Monday, June 27, 2016

The Wienery

Every so often, I get a craving for a hot dog. It used to be that whenever that occurred, I would head over to Capitol Dawg and order up one of their Veggie Dawgs. Alas, Capitol Dawg closed a few years ago. Since that option is no longer available to me, I'm always on the lookout to see who else is offering vegan hot dogs.

This past week, my search led me to the Wienery in East Sacramento to try The Vegetarian. This is a Tofurky Kielbasa that you can substitute for a regular hot dog in any of the Wienery's menu items. I decided to go with the Kraut Dog, which meant that my Tofurky Kielbasa was topped with mustard and sauerkraut. It was a pretty tasty lunch!

The chili the Wienery uses for its chili dogs is vegan, in case you'd like to give that a try sometime. Also, a sign hanging up behind the counter listed a spinach salad that sounded delicious. It's vegan if you leave off the walnuts, which are coated with something that involves egg.

The Wienery is located at 715 56th Street, and the phone number is 916-455-0497. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Espresso Metro

Recently, I read that Espresso Metro in Land Park was celebrating its 28th anniversary. That made me realize that I'd never checked to see if any vegan options were offered there. So I remedied that situation last week when I stopped in for lunch.

Espresso Metro actually has a few vegan options. They don't have a printed menu listing all the choices, so I checked out what was in the refrigerated case near the cash register and followed up with questions to the staff. I ended up getting the vegan panini, which consisted of sourdough bread spread with hummus and filled with zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, onions, carrots, sunflower seeds, and I don't remember what all, toasted panini-style. It was tasty, and the hummus had a nice flavor.

Other vegan options included a wrap and a quinoa Greek salad. There were two soups listed on the chalkboard that were probably vegan too: gazpacho and vegetable soup. For you coffee drinkers, soy, almond, or coconut milk are available.

Espresso Metro is located at 2104 11th Avenue, and their phone number is 916-444-6130. They don't seem to have a website, but their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Sunday from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Formoli's Bistro

Desperately looking for a place to blog about this past weekend, I clicked through the menus of dozens of restaurants to see if any of them had begun offering vegan options that I didn't know about. I was just about to give up when I found this welcome listing on the Formoli's Bistro menu: Seasonal Vegan Board. I promptly called the restaurant and made a dinner reservation.

This dish turned out to be a veritable farmer's market of perfectly sautéed vegetables. Potatoes, kale, asparagus, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, radishes, onions, garlic, and beans shared the board with chickpea puree, cilantro coulis, and a spicy red sauce that may have been harissa sauce. It was a beautifully-prepared and satisfying meal, and I would definitely order it again. Since it relies on seasonal produce, the vegetables will probably change from one visit to the next. Although it's listed only on the restaurant's dinner menu, the server thought they could probably serve it at lunchtime too, upon request.

What I love about this approach is that it doesn't require the kitchen to stock any special ingredients just for vegans. For all the chefs out there who think that in order to provide vegan menu options, you must have a separate supply of tofu, non-dairy cheese, or other items you don't use for anything else, please give some thought to creating a vegan entrée out of the same grains and produce you use for your side dishes.

Formoli's Bistro is located at 3839 J Street, and their phone number is 916-448-5699. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Coconut's Fish Cafe

Coconut's Fish Café, a popular Maui-based restaurant chain, opened recently in midtown. When I checked their menu, I saw that veggie patties were an option in several of their dishes, so I sent them a Facebook message asking whether their veggie patties are vegan. They are!

I had lunch there twice last week. The first time, I ordered the Taco Mountain rice bowl, a bed of brown rice topped with tomato salsa, diced tomatoes, mango salsa, and veggie patty pieces. It was tasty and filling, and I liked the flavor of the veggie patty. Be sure to order it without the cheese and coleslaw.

I ordered the Super Green Salad for my next lunch, consisting of kale, spinach, chard, Romaine, macadamia nuts, red bell pepper, and mango. I asked for a veggie patty to be added to the salad (for an extra cost), and that's when I discovered that the veggie patty also comes in a teriyaki flavor, so I gave that a try. At least two of the dressing choices were vegan -- pineapple vinaigrette and Dijon vinaigrette. I decided the pineapple vinaigrette would be the better choice with the teriyaki patty. It turned out to be a really good salad, and I loved the teriyaki patty.

Coconut's Fish Café is located at 1420 16th Street in the space formerly occupied by Noodles & Company, and their phone number is 916-440-0449. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

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, and their Facebook page can be found at 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, and their Faceebook page can be found at 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, and their Facebook page can be found at 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.