Monday, September 26, 2016

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge Starts Saturday!

I'm always so excited when October rolls around because that means it's time for the annual Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge.  For the sixth year in a row, local chefs will be preparing a variety of fabulous vegan dishes all month long.  Here are the restaurants that have signed up to participate so far this year, and it's the biggest group yet:

The special vegan menus aren't available yet, but I will post updates on my Sacramento Vegan Facebook page as I find out about them.  With so many restaurants participating this year, I know I won't be able to get to all of them, but I'll visit as many as I can.  I'll post pictures on Facebook and Instagram of the wonderful vegan dishes I order, and I'll do a blog post every Sunday night with a wrap-up of the restaurants I visited and the food I ate during the previous week.  I can't wait!

One caveat:  most of the participating restaurants do not serve vegan food exclusively.  They probably do not have separate frying equipment or a separate spot on the grill just for vegan food.  If this is a problem for you, you may want to patronize only the vegan restaurants or order only foods that aren't likely to have come in contact with non-vegan items.  

More information on the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge is available on their website at or on their Facebook page at

Monday, September 19, 2016


My husband Phil and I stopped in for brunch recently at Highwater, the new restaurant on Q Street that was formerly home to Pour House.  I had seen a couple of actual vegan items listed on their menu and was eager to check them out.

I ordered the cleverly-named Vegan Hangover Helper Scramble.  It consisted of a tofu, soyrizo, and spinach scramble, breakfast potatoes, fresh fruit, and toast.  It was an incredibly satisfying vegan brunch!

I had hoped to get back to Highwater for lunch last week, but that didn't work out.  They do have a vegan plate on their lunch and dinner menu, though.  It's the Vegan Stuffed Portabello Mushroom, with marinated zucchini, squash, red onion, artichoke, and a balsamic reduction.  The Deli Lama's Grilled Veggie Sandwich looks like it might be vegan too, although you'll probably want to double-check before you order it.

Highwater is located at 1910 Q Street, and their phone number is 916-706-2465.  Their website address is and their Facebook page can be found at  The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Road Trip! Tender Greens in Walnut Creek

I had lunch with my parents in Walnut Creek last week at Tender Greens, a California restaurant chain that I hadn't heard of previously. I was happy to see that this cafeteria-style restaurant had some menu items that were clearly marked as vegan, as well as a few that looked as though they could easily be made vegan.

I ordered the Happy Vegan, a salad sampler consisting of several different items. It included farro with cranberry and hazelnuts, quinoa with cucumber and beets, green hummus, tabbouleh, and salad greens. I'm not a fan of tabbouleh, so I got more of the quinoa instead. The quinoa was good, but if I had it to do over again, I'd get more of the farro salad, which was delicious.

I don't know about you, but I hate it when I go to a restaurant that has vegan options for the main course, but no vegan options for dessert. That was not the case at Tender Greens. In fact, they had two vegan desserts in their display case. Naturally, I had to try them both. The creamy chia pudding with strawberry glaze and fresh blueberries was wonderful. I had the jam thumbprint cookie at home later, and wished I'd gotten more than one.

Tender Greens has locations throughout California, although the closest one to Sacramento appears to be the one in Walnut Creek. Information about their locations, hours of operation, and menu can be found on their website at or on their Facebook page at

Monday, September 5, 2016

Umai Savory Hot Dogs

If you live in the greater Sacramento area and don't have an Umai Savory Hot Dogs near you yet, don't worry -- they're popping up all over! I've been hearing about this unique new hot dog restaurant on Facebook, so I visited the Howe Avenue location over the weekend.

Umai offers numerous variations on the sausage in a roll concept. There are several different hot dog or sausage choices, as well as lots of bun, sauce, and topping options. They have four different vegetarian sausage options, all of which are vegan.

I like my hot dogs pretty basic, so I tried to order the vegan frankfurter. Unfortunately, they were out of that one, so I got the vegan Italian sausage instead. I had checked the nutritional information on Umai's website ahead of time and knew that the only vegan bun option was the gluten-free bun, so I ordered that. Be forewarned, though -- the gluten-free bun costs an extra $2.00. For my sauce and toppings, I just asked for mustard and sauerkraut. It turned out to be a really good sausage sandwich! I plan on being a regular customer once they open a location a little closer to where I live.

In addition to the Howe Avenue location, Umai Savory Hot Dogs has restaurants in Natomas and Roseville. According to their website, they're planning to open restaurants in downtown Sacramento, midtown Sacramento, Elk Grove, Davis, and San Jose soon. For more information about their locations, hours, and menu, visit their website at or their Facebook page at

Monday, August 29, 2016

Nourish Health Bar and Cafe

One of the best things about having vegan Facebook friends is that when a new restaurant with vegan options opens anywhere in the area, I'm likely to start seeing posts about it in my news feed. That's how I found out about Nourish Health Bar and Café, which recently opened in Citrus Heights. I drove over there for lunch last week. It was a little hard to find, since there's no signage yet. If you find the tables and chairs on the sidewalk near Life Foods, though, you've come to the right place.

The menu at Nourish is very short -- they have a veggie burger, quinoa bowl, kombucha, herbal tea, and coffee. Everything on the menu is organic, vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free. Life Foods makes the burgers, buns, condiments, and dressings, which are available at Nourish as packaged products if you want to incorporate them into your meal preparation at home.

I was told that the bun used for the veggie burger is very nutrient-dense, and I wanted something lighter for lunch, so I opted for the quinoa bowl. It consisted of a scoop of quinoa topped with salad greens and a cut-up veggie burger. I requested that avocado and pineapple be added to the dish as well. Normally, this would involve an additional cost, but since the restaurant was still in its soft-opening phase, I wasn't charged for the additional ingredients. I guess the tomato slices must have been thrown in for good measure. It was a tasty and very hearty lunch.

The quinoa bowl also came with a side dish, so I chose the mixed vegetables. They were cooked just the way I like them -- still a little crunchy -- and the seasonings brought out their flavors nicely.

I'm a big kombucha fan, so I had to give their house-made kombucha a try. The masala chai ginger flavor was excellent.

Nourish Health Bar and Café is located at 7433 Greenback Lane, and their phone number is 916-740-6034. The Life Foods website can be found at, and the Nourish Health Bar and Café Facebook page can be found at The café is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Fish Face Poke Bar

Recently, I had lunch at Fish Face Poke Bar with Bethany Davis, the mastermind behind the annual Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge. She introduced me to the poke bowls at Fish Face -- a fun create-your-own meal that includes vegan options.

Each poke bowl includes green and white onions, seaweed, sesame seeds, protein, and sauce. The only vegan protein available is the tofu and cucumber option. The only vegan sauce option isn't listed on their online menu, but it involves sea salt and oil. There are also several ingredients you can add for an extra cost. Make sure to let the cashier know you're vegan when you're ordering your bowl and they'll help you navigate the choices.

During this visit, the restaurant was out of cucumber, so they let us substitute mango along with our tofu. I got the Small Fish combo, which includes a side dish and a drink. I ordered sushi rice for my side dish, and had it split between my bowl and Bethany's. I had them leave out the onions and the seaweed, but I added rice crisps for a little extra crunch. I thought the mango gave a nice fresh flavor to the bowl, and I really enjoyed it. Bethany had pretty much the same thing, except that she kept the seaweed and onions in hers.

I went back to Fish Face for lunch last week. This time, cucumbers were available, so I had the Small Fish combo with tofu and cucumbers. I omitted the onions but left in the seaweed, and added rice crisps and avocado. For my side dish, I ordered brown rice. This turned out to be a very satisfying lunch.

Fish Face is located inside the WAL building at 1104 R Street, and their phone number is 916-706-0605. 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.