Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mission Beach Cafe

Let me start with what I remember most about the Mission Beach Cafe; the chairs. Tall, and skinnier than just about anyone's back could ever be, they make quite an impression. You immediately know you've entered a much different place than the gritty northern mission streets outside. Overall, the decor (neutral tones, wooden tables, hourglasses on the walls) is very warm and inviting. In addition to being "pretty", MBC scores extra points for doing the one thing I wish EVERY restaurant would do: They list their vegan entree proudly on the menu. They avoid the confusion that a "vegetarian" label can cause and come right out with it. Love it.

Onto the food. I saw they had an "herbed flatbread of the day" and was psyched until I found out that the bread that day was decidedly unvegan. Oh well. I went ahead and ordered the house salad. Put cherries and nuts in a salad and I'm there. Yum. In fact, all my dining companions loved their salads as well, so I would highly recommend starting with one when you go. Moving on, my properly labeled "Farmer's Market Vegan Entree" arrived as a semi-stack of veggies surrounded by a sort of teepee of carrots. Beautifully rustic, it was the shabby chic of food presentation. Everything was cooked and seasoned wonderfully, and my only complaint would be that I could have eaten more. (For the record, I almost always can). My companions all ordered the fresh pasta entrees, though the 2 that are newly vegetarian almost got a little too wrapped up in how good all the meat selections sounded. In the end, everyone, even the animals, were happy.

No clue if this place will keep with its practice of having a vegan entree at all times, so check the menu online first. If so, you're good to go. Vegans, bring your others.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Okay, so Matt & Nat is not a restaurant - it's a brand of kick-ass vegan purses, totes and wallets to which I am a slave. My bag was getting props EVERYWHERE I went today. I take this as proof that their designs appeal to both vegans and others, and so it is with great pride I present to you: Matt & Nat. The bag that got me all the compliments today is the "Public Enemy" in their "Streamline" collection. Mine is "indigo" and it is yummy. Speaking of yummy, more food soon. Promise.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


As I go along here, I promise to document every dinner out at a new-to-me restaurant. Now, I only eat out about once a week, so in the meantime, I figured I'd go back in time and mentally revisit places I've been in the past. Along those lines, I recently dined at Palmetto with a friend of mine. It had two things going for it right off the bat.

1. It's 2 blocks from my apartment.
2. They bring you bread right away.

You see, when I get hungry, it comes on fast and turns to ravenous mighty quickly. I may even start to whine - just ask my adoring husband. So, restaurants in close proximity that bring bread right away are key. (A side note about bread: Most bread is vegan. It's just flour and water, people. Now occasionally a restaurant will have some gross eggwash or cheese thing going on with their bread, so you should always ask. At Palmetto, I was good to go). In addition to these triumphs, they also had no problem bringing me olive oil instead of butter. Score.

Now, I should mention that I always try to scope a restaurant's menu online before going so I can make sure there is at least one thing that appears vegan or at least able to be veganized. At Palmetto, the "Vegetarian Chickpea Stew" caught my eye. I knew I still had to be careful because such things could be made with butter, but our well-informed waiter assured me it was not, and so I placed my order. Meanwhile my friend ordered a salad to start - the "Mixed Green Salad with Beet Tartar"- and got it without the cheese. She claimed it was because she just wasn't into cheese that much, but I think it was so that we could share, kindly lass that she is.

So, share we did. She's not a huge fan of beets (crazy, I know) and this salad had TONS so I gobbled those up for her. I must say the salad was delicious and it might be worth going back just for that. When the entrees came, I was delighted by what looked to be an amazing meal - chickpeas, artichoke hearts, kale. Some of my favorite foods all in a light tomato broth. And it was pretty yummy. The only thing I take points off for was the kale to other stuff ratio. I could have had more kale. Also the texture of the artichoke hearts with the chickpeas was a bit weird. However, the perfect seasoning of the sauce made up for it all. To fill my need for greens, I ended up ordering a side of Sauteed Spinach with Pinenuts and Raisins that was off the hook.

Meanwhile, when we first arrived we asked to be seated in the warmest part of the restaurant, as it was a typically chilly day in San Francisco, and we were seated in the lovely atrium area, which is great for people watching, but which was definitely NOT the warmest place. We both walked through the restaurant to go to the bathroom and found it much more comfy in there. Chilly or not, the food was good, and I deem Palmetto a success. Vegans, bring your others.

Oh, and my friend claimed the "Pappardelle Bolognese" was delicious. Then again, her lack of love for beets might indicate that she has no idea what she's talking about. :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Clarifications and Favorites

To begin, I figure I should let it be known that a vegan is someone who does not consume (eat, purchase, wear, etc) anything that comes from animal. That means no meat/poultry/fish, no butter, no eggs, no gelatin, no leather, no wool... I think you get the point. Needless to say, this is easier said than done, but over the years I've embraced this lifestyle as a way to care for myself, the animals, and the planet.

Secondly, some stats:
1. Yes, my real name is Sky. Hippie parents.
2. I am married to an omnivore (sad but true).
3. I have next to zero close friends who are vegan.
4. Contrary to some beliefs about vegans, I shower daily. I do, however, have dreadlocks, occasionally hug trees, and eat only organic produce (at least at home). Oh, and yes, I drive a Prius.
5. I am very rarely preachy about veganism, though I may let some of it out on the blog. Consider yourselves warned.
6. I adore San Francisco and all its (thousands of!) dining opportunities.

Thirdly, I'd like to list my favorite all-vegan restaurants just to get it off my chest. This blog will mostly focus on dining in non-veg establishments, but these are some places everyone should try at least once in their lives.

In SF:
1. Millennium Fine dining, casual atmosphere, great wine list, food to die for. It's the best of the best. It's easy to lay down some serious cash at this place, but it is oh-so worth it.
2. Herbivore Awesome food in generous portions for not much money. With a few locations to choose from, you can't really go wrong. The service is sometimes spotty, but I've never eaten a bad meal here.
3. Cafe Gratitude Now would be a good time to mention that I was a raw foodist for 2.5 years. This place, however, stands up regardless of your dietary preferences. It's amazing what one can do without heating food about 114, and at C.G. the tastes really shine. You will, however, have to get past the fact that all menu items are affirmations. Want guacamole and flax chips? Say, "I am honoring." Pretty cheesy by my standards, but I got over it.
4. Cha-Ya Oh my god, is this place good. I love veggie sushi, and being able to eat it in a place that doesn't reek of fish is fantastic. Plus, the flavors are incredible. I never have a problem convincing my omnivorous friends to join me here.

Okay there are lots more and maybe I'll mention them later, but let's head to other parts of the nation, just for fun.

1. Caravan of Dreams This is the cutest place and I can't help but love it. Steps below 6th Street, this tiny space is complete with homey accents and chalkboard specials. It's New York, so you'll pay a bit more that other towns, but I think it's totally reasonable. Plus, they have an extensive raw menu, and they make kick-ass smoothies too.
2. Quintessence Another hold over from my raw days, but they have the best raw burger (the "Big Moc") ever. Not nearly as heavy and nut-laden as other raw burgers I've had. Yum.
3. Counter Vegan and biodynamic wine is another favorite thing of mine, and this place has a wine list that makes me swoon. So much so that I can forgive the fact that this place is merely vegetarian and not all vegan. The vegan offerings are severely delicious though, and the ambiance is sophisticated yet welcoming.

Again, so many more in NYC, but let's move on:

In LA:
1. Real Food Daily I flock to this place like Mecca whenever I'm in L.A. One word - nachos. I can't even bring myself to think about the other LA restaurants right now because I'm salivating too much.

In Portland:
Portland is vegan heaven, and there are way too many great vegan places to name them all, so I'll just give you my favorite - Blossoming Lotus Cafe. Try the monk bowl for a healthy and filling meal, but don't forget to save room for the organic vegan soft serve ice cream. Yes, you read that right. Like I said, heaven.

At the Jersey Shore, baby:
Being a jersey girl who goes "home" pretty frequently, I'll be sure to talk about dining experiences in my beloved Garden State, but one of the yummiest vegan breakfast spots in all the land is at Kaya's Kitchen in Belmar. Lunch and Dinner are pretty fantastic too, but if you want some fluffy vegan pancakes and waffles, you won't be disappointed.

Well I don't know about you, but I'm hungry and off to scrounge up some dinner. I look forward to recounting my dining discoveries as time goes on, so stay tuned for my musings on actually eating with the "others" coming up soon!

Getting Me Started

I'm sure many a blog starts this way, but I never thought I'd be doing this. I suppose I considered myself a bit of a writer at one point but, following my heart, I pursued a career in music, and then in teaching music, and my writing all but disappeared. Now, feeling more compelled than ever to get back to those roots, as well as bring more animal activism into my life, I thought I'd wax prosetic (and sometimes maybe even poetic) about my life as a vegan surrounded by those who are not. More importantly though, I want to let vegans know the best places to dine in San Francisco (and sometimes beyond) with those who may not love veggies as much as they do. Along the way, I'm sure to rant and vent, for it isn't always easy to live in the world as the "other." In this blog, however, the "others" are the non-vegans.

By the way, I want to give my friend Joselle props for lighting my blog fire. Author of, she asked me to be a guest blogger a little while back. As she inches ever closer to veganism, I am inspired to remember all the reasons that made me take the plunge myself so many years ago.

And with that, may we all find deliciousness in a lack of cruelty....