Monday, September 28, 2015

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge 2015

Local vegans know the best month to be plant-based in Sacramento is October, when the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge takes place. Chefs throughout the city create special menus for the month, with vegan appetizers, entrees, and desserts. This coming Thursday marks the start of the challenge for the fifth year in a row.

Here's the list of restaurants that are participating this year:

* Tower Bridge Bistro

* Capitol Garage

* The Porch

* Evan's Kitchen

* 58 Degrees & Holding Co.

* The Rind

* Lou's Sushi

* Metro Kitchen + Drinkery

* Orchid Thai

* Andy Nguyen's

* Thai Basil

* El Papagayo (Carmichael)

* Abyssinia Ethiopian

* Baagan (Roseville)

* Green Boheme (Roseville)

* Nectar Cafe (Auburn)

In addition, Blackbird Kitchen + Beer Gallery, which has been closed due to flooding, will offer new vegan items beginning October 23rd, and the Roaming Spoon will host pop-ups at various locations throughout the month.

It's a great mix of old favorites and newcomers to the challenge. While some chefs have provided sneak previews on Facebook of some of the items they'll be offering, most of the menus aren't set yet. I'll try to post the menus on my Sacramento Vegan Facebook page as they become available.

As always, my plan is to visit as many participating restaurants as possible, and I'll blog about them within a day or two of each meal so you can see what's being offered. I may not make it to all of them, but I'll give it my best effort!

For more information, be sure to check the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge website and Facebook page. They're also on Instagram. Happy eating!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Nido Bakery

Nido Bakery opened recently in the space on R Street formerly occupied by Magpie Cafe. Nido, which means "nest" in Spanish, is one of Magpie's bakeries. Yellowbill at 14th and O is the other one.

I stopped in for lunch last week and asked at the counter what was vegan. I was told they could make a vegan soup and salad combo. The bean soup with roasted vegetables and miso was really good, although it would have been better had it been served hot, rather than lukewarm. The salad was a burst of colors and flavors -- mixed greens, several varieties of tomatoes, and Kalamata olives. Presumably the salad dressing choices at Nido are not vegan, as I was given oil and my choice of vinegar (red wine, rice, or white wine) for my dressing.

For dessert, I had the peanut butter sandwich -- two delicious peanut butter cookies with a peanut butter filling. And then, just because I can never resist, I ordered a small container of the wonderfully rich and creamy chocolate and avocado mousse to go.

Nido is located at 1409 R Street, and their phone number is 916-668-7594. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at The bakery is open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Harvest Bar

I had lunch with my friend Bonnie recently at Downtown & Vine on K Street. They had a new lunch menu that included some vegan salads. I ordered the roasted tofu salad, which was very good.

Afterwards, Bonnie suggested we walk through to the adjoining space, where we found the new Harvest Bar, a smoothie and juice bar. They had several salads on display, including the roasted tofu salad I'd just had for lunch. Apparently, they are now providing the lunch specials for Downtown and Vine.

In addition to the tofu salad, their display included three other vegan salads: ensalada sandia (watermelon), vegan marinara pasta, and roasted beet. They all looked wonderful, and I decided right then that I'd be back soon to try one or more of them.

When I returned the following week, there was an entirely different selection of salads on display. Apparently, the menu changes daily, as the staff at Harvest Bar is committed to preparing their dishes with the freshest produce available. Three of the five salads offered that day were vegan, and I was assured they will always have vegan options.

I ordered a salad trio consisting of romesco and wax bean, farro with pepitas, and Asian rice salads. All three were excellent, and I honestly didn't leave even a bit on my plate. I can't wait to see what other salads they'll offer in the future.

I ate my lunch at one of the tables in the back, but Harvest Bar is also a good place to stop for grab-and-go items. A vegan corn chowder was on the menu for the day, so I ordered a carton to take home for dinner. It was much too hot a day for soup, but I ate it anyhow, and it was great!

Harvest Bar is located at 1200 K Street, Suite 9, and their phone number is 916-228-4518. They don't appear to have a website, but their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Occasionally, they're open on weekends, depending on what events are happening at the convention center.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Pho Vegan Asian Cuisine

There seem to be more and more reasons all the time for vegans to visit the Roseville-Rocklin area. Baagan, the Green Boheme, and Dr. Bob's Donuts & Doyos all offer myriad vegan dishes. Now Pho Vegan Asian Cuisine, which opened just three weeks ago in Rocklin, is creating a buzz among local vegans.

I was in the area last week, so I stopped by for lunch. As if the restaurant's name wasn't specific enough about what a diner might find on the menu, lettering on the windows urged customers to "Eat Veggie" and prohibited any meat inside. The menu included appetizers, soups, rice plates, noodles, and various non-alcoholic drinks.

I began with the egg roll appetizer, served with a sweet and sour sauce. I always worry about whether fried foods have been cooked in the same oil as non-vegan items when I dine out, so I loved being able to order these delicious crispy rolls without having to wonder what they might have been fried with.

For my entree, I ordered the pad thai with fried tofu. I really liked the way the tofu was cut into smaller portions and mixed in with the rice noodles, rather than cut into big chunks and served on top of the noodles, as is often the case.

The restaurant offers several dishes featuring different types of noodles -- chow mein, Korean noodles, chow fun, and vermicelli, in addition to the pad thai noodles. Most of their dishes feature mock meats. They expect to start offering vegan ice cream and cake this week too.

Pho Vegan Asian Cuisine is located at 6661 Stanford Ranch Road, Suite E, and their phone number is 916-259-1588. They don't appear to have a website, but their Facebook page can be found at The restaurant is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.