and the fire pit is on a “first come, first serve” basis. For the sports fans, large screen televisions hover above the bar, which offers a wide variety of wine, cocktails, and beers.

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According to the True Food Kitchen website, the restaurant’s concept is to “take popular trends in cuisine and pair them with healthy living.” If only more restaurants would join the cause.

 

Fashion Valley Mall

7007 Friars Rd, Ste 394

San Diego, CA 92108

619.810.2929

Tender Greens: Vegan Friendly

Tender Greens Sign

POINT LOMA, UTC, and DOWNTOWN (new!).  Is there a restaurant that makes delicious food on an assembly line? Yes, and it is called Tender Greens. Born in Los Angeles, the Tender Greens empire has spread to San Diego with two locations – Liberty Station and the UTC Mall. It is vegan friendly, so meat eaters and the plant based crowd can mingle in harmony.

Tender Greens has two vegan salad options: the “Happy Vegan” and the “Salad in the Raw.” Tender Greens proves a simple truth: it is not the number of vegan options available at a restaurant but rather the quality of those options that matter. Salad in the Raw – a mix of farmers market vegetables and lemon vinaigrette dressing – is very satisfying. As for the Happy Vegan, it is my favorite salad. Ever.

In the past, I shied away from ordering salads as meals, because I didn’t feel full. The Happy Vegan, however, solves this problem. The mixed greens – although delicious in a light, lemon vinaigrette – yield the stage to a bold quartet of tabbouleh, farro, quinoa, and herb hummus. Further, the farro pops with cranberries and toasted hazelnuts, and the quinoa mixes with cucumber and beets. Bottom line, the salad offers a variety of flavors and keeps the stomach full.

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My love for this salad prompted a search for the recipes of the component ingredients. Luckily, someone out there had the good sense to post the recipes online: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/14/food/la-fo-sos-vegansalad-20120414

Inside Tender Greens, you watch the salad – or any dish – being made. You order at the front of the assembly line, and the staff jumps into action. Behind the glass, hands throw greens into stainless steel bowls with dressing. The greens land on a plate, which is sent on down the line, where new hands scoop perfect spheres of hummus, tabbouleh, farro, and quinoa onto the plate. As you walk to the cash register, your salad follows, finding a toasted piece of bread along the way – if that is your wish. A smiling face waits at the end of the line, and you can add beverages or desserts, which scream for attention from strategically placed platters. I do not know if the baked goods are vegan. I don’t ask, because I am afraid of the answer. Tender Greens also has teas, lemonade, wine, and beer.

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I am more often at the Liberty Station location. (Liberty Station is an old Naval facility that is laid out like a college campus, with quads, green lawns, and fountains). Tender Greens is nestled (some would say hidden!) off Historic Decatur near the Postal Annex. There is both inside seating and an outside patio (a great place to bring dogs!) with space heaters.

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As a warning, the line can be long—especially during the weekday lunch hour. If you are hoping to pick up a quick lunch, call ahead, as there is a special pick up area by the cashier.

Note: menus at different locations are not identical. Happily, however, the Happy Vegan is available at all of the San Diego locations.

 

La Jolla/UTC

4545 La Jolla Village Drive

San Diego, CA 92122

858.455.9395

 

Liberty Station

2400 Historic Decatur Road

San Diego, CA 92106

619.226.6254

 

Downtown

110 West Broadway

San Diego, CA 92101

619.795.2353