Monday, May 30, 2016

Pizza Bell



It's getting easier to find vegan pizza all the time. zPizza, Blaze, and Hot Italian all offer Daiya vegan cheese, and even pizza restaurants without vegan cheese often have delicious veggie pizzas that can be ordered without the cheese.


But a pizza parlor in Elk Grove is a game changer. Pizza Bell not only offers vegan pizza with Daiya cheese, they offer a vegan calzone and vegan garlic twists! How cool is that?!


I had lunch at Pizza Bell last week, and I ordered both the twists and the calzone. They did not disappoint. The twists were amazingly good, browned to perfection and served with High Omega Vegan Ranch dressing. I couldn't possibly finish them since I was having the calzone too, so I ended up having a couple of them for breakfast the next morning. Honestly, I wish I could eat them for breakfast every day.




The vegan calzone was excellent too, a golden brown crust stuffed with Daiya cheese, mushrooms, olives, bell pepper, and tomato. It usually includes onions, but I asked to have them omitted from mine.




Elk Grove is off the beaten path for me, but I think the next time I'm in the mood for pizza, I'll be making that drive down Highway 99 again.


Pizza Bell is located at 8591 Elk Grove Boulevard, and their phone number is 916-685-1560. Their website address is http://pizzabell.org/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/PizzaBellEG/?fref=ts. The restaurant opens at 11:00 a.m. daily, but the closing time will vary, depending upon how busy things are. If you're planning to get there after 9:00 p.m., you may want to call ahead to make sure they'll still be open.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Plates Midtown

I love it when I can eat and do good at the same time, so for this week's blog post, I visited Plates Midtown. This little café on L Street, which is a project of Saint John's Program for Real Change, trains formerly homeless mothers to enter the service and culinary industries.


For my first lunch at Plates Midtown, I ordered the Chickpea Sandwich, without the mayo. It was a tasty sourdough panini with garbanzo beans, tarragon, roasted beets, apple, radish sprouts, and black olive tapenade, served with a side salad. An observation: even though it's called a chickpea sandwich, the main ingredient and dominant flavor was roasted beets. Still good, though.




I went back for lunch later in the week and ordered the River City Fruit Salad, without the goat cheese. This lovely, refreshing salad consisted of Romaine lettuce, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, walnuts, and sunflower seeds, topped with a balsamic reduction. I ate every bite!




Other salads on the menu that look like they would be vegan without the cheese are Johnny's Greek Salad and the Tower Bridge Spinach Salad.


Plates Midtown is located at 1725 L Street, and their phone number is 916-426-3884. Their website address is http://plates2go.org/, and their Faceebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/platesmidtown/. The restaurant is open for lunch only Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Fat City Bar & Cafe



Just before Mother's Day, someone posted a question about what restaurants offer vegan options in Old Sacramento. I had to respond that, in my experience, Old Sacramento hasn't been particularly vegan-friendly. Ten22 usually has something vegan, although their current menu doesn't look very promising; Indo Café can substitute tofu for animal protein in a few of their dishes, but there's not much seating in the restaurant; and Rio City Café can cobble together something vegan if necessary. So while I may shop in Old Sacramento, I rarely eat there.


When I was looking for a restaurant to blog about this week, though, I decided to take another look at what Old Sacramento restaurants are serving these days. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Fat City Bar & Café has added several vegetarian options to their menu, and a few of them appear to be vegan.


My husband Phil and I headed over there Saturday night. I asked the server if the vegetable chow mein, vegetable stir fry, and crispy peanut tofu were all vegan. She was confident that the vegetable chow mein was, and I can't imagine that the vegetable stir fry wouldn't be vegan, but what I really wanted to try was the crispy peanut tofu. The server asked the chef, who gave his assurance that it was vegan. This tasty dish consisted of tofu stir-fried with sesame peanut sauce, bok choy, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, red bell peppers, and white onion, served on a bed of riced cauliflower and topped with green onions and cilantro. The things I liked best about it were the flavor of the tofu, and the decision to serve it over riced cauliflower instead of white rice, which made it lighter and more nutritious. It was a very satisfying entrée.




The Fat City menu also lists a porcini black bean burger that's described as vegan, although I doubt that the habanero aioli that accompanies it is vegan. If you decide to order the burger, it's probably best to ask a few questions.


Fat City Bar & Café is located at 1001 Front Street, and their phone number is 916-446-6768. Their website address is http://www.fatsrestaurants.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/fatcitybarandcafe/?fref=ts. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Cielito Lindo Mexican Gastronomy



I've found that it pays to recheck restaurant menus from time to time, just to see if any vegan options have been added. Case in point: since Cielito Lindo Mexican Gastronomy has participated in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge in the past, I knew they were capable of preparing awesome vegan dishes, but the only vegan options I've seen on their online menu in the past were guacamole and chips and a fruit salad. Over the weekend, I decided to take another look, and I found four vegetarian dishes, all of which appeared to be vegan or capable of being made vegan. So my husband Phil and I headed over there for dinner last night.


The two dishes that interested me the most were the vegetarian enchiladas and the Azteca budin, described on the menu as Mexican lasagna. After talking it over with the staff, I opted for the vegetarian enchiladas with mole sauce. The enchiladas were filled with a mixture of chayote squash, corn, zucchini, and spinach, and topped with a rich, dark mole, then served with a side of rice. It was a creative and delicious combination of flavors.




The other two vegetarian main courses -- chayote squash stuffed with green zucchini and corn, and mushroom salpicon tostadas -- appear from the menu description to be vegan if the cheese and sour cream are omitted.


Cielito Lindo Mexican Gastronomy is located at 3672 J Street, and their phone number is 916-736-2506. Their website address is http://cielitolindo.us/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/CielitoLindoMexicanGastronomy/?fref=ts. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. They are generally closed on Sundays, although they were open yesterday for Mother's Day.











Monday, May 2, 2016

Road Trip! Gather in Berkeley

I went to visit my parents in the Bay Area last week, and we drove to Berkeley for lunch at Gather, near the University of California campus. I'd heard good things about Gather over the years, and I'm always happy to visit a restaurant that has lots of vegan items and marks them clearly on the menu.


We shared a small dish of curried walnuts to start. There was enough curry to add interest to the walnuts without overwhelming them.




I had a cup of the very hearty and quite tasty hominy and bean soup, made with a toasted chili broth and topped with pepita pesto and shredded cabbage.




I ordered spicy tomato pizza for my main course, with Kalamata olives, cashew purée, chili oil, and herbs. It was good, especially the crust, but a word of warning: when they say it's spicy, they're not kidding!




Although there was a vegan chocolate oatmeal cookie on the dessert menu, we decided to walk to Cinnaholic, about a block away, for vegan cinnamon rolls instead. Great choice!


Gather is located at 2200 Oxford Street in Berkeley, and their phone number is 510-809-0400. Their website address is http://www.gatherrestaurant.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/GatherRestaurant/. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; for brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; and for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Localis

Normally, I avoid blogging about restaurants that don't have actual vegan options listed on their menus. I hate going into a restaurant feeling like I'm an unwanted guest who has to be accommodated. I also prefer to know what my choices are ahead of time, rather than having to trust that the chef will make something I'll like.


I made an exception last week when my husband Phil and I went to Localis, mostly because the phrasing on their website didn't make me feel as though my need for vegan options was a nuisance. The Localis website says: "Vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians and omnivores alike will find a welcoming seat at our table." I made a notation on the online reservation form to let the chef know I was vegan, and I received a call from the restaurant staff to tell me they can always provide a vegan option, although they appreciated the advance notice.


After Phil and I were seated Saturday night, I asked our server what the vegan options were. He said one of the "Small Fare" items on the menu, Fungi and Pots, could be made vegan by omitting the butter, so I ordered that for my first course. It was a mixture of cultured and foraged mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, and nasturtium petals, and it was excellent. If you're not very hungry, it might even be enough food for an entrée.




For my "Primary Fare," I had two choices: a spring vegetable stir-fry over either quinoa or farro, or a vegan version of the roasted asparagus risotto offered with their fish entrée. I chose the vegetable stir-fry. It was a wonderful dish, consisting of carrots, asparagus, broccoli, and mushrooms stir-fried in a flavorful sauce (a little on the salty side, but I was okay with that) and served over a bed of farro.




The five-course tasting menu at Localis can also be modified for vegans, with at least 24 hours advance notice. For a special occasion dinner, that could definitely be worth checking out!


Localis is located at 2031 S Street, and their phone number is 916-737-7599. Their website address is http://www.localissacramento.com, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Localis-1443061382661807/?fref=ts. The restaurant is open for lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and for dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Chickpeas

It occurred to me one day that every vegan in my Facebook news feed seemed to have eaten at Chickpeas in Davis except me. The only remedy for that situation was to get in my car and drive across the causeway for lunch.

Chickpeas serves Mediterranean cuisine in a casual setting. The young man working behind the counter was very knowledgeable about which of their items were vegan, which would have made it easy for me to order my lunch if there hadn't been so many choices, especially with regard to the various hummus plates. Hummus with tahini, hummus with chickpeas, hummus with falafel -- what to do, what to do? I asked if the falafel was fried in the same oil as any non-vegan items, and was told that it was not. Only the French fries are cooked in the same oil as the falafel. So I ordered the hummus falafel plate, a generous serving of hummus topped with five crispy house-made falafel pieces and served with fluffy pita wedges. Good choice! The falafel was the best I'd tasted in a long time.




Since I can never resist stuffed grape leaves, I ordered a dolma plate too. The seasoned rice mix wrapped inside the grape leaves was tasty, and the dolma plate was the perfect side dish to go with my hummus falafel. I can see why Chickpeas is such a hit with local vegans!




Chickpeas is located at 640 W. Covell Boulevard in Davis, and their phone number is 800-909-5353. Their website address is http://www.gochickpeas.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/gochickpeas/?fref=ts. The restaurant is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.