Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Some SF Updates

Hi y'all!  It's been a while, but rest assured I've been eating well, both near and far.  For this post, let's talk about near:

I'm not sure why I've never written about Straw before, but this carnival-themed eatery comes complete with a separate vegan menu full of tasty tasty options, like the portobello sandwich (above) served up with their infamously good sweet potato tots.  The star of the show?  A blueberry bbq sauce for dipping.  YUM.  I inhaled it before I snapped a picture, but I highly recommend their "hippie love" salad too.  The combination of the peppery arugula, tangy cider vinaigrette, and briny green olives makes no sense (at least to me) but it really really works.

In other news, I finally tried the nachos at Herbivore and OMG they are the best things ever.  I am always dubious when it comes to plant-based cheeses, but whatever they are using, it kicks ass.  Crispy chips covered in cheddar and sour cream with plenty of beans and guacamole and salsa really hit the spot.  Try some, trust me.  They are addictive and I want more right now.

Ok, I'll be back soon with some more eats by the bay soon.  Meanwhile, eat well!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Where Else Would I Have My Birthday Dinner?

So, OF COURSE, I went to Millennium for my birthday dinner.  To be clear, this was actually a few days after my birthday, an event which was celebrated at home with all my friends and included a ton of vegan food and cake.  I meant to take pictures.  I failed.  So, instead, here's what I had at Millennium.

Brik Pastry Purse.  This hearty gem was stuffed and floating atop a sea of mushrooms, potatoes, and greens.  Deep savory flavors abound.   Go now and get it before the menu changes, as it does fairly frequently.

My favorite dessert at Millennium is always the Sweet Ending and a scoop of whatever ice cream sounds the best to me in the moment.  This time it was a cacao nib ice cream served alongside a plate of truffles, cookies, and an apple cake that took me by surprise.  I don't normally go for fruity desserts, but this cake was moist and cinnamony and a really nice contrast to all the chocolate.  All the delicious, rich, chocolate.  :)

That about sums it up.  Thanks to Millennium, as always, for providing incredible food and stellar service.  Love that place.  What's next, you ask?  I have family coming into town soon so I'm sure we'll hit up some Bay Area eateries.  Stay tuned!

Friday, May 31, 2013

NJ/NYC Eats Galore!

I was in NJ last week for my cousin's fabulous wedding and, of course, there was much dining out involved.  Here's a quick run down of some of the best:

The first meal of my trip was at Subia's Organic Market.  All the food at this Jersey City shop is vegan and everything we tried was yummy.  Check it out...

Hummus salad perfection.  This is exactly what I love to eat for lunch at home and it was perfect for getting over my major jetlag.

My companion loved his "pastrami" sandwich too.  On a hearty bun and served with a side salad, this is a plate of pure goodness.  This little market with a deli counter is something every town should have. Jersey Cityians, you be lucky.

That night, I was in NYC with friends at Bosie Tea House and started with this hearty and flavor-packed quinoa salad.  For my entree, I went with the marinated tofu panini:

Yum!  With avocado and a sun-dried tomato spread, this was the perfect meal to fuel me up for a night on the town.  The next day, I was in need of hangover food, starting with...

Hummus and pita at Pamir in Morristown.  I love this this app comes with spicy chili sauce and cool cilantro sauce.  Extra flavor is always a good thing!  This Afghani restaurant has a ton of vegan options - from salads to dolmas to entrees - but this was all I managed to get a picture of in my tired state.  Still, I highly recommend this place if you're in the area.

That night I really got my feast on at the all-veg Kaya's Kitchen in Belmar.  That's the appetizer platter, above and everything from the nuggets to the buffalo wings to the potato salad is drool worthy, but still not as good as my burger.

I got mine Jersey style, with veggie bacon and mayo... and with fries of course!  Delish.  What hangover?   :)  And for dessert???

Kaya's carries desserts from the infamously amazing (winner of Food Network's Cupcake Wars!) and all-vegan Papa Ganache, which is just a few minutes away from Kaya's.  Our table tried four different cupcakes and these two ginormous pieces of cake.  All incredible!  I only wish I had gotten to Papa Ganache itself to sample even more of their offerings (they have savory stuff too).  Next time for sure!

The next few days were filled with wedding-related events and I have to thank my family for providing vegan options for me (not to mention my vegan parents and aunt, woo-hoo!).  After that, there was only one place in NJ I wanted to go. Sapthagiri, of course!

Central New Jersey has a very large Indian population, and with that comes some of the best Indian food around.  My favorite?  The dosas, like this one from Sapthagiri's Franklin Park location.  Everything they offer on the large (and well marked with vegan options) menu is flavor-packed (try the Masala Vada and meyer lemon pickles!) and craveable.  If you're around, you must go.

Honorable mention goes to the veggies and spiced carrot hummus sandwich at The Alchemist and Barrister in Princeton (sorry for the bad picture) and all the vegan options at YaYa Noodles in Montgomery, especially the General Tso's Tofu.  No picture, but trust me.

Phew, that was a lot of eating!  Tomorrow's my birthday and I promise to tell you all about my all-vegan dinner (complete with cake of course!) once I get some photos.  After that, this bod needs a cleanse, so stay tuned for some home cooking ideas for once!  Have a great weekend, y'all.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Slanted Door

If you love the menu at Out the Door (and you know I do) then you should really get to thee to the original, and dine at The Slanted Door.  It takes forever to get a reservation, but the location (in the Ferry Building, with sweeping views of the Bay Bridge), service, and vegan offerings, can't be beat.  We had all our standard OTD faves on our visit last weekend, along with copious amounts of a lovely muscadet (thank you, kickass sommelier), and this tasty and refreshing treat to cap off our visit:

That is their coconut lime sorbet and it alone is worth the trip.  After some spicy lemongrass tofu and smoky chard, it is the perfect way to end your time at The Slanted Door.

I'm off to NJ for my cousin's wedding this week, so stay tuned for some NJ eats soon!   Have a great week, y'all.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bay Area Updates

Howdy Bay Area!  I had a tasty weekend and just wanted to post a quick update on two faves.  First of all, DOSA has a special collard greens and sweet pepper dosa on offer, and it is outstanding:

Really, the addition of the slightly bitter greens and sweet roasted peppers to the regular (and already stellar) masala potato filling is pretty genius.  I hope this dosa sticks around on the menu for a while, ala their also incredible white truffle dosa, because I need to get it in my mouth as many times as possible.  Yum!  Now, let's head south a little, shall we?

You're probably thinking that salad looks a little familiar and wondering exactly how far south I traveled, right?  Well, that IS the All Hail Kale salad from Veggie Grill (aka my favorite salad in the world), but I didn't have to travel to L.A. to have it.  Instead, I just took a road trip to San Jose, where VG's latest outpost is turning omnivores into vegheads, one delicious meal at a time.  Now, if only they could get a palce in San Francisco up and running.  They're up to about 20 locations and counting, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Hope you all are enjoying some good veg eats out there.  Stay yummy, y'all!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bun Mee

Today's post is about yet another place I've been meaning to get to for some time, and I will soon go back, as all the food was so good!  I am quite a lucky gal since these tasty dishes live not many blocks from my house, at Bun Mee.  It's a play on the Vietnamese sandwich banh mi, get it?  Anyway, peep the eats:

First up, fresh spring rolls.  Packed with tofu and noodles and herbs and veggies, these are some of the best in town.  Peanut dipping sauce also stellar.  Sriracha on every table? Perfection.  Just beyond the rolls you can see the also delicious mango sesame salad.  It's tart and bright thanks to the lime juice and ginger and is a great palate cleanser before moving on to the main deal, this Saigon Peanut Rice Bowl with Tofu:

So pretty, right?  The tofu and peanut sauce alone would have been divine but the addition of pickled papaya (say that three times fast) and jalapeno really makes this dish sing.  A lovely blend of textures and flavors that covers all the bases.  The husband tried their vegan banh mi sandwich and loved it, and there are some other vegan options on the menu too, so another trip is definitely in order.

That's is for now but I'll be back soon with some vegan eats from Vegas, baby.  I'm headed there for a vegan friend's bachelorette party, so you know there'll be some yums.  Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Off the Grid

I have no idea why it took me so long to get to Off the Grid at Fort Mason.  It's near my house, has great music being dj'ed, a good vibe, and is full of reasonably priced vegan offerings.  Talk about missing out!  Luckily, it's still going strong and I finally made my way to this weekly meet up of dozens of food trucks, carts, and stands last night, and I'm already looking forward to the next one.  Look at some of the yums:

The husband and I shared this plethora of goodies.  Top left is the "deconstructed samosa" from Curry Up Now.  Smashed samosa on top of turmeric rice with diced raw tomato and onion and mint chutney drizzle.  Flavor-packed and filling.  Next door at twelve o'clock are fresh tofu spring rolls from Little Green Cyclo.  Not the best I've ever had, but decent.  However, they do make the best ever on planet Earth sweet potato tator tots (3 o'clock).  Those bad boys are addictive as all get out and I want more right now.  So good.  Up front is the "donburri" plate from Onigilly.  This rice dish comes with edamame, a side salad (some of the only fresh greens to be found in all the trucks!), and your choice of toppings.  I got all three vegan options - the shiitake mushrooms, hijiki seaweed and umeboshi plums.  All were good, maybe a bit salty, but I like salt.  :)

Fact:  From here on out, Off the Grid is where you'll find me on any given Friday night with good weather.  Hope to see you there, something vegan in your hands!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tarla Grill, Napa

I love me a gorgeous day in wine country, and this past Wednesday was one of the most lovely I've ever experienced.  Not a cloud in the sky, warm breezes, delectable wines, and a stop at a new-to-me spot for lunch that really wowed both the vegans and omnis in the group, Tarla Grill in downtown Napa.

We started by splitting a Mezes Plate, giving the stuffed mussels and yogurt sauce to the omnis while the vegans devoured scrumptious dolmas and hummus.  Olives for everyone.  :)

Then came this awesome veggie sandwich, ordered without cheese and with the Greek potatoes cooked in olive oil instead of butter.  Piled high with veggies on a chewy ciabatta roll slathered with whole grain mustard, this was the perfect thing to eat between wine tastings.  Flavorful, filling, and fantastic!

Other vegan options at Tarla include salads, including a barley salad with pickled onions, olives, and pistachios, that my mom loved, and a stuffed eggplant that was raved about by a friend.  Next time I'm in wine country and in need of some fuel, I'll definitely hit up Tarla Grill again, and suggest you do that same.

Next up, stay tuned for some more SF eats...

Monday, April 1, 2013

501 on Main, Park City

Happy Monday, everyone!  From last Wednesday until yesterday, I was in Park City, UT, getting some fresh air and staying with friends in one of their family's homes.  It was lovely.  We cooked together and ate all but one of our (very veg-centric) meals in, but when we went out, we made it count.  Picking 501 on Main was an easy choice because of its very well-marked menu (v=vegetarian, v2=vegan, gf=gluten-free), but turns out it is extremely darn tasty as well.  Here's what the vegans among us had:  

The biggest mistake of the evening was the salad, but only because the dressing they put on the side was not vegan (duh).  This was quickly rectified, however, and soon we were devouring this delish pile of greens, roasted beets, dried fruits, and pumpkin seeds.  Winner.

What omni restaurant has vegan chicken bites on its menu???  501 on Main, baby!  These addictive poppers were a hit among the whole table.  Fried and glazed wheat meat, y'all.  Gotta love it.  And I did.

I almost can't even handle this entree.  I mean, it's incredible risotto, chock-full-o veggies, served in a "bowl" made of fried potatoes.  YES.  I don't think I need to say any more.  And yet, it still wasn't my favorite of the night.  Meet the vegan curry:

More of those wheat meat bites get matched up with veggies galore, cooked in a savory and deeply-flavored curry, and served atop fluffy rice... all on another fried potato basket!  Good lord I loved this dish.  From concept to execution, perfection.

Bummer that this place had no vegan desserts (I know, right?) but next time I'm in Park City, I know where I'm going, and if you should ever find yourself there, I definitely suggest a stop at 501 on Main.  Sundance, anyone?

Up next, a bunch of my family is coming to SF, so that means lots of dining out around the whole Bay Area.  Stay tuned!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Radishes and Donuts

Happy Monday, everyone!  Here's a quick post with two yummy items from my weekend.  First up, I took a trip to Radish, an omnivorous eatery in the Mission, and was quite happy with their veg options, including the all vegan tofu sandwich:

With seared and seasoned tofu, avocado, carrots, and vegan mayo, this sourdough sammy is hearty without weighing you down.  I love that it comes with a plethora of greens too (and, natch, radishes)... though I also ordered a side of their addictive root vegetable chips (not pictured because my companions and I devoured them so quickly) and highly recommend you do the same.

On the other side of town, in their Ferry Building kiosk, Pepples Donuts continue to be delicious.  That is all.  Except that I think I've decided 'vanilla glaze' is my favorite flavor... but I'm sure that'll change with whichever one I try next.

I'm off to Park City on Wednesday, so stay tuned for some Utah eats.  Meanwhile, have a great week!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Vegan Iron Chef!

I had the absolute pleasure of attending last night's Vegan Iron Chef competition and, because we were fortunate to snag tasting table tickets, I am still full!  I'm a bit short on time, but here's a run down of the evening in pictures.

For me, the highlight of the reception before the show was all the cheese from Miyoko Schinner.  She was a judge and not a contestant, but as far as I'm concerned her cheeses stole the show.  I have to get her book!

I also loved all the cookies, like these orange chocolate delights, from Picnic Bakery.

Ice cream sandwiches from Green Girl Bake Shop, especially this one in chocolate coffee, were amazing.  Gluten free, soy-free, dairy-free, and full of flavor, you guys.  I hope to see these puppies in stores soon but you can order them online now.

After the reception we got a little break from eating while the competition actually happened.  Here, the chefs are hard at work.   I loved watching them infuse the secret ingredient, tea, into all their dishes.  It was also sweet to see the camaraderie between them and their obvious love for food and cooking.  There was a lot of heart and soul in the food they created.  Speaking of which:

Chef Eric Tucker of Millennium Restaurant gave us this savory lentil burger with smoked mushrooms and green garlic green tea aioli as well as green tea gnocchi with yuba.  The aioli was one of the best things I tasted all evening.  Judge Colleen Holland of VegNews suggested he bottle it and I, for one, support that wholeheartedly.   I totally thought he has this contest in the bag until...

Chef Philip Gelb of In the Mood for Food presented a deeply flavored broth and homemade soba noodles.  He also made a green tea waffle that was my single favorite item of the evening, but I didn't get a good picture because I ate it too fast.  :)

Lastly, Chef Lisa Books-Williams of Thrive Holistic, was  the surprise winner of the evening with her all raw preparation. Hooray Lisa!  It was incredibly tasty to be sure, but I'm pretty sure she beat the boys with presentation points.  I'm also not sure how fair it was that so many of her items were made before the competition (those ice cream cones alone must have taken hours to dehydrate, but then again Eric Tucker baked his buns prior to competing as well, so...) but I enjoyed her plate - the umeboshi plum and green tea ice cream in particular.

All in all, my vote would have gone to Chef Phil, but this was basically a vegan love fest and I am so happy I attended.  With any luck, this will become an annual event and I can stuff myself silly again next year!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Chicago Diner aka Heaven

I have to admit; I am not that into Chicago.  As a town, it just doesn't do anything for me.  However, I am willing to look past all my MEH feelings toward the Windy City and give it mad love simply for having The Chicago Diner.  We feasted there a couple of times on our trip, but one meal in particular was so awesome that I am still craving every bite of it.  I want a do-over!

Oh boy, look at it, you guys!  It's the Radical Rueben and it is so delicious I can't even stand it.  With kraut and cheese (Daiya) and corned beef seitan, it is the tastiest sandwich ever in the whole world and I love it.  Plus the thousand island dressing and pickle and side of sweet potato fries.  Argh, I am now frustrated that I'm not currently eating this. Please go to Chicago and eat one and bring me back one thanks. Ok, now that that's settled, let's move onto dessert.  We split two items, and I can not even begin to pick a favorite.  First up, a chocolate chip cookie dough milkshake:

Yeah, it's insane.  Chunks of cookie dough so big they don't fit up the straw but rather need to be scooped directly into your face with a spoon.  Sweet, awesome, yumness... and the perfect partner to the Peanut Butter Puck:

We all know there is no better dessert pairing than chocolate and peanut butter, but they take it to the next level at The Chicago Diner.  So rich and decadent, we savored every bit with audible moans and scraped the plate clean of peanut buttery chocolatey morsels.  They probably didn't even need to clean it after.

It would be weird to have something called The Chicago Diner in San Francisco, but I will naively hold out hope this could happen one day.  Meanwhile, I will settle for all the goods eats we have more... more of which are coming soon!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Karyn's on Green, Chicago

Karyn Calabrese has quite a healthy food empire in Chicago and we had brunch at Karyn's Cooked, shopped at Karyn's Fresh Corner, and had dinner at the upscale Karyn's on Green while in town.  The latter was one of the best meals of our trip, and here are some of the highlights:

This cheese plate was quite obviously comprised of Dr. Cow varieties, but that is some good stuff, so we were not complaining.  Plus, I learned I need not fear the algae variety.  Yum!  Complemented nicely by flax crackers, a carrot slaw, some apple slices, and an agave drizzle, this was a delightful way to start the meal.

This arugula flatbread was so flavorful!  With caramelized onions, thinly sliced potatoes, and herbs, it was perfectly crisp and absolutely scrumptious.  The arugula was such a nice bright and peppery addition to all the savory goodness underneath.  Will try to recreate this one at home...

The portobello mushrooms with root vegetable hash was my entree of choice, and it was wonderfully warming on a cold Chicago night.  Plus, it was topped with fried onions and the balsamic reduction - my fave - was a lovely sweet touch.  Loved this dish.  :)

Karyn's on Green has a casual upscale atmosphere and the food gracefully straddles the fine line between healthy and tasty.  It's an oasis in an otherwise junk-food-vegan landscape and I am so happy we made it there.  Highly suggest you do too should you find yourself in Chicago.

Up next, I've saved the best for last.  Find out what meal I'm still craving a week and two thousand miles later... and have a great weekend, y'all!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Joy of Vegan Baking on Pi(e) Day and Everyday

Taking a break from Chicago eats to wish you and yours and very Happy Pi Day!  Over here, we had pizza pies and this gem from our eternal favorite, The Joy of Vegan Baking.  It's one I've not made before, and it was so incredibly easy and so ridiculously rich and decadent, I just had to show you:

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie (pg. 98) is pure pie perfection and you don't even need to turn on an oven, unless, of course, your crust needs baking.  Speaking of the crust, Colleen recommends a graham cracker or brownie crust, but I'm here to tell you that the crust is merely a vehicle for the chocolate and peanut butter goodness.  I used a Wholly Wholesome gluten-free crust and it was delicious.  Also, and obviously, topping the pie with some Rice Whip doesn't hurt.

Hope you all had some scrumptious pie today, and if not, I highly recommend making this one ASAP.  Back to Chicago eats soon, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chicago Teaser

Hi all!  I spent a lovely weekend in Chicago with my Vegan Favorite, Shelley, and we pretty much ate our way around town, carbo-loading to stay warm.   It was amazing.  I will put up in-depth posts about two of the best restaurants at which we had the pleasure of eating, but I wanted to get a quick teaser up with two of my fave dishes outside of those two spots.  First up, the "Chicken Run Ranch Burger" at Native Foods:

So delicious!  Crispy "chicken" and savory ranch served up with sweet potato fries and a chipotle mayo dipping sauce?  Yes, please.  I've eaten at Native Foods in LA before and this dish just sealed the deal on me being willing to sell my soul to the devil to get an outpost in SF.  Come on, Native Foods, the Bay Area is great and we are hungry for your grub!

Also very tasty was the "Everything Green" salad at Handlebar.  This omni kitchen is EXTREMELY vegan friendly, and this salad full of greens and blackened tofu was positively scrumptious.  It was brunch time when we dined and I also shared a side of vegan biscuits and gravy that were awesome.  So awesome, in fact, that they were gone before they were photographed.  Oh well, next time!

Ok, I hope that whet your appetite for more Chicago eats... coming soon!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


You know what's dumb?  Having a burger you advertise as vegan and gluten-free and then having neither vegan nor gluten-free buns.  Really, Grub?  Really???   Meet the burger I had last night:

This is such a shame because the burger itself wasn't half bad and the sweet potato fries were outrageously good!

So pretty, right?   Sadly, the whole burger-as-salad thing sullies it all and I won't be back.  Not with so many other places offering a truly vegan option.  Thanks, anyway, Grub.

In my last post, I promised a write up about a remodeled eatery in my 'hood, but we went and, while the new space of Pizza Orgasmica is nice and roomy, the beer and pizza is as mediocre as ever.  Stick with Amici's for delivery and Beretta for artisinal pies to die for.

Soon I'm off to Chicago to meet up with my BVFF and Vegan Favorites co-writer, Shelley, so stay tuned for some Chi-town eats, y'all!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Amber Dhara

I'd heard good things from omnivorous folk about the new(ish) Amber Dhara on Valencia Street and, being an Indian restaurant, I assumed they'd have a pretty decent selection of veggie items as well.  What I didn't expect was an entirely vegan, and incredibly delicious, 4 course tasting menu.  Dim lighting made for some terrible photos, but let me take you through it, won't you?

The amuse bouche was a papadum filled with onions, herbs, and veggies, and served with three chutneys. (The chutneys stayed on the table for the rest of the savory courses, too.  Good things, since I put them on everything!) What a flavorful bite (or two or three, actually) and lovely way to start the meal.

Next up was their fried kale appetizer.  I love anything battered and fried and I will take kale in any preparation, so this was right up my alley.  These crisp, fun, and addictive poppers, were perfectly seasoned and not greasy at all.  Amber Dhara should bag and sell these guys!

The third plate to hit the table was this eggplant.  Much like a typical bengan bharta, but with more refined and layered flavors, the eggplant was left in large chunks, rather than turned completely to mush, which I appreciated.  The almonds were a nice textural touch, and the fried lotus root and plantain chips were perfect for scooping up the savory sauce.

The last savory course was the mushroom curry.  Made with coconut milk, and served with roti (you could also get brown rice), this hearty main really hit the mark, and I'm not even a huge mushroom fan.  Well played, Amber Dhara. It was soul warming and satisfying without being too heavy... good, because there was still dessert to come!

Gluten-free and vegan, this chocolate banana cake would please the palate of any omnivore (my omni dining partner devoured hers).  The best part is that it is served warm, so it's a bit gooey on the inside, and crunchy from the walnuts on top.  Add a caramelized banana, some soy ice cream, and fresh berries and it is the absolute best way to end your tasting menu.

So, as you can see, I loved my meal and hope to get back to Amber Dhara sometime soon.  I will say one thing, however: The service was attentive to the point of intrusive.  We were asked over and over and over again if we were enjoying everything (we really were, but we'd also like to have a conversation, thanks) and it seemed like someone was always way too nearby.  At the end, the head waitress asked us to please yelp our experience, and then today they CALLED ME (not even kidding) to ask about our experience.  I get it, you're a new restaurant.  It's a huge space and you need bodies in the door.  But hovering over your diners is NOT the way to make that happen.  You have a gorgeous space (albeit a complete DOSA rip-off) and are serving scrumptious food.  Chill out on the in-your-face "hospitality".

Ok, that's it for now.  A place in my 'hood got a makeover recently, so stay tuned for my review next week.  Meanwhile, have a great weekend everyone!