Monday, March 23, 2015

Federalist Public House & Beer Garden

This weekend, I finally found the Federalist Public House & Beer Garden. I'd heard it was near 20th and N streets in Midtown, but driving down N, I never saw it. When I checked the restaurant's address, however, I discovered that it was on Matsui Alley, which is located between N Street and Capitol Avenue. So my husband Phil and I headed over for lunch.

The restaurant is a converted shipping container, with long tables and benches for drinkers and diners, and a bocce ball court for those who want a little fun with their food. The Sac Brew Bike was parked outside, waiting to pick up a party of pub hoppers.

We ordered at the counter. There is only one vegan item on the menu, but I always appreciate restaurants that actually create dishes for their vegan diners and identify them as such on their menus. The pizza I ordered was the Midtown, described as "for our neighborhood vegans, crushed san marzano tomatoes, peppers, onions, chili, lacinato kale, extra-virgin olive oil." Pretty healthy looking pizza, if you ask me, and tasty too!

Federalist Public House & Beer Garden is located at 2009 Matsui Alley, between N Street and Capitol Avenue, and between 20th and 21st, and their phone number is 916-661-6134. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Sunday through Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight.

Federalist Public House & Beer Garden on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 16, 2015

Ruffhaus Hot Dog Co.

Each of the last three Fridays, I've managed to combine two of my favorite activities -- browsing in bookstores and finding vegan food to blog about. This past Friday, these activities took me to El Dorado Hills, where I spent some quality time in Face in a Book, then walked a few doors down to Ruffhaus Hot Dog Co.

Most menu items at Ruffhaus aren't vegan, of course, but the fact that they had one item specifically identified as vegan got my attention. The item, which I ordered, is called the Tofudabeast (cute name!), and it consists of a tasty veggie dog, avocado, cucumber, tomato, arugula, and balsamic vinaigrette in a Romaine lettuce wrap. Basically, it's a fun way to add a little protein to your salad.

It's possible to build your own hot dog sandwich, starting with the veggie dog, but I haven't had any luck finding out whether the hot dog buns at Ruffhaus are vegan or not. I've sent the restaurant a message using the contact form on their website, but haven't received any response. I asked the person at the counter if any of the buns were vegan, and she asked someone in the kitchen, who said they were, but the woman at the counter was pretty convinced that the buns contained eggs or other non-vegan ingredients. If I ever get a definitive answer, I'll post an update here, but in the meantime, you should probably assume that the only vegan option at Ruffhaus is the Tofudabeast.

Ruffhaus Hot Dog Co. is located at 4355 Town Center Boulevard, Suite 114, in El Dorado Hills, and their phone number is 916-941-3647. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Ruffhaus Hot Dog Co. on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 9, 2015

Road Trip! Veggie Grill in Corte Madera

On Friday, I drove to Corte Madera to visit Book Passage, an independent bookstore that's been on my bucket list for awhile. After spending a wonderful hour-plus browsing and picking out books, I drove to another place I've been wanting to visit -- Veggie Grill, an all-vegan restaurant chain that, unfortunately, does not have a Sacramento location.

There were so many delicious-sounding options on the menu that I had a hard time deciding what to eat. I wanted to be able to include pictures of at least two dishes on this blog so readers could get an idea about what was available. I love cauliflower, so the first dish I ordered was the Crispy Cauliflower appetizer, panko-breaded cauliflower florets served with a sweet and spicy orange dipping sauce. So good!

For my entree, I asked for guidance from the cashier, who said that the Sonoran Winter Bowl, the Bombay Bowl, and the Crispy Chickin' Plate were all customer favorites. All three looked good, but it was the cauli-mashed potatoes that came with the crispy chickin' that was the deciding factor for me. Porcini mushroom gravy topped the potatoes, and coleslaw and fire-roasted carrots were also on the plate. It was an excellent but extremely filling lunch, especially after the Crispy Cauliflower appetizer.

If I hadn't been completely stuffed, I would have topped off my lunch with a piece of carrot cake. By that time, though, I couldn't even think about dessert.

Veggie Grill has restaurants in California, Washington, and Oregon. The nearest one to Sacramento is the new Veggie Grill that recently opened in Walnut Creek. More information about the menu, locations, and hours of service are available on Veggie Grill's website at or on their Facebook page at

Veggie Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 2, 2015

Kitchen428 in Woodland

I took a drive up I-5 last week and had lunch in historic downtown Woodland at Kitchen428, which I had read was a farm-to-fork restaurant serving meals with seasonal, locally-sourced produce.

I was happy to see they had clearly marked the lunch menu to identify the dishes that were vegan or could be made vegan, which made ordering very easy. I decided on the hummus and pita plate, without the feta cheese, and the beet salad without the chevre. I could have added marinated tofu to the salad for an extra charge, but decided this was going to be enough food as it was.

The tasty hummus was spicy, and it was served with lightly toasted pita triangles, carrot and celery sticks, roasted red peppers, and Kalamata olives. The serving size was generous and could easily have been shared with another person.

The salad consisted of red and gold beets, mixed greens, micro greens, Mariani walnuts, and a citrus vinaigrette. It was very fresh and the flavors blended together beautifully.

I went back the next day with my husband. The Kitchen428 dining room was closed, but lunch was being served in the adjoining Mojo's Lounge & Bar. I ordered the Portobello Grill without cheese, which consisted of portobello mushroom, grilled zucchini, spinach, and basil oil on delicious focaccia, served with a side salad.

Kitchen428 is located at 428 First Street, and their phone number is 530-661-0428. The 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.

Kitchen428 Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 23, 2015

Blaze Pizza

Blaze Pizza opened two new restaurants in Roseville and Gold River a couple of months ago. Executive Chef Bradford Kent, who has been featured on Good Morning America, was in Roseville last week, where I had the opportunity to talk with him.

Blaze Pizza offers a fast assembly-line approach to pizza ordering so that you can get your 11-inch pizza quickly but eat it at your leisure. At the beginning of the line, you choose which type of pizza crust you want, either classic or gluten-free. Both are vegan and non-GMO. The pizza dough will have been fermented for twenty-four hours in order to make it easier to digest. A dough press is used to shape it.

Next, you decide which sauce you'd like. The vegan choices are the red sauce, spicy red sauce, olive oil drizzle, or BBQ drizzle. They even keep a separate container of the red sauce in the vegetable section in case you want to avoid any accidental drips from the non-vegan sauces.

The vegan cheese option is Daiya. It's kept in the section with all the meats, but they keep a cover on the container so that nothing will fall into it that you don't want to eat.

There are numerous vegetable toppings from which to choose: artichokes • arugula • bell peppers • cherry tomatoes • chopped garlic • fresh basil • jalapeños • mushrooms • olives (both black and Kalamata) • banana peppers • pineapple • red onions • red peppers • sautéed onion • spinach • zucchini.

Chef Brad is very aware of vegan issues and concerns, and he knows which ingredients might be problematic for vegans. For example, he researched the company that provides the cane sugar for the restaurant's fresh lemonade to make sure they don't use bone char as part of their refining process. There are separate pizza cutters and other utensils for vegan pizzas, and if you're concerned about whether the person assembling your pizza is using gloves that might have come in contact with meat or dairy products, they will change their gloves upon request. More information for vegans is available in the FAQs on the Blaze Pizza website at

After the interview, Chef Brad offered to make a pizza for me, an offer I couldn't pass up! I asked for the classic dough, red sauce, Daiya cheese, mushrooms, black olives, banana peppers, and pineapple. It was baked in the approximately 700 degree oven for about three minutes, then Chef Brad drizzled it with olive oil and sprinkled it with a little sea salt. It was excellent! The crust was light and crisp, and the red sauce was very flavorful and not nearly as salty as the sauce that most pizza restaurants seem to make. My preferred toppings were mostly processed, but the other vegetable toppings looked fresh and appetizing. Chef Brad prides himself on the high quality of the ingredients used in Blaze's pizzas.

I was impressed by the commitment to environmentally-friendly packaging at Blaze Pizza. Their eating utensils are made from recycled materials, the drink cup lids are made from plant-based materials, and their drink cup and box suppliers are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. What I really loved, though, were the pizza boxes available to people who can't finish their pizza in the restaurant and want to take home the leftovers. Instead of receiving a full-sized box, they receive a box that's exactly half the size of the full box.

Blaze Pizza is a national chain with fifty-six restaurants currently open. In addition to the Roseville and Gold River locations, a restaurant is expected to open in Davis in the near future. Chef Brad hopes a Sacramento restaurant will open eventually. Information about restaurant locations and hours can be found on the Blaze Pizza website at or on their Facebook page at

Blaze Pizza on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 16, 2015

Oak Park Brewing Company

My son was home on a break from college recently, and we decided to have lunch at the Oak Park Brewing Company, which opened just a few months ago. While there weren't many vegan options on the menu, I thought the mention of a vegan burger was a hopeful sign.

There is a different vegetarian soup every day, and when I was there, it was a vegan pureed tomato, mushroom, and barley soup. It was flavorful and spicy and, best of all, it was served hot, which has not been the case with any of the soups I've had at the last few restaurants I've visited. The toasted bread served with it appeared to be buttery, so I skipped that.

I ordered Steve's Vegan Burger for my entree. It was a tasty barley patty served on a ciabatta roll with arugula, onions, and toasted pepita sauce. It comes with fries or salad, but the fries are cooked in the same oil as non-vegan menu items, so I ordered the salad. It came sprinkled with Parmesan, so if you order this dish, you may want to ask your server to let the chef know you don't want any cheese on your salad.

The only other vegan item was the roasted seasonal vegetables, available either as a small plate or as a side dish. I'll give that a try on my next visit.

Oak Park Brewing Company is located at 3514 Broadway, and their phone number is 916-660-2723. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Oak Park Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 9, 2015

Vegan Chocolate for Your Valentine

It's almost Valentine's Day, and if you haven't figured out where to buy chocolates for your vegan significant other, you may be starting to panic. Fortunately, I've been out shopping and can make a few recommendations.

Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op has a nice variety of Sjaak's vegan organic chocolates displayed on a shelf in front of the deli counter. I haven't seen them there before, so it may be that they're just carrying them for Valentine's Day. There are heart-shaped boxes full of fabulous truffles, small boxes of lavender chocolate hearts, four-packs of sea salted caramels, individually-wrapped chocolate hearts, and canisters of melty truffles. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them!

Ginger Elizabeth's, the popular chocolatier in midtown, has a few vegan items. I can personally vouch for the incredible dark chocolate bark with almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios. The Valrhona chocolate pearls and the bittersweet chocolate bars are also vegan. Don't wait till the last minute, though -- when I drove past Ginger Elizabeth's just before Christmas, the line was out the door and halfway down the block.

At Lyon Village in East Sacramento, Le Grand Confectionary offers one of my favorite vegan treats: orange or apricot fruit glaces half-dipped in dark chocolate. They sell out quickly, so you may want to call ahead. Le Grand Confectionary also has dark chocolate bark containing either almonds or cacao nibs.

Wishing you a sweet Valentine's Day!