Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mehfil Indian

Yay! There is finally a North Indian restaurant in walking distance of my house that doesn't suck. Welcome to the neighborhood, Mehfil!

In case you forget where you're eating, the name is on the plates. :)

Since we were a larger group, I made a reservation a few days ago. While I was at it, I told the nice man on the phone the 3 of us were vegan. He told me to ask for him when we got there
and he'd go over the vegan options with me. Well, I did just that, and Ravi kindly pointed out
the numerous choices.

First up we had these fluffy and spicy samosas. I've eaten tons of samosas in my day, and these certainly ranked with the best. Crispy dough, pillowy potatoes and peas, and just enough spice to leave your mouth aglow, and ready for the entree.

In the foreground is my Aloo Gobhi: Potatoes and cauliflower in a spicy curry. My only complaint would be that I prefer a much higher cauliflower to potato ratio, but that is the s
ame wherever I order this dish. Overall quite tasty. Still, I think I preferred my husband's Paneer Chana Masala (minus the paneer (cheese) of course), which is the dish in the background. It was more mild and savory and had nicely balanced flavors. Plus the chickpeas were cooked perfectly - not mushy at all. I didn't get to try the Mixed Vegetables, which was the entree of choice for the other vegan in our group, but she said it was quite good. Hooray!

Sadly, none of the rice at Mehfil is vegan because they add cream to it (what???) but they do offer a vegan roti, above. This whole wheat bread was perfect for sopping up sauces, and quite tasty in its own right.

Mehfil is also a winner because it carries a variety of Sula wines, the Chenin Blanc being one of my favorite beverages to pair with Indian food. Verdict: Anytime I'm craving North Indian food, it's off to Mehfil I'll go. Hopefully they do well in their new, and very large, space. Fingers crossed....

After dinner we went back to a friend's house in the 'hood and had dessert. The vegan mint chocolate cookies from Arizmendi Bakery (above) were amazingly moist and decadent and went perfectly with a few scoops of Alkemie's vanilla bean ice cream, which is cashew and coconut based and very delicious. A lovely sweet ending.

This weekend will be getting its own sweet ending this evening, as I'm attending the launch party for Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's new cookbook, Color Me Vegan. Stay tuned for the full report in the next few days. Meanwhile, eat well and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Last Saturday, the husband I braved the wind and rain and headed up north to Sausalito (one of my fave places, btw) to try out a restaurant we've heard good things about: Avatar's. What drew us to Avatar's in the first place is their menu's declaration: "Please note that we can make any dish Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, or to your specific taste. No dietary restrictions!" Gotta love that. Also gotta love that they serve Indian/Mexican fusion cuisine... so not exactly your everyday fare. Named after the original owner, and having nothing to do with blue-hued, nature-revering, humanoids, this place felt like our kind of joint right away. It is homey, unassuming, and full of characters. From the we-never-smile old ladies cooking in the back to the owner/waiter who immediately took our menus after hearing we were vegan. "You won't be needing these", he said, snatching them away, "I am going to prepare for you the best food you've ever eaten anywhere in your life. Now how many places can say that?" I didn't want to hurt his ego by regaling him with tales of hours-long meals at some of the best restaurants in the country, so we conceded. Sure, go ahead, knock our socks off.
First up was the chapati. No ghee here, folks, and super delicious, especially with the mint chutney, pickled carrots, and pineapple salsas with which it was served. We were off to a good start.
Then this curry dish appeared. Unlike the typically greasy Indian curry, this was light, fresh, and packed with veggies. There was also some unidentifiable tastiness going on. Spices and/or cooking techniques I'm not familiar with? All I know is that soon the bowl was empty and I caught my husband's eye with a look that said, "Alright, that was really good. Let's see if he can top it."
Sure enough, he did. Behold the pumpkin enchiladas. I have no idea why this works, but it really really does. Spiced pumpkin puree (not quite curry, but something like it) gets wrapped in corn tortillas, baked, and then topped with a scrumptiously savory sauce. For added measure, a dollop of tamarind glaze gets drizzled on top. Heaven. And that rice is no throwaway either. Cooked to perfection, and containing just the right amount of veggies and herbs, it complemented the dish in all the right ways.
We were happy campers.

So, was it the best food we've ever eaten? Well, probably not. But, it more than warrants a trip to Sausalito, and we will definitely go back for more in the future. The enchiladas alone are worth the trip, and I look forward to seeing what else they've got up their vegan-friendly sleeves!

Next up, we'll be trying out a new Indian spot in our hood this weekend, as well as attending Colleen Patrick Goudreau's launch party for her new book, Color Me Vegan. Can't wait to sample some recipes and report back, so stay tuned!
Oh, I almost forgot! The next SF Vegan Bake Sale is coming up on the 18th. Yay! My parents arrive in town that day so I won't be baking this time around (Hopefully someone else can provide you with your dose of white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies!) but we'll definitely be swinging by to get some goodies and support the awesome charities, Mickaboo Bird Rescue and Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. See you there I hope!

Friday, December 3, 2010


I know, I know, I've written about Umami before but I went back with a friend last night so I have to give a little update. It is just such a great place to eat well with others, especially if you're craving some Japanese-influenced morsels.

First up I had this salad of mixed greens, radicchio, pomegranate and sunchokes. Its awesome texture comes from the crunchy greens and little pomegranate seeds popping in your mouth, but it's the miso-ginger vinaigrette that really makes this salad rock. A great start to the meal.

For my "entree" I got the gardener roll (their very good veggie sushi roll which I wrote about last time) and a side of the beautiful steamed broccolini, above. They use the most awesomely sweet brocc to begin with, but the addition of the lemon tahini sauce and the crispy fried shallots take this dish over the top. I could have just eaten this all night and been happy.

So there you have it. A brief update on a neighborhood favorite. Up next? Gonna hit up some new-to-me spots this weekend to see how the vegan offerings at some omnivorous places measure up. Stay tuned....

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Eats

As per our usual tradition, we spent all 4 days of the Thanksgiving weekend in San Francisco, relishing the quiet of a near-empty city, and just relaxing together. We also decided to dine out every night in an effort to rid ourselves of the stress of washing dishes. Yes, it was a glorious weekend, and filled with some of the best food I've eaten in a very long time. Sadly, I kept forgetting my camera. Was I delirious with relaxation? Perhaps. In any case....

We spent Thanksgiving itself where we always do: At Millennium. It was, as it was last year and all the years before, superb. The highlight for me this year was definitely the fennel and squash soup, but everything from the pumpkin spread on homemade bread to the pecan pie was divine. As far as I'm concerned there is no better way to kick off the holiday season than Thanksgiving at Millennium. See you there next year....

The next day we took a trip down the street to our local Amici's for some good old pizza. And look! I remembered my camera and captured this Daiya-laden beauty. I got black olives, spinach, and roasted garlic because that ish is yummy, and I loved every bite. I know some
people aren't down with the Daiya, but I really like it. So there, haters.

On Saturday we made our way over the bridge to try out a restaurant that's been on my radar for some time: Gather. Oh boy do I ever love it there. It's not all vegan, but it is very vegan-friendly, and everything we had was insanely tasty. Of course we had to order the vegan charcuterie, what with all the hub-bub about it being so good and all:

Of course I forgot my camera, but the internets have come through to provide the pic above. Ours was a bit different, as it changes with the seasons, but this was really one of the single best plates I've food I've ever received at a restaurant. I couldn't even tell you my favorite part. I adored the kabocha squash with cashew sage sauce, but the mushroom pate was so savory and earthy. Then again the smoked persimmon 'salsa' on the pear carpaccio was so unique, so happy-making... Basically every bite was a treat and as soon as it was done I wanted to start all over again. This dish is smart, gorgeous, and filled with flavor. I can't wait to eat it again sometime soon.

Oh, and the kale salad, as well as the fried artichokes (above pic taken from the website, but ours really did look just like that), were also delicious. This omnivorous place really knows it's veggies!

On Sunday, we kept it low-key and got take out from one of our faves: Burma Superstar. I'm happy to report that the tea leaf salad, samusa soup, and wok-tossed broccoli are as good as ever. I'm also happy to report that BStar Bar, their sister restaurant down the street, has a very similar (though condensed) menu and takes reservations. As anyone who has waited in the long, long line at Burma Superstar knows, reservations would be awesome. Next time, I'm heading to the BStar Bar.... full report to follow of course.

Now that the food coma is wearing off, I'm looking forward to trying some new-to-me places in the Bay Area over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for that. Of course I'm also gearing up for a visit from my awesome vegan parents. Can you say holiday eating extravaganza?!? You've been warned.... :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cha-Ya Revisited

Since we are people with a plan to eat dinner in a restaurant every night of Thanksgiving weekend, we decided to give it a rest this weekend and eat at home. I originally thought this would mean no new posts, but then I remembered a trip to Cha-Ya I took right before we went to Vegas. For those of you who don't know, Cha-Ya is the most wonderful all-vegan Japanese restaurant ever. The decor sucks and the ambiance is non-existent, but the food RULES. On this trip I had one of my old favorites as well as discovered a new fave that I can't wait to eat again.

Old School Hit: Sea Vegetable Salad. I always order extra dressing because it is miso tahini and is so creamy and rich and delicious, especially when paired with the briny seaweeds. Love this salad!

New Flavor in Your Ear: Goma Ae. This is blanched spinach and broccoli with the most savory sesame dressing I ever did try. It's nutty and kind of sweet and I could have licked the plate but somehow managed to restrain myself. We also ordered the must-try Cha-Ya Roll and a bunch of other mini-rolls like cucumber and avocado, but the two salads stole the show this time around.

I don't know about you, but I'm counting down the days to my most beloved holiday. We'll be having Thanksgiving dinner at Millennium like we do every year, and I promise to report on that as well as our other eating adventures over the long weekend. Until then, eat well everyone!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vegas, baby!

I go to Vegas a few times a year, and it's always a good time. Mostly because my friends rock and, as always, the people make the party. I was even more excited than usual for this trip, however, because Steve Wynn has gone vegan and this means that ALL the restaurants in his hotel/casino now have separate veggie menus. Hooray for positive change in Vegas! Sadly, I was only able to eat at one of his places, but I was happy to find some other great vegan eats as well. Here's the rundown.

We stayed at The Palazzo and were starving as soon as we arrived. Best place for a vegan dinner in the hotel? Hands down, Grand Lux. Its huge menu has a few vegan options, like the tofu and veggie stirfry, cheeseless pizzas, and tons of salads and sides. For me, the Manhattan Salad was the winner.

This huge pile of greens, herbs, veggies, and beans is hearty and delicious, though I recommend getting the dressing on the side. The balsamic vinaigrette is vegan and tasty, but you really don't need all that it comes with.

That salad kept me full through a night of gambling, but I woke up starving and headed immediately to the Canyon Ranch Grill, also in the hotel. As someone who knows a little about Canyon Ranch, I knew I would be getting 'spa cuisine' which I assumed would include some vegan options. Right I was!

Here is the vegan tofu scramble and potatoes I had for breakfast. To be honest, I also had a sprouted grain bagel with peanut butter too because I was just that hungry (and because 'spa' cuisine also means stupidly small portions). Plus, bagels with peanut butter rule. The scramble, however, was just alright. Not the best I ever had... but for Vegas? Amazing.

That night we finally headed over to Stratta at Wynn for dinner. As promised, the vegans among us were presented with vegan menus. Hooray! Sadly, the options were pretty much what you'd expect from any Italian place: Pizza without cheese, pasta, salads, etc. But still, our own menus! It's the little things that make me happy. Also making me happy? The mushroom puree and truffle oil pizza.

It may not look like much, but it was quite good. Could have used more truffle oil... or even some olive oil (was a bit dry) but I also got a side of sauteed spinach and just put it on top. Viola! Pizza perfection.

All in all, this was one of the most delectable trips to Vegas I've ever had. I REALLY want to go back and try more of the fine dining spots at Wynn because I've heard the fancy pants places have way more creative vegan options. One day....

Meanwhile, more SF eats are coming your way soon. Yay!

Monday, November 8, 2010


For as much as I love veggie burgers and fries, I don't eat them very often. I'm generally a stickler for getting as many fresh vegetables (as opposed to their fried cousins) into my system as possible, but after my visit to Roam this past weekend, that could all change. Now, only a couple of blocks from my house, exists a mouthwatering all-vegan burger and sweet potato fries that can be mine any time I like:

I got this burger "classic" style without the house sauce (mayo-based) but you can add whatever toppings you want from their extensive list. Add an organic Mothership Wit (which they have on tap) and you have an elevated version of this infamous American meal. I say elevated because we're talking organic ingredients served up in super-tasty fashion. The fries are crisped to perfection in rice bran oil and the veggies on the bun are fresh and vibrant. The patty is on the softer side, and obviously (from the color) there are beets in it, but other than that, all I know is it's really good. One of the best veggie burgers around for sure. And coming from a non-vegan restaurant, that is pretty impressive.

Since a veggie burger every now and the never killed anyone (I dare say that's not true of a meat burger), and since this one is so yummy and so close to my house, I know I'll be back to Roam. Maybe next time I'll kick it even healthier and try their other option: A huge salad topped with three mini-burgers. No bun, no fries, but I bet it's still delicious....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Weekend of New SF Eats

This past weekend I had the pleasure of trying some great new-to-me food right here in good old San Francisco. First up, from now on no trip to the Farmer's Market will be complete without a stop across the street at Blue Hawaii for an acai bowl:

The pic is from their website because I forgot my camera, but mine looked EXACTLY the same. The base of this dish is soy blended with acai berry. Either the soymilk is frozen or there is ice involved because it's like a thick milkshake in both temperature and consistency. Mixed into the base is their homemade granola which adds a nice crunch, and then the whole thing gets topped withe bananas and berries. It regularly comes with a drizzle of honey, but it can be easily omitted. In any case, it is a refreshing and tasty way to start the day, and perfect fuel for shopping and strolling the Farmer's Market.

Later that evening, the husband and I decided to try a Mediterranean place we'd heard good things about: Fattoush. Man oh man, where has this place been all my life? I've eaten at countless restaurants like this, and Fattoush is hands down the best.

First of all there wass the freshest, most flavorful tabouleh and hummus, complete with pickles, olives, veggies, and warm whole wheat pita.

Then there was a slammin' salad (sans feta) which was crisp, sumac-laden deliciousness and so big it could have been my entree.

Speaking of entrees, this is one of the greatest things ever - falafel tabsi. This is basically falafel cooked in a mild yet super flavorful curry and served with slightly sweet (think vanilla and cinnamon) rice. It was one of the best things I've tasted in a while. But wait, there's more!

Dearest cauliflower, why do you not taste like this when I make you at home? Seriously, I don't know what sort of voodoo magic is happening in the Fattoush kitchen, but this cauliflower is AMAZING. I know the picture sucks, but we nearly devoured it before I realized I hadn't taken a picture. In any case, if (no, WHEN, because you must) you go to Fattoush, get the cauliflower side. It is stewed with onion and tomato and spices so complex I couldn't even begin to tell you what is in there. This little number definitely stole the show.

Much, much later that evening (as we were full from dinner for a while) I had this little cutey above. Well not really, as I took a photo of this 'pumpkin spice' donut, but actually ate a 'salted caramel' instead. I purchased both at the Farmer's Market earlier in the day from the all-vegan and all-wonderful Pepples Donuts, and picking a flavor was hard! I mean lemon poppyseed, double chocolate, blueberry, matcha green tea... ? I totally chose right with the salted caramel, as I'm a sucker for the sweet/salty combo, but I can't wait to try some more next time I'm near the Ferry Building.

Quite a good-eats-filled Saturday, no? Of course Sunday was Halloween, so I had my favorite vegan candies - Skittles and Chic-o-Stick - to round out the weekend of yum.

Next up? More good SF eats....

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mi Lah Vegetarian, Philly

While I was back in NJ last week, I also had the pleasure of meeting up with vegan pals of mine at Mi Lah in Philadelphia for lunch. They had been for weekend brunch before, and loved it, so I'm happy to report that weekday lunch was pretty good too!

First up I had this amazing mango and avocado salad. The dressing is a "Spicy Caribbean Lime" but it wasn't really that spicy or lime-y. What is was, however, was delicious. This was really one of the tastier salads I've had in a long time. Mi Lah was off to a good start.

Next, I tried the olive, sun dried tomato pesto, and spinach flat bread. Super yum! I love this Mediterranean flavor profile anyway, but this was above and beyond yummy. The pesto was more of a relish consistency and super flavorful. Crisp dough with some of my most favorite edibles on top? Winner.

One of my pals had the veggie burger with sweet potato fries. While I did not try the burger, he seemed to enjoy it, and I can attest to the awesomeness of those fries. I love a thick-cut fry and these were crisp yet pillowy slabs of sweet potato goodness.

My other friend had the Vietnamese hoagie. She gobbled it up and was impressed with the flavors. So there you have it. Mi Lah is a great little spot for vegan eats in Philly. Cause we can't be big spenders and go to Horizons every time, you know? :)

Up next: I'm back in SF and trying out some new eats, so stay tuned!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The New New Jersey

When I was growing up in NJ, vegan options were few and far between. In fact, most people had never even heard the V word, let alone knowing what it meant. Hence, my vegan life was one full of veggie dogs (thank goodness for a nearby food co-op), chips, and cheeseless pizzas. Sigh, lament, shake head. Well I am happy to report things have changed. Like really changed. And, I had some great food in NJ this time around, starting with the all veg Maoz.

This is a chain with only 6 locations in the U.S, and one of them happens to be in my hometown of New Brunswick, NJ. Yay! College (in this case, Rutgers) kids like veggie food, and this veggie food is bangin'. The deal at Maoz is this: You either get lettuce and falafel in a pita pocket or in a salad bowl. You can add things like hummus and eggplant, and then you top your creation with as much of the salad bar (above) that you can fit on that bad boy. Oh, and then you MUST order the sweet potato fries because they are the best you will ever eat.

That's my salad on the left and the amazingly crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside fries on the right. So good. Try them with the tahini sauce. Oh man, I have just given myself a Maoz craving. Luckily for us Bay Areans, there's one over in Berkeley. To be visited soon!

On the more fancy pants end of the spectrum, I take you to Eno Terra. First of all the feel of this restaurant is so wonderful. It is like eating in a very fancy old barn somewhere and it's super eco-friendly. It's not an all-vegan place by any means, but they are committed to using local products, and specifically as many heirloom varieties as possible when it comes to their produce. They always have a few veggie options on the menu, and are happy to make stuff up on the fly, as was the case with our not-on-the-menu bruschetta sampler:

As is often the case in fine dining establishments, the lighting really blew for pics, but I hope you get the idea. Each one of these poppers was sensational - from the earthy sauteed mushrooms to the light and vibrant chickpeas with lemon. Such a fun way to start the meal!

I didn't a picture of my salad, but it had roasted cherries and toasted almonds and was amazing. Seriously, so good. Still, the entree (above) stole the show. This is Eno Terra's seasonal veggies and quinoa and, while it may not look like much in my picture, I assure you that the quinoa was light and fluffy, the veggies seasoned and cooked perfectly, and the whole dish just sang with flavor. Hooray for vegan food at fancy places... in NJ!

Back on the budget-friendly tip, we have another chain - Pizza Fusion. I would not mind one bit if this place, complete with their organic crusts, plentiful veg toppings, and Daiya cheese, made it's way out to SF (my lucky SoCal readers - go!). This was some of the better pizza I've ever eaten actually. Above was my mom's large pie with tomatoes, black olives, and spinach. For me?

I went for a small (I also had a tasty salad) pie with spinach, artichoke, and roasted garlic. Really really delicious. Lastly...

Here we have the massaman curry from Pad Thai in Highland Park, NJ. Their list of vegetarian options is longer than the regular menu at most places and they are in-the-know about sneaky fish sauce. For my money, the massaman wins for its rich flavor and the combo of pumpkin and peanuts. Yum. Hands down the best Thai food I've eaten outside of Thailand and a must-stop every time I'm back east.

So there you have it. Some good NJ eats, right? I also took a side trip to Philadelphia while I was home, so stay tuned for that next!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Another trip to NYC, another post about all the amazing eats there. Seriously, visiting New York is like drowning in a sea of palate pleasing vegan food, only you don't suffocate and die, you ingest and emerge victorious (read: 5 pounds heavier)... or something. Anyway, here's what we ate on our whirlwind tour:

On our first night we went to our old Lower East Side fave, Pala. Since we go every time we're there, I didn't bust out the camera, but I swear to you it gets better every time. Try the vegan etna pizza (eggplant, basil, cherry tomato sauce, daiya) which you will find on their separate vegan menu. Love that about Pala - such a great place to eat well with others. And it's so dang delicious!

Now for food I did photograph. The above is the bread and garlic oil which started our meal at Candle Cafe. It may not look like much but that oil is packed full of roasted garlic goodness. Definitely something you and your date (or husband in my case) should both eat lest the eater be shunned for the rest of the evening.

Next up I got the house salad with tahini dressing (on the side). It was good, but not spectacular. I just wanted some raw greens. Mission accomplished.

Now for my favorite thing to order at Candle Cafe - the 4 sides plate. Basically you just pick 4 sides and 2 sauces from their extensive list and call it a meal. Here I got 2 sides of steamed kale (love those greens!), a side of grilled tempeh, and a side of quinoa. For my sauce, I got 2 sides of spicy peanut sauce. It is simple pure tastiness. All the sides at CC are great, so your meal can be a different combo every time!

For dessert we headed across town to Lula's Sweet Apothecary because they make the best ice cream on the planet. I had 2 scoops of chocolate-chocolate chip with chocolate sauce, peanuts, coconut whipped cream, and a cherry. Yes, I like chocolate. Yes, it was fantastic. Yes, I miss Lula's already. Sigh.

The next day we went to brunch with the fam at Teany and I had the chicken-less salad salad (as opposed to the chicken-less salad sandwich) and it was the bomb. Teany does right by all things sweet too, but since it was so nice out, we went on a very short walk to Babycakes to sate our dessert cravings. I had the oatmeal cookie sandwich, which is really more "cream" filling than cookie and which made me very happy:

See? I'm delighted. After this, we headed back to NJ to hang with the fam for a few days. More on NJ eats soon. We did eat in New York once more before heading home though because right by our gate at JFK there was a ZPizza! I've always wanted to try their Berkeley Vegan Pie, so I did:

My favorite part was the veggie burger crumbles, but really it was just ok. As far as airport food goes, however, it was the best! If the ZPizza San Francisco ever opens, I'll definitely hit it up. Of course the site has been saying "Opening 2010" for more than a year and I kind of doubt it'll happen....

I'm already dreaming about my next trip to NYC, but it remains just a dream for now. It's no surprise that there is great vegan food there, but I was very impressed by NJ this time around too. Stay tuned to see what I mean!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Old Jerusalem

I've wanted to try Old Jerusalem (way fancy website, not so fancy restaurant) after reading good things in both vegan and non-vegan write-ups alike. Sadly, when it came time to dine, I was feeling jetlagged and icky and didn't have much of an appetite. I ordered a salad and a side of hummus and between those two items, and the olives, pickled radishes, pita, and sauces that come free to the table, I was quite sated and happy with the flavors. Since the husband was left at home for this meal, I got him the Vegetarian Combo to go:

I also left my camera home, so this was taken on my coffee table. Gotta love it when food still looks good after crossing the city, no? I think this plate of hummus, falafel, baba ganoush, ful, arabian salad, and eggplant still looked quite beautiful for having made the trek, and my husband confirmed it was equally as delicious. The sauces in the back were the same ones from the table at the restaurant and the one on the left was spicy sweet and very tasty. The one on the right we didn't taste because it appeared to be dairy-based. For all I know it was pure tahini, but I don't take chances!

In any case, I would totally go back to Old Jerusalem and get a veggie combo myself. The food is authentic and yummy. 'Nuff said.

Off to NYC soon, so stay tuned for some amazing Manhattan eats. Some fall weather will be nice after this 90 degree heat wave in San Francisco. Can't wait to dine and share!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Love Those L.A. Eats

I was in Los Angeles this past weekend for my college reunion and, as usual, I was blown away by the vegan options in the City of Angels. Seriously, there is so much good vegan food in L.A. it kills me. That being said, I want to fit all my weekend eats into one post, so I'll try to be brief. Let's go!

First up, Fatty's. If you're anything like me, this Eagle Rock restaurant's name conjures up vision of all things deep-fried and sugar-coated. Not the case. Instead, you will find an ambiance-rich dining room (twinkling lights, high ceilings, garage door front) serving up some very high-end vegetarian food, most of which can be made vegan. We started with 3 apps:

This is an appetizer after my heart. Simply called "Oils" it consists of 3 fresh-baked rolls and 3 different oils. In our case, there was California premium EVOO, pumpkin seed oil, and white truffle oil. I'm partial to all things truffley, but my favorite was actually the rich and nutty pumpkin seed oil. Go figure.

Fatty's calls their mushroom and rice balls "Cleopatra Balls" but I just call them tasty. The tomato, caper, and olive relish makes these little poppers irresistible.

Our last app was the potato tacos - a truly ingenious idea. Mini potatoes are hollowed out and the skins get fried to become taco "shells" before being stuffed with some of their original potato insides, corn, veggies, salsa and avocado. Addictive!

Wanting to save room for dessert, I had a nice light entree: The Farmer's Market Roasted Vegetable Salad. These were some beautifully cooked veggies, y'all. And I do so love a balsamic reduction. Highly recommended salad.

Speaking of dessert, meet "Fudgey". Anyone who knows me knows that there is no way I could resist a dessert with such a great name, and boy did it live up to expectations. Warm chocolate cake with a molten center, covered in toasted coconut and pecans and served with a dollop of chocolate frosting and strawberries? Um, yes. I'd eat it again and again. I'd also dine at Fatty's again and again if I lived closer. I so badly want to go back to try the vegan chocolate fondue. Sigh...

The next day, I went to Real Food Daily for lunch. I've been there before so I didn't break out my camera on this trip but, like everything on the menu, my salad with tahini dressing was super yummy. RFD is one of my faves. For dinner, I was still in Santa Monica but I wanted to try something new. Enter The Golden Mean Cafe. This was a Happy Cow find and quite a good one! In fact, I dare say they make one of the best veggie burgers I've ever had:

I got this bean, grain, and veggie patty with tempeh bacon and avocado and it came with a side of refreshing watercress salad. From the toasted bun to The Golden Mean's own special sauce, this was a real winner. Seriously tasty from first bite to last.

Dessert was no disappointment either! This apple tart with vanilla coconut ice cream was the perfect ending to my fun day in Santa Monica.

The next day was the reunion and there were plenty of vegan options there too. Check out my papaya and mango salad with plantain chips and veggie rice:

Beautiful right? Right. After the festivities, me and 16 or so other reuniting folks had dinner at Wolf Creek Brewing Company, where I had made a reservation. I chose them because they seemed to have space for a large party, they had a bar for everyone who wanted to keep the buzz going, and when I wrote to ask about vegan options, I received a prompt, kind, and extremely helpful email regarding their menu. For the record, the hummus and flatbread, bruschetta, pizza dough and sauce, guacamole and chips, and the veggie sandwich (sans mayo) are all vegan. The pasta all has egg, but most of the dressings are vegan so salads without meat and cheese are good to go. Here's my salad:

It was really good, though in an effort to make up for taking off the cheese, I think they added way too many walnuts, but whatever. I also had the hummus trio and all 3 were way better than I expected, with the sundried tomato version being my favorite. Others were helping me to devour that and I couldn't get a pick. Anyway, the moral of the story is that next time you find yourself in Valencia, CA looking for a place to eat well with others, check out Wolf Creek!

On our last day, we hit up The Veggie Grill in El Segundo before getting on the plane back to SF at LAX. I have wanted to eat at one of their SoCal location ever since reading about them on Quarry Girl, and it was awesome. I want a Veggie Grill to come to SF! To be clear, this is an all vegan, order at the counter, have your food brought out kind of place. Mostly burgers and wraps and salads, but everything we got was so good!

The husband consumed his Santa Fe Crispy Chicken within minutes and loved it.

My V-Burger was also really good. The pickles and relish and sauce really make this pop on the tongue, and the soft warm bun is the perfect vehicle to get it all in my mouth. As you can see, we both got the "Sweetheart" fries. Crispy sweet potatoes are the perfect addition to any meal, and these are superb.

I also had to order a side of the Mac and Cheese since a good vegan version is hard to find. This one was decent, but not my favorite. Oh well - there are so many other things on the menu it hardly matters. I am officially keeping my fingers crossed that Veggie Grill franchises its way up to SF SOON.

What a trip, eh? I had a blast and before you know it, I'll be off to NYC (5 days and counting!). Keep your eyes peeled for that, but meanwhile I'll be hitting up a new-to-me San Francisco spot soon. Stay tuned!