Monday, September 25, 2017

Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge Starts Sunday!

It's almost that time again. The annual Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge starts this Sunday, October 1st, and runs through the end of the month. During this time, restaurants throughout the Sacramento area offer special vegan dishes created especially for the occasion. This year is shaping up to be the best one yet, with twenty-eight restaurants already signed up and more expected to join before the challenge begins. Here are the restaurants that we know are participating so far:

Federalist Public House & Beer Garden
The Rind :: Cheese. Wine. Beer.
Pushkin's Restaurant
33rd Street Bistro
Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co.
Buffalo Pizza and Ice Cream Co.
La Cosecha Sacramento
MAYAHUEL Sacramento
Mesa Mercado (Carmichael)
Pho VEGAN-Asian Cuisine (Rocklin)
JD's Bakery & Cafe (Rocklin)
Pho Fresh (Rancho Cordova)
The Cellar Wine Bar (Folsom)
Mylapore (Folsom)
Lou's Sushi
Zest Kitchen (formerly Baagan -- Rocklin)
Thai Basil Restaurant Mid-Town
Capitol Garage
The Porch Restaurant and Bar
Evan's Kitchen And Catering
Nectar Cafe (Auburn)
Nourish Health Bar and Cafe NorCal (Citrus Heights)
El Papagayo Restaurant (Carmichael)
Metro Kitchen + Drinkery
Gabriel Levan Aiello -Burly Beverages/
Meatless Mondays at Old Ironsides

I'm planning to post pictures on my Sacramento Vegan Facebook page and Instagram whenever I eat at one of these restaurants, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Be sure to follow the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge Facebook page for updates.

Looking forward to seeing lots of my fellow vegans at these outstanding restaurants in October!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Five Vegan Dishes That Even Non-vegan Food Bloggers Will Love

Last year's International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) in Sacramento was such a big success that they've decided to meet in Sacramento again this year. Most of the bloggers I met weren't vegan, or even vegetarian, but they seemed adventurous and willing to try new culinary experiences. With that in mind, I thought I'd offer a list of a few vegan dishes available in downtown or midtown that even a non-vegan food blogger will enjoy.

The Beyond Burger at Broderick Roadhouse

I'll be honest with you -- I don't like most veggie burgers. Even if they look crispy and burger-like on the outside, they're often soggy and kind of disgusting on the inside. Not so with the Beyond Burger, which looks and tastes so much like ground beef that it kind of creeped me out when I first tried it. Now, though, I'm hooked. It's soy-free, GMO-free, and gluten-free, and made with plant-based protein. The pink color that makes it look like actual beef comes from beets. You can try one at Broderick Roadhouse, located at 1820 L Street. It's not listed on their menu -- you just have to tell your server that you want the Beyond Burger, which is served with vegan cheese and vegan sauce on a vegan bun.

Conscious Creamery's Vegan Gelato Bars

Conscious Creamery doesn't have a brick-and-mortar shop from which to sell their fabulous vegan gelato, but that shouldn't present a problem for IFBC attendees. That's because you'll be just blocks away from the Saturday Midtown Farmers Market, where the Conscious Creamery gelato cart will be serving up their yummy gelato bars, made without dairy, eggs, or any other animal product. I love the roasted strawberry bar with chocolate drizzle! The Midtown Farmers Market, which is held on 20th Street between J and K, runs from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 30th, the weekend of the conference.

Sweet Potato Chips and Ginger Guacamole at VEG

VEG is a little bit of a walk from the IFBC conference venue, but totally worth it to try the sweet potato chips and ginger guacamole. Most of the menu items in this second-story café, which looks out onto J Street, are vegan, although some of the brunch items contain eggs. VEG is located at 2431 J Street, upstairs from Thai Basil.

Savory Summer Crepe at VEG

This is another must-try dish VEG offers that's popular with both vegans and non-vegans. They have a few different vegan entrées on their menu, but somehow, I can never make it past the savory crepe. The vegetables used in the filling change depending on the season, but the delicious turmeric-coconut crepe stays the same. I try to make sure I'm really hungry when I go to VEG because I always seem to want both the sweet potato chips and ginger guacamole and the savory crepe.

Shaved Snow at Vampire Penguin

Vampire Penguin is in downtown Sacramento, and it's a great place to go if you suddenly find yourself in need of a frozen treat. Not all of the shaved snow flavors and toppings at Vampire Penguin are vegan, but the ones in these pictures are. The top picture shows PMS (peach, mango, strawberry) shaved snow, with strawberry syrup and strawberries. The bottom photo is of their piña colada creation. So good! Vampire Penguin is located at 907 K Street.

To my fellow Sacramento vegans, what other midtown or downtown menu offerings would you recommend to  IFBC attendees? Please add your suggestions either in the comments on this post, or in the comments on my Sacramento Vegan Facebook page.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Rossi Catering & Deli

A friend on Twitter told me recently about a new place, Rossi Catering & Deli,  that opened in Tahoe Park last month. He said they had some vegan options on the menu, so I went to try it out last week.

The menu offers two salads that are vegan without requiring any changes -- a fruit salad and a local bean salad. I passed on the fruit salad, but I purchased a container of the very tasty bean salad.

In addition, they offered two items that could be made vegan -- a Caesar salad that could be ordered without cheese and with a vegan dressing, and a summer vegetable sandwich that could be ordered without cheese. I purchased both items and they were quite good. The person working the counter didn't know whether the pesto that normally comes on the veggie sandwich was vegan or not, so I opted to leave it off. The sandwich, which was served on focaccia, included dried tomato tapenade, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and mizuna.

Rossi Catering & Deli is located at 5774 Broadway, and their phone number is 916-400-3286. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at I found out their hours the hard way when I tried to go there for lunch on a Saturday -- they are open only on weekdays. Their hours are Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Cantina Alley

Cantina Alley opened earlier this year and quickly became one of the most popular casual eateries in midtown. Situated in an alley courtyard and serving tacos and specialty cocktails, Cantina Alley has attracted a large and enthusiastic following.

But do they have anything vegans can eat? As it turns out, yes they do! After hearing from Aaron, one of their servers, about the various menu items that were either vegan or veganizable, I stopped in at Cantina Alley twice last week.

During my first visit, I tried a couple of tacos. The crispy papa taco sounded good, made with potatoes, cabbage, radishes, and salsa verde. The only thing I needed to do to veganize it was to ask them to leave off the cheese. It was delicious! I also ordered their vegan taco, which is not listed on the menu. Consisting of mushrooms, peppers, onions, cabbage, avocado, and salsa, it was excellent too.

The next time I visited, I received a few orange wedges with Tajin seasoning to enjoy while I looked at the menu. I got another crispy papa taco and ordered the elote, an ear of corn, without the crema and cheese. Instead, it was served with lime wedges and Tajin. For dessert, I could have had one of the many fruit-based paletas they offer, but I couldn't resist the churros, which I ordered without the dipping sauce.

Thanks for the recommendation, Aaron! I'll definitely be back again, not only for the food, but to have another look at the work of artist Ruben Reveles. The piece installed over the bar, pictured at the top of this post, was particularly eye-catching.

Cantina Alley is located at 2320 Jazz Alley, which is between J and K streets and between 23rd and 24th streets. The phone number is 916-970-5588. Their website address is, and their Facebook page can be found at They are open Tuesday through Thursday from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., Saturday from noon to 2:00 a.m., and Sunday from noon to 10:00 p.m.