NORTH PARK. I have fond memories of foods like pizza, hotdogs, and hamburgers. I associate them with the 4th of July, helping my dad grill, and outdoor summer parties. Luckily for me, Veg-N-Out’s menu provides a huge selection of vegan items that satisfy my nostalgia.
Veg-N-Out has a 100% vegetarian menu and many items are vegan or can be made vegan. The menu is huge—it is not unusual for customers to take at least ten minutes to read through the descriptions of the appetizers, burgers, hotdogs, desserts, smoothies, and juices available. A green “V” indicates that a menu item is vegan or can be made vegan.
On my most recent trip to Veg-N-Out, I was fresh off a run and ready to eat. I scanned the menu for a vegan starter and found Vinny Bread—a pizza bread that could be veganized! I had my doubts, because vegan cheese can be tricky, but I should not have been worried. The final product of wheat bread covered in homemade marinara sauce, vegan Mozzarella, garlic, and basil surpassed my expectations. The bread was soft and chewy, the marinara sauce was fresh and tangy, and the cheese was warm. The garlic and basil gave the appetizer a delicious and fresh final taste. A great start to the meal.
Veg-N-Out is best known for its burgers. Each veggie burger is served on a wheat bun with a side of potato wedges, a homemade daily side salad, or a green salad. Customers pick their own patty from the following choices: (1) homemade veggie burger, (2) soy patty, or (3) Boca burger. Each patty is vegan. The homemade burger (my favorite!) is made from veggies, brown rice, rice flour, quinoa, and spices.
My wingman and I decided to split two burgers. First up was the North Parker, a patty topped with “Swiss” cheese (we asked for the vegan cheese), onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and vegenaise (mayonnaise is not served at Veg-N-Out!). The caramelized onions bring this burger to life. They add a deep flavor that complements the Swiss cheese, making a thick and satisfying final product.
Our second burger was the Ultimate Vegan Burger: a patty topped with vegan Cheddar and Mozzarella cheeses, sprouts, cucumber, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and vegenaise. The mix of vegan cheeses provided a layer of rich, creamy flavor, which paired nicely with the crunch of sprouts, onions, and pickles. I have a strong suspicion that I will be ordering this burger again. Perhaps a new obsession. (Luckily, North Park is out of my way.) Also, the light and sweet cucumber and mango salad was a great side dish.
Although I was full at this point, I dug down deep and ordered one of Veg-N-Out’s Super Food Smoothies. The Mystic Mayan is a blend of banana, dates, maca, cinnamon, raw cacao, chia seed, and rice milk. Maca, raw cacao, and chia seeds are all considered “super foods.” There is no exact definition for a “super food,” but the general idea is that they are nutrient dense and provide health benefits.
Maca root is part of the cruciferous family (broccoli and radishes are also members). In commercial form, it is usually ground into a very soft powder. (Think of the old can of Nesquik powder from your childhood.) It has an earthy, nutty taste and goes great with oatmeal and nut milk smoothies. Maca is native to the Andes Mountains and was used by the Incas for energy and . . . um . . . well, it is known as nature’s Viagra.
As a chocolate lover, I know that my chocolate cake and hot chocolate would not be possible without the cocoa bean. I became confused, however, when I realized cacao existed—the color and the smell (not to mention the spelling!) of the two items were so similar. So I did some research. The final answer was simple: a cocoa bean is roasted while a cacao bean is NOT roasted.
Raw cacao tastes like very, very dark chocolate. It has high levels of antioxidants and may help to improve heart function and to alleviate stress.
Chia seeds are full of nutrients like fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, manganese and protein. Chia seeds can also help stabilize blood sugar and are being studied as a possible treatment for diabetes.
So back to the smoothie. The bananas and rice milk provide a smooth base.. The dates dial up the sweetness, and the cinnamon and maca powder add spice and flavor. The cacao nibs add bursts of chocolate goodness. And the black chia seeds are along for the ride – no flavor, but add nutrients and an aesthetic appeal. Overall, the smoothie was satisfying and guilt free!
The inside of Veg-N-Out is casual with a beach and surf theme. Bamboo and light toned wood surround the register. Artwork of waves and other beach scenes adorn the walls. There is also an outdoor patio space available for those who want to soak up some sun or eat with their pet!
3442 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104