Thursday, June 7, 2018

Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle -- Hook & Ladder

I was concerned going into Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co. for lunch today. Before the start of the Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle, the Impossible Burger at Hook & Ladder was my very favorite burger in town. The Jule's cheese sauce, sautéed mushrooms, and especially the whole grain mustard really made that burger, and I seemed to be in there every week to get my burger fix.

So I was worried that I wouldn't like burger they'd created for this month's burger battle. It couldn't possibly be as good as the other one, could it? The answer is yes, it could and it is. The patty is still the Impossible Burger, but the other goodies on the bun are vegan mayo, pickled red cabbage, and smashed avocado. If you'd like a little heat with your burger, you can add pickled Fresno chilies for a dollar. I wasn't that brave, but the burger didn't need them. It was fabulous without the chilies.


Hook & Ladder is located at 1630 S Street, and their phone number is 916-442-4885. Their website address is https://hookandladder916.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/HookandLadderSacramento/. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle -- VEG

Oh, my goodness, I just had such a good burger at VEG! They are offering several different burgers during this month's Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle, which made trying to pick just one really difficult.

After much deliberation, I chose the Far East Burger, which consists of their version of the Impossible Burger (it has a different combination of spices than other Impossible Burgers I've had), ginger tamarind cabbage slaw, mushroom bacon, pickled radish, and black garlic hoisin sauce, served on a really good bun. I often find myself poking through my burger because there's something or another that I want to take off of it (usually onions), but with this burger, I loved every part of it.


If this one doesn't tempt you, check out their falafel burger, or one of their other three Impossible Burger creations.


VEG is located at 2431 J Street, upstairs from Thai Basil, and their phone number is 916-448-8768. Their website address is http://www.vegmidtown.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/vegsacramento/. The burger battle menu is available Tuesday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and only for dinner on Saturday.


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle -- Crocker Cafe

On my to-do list for today was to visit one of the restaurants serving a Portobello burger for the Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle. The Crocker Café, inside the Crocker Art Museum, seemed like a good bet, especially since I'd really enjoyed the smoked Portobello mushroom slices on their tree-hugger BLT when I was there last week.

Lunch at the Crocker Café turned out to be a great choice, as I really, really liked their Vegan Crocker Burger. In addition to the wonderful smoked Portobello, there were lots of other good things on the bun -- roasted red pepper, watermelon rind pickle, arugula, chimichurri, Vegenaise, and shredded Daiya cheese. The Asian noodle slaw that came with it was flavorful, if spicy.

One caveat: it is not possible to eat this burger without making a gigantic mess, so be sure to load up on napkins when you order it. The two napkins I optimistically picked up weren't even close to enough.


You don't have to pay admission to the museum in order to visit the Crocker Café, but you'll have to pay if you want to see the art. I have an annual membership, so I could have stayed to look at the exhibitions after lunch, but I was running short on time. I did take a few minutes to admire the gorgeous Chihuly chandelier right above the entrance desk, though.


The Crocker Café is located at 216 O Street, and their phone number is 916-808-1865. The food is prepared by Supper Club Fine Catering, whose website address is http://supperclubcaterer.com/. The Facebook page for the Crocker Café can be found at https://www.facebook.com/CrockerCafeBySupperClub/. The Vegan Crocker Burger is available only when hot food is being served at the café, which is Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle -- LowBrau

While I could happily eat an Impossible Burger every day during this month's Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle, I know many of you prefer house-made veggie burgers. So today, I decided to meet up with my friend Kathy, who writes the Sacramento Revealed blog, to try the house-made burger LowBrau is offering this month.

The LowBrau vegan burger consists of a hearty black bean patty, served with lettuce, red onion, bread and butter pickles, almond crema, and chimichurri on a pretzel bun. It was a little on the spicy side, which was fine with me, but if you have a low tolerance for spicy food, you may want to mention that to your server.

LowBrau has several other vegan items on their menu, including a tasty German potato salad that Kathy and I shared. This was a very satisfying meal.


LowBrau is located at 1050 20th Street, and their phone number is 916-706-2636. Their website address is http://www.lowbrausacramento.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/LowBrauSacramento/. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle -- The Patriot

Another day, another Impossible Burger! For today's Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle meal, Phil and I had lunch at the Patriot in Carmichael, where they are serving two different versions of the Impossible Burger.

The one with kimchi, ginger-soy glaze, ssamjang vegan mayo, and crispy onions sounded intriguing, but I wanted something a little more basic.

I chose the Vegan Patriot, an Impossible Burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, and vegan mayo on a sweet potato-sesame bun. Aside from the Impossible Burger, which was very good, the thing I liked best was the bun, which tasted very much like a soft pretzel and was quite delicious.


The Patriot is located at 6241 Fair Oaks Boulevard in Carmichael, and their phone number is 916-550-5080. Their website address is https://www.patriotrestaurant.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/thepatriotrestaurant/. The restaurant is open for brunch and lunch daily from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., for happy hour Monday through Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and for dinner daily from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle -- Revolution Wines

Revolution Wines keeps adding more and more vegan options to their menu, so I wasn't surprised to see that they were participating in this month's Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle. They are offering two different types of burgers -- their version of the Impossible Burger and an oyster mushroom banh mi.

My husband Phil and I had lunch there today because I really wanted to try their Impossible Burger. It was wonderful -- an Impossible Burger patty, Miyoko's mozzarella cheese crumbles, vegan aioli, crispy onions, and field greens on a vegan bun. I'm a huge Impossible Burger fan, so this is likely just the first of many Impossible Burger posts you'll see this month!


Revolution Wines has two different vegan desserts on their menu too. The peach crisp with vegan vanilla gelato sounded really tempting, but I was in the mood for chocolate. This chocolate mousse was garnished with shortcake crumbles and cherry sauce. It may look small, but after that huge burger, I was happy to split this dessert with my husband.


Revolution Wines is located at 2831 S Street, and their phone number is 916-444-7711. Their website address is http://rev.wine/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/revolutionwines/. The restaurant is open Tuesday 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 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.




Monday, May 28, 2018

The Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle Starts Friday!

The vegan superstars responsible for the annual Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge are at it again! This time, they're bringing us the Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle, a month-long event in which local restaurants will pull out all the stops to offer the best vegan burger they can create. There will be five different categories of burgers: Beyond Burger, Impossible Burger, house-made vegan burger, Portobello burger, and oil-free vegan burger. All condiments, buns, and toppings will be vegan, and vegan side dishes will be available as well.

The Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle will run from June 1st to June 30th, and the following restaurants and/or chefs will be participating:

Rancho Cordova - Pho Fresh


Auburn - Nectar Cafe

June 11: Meatless Monday with The Foodie Feline at Old Ironsides

UPDATE: The following restaurants in Roseville/Rocklin are also participating:

Zest Kitchen
Broderick Roseville
Brickyard Kitchen & Bar
Buck & Sadie's
JD's Bakery and Caribbean Café

I plan to try as many burgers as I can, and I will blog about them as I go. However, I'm going to have family visiting during this time and I'll be on the road for a few days, so I won't be able to get to as many of these restaurants as I'd like. If you find any burgers that you particularly like, please let me know!

More information about the Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle is available at the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge website or Facebook page:
https://www.theveganchefchallenge.com/the-great-burger-battle.html or https://www.facebook.com/sacveganchefchallenge/. Hope to see you out there!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Golden Road Brewing




I had lunch a few days ago at Golden Road Brewing, which just opened in Midtown on May 10th. It's been panned by local beer aficionados because it's a corporate brewery owned by Budweiser in a city that prides itself on its many locally-brewed craft beers.


I wasn't there for the beer, however. I was there for the vegan food, and there was lots of it! The food menu lists several items that are either vegan or can be made vegan, including three kinds of tacos (fried avocado, drunken zucchini, and papas bravas), three salads (Caesar, Mexican chopped salad, and summer green salad), and five other items (asada fries, chips and guacamole, street corn, avocado fries, and buffalo cauliflower). 


I decided to make a lunch out of a couple of small plates -- the avocado fries and the buffalo cauliflower. The avocado fries consisted of an avocado cut into fourths, dipped in beer batter, and fried. They were served with a chipotle sauce that was good, but pretty spicy. The buffalo cauliflower was also dipped in a beer batter before being fried, then served with a vegan dill ranch sauce. It was really, really good!




Golden Road even offers a dessert that can be veganized -- the "Get up offa that brownie." It's a house-made beer brownie with chocolate sauce and a strawberry on top. Great way to top off my lunch!




Golden Road Brewing is located at 1830 L Street, and their phone number is 916-382-9445. It's one of four Golden Road locations throughout the state, so it doesn't have a website or Facebook page of its own. However, the company's website address is http://goldenroad.la/home, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/goldenroadbrew/. The Sacramento location is open Sunday through Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to midnight, and Thursday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Shabu Pub

This week's dining adventure was a visit to Shabu Pub, a hot pot restaurant in the Land Park neighborhood. It opened in 2016 in the space previously occupied by Blockbuster Video, but this was the first time I'd tried it.


Shabu is a style of cooking that involves dipping a variety of ingredients in a boiling broth, similar to a fondue. If you go to dinner at Shabu Pub, you would order a large pot of broth, which would be placed on a burner in the middle of your table. The pot has two sections, so if you're dining with a friend, you can have two different broths. The vegan options are either the miso or the kimchi broth. The server also mentioned a third vegan broth that isn't on the menu, which consisted of water, salt, onions, seaweed, and I don't know what all.


Then you choose the assortment of ingredients you want to cook in the broth. For vegans, there is a vegetable assortment. The specific vegetables may vary, but the server can probably tell you what's available. There's also an add-on menu, where you can choose specific vegetables or tofu for an additional cost.


That's what happens if you go for dinner. I, however, was there for lunch, when Shabu Pub offers a mini pot, an individual pot of broth that comes to the table with its own little burner and with the vegetable assortment already in the pot. I ordered the miso broth, and the vegetable assortment included tofu, udon noodles, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, lotus root, green beans, cabbage, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting. It was quite a flavorful and satisfying lunch!




Shabu Pub is located at 4400 Freeport Boulevard, and their phone number is 916-736-1268. They don't seem to have a website, but their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/shabupubsacramento/. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and for dinner Sunday through Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Meet & Eat

I met my friend Deborah for lunch the other day at Meet & Eat in the Land Park neighborhood. I had eaten there before, and hadn't found it to be particularly vegan-friendly, but thought I'd give it another chance.


I asked about a few different dishes before deciding on the spicy veggie spaghetti, which is vegan if you order it without the Parmesan, and if you skip the garlic bread that would normally accompany it. The dish consisted of spaghetti tossed with a nice variety of vegetables and chili oil, then topped with avocado slices and raw pumpkin seeds. It was very good and I would order it again.




I went back for lunch a couple of days later with my husband Phil. This time, I ordered the Buddha Bar tacos, which are vegan if you get them without the feta cheese. They were also very good -- corn tortillas filled with roasted sweet potato, arugula, guacamole, pico de gallo, radishes, pumpkin seeds, and micro herbs.




I've found that Meet & Eat and its sister restaurant in Curtis Park, Café Dantorels, are very vegetarian-friendly, but it's not always easy to veganize their vegetarian dishes. One thing that sounded interesting on the Meet & Eat menu, for example, was a tofu burger. The menu didn't list any ingredients that sounded particularly problematic, but I thought I'd ask the server if it was vegan, just to be on the safe side. She checked with the kitchen and came back to tell me the onions, the barbecue sauce, and the bun weren't vegan. Similarly, I noticed one day recently that Café Dantorels was offering the Impossible Burger, but the mayo, cheese, and bun weren't vegan. I could live without the mayo and the cheese, but I sent a message asking why on earth they didn't have a vegan bun to go with their vegan burger. They responded that they didn't have the storage capacity to carry vegan bread, but I could always order the burger wrapped in a lettuce leaf. Umm, no.


The bottom line is that it's entirely possible to get a lovely vegan meal at both Meet & Eat and Café Dantorels, but you have to be very careful. Don't assume that a dish is vegan based on the menu description, and be prepared to ask questions.


Meet & Eat is located at 3445 Freeport Boulevard, and their phone number is 916-476-3082. Their website address is https://meetandeatsac.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/meetneatsacramento/. The restaurant is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Monday, April 30, 2018

La Cosecha

A few days ago, I got a message from a fellow vegan asking if I'd ever checked out La Cosecha, the restaurant at downtown's Cesar Chavez Plaza. I had not, so I made a point of heading over there for lunch on Friday. Thanks for the suggestion, Kathryn!


Aside from the chips and salsa or guacamole (which is vegan if you have them leave off the cotija), there was only one vegan option on the lunch menu, but it was a good one -- tacos de papa. This plate comes with three tacos, corn tortillas filled with Yukon potatoes, poblano sofrito, pickled onion, and radish. There is a non-vegan version of these tacos, so make sure to let the staff know that you want your tacos made vegan. They were really good, and even better when I added in a little of the salsa and guacamole that I ordered with my chips!



La Cosecha has a couple of other vegan items listed on their brunch and dinner menus. For brunch, they offer tostada de Cosecha, two tostadas topped with beans, avocado, habanero salsa, jicama slaw, pickled onions, and tomatoes. In addition to the tacos de papa, the dinner menu also offers enchiladas de calabacita, three enchiladas filled with sautéed squash, zucchini, and corn.


La Cosecha is located at 917 Ninth Street, and their phone number is 916-970-5354. Their website address is http://lacosechasacramento.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/La-Cosecha-Sacramento-170337176671609/. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Oblivion Comics & Coffee

I don't read comics, and coffee has never been my beverage of choice. So why on earth did I make not one but two trips to Oblivion Comics & Coffee this past week? Well, I went for the toast!


As I was scrolling through my Instagram feed last Sunday, I saw that someone (thanks, April!) had posted pictures of some yummy-looking vegan items from Oblivion. So I drove downtown Monday to see what they had. In addition to all the coffee drinks you would expect from a place with "coffee" in its name, they had a menu full of specialty toast items, almost all of which are or can be made vegan. They use bread from my favorite local bread baker, Grateful Bread, and instead of butter, they use Smart Balance Original buttery spread.


Then they add other spreads and toppings. I couldn't resist the Winter Is Coming toast, consisting of French bread, buttery spread, cream cheese (yes, they have a vegan cream cheese option), crushed Oreo cookies, and chocolate syrup. Toast has never tasted so good! Other sweet toast options include cinnamon sugar, sprinkles, peanut butter with strawberry and blackberry preserves, and cream cheese with preserves. The only toast that can't be made vegan is the one that has Nutella on it. And if toast isn't your thing, they also carry a selection of Sugar Plum Vegan baked goods.




I went back Friday, hoping to try the avocado toast, but they were out of avocado. My next choice was called (I believe) the Rip & Dip -- toasted sourdough with buttery spread, garlic salt, and a choice of hummus or marinara sauce for dipping. They were also out of hummus, so I ordered it with the marinara sauce. Very tasty!




Even though I'm not a coffee drinker, I thought I should get a coffee so I could include the picture in this post. I ordered a latte with almond milk (they also have soy milk, both for an extra charge). I thought the Wonder Woman logo on top was a nice touch.



And I even bought a comic book!



Oblivion Comics & Coffee is located at 1020 11th Street, Suite 100, and their phone number is 916-329-8839. Their website address is http://oblivioncomics.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/oblivioncomics/. The café part of the store is open Sunday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.



Monday, April 16, 2018

Camellia Coffee Roasters

Camellia Coffee Roasters opened recently in the space at the WAL Public Market on R Street formerly occupied by Metro Kitchen + Drinkery. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but I had heard they might have vegan options, so I drove over on the weekend to check it out.


There were three vegan muffins in the glass case at the counter, as well as a few non-vegan pastries. I wasn't really in the mood for a muffin, so I asked if they had any other vegan menu items. I was told they could make me a coconut yogurt parfait, which sounded perfect. In addition to the coconut yogurt, it had granola, agave, and mixed berries. It was an excellent mid-morning treat.



I also ordered a latte with coconut milk. Their other non-dairy milk option is almond milk. There is an extra cost for the non-dairy milks.



Camellia Coffee Roasters is located at 1104 R Street. I was unable to find a phone number for them, but their website address is https://camelliacoffeeroasters.com/ and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/camelliacoffeeroasters/. They are open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.


Monday, April 9, 2018

Canon

My husband Phil and I celebrated our anniversary this past week by having dinner at one of the hottest new restaurants in town, Canon. This East Sacramento eatery has been popular since the day it opened, so I made sure to get a reservation a couple of weeks ahead of time.


The dinner menu, which changes seasonally, currently has four vegan small plates. I chose three of them to try. The first was the pickled vegetable plate, consisting of house-pickled cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, and onions. They were served on a bed of crushed ice, which I thought was a nice touch. This dish looked much prettier when it arrived at the table, but I started to serve myself before I took the picture, and then had to try to put everything back where it was.




Next, I had the citrus salad, which was my favorite dish of the three. It had orange and grapefruit slices, thin strips of sweet potato, and generous portions of avocado, which were coated in red quinoa and then fried. The salad was dressed with a green curry emulsion.




My last dish was the roasted carrots, which were served in a West African peanut sauce with crispy kale, onions, cilantro, and peanuts. I liked the creamy peanut sauce, which really enhanced the flavor of the carrots.




The one vegan dish I didn't try was the charred broccoli di ciccio, with kimchi vinaigrette. Next time...


Canon is located at 1719 34th Street, and their phone number is 916-469-2433. Their website address is https://canoneastsac.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/canoneastsac/. Canon is open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday from 4:00 p.m. to midnight, and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to midnight. They are also open for brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., but their brunch menu doesn't list any vegan options.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Mas Taco Bar

I just returned from a short vacation in Panama, which is why it's been awhile since my last post. One of the first things I wanted to do when I got back to town was to try Mas Taco Bar on R Street, which opened a couple of weeks ago. So I headed over there for lunch today.


Mas Taco Bar offers both tacos and bowls, and there are two types of each that are vegan. I decided to try a little bit of both. I ordered the butternut squash taco, topped with braised Swiss chard and pepito salsa verde, and the roasted cauliflower bowl, consisting of roasted cauliflower, romesco sauce, cilantro, and bell pepper over brown rice. Both were very good, especially with a little Cholula jalapeño and poblano hot sauce sprinkled over the top, but I liked the taco best.





Mas Taco Bar also has some interesting mocktails on their drink menu. I was torn between the Berry Tasty (fresh strawberry, raspberry, pineapple, and ginger ale) and the Virgin Mas'garita (fresh lime, agave, and soda). I opted for the Virgin Mas'garita and loved it. I thought it had exactly the right amount of lip-puckering sourness.




Mas Taco Bar is located at 1800 15th Street, in the space formerly occupied by Dos Coyotes, and their phone number is 916-706-1330. The restaurant's website address is https://mastacobar.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/mastacobar/. Mas Taco Bar is open Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to midnight, Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.




Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Célestin’s is Back!



Normally, my weekly blog article gets posted on Sunday night, but I'm so excited about this one I can't wait! The very first restaurant I wrote about for my Sacramento Vegan blog was Célestin’s
Island Eats and Cajun Cuisine. Célestin’s had always been a favorite of mine, and I appreciated them all the more after I went vegan in 2002 because they offered clearly-marked vegan options on their menu. Sadly, less than a month after I wrote that blog post, Célestin’s closed, and I've been missing the restaurant, and their amazing vegetarian gumbo, ever since. 

Now, six-and-a-half years later, Phoebe and Patrick Célestin have come out of retirement to open a new iteration of their fabulous restaurant in the McKinley Park neighborhood. They opened their doors today, and I didn't waste any time getting over there.


Once again, their vegan items are clearly marked on the menu, although all I really cared about was getting myself a bowl of the vegetarian gumbo. It did not disappoint! Chunks of butternut squash, cremini mushrooms, bell peppers, and zucchini shared the bowl with rice and a broth that had a nice little kick to it. I was sure I'd end up taking some of it home, but I didn't stop eating until I'd finished every bite.


Almost as exciting to me as the gumbo was the return of Célestin’s fresh limeade. I travel to Colombia often, and I try to drink my fill of limonada natural while I'm there because I know there is no fresh limeade to be had at Sacramento restaurants. Now I know I can have it whenever I like at Célestin’s.


The new restaurant is tiny, so tables have been placed very close together, and ordering is done at the counter rather than at the table. Some of the Haitian art that hung in Célestin’s previous location adorns the walls in the new space, and Phoebe and Patrick Célestin are there to make sure the new Celestin's lives up to everyone's fond memories of the old Celestin's. The place was packed today, a testament to how much people in Sacramento have missed this restaurant.


Celestin's is located at 3610 McKinley Boulevard, and their phone number is 916-258-4060. Their website address is https://www.celestinsgumbo.com, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/greatgumbo/. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mod Pizza

Last month, someone asked on my Sacramento Vegan Facebook page where the best vegan pizza in Sacramento could be found. As you can imagine, people had lots of opinions on the subject! Buffalo Pizza, Pizza Bell, the Federalist, and some of the chain pizza parlors all made the list. There was one chain restaurant that two people mentioned, and I was surprised I hadn't heard of it before. Mod Pizza moved into Howe Bout Arden recently, so I drove over for lunch a few days ago to give it a try.


Mod Pizza follows the Pieology and Blaze Pizza assembly line model, where you have all the ingredients displayed in front of you and you tell the person waiting on you what you want on your pizza. Their dough is vegan, and they have three vegan sauces -- red, BBQ, and garlic rub. Next you choose your toppings; mine were mushrooms, black olives, Greek olive mix, and artichokes. Finally, you can have them add the vegan cheese, which they keep in a separate container, away from all the other cheeses. It only takes a few minutes to bake it, so I was chowing down on my delicious pizza in no time.




Even better than the pizza, though, were the cinnamon strips I had for dessert! Basically, they top a small pizza crust with a cinnamon sugar mixture and bake it. They have three dipping sauce choices, but only the strawberry sauce is vegan. That was fine with me -- it was great!




I don't usually mention the drinks I have, since they're not that interesting, but I have to recommend the house-made Marion blackberry lemonade they were serving over by the fountain drinks. Honestly, I'd go back just for the cinnamon strips and the blackberry lemonade. Thanks to the local vegans who recommended this restaurant!




Mod Pizza is located at the corner of Howe and Arden at 2100 Arden Way, and their phone number is 916-515-9834. Their website address is https://modpizza.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MODPizza/?ref=br_rs. The restaurant is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. In addition to the Sacramento restaurant, other local Mod Pizza locations are in Rocklin and West Sacramento, with the website indicating that a Rancho Cordova restaurant is coming soon.



Monday, March 5, 2018

Icicles

A few days ago, I braved pouring rain and blustery winds to check out the newest ice cream shop offering vegan options in Sacramento. It's not ice cream weather yet, but when a fellow vegan sent me information about Icicles, I had to check it out.

Icicles is a Northern California chain that just opened a Sacramento location on Howe Avenue. They create frozen dessert rolls by pouring liquid onto an ice cold pan and forming it into a rectangle, which can then be cut into pieces and rolled up. They offer three vegan flavors that are fruit-based: raspberry, strawberry lemonade, and mango.

I asked for a combination of the three, which I thought would result in a dish containing three different types of rolls. Instead, they mixed the three flavors together before pouring it onto the frozen pan. Fortunately, the flavors tasted great mixed together. After the rolls were made and placed in the dish, I moved on to the topping station, where I asked for strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberry syrup. It was a delicious dessert, and I'm sure it will be even more popular when the hot weather returns.


One caveat: the man who made my dessert did a great job of scraping the residue of the previous ice cream roll off the pan, but the disclaimer you see in the ingredient list of many packaged foods probably applies here -- the fruit roll-ups are made on the same equipment as the ice cream, so there may be trace amounts of non-vegan ingredients in your dessert.

Icicles is located at 1431 Howe Avenue, and their phone number is 916-582-5410. Their website address is http://iciclescreamroll.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/icicles.sacramento/. Icicles is open daily from noon to 10:00 p.m.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Pho Fresh

I'm actually kind of embarrassed to write about Pho Fresh in Rancho Cordova, as I'm sure I'm probably the only vegan in the Greater Sacramento area who had never been to this incredibly vegan-friendly restaurant until a few days ago. But since my friend Melissa and I went to dinner there Wednesday night and I was actually able to experience it first-hand, I wanted to tell you all about it.

Pho Fresh is not a vegan restaurant, but they offer an entire vegan menu, complete with appetizers, rice paper rolls, salads, banh mi sandwiches, soups, rice plates, noodle plates, and dessert. My biggest problem, of course, was trying to figure out which items I most wanted to try.

I'm a sucker for fried tofu, so I decided to start with one of the stir-fried tofu appetizers (yes, they have more than one!) The tofu is dipped in batter and then fried, and there are three different flavors to choose from. I went for the sweet & spicy one, and couldn't believe the huge pile of fried tofu that was placed in front of me. It was wonderful!


For my entrée, the only question was whether I wanted a rice dish or a noodle dish. It felt like a noodle night, so I ordered the kung pao garden noodles, consisting of thick rice noodles, tofu, peanuts, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Again, the portion size was quite large, so I had some great leftovers for a couple of days after this meal.


I think I could probably go to Pho Fresh every night for a month and eat a different vegan dish every single time, the choices are so numerous. If you're one of the rare few who haven't been there yet, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Pho Fresh is located at 10673 Coloma Road in Rancho Cordova, and their phone number is 916-706-2523. They don't appear to have a website, but their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/phofresh2u/. 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.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Monday, January 22, 2018

Cafe on L at Sutter Medical Center


Could the great-looking bowl of vegetable and tofu pho in the picture above really be hospital food? Why, yes, it really is! Sutter Medical Center recently opened a new café in the basement of their Anderson Lucchetti Women's & Children's Center, and at least some of the food they're serving is a serious upgrade from the hospital cafeteria food most of us have experienced in the past.

The real game-changer is that the hospital has contracted with Star Ginger restaurant to offer delicious Asian food options using local, seasonal produce. The pho is made-to-order -- all you have to do is choose your broth (vegetable, of course) and whichever other ingredients you want included. The Star Ginger station also offers a vegan Thai tofu salad. 

The café also has a good-sized salad bar. There's Mexican food, pizza, and burgers too, but I didn't notice anything of particular interest to vegans at those stations. Next to the café is a Peet's coffee counter. I didn't see any of the wonderful vegan pastries usually offered at Peet's, although the man working the counter seemed to think that one of their cookies was vegan.

Café on L is open to the public, although if you're really in the mood for food from Star Ginger, you'll probably just go to the actual Star Ginger restaurant a couple blocks away. If you're visiting someone at the Sutter Medical Center, though, the Café on L is definitely worth checking out. I asked if it was possible for a patient to call down and order something to be brought up, and the answer was no. If you're a patient, you'll just need to find an accommodating friend to buy it for you and take it to your hospital room.

Café on L is located at 2825 Capitol Avenue and it's open to the public. To get there, you enter the Anderson Lucchetti Women's & Children's Center and take elevator N to the basement. There doesn't seem to be a phone number, website, or Facebook page for the café at this point. They are open daily from 6:30 a.m. to midnight, although food choices may be limited after 7:00 p.m.



Monday, January 15, 2018

Thai Farm House BBQ & Bistro

After reading reviews in both the Sacramento News & Review and the Sacramento Bee, I decided I really needed to check out Thai Farm House BBQ & Bistro, which opened on Broadway and Riverside a few months ago. I couldn't find a copy of the menu online, but the Bee's reviewer said the restaurant was vegetarian-friendly, so I assumed they'd probably be vegan-friendly too.

I got there around 1:00 p.m. last Wednesday, and the place was packed. It's got a small dining room, but I was surprised that it would still be that crowded after the noon rush. That's a good thing, though, right? It usually means people really like the food.

Fortunately, I didn't have to wait very long for a table to open up. I looked at the menu and found that vegetarian options were clearly marked, but there were no similar markings for vegan items. I was told, however, that they can work with you to veganize many of the dishes. The caveat whenever you go to a Thai restaurant is to make sure your server knows that you are vegan and that you don't want fish sauce in anything.

The specials board listed an interesting item I'd never seen anywhere else -- Thai samosas. They were described as "crispy puffs filled with potato, taro, herbs & spices." I was told they were vegan, so I ordered them, and they were excellent. The dipping sauce that came with them was sweet.


For my main course, I ordered pa ram, which consisted of steamed broccoli, carrots, and cabbage in a peanut sauce, with tofu added for my protein. (The menu indicates that it also includes green beans, but there weren't any in mine.) The combination of flavors was quite good.


Since the menu doesn't appear to be online anywhere, I took photos of it so you could see what else they offer.


Thai Farm House BBQ & Bistro is located at 1049 Broadway, Suite 40, and their phone number is 916-382-9448. They don't appear to have a website, but their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thai-Farm-House-Bbq-Bistro/477733922592284. The restaurant is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.





Monday, January 8, 2018

Road trip! Next Level Burger in Concord

When I went vegan many years ago, one of the things I really missed was a good burger. The soggy bean burgers or frozen processed veggie disks that restaurants passed off as their vegan options held no appeal for me. The recent appearance of extremely beef-like Beyond Burgers and Impossible Burgers in some local restaurants has been a dream come true for me.

Then I started hearing about the Next Level Burger chain, and was happy to discover they had opened a restaurant in Concord. I drove down a few days ago to meet my parents there for lunch. The restaurant offers burgers, sandwiches, salads, fries, hot dogs, and shakes, and everything on the menu is vegan. Since my parents aren't vegan, I suggested they order the classic burger, with the Beyond Burger patty option. I decided to try the savory meaty patty with my classic burger. We also ordered shakes, two chocolate and one salted caramel and peanut, all made with coconut ice cream (they also had a soy ice cream option). In addition, we shared an order of tater tots, which could be deep fried or baked.



The food was really good. If the bar hadn't been raised so high by the Impossible and Beyond burgers, I would have said the savory meaty patty was the best veggie burger I'd had. The tater tots were excellent, and the shakes were thick and delicious. It was a real treat to be able to eat at a burger joint without having to question the ingredients or make substitutions, and I'm sure this was just my first of many visits to Next Level Burger.

The Next Level Burger restaurant in Concord is located inside the Whole Foods Market at 2085 Diamond Boulevard, and their phone number is 925-215-7779. Their website address is http://www.nextlevelburger.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/nextlevelburgerconcord/. The restaurant is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Backbone Cafe



Vegans who work downtown or have business at the courthouse (jury duty, perhaps?) will be happy to know about a great little café that just opened on J Street. Backbone Café is an organic restaurant offering several vegan options, and I definitely think you should check it out!

I dropped by for lunch one day last week. The restaurant is currently offering a limited menu, but there were still lots of good things for vegans. I decided to try the hippie hemp curry, because how could I not with a name like that? It consisted of cauliflower, carrots, and other vegetables in a coconut milk curry, served over rice with avocado slices and hemp seeds, and it was wonderful.


I went back a few days later, thinking I'd really like to try their vegan cauliflower wings. Unfortunately, they were out of them, so I ordered the vegan power bowl instead. Served over white rice, the flavorful power bowl included spicy mushroom carnitas, carrots, summer squash, avocado, and other vegetables, topped with a chili verde sauce. 


Backbone Café is located at 729 J Street, and their phone number is 916-970-5545. Their website address is https://www.backbonecafe.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/BackboneCafe729/. They are open only on weekdays, and only for breakfast and lunch -- Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.