Tuesday, October 16, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Mayahuel

My friend Bonnie and I got together for lunch today at Mayahuel, a downtown restaurant offering particularly creative vegan dishes for the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge. Before I even began deciding what to order, I had to laugh at these words of wisdom printed at the top of the menu:

                                  Vegans are like your parents,
                                  First you hate them
                                  Then you become them
                                  and realise they were
                                  right all along :)

Having had a good chuckle, I turned my attention to the food. I thought about ordering just the two appetizers – potato tacos and spicy lentil soup – but thought I should try something a little more unusual. They were out of the huitlacoche enchiladas, which sounded really good (mushrooms, black beans, and corn wrapped in blue corn tortillas and served in a huitlacoche sauce), so the server recommended the pistacio spicy mole sauce. I love pistachios, so I decided to give it a try. This dish consisted of sliced portobello mushrooms sautéed in a pistachio mole sauce, with just a touch of serrano pepper. It was served with a pyramid of white rice. I had never had anything like this before, and I really enjoyed this rich, creamy entrée.

Since we were celebrating a birthday, the server brought out a small piece of their vegan chocolate ganache cake, topped with a birthday sparkler. It was delectable – everything you could want in a chocolate cake!

Mayahuel is located at 1200 K Street, and their phone number is 916-441-7200. Their website address is http://experiencemayahuel.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MayahuelSacramento/. The restaurant is open Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Monday, October 15, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Golden Road Brewing

I met up with a vegan friend, Amanda, for lunch today. Many of the restaurants participating in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge are closed on Monday, so we were happy to discover that Golden Road Brewing was open.

Unfortunately, they were out of most of their vegetables, and the produce truck wasn’t due to arrive until mid-afternoon. This meant they were out of the ingredients they needed for all of their salads, the avocado fries, and the dish they had created specifically for the challenge – artichoke buffalo wings.

Not to worry, though – Golden Road Brewing has several vegan options on their regular menu, and Amanda and I had no trouble choosing a few dishes to share. The veganized asada fries were topped with soyrizo, Heidi Ho cheese, guacamole, and pico de gallo. If you order this, bring a big appetite: it is a huge plate of fries, and even with two of us working on it, we couldn’t finish the whole thing. 

The drunken zucchini tacos may have been my favorite of the three dishes we ordered. Small corn tortillas were filled with beer-battered fried zucchini, grilled corn, roasted pimientos, cilantro, and salsa. Loved the fried zucchini!

The buffalo cauliflower was also fried in a beer batter and served with a dill ranch sauce. These spicy cauliflower bites were very tasty.

Golden Road Brewing is located at 1830 L Street, and their phone number is 916-382-9445. Their website address is http://goldenroad.la/sacramentopub, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/goldenroadsacramento/. They are open Sunday through Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to midnight.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Buffalo Pizza & Ice Cream Co.

I wanted pizza for lunch today, so I headed over to Buffalo Pizza & Ice Cream Co. to see what special pizzas they were offering for the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge.

They had one, which doesn’t appear on a menu, but the man at the counter described it for me. It’s the vegan version of their Cavaleros Creation – red sauce, garlic cheez, soyrizo, bell pepper, black olives, tomatoes, and red onions on Buffalo Pizza’s excellent thick crust. It really hit the spot!

While I was at it, I ordered the Buffalo Pizza from their regular menu. This pizza was topped with blue cheez, garlic cheese, buffalo cauliflower, celery, and carrot ribbons. Yum!

Buffalo Pizza offers vegan pizzas all throughout the year. They also offer a few vegan ice cream and sorbet flavors, made by Cornflower Creamery. Their food is available for takeout or delivery only.

Buffalo Pizza & Ice Cream Co. is located at 2600 21st Street, and their phone number is 916-451-6555. Their website address is https://www.buffalobreakfastpizza.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/buffalobreakfastpizza/. They are open Monday through Wednesday from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Friday, October 12, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Ike's Quarter Cafe

My husband Phil and I took a drive up to Nevada City today, where we had fun walking around the historic district and doing a little shopping. We also stopped in for lunch at Ike’s Quarter Café, which is participating in this year’s Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge.

I had never been to Ike’s before, a restaurant serving New Orleans-style cuisine, and I was thrilled to see so many vegan options on the regular menu. But I was there for the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu, so I reluctantly closed the regular menu.

There were four items listed on the special vegan menu: tofu frittata, gasserhouser (toast with a hole cut in it, which is filled with an egg substitute and then fried), spicy sprouted bean burger, and Caesar salad. I opted for the frittata, a mixture of tofu, spinach, dill, and vegan feta, topped with caramelized onions. Apparently, the frittatas at Ike’s are first sautéed in a pan and then baked. It was served with fresh fruit – apple, pear, plum, and banana – and a choice of bread. The bread choices were toast, biscuit (their biscuits are always vegan), or cornbread (they have both vegan and non-vegan cornbread). I chose the biscuit, which was perfect. Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole meal!

I had been planning to just have iced tea to drink, but then I noticed that they had vegan shakes on their regular menu, in either chocolate or vanilla flavor. I ordered the chocolate shake, which was made with oat milk and chocolate coconut ice cream. It was wonderful! I foresee many return trips to Ike’s in my future!

Ike’s Quarter Café is located at 401 Commercial Street in Nevada City, and their phone number is 530-265-6138. Their website address is http://www.ikesquartercafe.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ikesquartercafe/. The restaurant is open Thursday through Monday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. They are closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- de Vere's Irish Pub

My friend Cathy and I had lunch today at de Vere’s Irish Pub so I could check out their Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu. They make such a great Beyond Burger there that it was difficult for me to pass it up, but for this month, I’m all about the special items restaurants are offering for the challenge.

de Vere’s has two items on their Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu, so I ordered both. The first was roasted cauliflower, tossed with harissa vinaigrette, curry oil, toasted sesame seeds, cilantro, and mint. I love cauliflower anyhow, but this dish was especially good, and I hope they keep it on the menu.

The other item was soy chorizo toast, de Vere’s version of avocado toast. The toast was served on a bed of arugula and piled high with avocado, soy scramble, and soyrizo. It was dressed with harissa vinaigrette and garnished with pickled onion, radish slices, and cilantro, which made it a very colorful and beautifully presented dish. I worried about whether it would be filling enough, but it was a generous serving.

de Vere’s Irish Pub is located at 1521 L Street, and their phone number is 916-231-9947. Their website address is https://www.deverespub.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/deverespub/. The restaurant is open Monday and Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. to midnight, Wednesday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to midnight.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Evan's Kitchen

Long-time Sacramento area vegans have been eating at Evan’s Kitchen for years. This restaurant has participated in at least the last six or seven Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenges. Not only that, but Evan’s Kitchen offers vegan options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the year.

This morning, my husband Phil and I headed to Evan’s for breakfast. They make lots of good vegan food there, but I think the breakfast items are always my favorites. Last year, carrot cake pancakes were on the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu, and I didn’t think they’d ever be able to top that. But this year, they’re offering pumpkin pie pancakes, and they’re the best pancakes ever. This dish consists of three or four pumpkin pancakes that are actually served in a small pie crust. They’re accompanied by vegan butter, maple syrup, and a small dish of spiced cocowhip (not pictured). Fantastic!

I don’t think the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu for Evan’s Kitchen has been widely circulated yet, so I’m posting it here. Our server this morning said that she is not a vegan, but in addition to the pumpkin pie pancakes, she gave rave reviews to the Lasagna Bolognese that’s on the dinner menu.

Evan’s Kitchen is located in the 57th Street Antique Mall at 855 57th Street, and their phone number is 916-452-3896. Their website address is https://www.chefevan.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/evanskitchen/. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co.

Local vegans love dining out in October because the month-long Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge ensures that we’ll have lots of exciting new dishes to try. Today, I met up with Elle, a fellow vegan, for lunch at Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co., which always offers several plant-based options.

Hook & Ladder didn’t have a separate Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu, but they change their vegan menu seasonally, so there were a couple of items listed that I hadn’t seen before. Elle and I decided to order three dishes to share.

The chickpea fritters have been on the menu for a while, but I’d never had them before. These little rectangular blocks made from a fried chickpea mixture were stacked on the plate surrounded by a garnish of salsa verde. They were quite good!

The Mediterranean flatbread was topped with an unusual set of ingredients, but it turned out to be my favorite of the three dishes. Somehow, the salsa verde, potato confit, chopped olives, and preserved lemon slivers combined for a really delicious flatbread topping.

The third item we ordered was a plate of roasted rainbow carrots, sprinkled with paprika. Since both Elle and I love carrots, this dish was a big hit.

We asked our server if they were offering any vegan desserts, and we were happy to hear that they were. Their chocolate and peanut butter fudge, made with coconut milk, was the perfect way to end our meal.

Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co. 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/?ref=br_rs. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Friday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Monday, October 8, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Backbone Cafe

I had lunch today at Backbone Café, a restaurant that’s new to the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge. Backbone Café has a very eclectic menu, which is already pretty vegan-friendly, so I was interested to see what special vegan dishes they’d offer this month.

As it turns out, the dish that I had today may not be the dish that you'll have if you decide to go. Apparently, the chef changes things up every so often. But what I had was fried cauliflower rice – diced cauliflower fried with celery, onion, chili peppers, and garlic, then garnished with cilantro, lime, and salsa. I also ordered vegan carnitas to go with it. The carnitas were made from shredded, seasoned mushrooms. It was a very creative dish and quite tasty. It was also a little on the spicy side, but not terribly so.

The other special item they were serving today was a smoothie made with mango, banana, pineapple, coconut milk, orange juice, lime, chlorella, and beet. Adding CBD for an additional cost was also an option. 

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/. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- El Papagayo

My husband Phil and I had dinner tonight at the exceptionally vegan-friendly El Papagayo in Carmichael. El Papagayo is beloved by local vegans, not only because of their annual participation in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, but because an entire page of their regular menu is devoted to creative vegan Mexican dishes.

For this year’s Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, El Papagayo created two new dishes -- vegan relleno and vegan cochinita tacos (jackfruit tacos in an adobo sauce). I decided to try the chili relleno, a pasilla pepper stuffed with kale, onions, green beans, carrots, potatoes, corn, and vegan cheese, topped with a roasted tomato sauce and served with beans and rice. It was a delicious and satisfying dish.

I was really full after that, but I asked if they had a vegan dessert anyhow. They had a vegan flan, and a dessert version of a chimichanga, which is what I ended up ordering. Essentially, it was a tortilla filled with chocolate, bananas, and strawberries, then deep-fried and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. So good!

El Papagayo is located at 5804 Marconi Avenue in Carmichael, and their phone number is 916-487-7742. Their website address is https://www.elpapagayo916.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/El-Papagayo-Restaurant-151929308155836/. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Love + Flour Bakery

It’s not only restaurants that participate in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge – chefs and bakers who prepare food for delivery to your home are taking part in the challenge this year too. One such business is Love + Flour Bakery, and how could I resist a name like that?

Christine Ross is the owner and baker at Love + Flour Bakery, and everything she offers for sale is vegan. She has bread, cake, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, pies, and other desserts, as well as an assortment of jams and nut butters. With so much to choose from, I had a tough time making up my mind!

I finally decided to order caramel stuffed chocolate chip cookies, and, in honor of the fall, baked pumpkin cinnamon sugar donut holes and pumpkin bread. Love + Flour Bakery personally delivers orders in the Sacramento area for free, so my baked goods arrived yesterday, two days after I placed the order. My husband Phil and I tried everything after dinner last night, and I’m happy to say, everything was fabulous -- actually, better than fabulous. I’m already trying to decide what to order next time!

Love + Flour Bakery’s website address is https://loveflourbakery.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/loveflourbakery. A minimum of 48 hours is needed to process your order, and deliveries are made only on Monday and Friday, so plan ahead. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Capitol Garage

It’s becoming easier to find vegan options for lunch and dinner at local restaurants, but as I’m sure you all know, breakfast is another story. I can’t tell you how many times my breakfast has consisted of a side order of hash browns and a fruit cup.

One restaurant that always offers vegan options for breakfast, however, is Capitol Garage, a regular participant in the annual Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge. I stopped by today to see what special breakfast dishes they’re serving this month.

There were three: tofu scramble, apple cinnamon pancakes, and donuts. For me, the choice was clear – pancakes! The order consisted of three hearty pancakes, stuffed with chopped Pink Lady apples and served with fig jam (for traditionalists, maple syrup was also provided). Vegans who are trying to eliminate oils from their diet will be happy to know that these pancakes are oil-free.

Here’s a copy of Capitol Garage’s Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu. Looks like they have lots of great choices, no matter what time of day you decide to visit.

Capitol Garage is located at 1500 K Street, and their phone number is 916-444-3633. Their website address is http://capitolgarage.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/capGarage/. The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, Friday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- The Porch

My husband Phil and I had dinner tonight at the Porch, a restaurant that participates in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge every year. This restaurant is also vegan-friendly year-round, offering vegan options for brunch, lunch, and dinner.

The SVCC menu was dated October 3rd – yesterday – so the food I had tonight may not be on the menu whenever you decide to go, but I’m going to tell you what I had anyhow!

For starters, I ordered the sweet chili cauliflower, cornmeal fried cauliflower florets in a sweet chili sauce. I thought this was an outstanding dish and I hope they keep it on the menu forever!

For my main course, I had the smoked tofu and beet meatballs. I know that sounds a little odd, but it was actually pretty good. The three meatballs were served on a bed of sautéed Swiss chard and mashed potatoes.

I was way too full for dessert, but I couldn’t pass up apple pie cake, and I’m really glad I didn’t. It was basically a spice cake with creamy frosting, topped with apple pie filling. Doesn’t get much better than that!

The Porch is located at 1815 K Street, and their phone number is 916-444-2423. Their website address is http://www.theporchrestaurantandbar.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/ThePorchRestaurant/. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The SVCC menu is not offered at lunchtime.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Sexy Panda Truck

Thank goodness for the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge! Without it, I don’t know when I might have found out about the Sexy Panda Truck, which is parked in a location on Arden Way that’s a little off the beaten path for me.

I drove over there for lunch today and had to decide what to order from a menu that was full of things I wanted to eat. Should I get tacos (Can’t Believe It’s Not Beef, Unchicken Bao, or We Harm No Fish)? How about the ImpossiBao or the Vegan Mac? Everything sounded so good! I finally decided on the Loaded Vegan Fries, and when they say “loaded,” they’re not kidding! I was presented with a huge serving of waffle fries, vegan macaroni, Impossible meat, cilantro slaw, bulgogi sauce, and vegan Panda sauce. There was so much food, in fact, that I couldn’t close the top of the to-go box until I’d eaten a good amount. I sat in my car and ate tasty bite after tasty bite until I couldn’t eat anymore. 

Since the Sexy Panda is a food truck, it won’t always be serving up all this vegan goodness in the same location. Right now, it’s at 998 Arden Way, which is at the corner of Evergreen and Arden, near the Harley-Davidson dealer. But you should probably follow their Facebook and Instagram pages so you can keep track of where they’ll be on any given day and during what hours. Whether they’re off the beaten path or not, they are definitely worth a visit!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Crocker Cafe

I had lunch with my friend Bonnie today, who wanted to go to the Crocker Café. That was fine with me, since Crocker Café is participating in this year’s Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge and I know their food is always good.

There doesn’t appear to be a separate Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge menu at Crocker Café – their vegan dishes are just incorporated into their regular menu. Their main vegan offerings appear to be tacos and cookies, so I ordered both.

The vegan tacos were filled with house-made vegan chorizo, house-made cashew cheese, and cabbage. Their vegan chorizo appeared to have a quinoa base. It was very flavorful and paired well with the creamy texture of the cashew cheese. I really enjoyed these tacos!

The cookies were on a platter near the cash register. Since they were small, I ordered two. Basically, they were like Russian tea cakes, little balls of baked dough covered in powdered sugar. I love Russian tea cakes, and these definitely did not disappoint!

The Crocker Café is inside the Crocker Art Museum at 216 O Street, and their phone number is 916-808-1865. You don’t need to pay the museum admission fee if you’re only planning to eat at the café and not expecting to visit the art exhibits. The café’s website address is https://www.crockerart.org/cafe, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/CrockerCafeBySupperClub/. Their counter service menu items are available Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Monday, October 1, 2018

SVCC 2018 -- Revolution Wines

Today is the first of October, which means it’s also the first day of the annual Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge. Every October, local chefs create an array of scrumptious vegan menu items, which are available throughout the month. I look forward to this event every year!

The first thing I did for this year’s challenge was to print out a listing of all the participating restaurants. This list also indicates during which meals the special vegan dishes will be available. This year, there’s a special emphasis on brunch and dessert. Here’s a link to the list so you can print it out too: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nx3pjhRODuEw012bEEV1z2frXZrU5E8-8AM-iuF-eC8/edit.

A few of the participating restaurants have previewed on social media the dishes they’ll be offering this month, so I knew exactly where my first stop was going to be. The always vegan-friendly Revolution Wines shared a photo of the Impossible Stroganoff they had created, using Impossible Burger crumbles, and I couldn’t wait to try it. I stopped in for lunch today, and the stroganoff was every bit as good as I’d hoped it would be. All the vegan items are listed on Revolution Wines’ regular menu, and are clearly marked as vegan. I think the next time I'm there, I’ll try the sweet potatoes and chili.

I was actually too full for dessert, but I couldn’t pass up the Mexican chocolate cake, topped with blueberry compote. The cake was very good, and the blueberry compote was the perfect accompaniment. All the desserts at Revolution Wines are vegan, so if chocolate cake isn’t your thing, you might try the seasonal fruit crisp or the pumpkin cheesecake.

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/?ref=br_rs. They are open Monday 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. They will also be offering special vegan dishes on their brunch menu, served Friday through Sunday.