We just got back from a trip to the Bay Area to visit our best friends for Christmas. It was a great trip even with the rain and the cold. Nothing a trip to Sports Basement for some new fleece, gloves, and jackets couldn’t cure.
We also had the opportunity to visit a few new restaurants that catered to vegans. San Francisco is a vegan friendly city and having the VegOut App is always a help.
The Plant Cafe
We went to the Plant Cafe for lunch on December 26th. We knew we were going out for dinner so we wanted to eat light. Jill and I both had the Udon Noodles with sautéed vegetables in a spicy jalapeno, cilantro, shiitake, lemon grass broth. Dave had the Plant Burger with tomato, grilled onions, lettuce, vegan aioli on a sourdough bun. Both were quite good, but the best part was dessert. They have a dessert case on the counter where you order. It’s an omnivore restaurant but has plenty of vegan options, including dessert. I bought a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting to share. The cake was moist and delicious and the peanut butter frosting was a perfect mix of salty and sweet. It was one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had, vegan or not.
For dinner, we went to Source in San Francisco which is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant with Jill and Eileen. Any dish can be made vegan which is a big plus for us. Jill and Eileen have been raving about this place and now I know why.
I had the Cluck and Avocado Club Sandwich and Dave had the Taco Pizza. Both were good, but the cluck, which is their vegan chicken, was incredible. It was seasoned so that it was slightly smokey and sweet. The sandwich was so big that I had to cut away at it. There was no way I was going to be able to pick it up. The Taco Pizza was also good and a great idea of something that can be made at home. We shared bites, however the serving sizes are so large we could have easily shared a meal. I also opted for a small cup of their soup of the day, which was black bean and quite tasty.
They also have a dessert case with vegan treats. I bought a chocolate snowball covered in peanut butter and rolled in peanuts and a Twinkee covered in dark chocolate with cream swirls. We took the desserts to go and enjoyed them later. Both were very good, but I liked the Snowball better due to the salty-sweet combination.
Jill also wanted us to try Paxti’s pizza. They order it at her work and often get the vegan version for her. Even though she’s a vegetarian and eats cheese, she still thought it was delicious and that we should try it. All the crusts and sauces are vegan and they also have Daiya cheese to make other pizzas vegan. They have both deep dish Chicago-style pizza and thinner crust. We opted for the vegan deep-dish which has a whole wheat crust, fresh spinach, crushed garlic, red onion, Daiya vegan cheese. It does take about 30 – 40 minutes to cook the deep dish, so we had cocktails while we waited. Unfortunately, they don’t have any vegan appetizers or even salads. Most of their salads are mainly greens with cheese and meats. It would be nice to have a few more vegan options other than the pizza.
The pizza was outstanding. The crust was flavorful and crunchy. I was expecting a thick bread type crust, but it was more like pie crust. The sauce and toppings were a perfect combination and layered beautifully. We ordered a medium and still had plenty to take home and eat later. It is quite filling, so if you don’t have the option to take home leftovers, a smaller size may suffice.
We don’t have any Paxti’s in Southern California, so I’ll have to try to recreate this at home. Peter Reinhart has a Chicago style pizza recipe in his “American Pie” book, so I’ll use that as a starting point. I also really enjoyed the whole wheat crust. It added an additional layer of complexity to the pizza along with whole grain benefits.
On the drive home, we stopped in San Luis Obispo to put gas in the car. On the drive up we had packed some tofu and soyrizo burritos, but we only had Cliff bars for the drive back. Looking at VegOut, I saw that there was a vegan cafe called Bliss. We phoned in a to-go order and picked up a couple of huge burritos.
I had the All Day Breakfast burrito which had beans, rice, scrambled tofu, breakfast style potatoes, hummus, spicy fruit chutney, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice and salt. Dave had the Bliss burrito which had beans, rice, cabbage, hummus, spicy fruit chutney, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice and salt. We ordered burritos because I thought they’d be easier to eat on the go. I didn’t realize how huge they were. Luckily, they were cut in half and allowed us to enjoy them quickly before we hit the road again. We only ate half and took the rest home to enjoy for dinner. I’d definitely stop there again.
I’m happy that the vegan options while traveling seem to be getting better at least in the more metropolitan areas. I’m also happy I didn’t put on a bunch of weight eating so decadently for a few days.