Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunflower Drive In

I had one of those days last week when I just wanted to go out for a good lunch without having to ask a lot of questions about what was in the food. So I took a drive up to Old Town Fair Oaks and had a nutburger at the venerable Sunflower Drive In, which has been serving vegan and vegetarian fare for more than three decades.

The menu at Sunflower says to specify if you're vegan, so that's what I did when I ordered my nutburger, which is a nutmeat patty on a whole wheat bun. It's loaded up with sauce, onions, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, and sprouts. The burger is crunchy and delicious and very filling. I also ordered a tasty vegan potato salad to go with it.

Other vegan options include a millet burger, tacos, falafel, burritos, and tostadas. There are natural juices and smoothies, as well as vegan side dishes and desserts.

It takes a little while for them to prepare the food, so while you're waiting, you can sit at one of the tables outside the restaurant and admire some of the famous Fair Oaks chickens like the one in the picture below, who sat on the ground nearby, probably hoping I'd send a few morsels his way.

Sunflower Drive In is located at 10344 Fair Oaks Boulevard in Old Town Fair Oaks. The phone number is 916-967-4331, and the website address is The restaurant is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Monday, September 17, 2012

2012 Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge

Get ready for a month of vegan indulgence! The 2012 Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge starts October 1st, and it's even bigger and better than last year's. During the month of October, local chefs will offer vegan options on their dinner menus, and you can vote on which dishes are your favorites. Some of the restaurants may even offer vegan brunch items. Last year, eleven local restaurants participated. This year, twenty-two restaurants have signed up so far, doubling last year's participation. The restaurants that will take part in this year's challenge are:

Tower Bridge Bistro
Capitol Garage
The Porch
Evan's Kitchen
58 Degrees & Holding Co.
Hot Italian
Andy Nguyen's
The Plum Cafe & Bakery
Dad's Sandwich Shop
Dad's Kitchen
Bombay Bar & Grill
Aioli Bodega Espanola
24K Chocolat Cafe
Kathmandu Kitchen
Green Boheme
Baagan (Roseville)
El Papagayo (Carmichael)

Last year, I visited all eleven restaurants and posted blog articles about each of them. It might be difficult to visit all twenty-two restaurants that are participating this year, so my priority will be to visit the ones that I haven't blogged about before.

This is a great opportunity to go out to dinner with your non-vegan family and friends. You may even be able to convince them to try a vegan dish or two. You might also be able to persuade the participating chefs that there is a growing demand for vegan menu options. For more information, check out the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge website or Facebook page.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Freebirds World Burrito

I had lunch over the weekend at Freebirds World Burrito in Natomas, which opened just last month. As the name of the restaurant suggests, burritos are their specialties, but they also offer burrito bowls, nachos, quesadillas, tacos, and salads.

If you decide to go with the burrito, your first decision will be choosing the size you want to order, since they range from the Hybrid, which is Freebirds' smallest burrito, other than their Kids' burrito, all the way up to the Super Monster, which weighs almost seven pounds. I opted for the Hybrid burrito and still ended up feeling as though I'd eaten too much.

The veggie burrito comes with a choice of tortillas (flour, wheat, cayenne, or spinach), a choice of rice (cilantro lime or Spanish), and a choice of beans, all of which are vegan (black beans, pinto beans, and un-refried beans). It also includes roasted vegetables (onions and bell peppers) and guacamole. After the basics are loaded onto the tortilla, there are numerous toppings you can have added, such as jalapeños, cilantro, tomatoes, tortilla strips, as well as salsas with varying degrees of spiciness.

Freebirds World Burrito is a fast-growing chain with restaurants throughout California. The restaurant in Natomas is located at 2281 Del Paso Road. There are also Freebirds in Elk Grove at 8235 Laguna Boulevard, in Folsom at 310 Palladio Parkway, and in Roseville at 10305 Fairway Drive. More information about their menu, hours, or locations is available online at

Monday, September 3, 2012

Thai Palace

Whenever I'm having a hard time finding a place to blog about, I start looking around for a Thai restaurant that I haven't tried yet. I always know that I'll like the food and that there will be plenty of vegan options.

My visit yesterday to Thai Palace in East Sacramento was no exception. As always, my first question to the server was whether fish sauce is used in the curry dishes. She told me that if you order a vegetarian curry, they will leave out the fish sauce. I've found that it's always best to tell your server explicitly that you are vegan and do not want fish sauce in your curry.

I didn't end up ordering curry, though. I ordered the Thai Palace Vegetarian, which consisted of sautéed tofu, black mushrooms, baby corn, zucchini, green beans, carrots, and onions in a "special sauce." I don't know what was in the special sauce, but it had a nice flavor and it wasn't spicy. I enjoyed this dish very much.

Other vegan entrees include sautéed mixed vegetables, Vegetable Praram (mixed vegetables with peanut sauce served over spinach), Eggplant Vegetarian (sautéed eggplant with tofu, hot chili, onions, and sweet basil), Pad Kee Mow Noodles Vegetarian (pan-fried thick rice noodles with mixed vegetables, tomato, fresh basil, and chili), and Spicy Tofu Combination (sautéed tofu with fresh chili, baby corn, bamboo shoots, onions, and sweet basil). There are also some vegan salad and soup options.

Thai Palace is located at 3262 J Street. Their phone number is 916-447-5353, and their website address is The restaurant is open for lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and for dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, they're open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. They are closed on Monday.