Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Mendocino Farms

Mendocino Farms, a California-based restaurant chain, is opening a location at the Ice Blocks on R Street tomorrow. Offering a "chef-driven, seasonal farm-to-table menu," Mendocino Farms has lots of great options for vegans.

I attended a preview event there last week, and tried every vegan dish they were passing around. Some of the dishes, such as the tofu skewers and the crudités with three different vegan sauces, are available only on their catering menu. However, they were also serving two items from their regular menu that I know will be popular with local vegans.

The banh mi sandwich, served on Mendocino Farms’ excellent ciabatta, is filled with baked tofu, pickled daikon and carrots, cucumbers, jalapeños, cilantro, vegan aioli, and sweet chili sauce. I’m not usually a big fan of banh mi sandwiches, but I would definitely eat this again.

They were also serving the Impossible taco salad, which, as its name suggests, is made with Impossible Burger meat to which chorizo seasonings have been added. This salad also includes romaine, curly kale, succotash made from black beans, corn, and jicama, red onions, tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro. The dressing is a house vegan chipotle ranch. This salad was a hit even with the non-vegans.

Last night, I went back with my husband Phil for a staff training dinner, which was also a fundraiser for three local elementary schools. In lieu of paying for an entrée and a drink, diners were asked to donate to one of the three schools. I ordered Mendo’s smokehouse tempeh sandwich, consisting of barbecue house-smoked tempeh, mustard pickle slaw, tomatoes, red onions, and vegan aioli, served on toasted ciabatta. I really liked the flavor of the tempeh in this sandwich.

They were also offering samples of their side dishes, so I ordered the two that were vegan. The one on the left in the picture below is a mix of julienned raw beets and carrots, kale, golden raisins, and I don’t know what all. The one on the right is curried couscous and cauliflower. Both were very good.

Other vegan items at Mendocino Farms include a falafel wrap, and a Chinese chicken salad that can be made vegan with a couple of substitutions. They also have an avocado and quinoa superfood ensalada that, if it can be made without the cojita cheese, seems like it would be fabulous.

Mendocino Farms is located at 1610 R Street, and their phone number is 916-368-5400. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant will be open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Wild Rooster Bistro

We’re in the home stretch for this year’s Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, and there are still several restaurants I haven’t visited. So this afternoon, my husband Phil and I took a drive to Fair Oaks Village for lunch at the always vegan-friendly Wild Rooster Bistro.

There are six fabulous-sounding dishes on Wild Rooster Bistro’s special menu, which made deciding among them very difficult. Sopes, chile relleno, cochinita pibil, chile verde, tacos, mole – what to choose, what to choose? So far during this year’s challenge, I’ve had chile relleno at El Papagayo, tacos at Golden Road Brewing and Crocker Café, and mole at Mayahuel, so I decided to try the sopes de picadillo at Wild Rooster Bistro.

Sopes are very thick corn tortillas that serve as the base for various toppings. In this case, the toppings were shredded soy in a house-made marinade, potatoes in red sauce, refried beans, lettuce, vegan sour cream and queso fresco, and pico de gallo. I loved the flavors in this creative dish, which was served with rice and refried beans.

I was much too full for dessert, but couldn’t say no to the walnut pudding everyone has been talking about on Facebook and Instagram. I don’t even know how to describe this delicious pudding, which was sweet, but not too sweet, had the texture of gelatin, but obviously wasn’t gelatin, and was completely full of walnuts. It was a very large helping, so Phil and I shared it, and we both really liked it.

Wild Rooster is located at 7984 California Boulevard in Fair Oaks Village, and their phone number is 916-966-6384. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Tower Bridge Bistro

Last night, my friend Marcia and I had dinner at Tower Bridge Bistro at the Embassy Suites. For the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, Chef Clay Purcell has created a three-course fixed price menu, and we knew from past experience that it would be excellent.

The menu offers choices in four different courses – soups, appetizers, entrées, and desserts – and you can pick three items all together. Marcia and I both started our meal with butternut squash soup, topped with cashew cream and chives. It was excellent, and we were both very happy with our choice.

Marcia ordered the bruschetta appetizer and we shared it. The toasted bread was covered with smashed avocado, then topped with tomatoes, microgreens, and a balsamic drizzle. This dish could have been a meal in itself, so we were glad we were sharing it, since we still had entrées and dessert to enjoy.

For my entrée, I chose the linguini, an array of roasted rainbow cauliflower atop a bed of linguini with house-made alfredo sauce. I love cauliflower, and the beautiful multi-color cauliflower florets were cooked to perfection.

It was Marcia’s entrée that was the star, though. She ordered the stuffed gypsy pepper, and the few bites I tried were fantastic. The pepper was stuffed with quinoa and spinach, served on polenta cakes, and topped with a toasted almond sauce. Amazing!

I ordered the chocolate ganache cake for dessert, which we shared. This lovely, moist cake was topped with fresh strawberries and finished with an agave nectar drizzle. It was the perfect way to end a lovely meal.

Tower Bridge Bistro is located inside the Embassy Suites Hotel at 100 Capitol Mall, and their phone number is 916-326-5050. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at Their Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu is available only during dinner, which is served nightly from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Pho Fresh

Last night, my friend Melissa and I attended Dine-Out at Pho Fresh, an event organized by Bethany Davis, the mastermind behind the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge. More than two dozen people gathered to enjoy appetizers provided especially for the Dine-Out and to order other vegan dishes from both the Pho Fresh Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu and their regular menu, which includes two whole pages of vegan options.

The first appetizer that came out of the kitchen was the chik’n satay. Skewers of grilled mock chicken meat in a spicy peanut sauce were passed around to all the guests, and they were excellent. In fact, the chik’n skewers were my favorite dish. I was sad to see they aren’t on the regular menu at Pho Fresh.

Next, we had bao tacos, steamed white buns filled with seasoned and shredded mushrooms, cucumbers, pickled carrots, pickled daikon, cilantro, and sriracha. These were a big hit with the Dine-Out crowd.

These two appetizers were followed by a bowl of very spicy lemongrass pho. Filled with mushrooms, glass noodles, and lots of chili pepper flakes, it had a great flavor, but the heat level of the chili peppers was too much for several of the diners.

After that, the dishes we ordered on our own began to arrive. Melissa and I had wanted to try the boneless BBQ ribs from the special challenge menu. These ribs were made from king oyster mushrooms cooked in barbecue sauce, and they did not disappoint.

Since we’d apparently not had enough bao tacos during the appetizer course, we ordered the tofu belly tacos from the regular menu. They were the same as the mushroom bao tacos we’d had earlier, except that instead of a mushroom filling, these bao tacos contained tofu seasoned in a spicy garlic sauce.

Finally, we decided to try a noodle dish from the regular menu. The vegan chow fun consisted of thick rice noodles stir-fried with bean sprouts, onions, and tofu. It was a simple, but satisfying, dish.

I really wished we’d saved room for dessert, since I wanted to try the cinnamon apple eggrolls on the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu. Alas, I was too full to seriously consider dessert.

Pho Fresh is located at 10673 Coloma Road in Rancho Cordova, and their phone number is 916-706-2523. They don’t appear to have a website, but their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


I must not make it down to Old Sacramento very often, because I had a Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge lunch today at a restaurant on Front Street that I didn't even know was there.

Knobs-n-Knockers, which has been open since last December, serves sausages, beer, and other German delights. The sandwich board in front of the restaurant lists the dishes they’re offering for the challenge, but they also have vegan options on their regular menu.

I thought about ordering the beet burger, but since it’s available all the time, I’ll have other opportunities to try it. Instead, I ordered the currywurst. This was a hearty vegan sausage covered with a tangy barbecue-type sauce and then topped with curry powder. You’ll definitely want to check out this restaurant the next time you’re in Old Sacramento!

Knobs-n-Knockers is located at 1023 Front Street, and their phone number is 916-321-9480. They don’t appear to have a website, but their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Monday, October 22, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Thai Basil

I was out of town all weekend, but before I left on Friday, my husband Phil and I stopped in for a quick lunch at Thai Basil. I really wanted to try everything on their Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu, but I only had time for one dish.

After much deliberation, I ordered the Impossible Spicy Larb salad. This dish consists of Impossible meat cooked in a special blend of Thai larb spices and served on a bed of mixed greens, along with tomatoes, cucumber, and shredded carrots. A tamarind dressing provided the finishing touch. Normally, this salad includes fried onions, but I had them omitted from mine. The spicy Impossible meat was a nice contrast to the salad’s vegetables.

Thai Basil is located at 2431 J Street, and their phone number is 916-442-7690. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. In addition to their all-day Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu, they’re also offering a special brunch menu this month on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op

I have a lot going on during the next few days, so I didn’t have time for a long lunch today. Instead, I stopped in at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op to see what yummy things they’re offering for the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge.

There were two signs on their deli counter advertising their special vegan items. One was a vegan oyster mushroom burrito, described as grilled oyster mushrooms in banh mi sauce, cilantro brown rice, sriracha Veganaise, sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, pickled red onions, fresh mint, sliced jalapeños,  and fresh cilantro, all rolled up in a spinach wrap.

That sounded good, but I wanted the other item – the Vegan Fakin BLTA. Served on a Pugliese baguette, this sandwich is spread with tofu mayo and filled with Lightlife Fakin Bacon, avocado, tomato, and lettuce. It was just what I needed!

I also bought one of the vegan donuts they’re offering this month. It was a house-made ginger spice donut topped with chocolate icing and candied ginger. It was great, but my favorite co-op donut this month was the unicorn donut they were selling a couple of weeks ago. 

This is the co-op’s first year participating in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, and I think they’ve done a great job. I hope they’ll participate again next year!

The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op is located at 2820 R Street, and their phone number is 916-455-2667. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at They are open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.