Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Vegan Dining in California, Part 1: Santa Barbara

Hello friends! I can hardly believe it has been a month since my last post, you will all have to forgive me!  As you might be able to surmise from this post, I went away for a week to California and have been adjusting to being back in the rush of NY ever since I returned.  So, today I do not have a a recipe to share but rather a couple reviews of a few places I ate at.  Unfortunately I had some issues with my camera and was unable to capture most of the food I ate out, but I will supplement with a few lovely views of California~

The journey began in Santa Barbara which sadly is not the most vegan friendly city.  The first place we ate at, The Natural Cafe, had some decent vegetarian options though it wasn't too reassuring when I asked the host/waitress/cashier if it was possible to do certain items vegan and she looked at me like I was crazy and said she didn't understand what 'vegan' was.  But, she was far from rude, and I was fairly content about my tempeh tacos (without the cheese) and my boyfriend, Forrest was generally pleased with this tofu chili dog (once again sans the cheese.)  I would give the food about a 6.5?  It was nice to have some food after a long plane ride that wasn't fruit and bagels from a plane terminal but the flavors left a bit to be desired.

The second place we dined out at was Adama, the only all vegan (and also gluten free) restaurant in all of Santa Barbara.  I was a little nervous to try this place out as the reviews online seemed to be very mixed, mostly complaints about the service, but I was very pleased with everything!  Forrest and I went there twice, once for lunch and the second time with my Aunt and Uncle for dinner.  The first time we were the only ones there for lunch and the service was nice and attentive without being overbearing.  I ordered the jackfruit tacos (yes, I know but I just love my tacos!) and they were quite tasty.  Forrest ordered the chipotle sandwich which, in my opinion, wasn't the best (I wasn't crazy about the meat substitute, beyond meat, or how it was prepared) but still nothing to truly complain about.  The best part of the meal, though, was their desserts.  They had a large selection of freshly baked goodies; I got the chocolate cupcake and Forrest got a mini pecan pie. They both were delicious.  The cupcake was moist and the frosting rich without being overly sweet.  His pecan pie was packed full of flavors.  I was also quite impressed with how the restaurant was all gluten free, something I'm not sure I've seen in NY.

Our second visit there I found the food to be even better than their lunch items.  I got the buffalo bites which were the perfect amount of spicy with a great cooling 'ranch' sauce.  My favorite item was the 'fritto misto.'  Though I wouldn't say that item had any faux fishy tasty to it the texture and flavours were incredible! It was basically lightly floured and fried cauliflower drenched in a sweet chili sauce.  I still think about it and plan to recreate something like it soon.  Forrest ordered the enchiladas mole and we both found it to be delicious.  I found the meat substitute to be much more tolerable this time around (perhaps they were prepared differently) and the sauce was just as a mole sauce should be.

The last place we went to on our visit was Sojourner Cafe which, though not vegan, had a mostly vegetarian menu and many items were already vegan or could easily be made vegan.  I ordered the tempeh tacos because clearly I can't get enough of tacos (well they are my favorite food!) and Forrest had the tempeh reuben.   Both dishes were quite nice though, once again, they weren't the best food I've ever had. (Living in NYC has given me quite high standards about vegan dining).  Their dessert, however, was incredible.  We got the chocolate cake and it tasted just like I remember hostess products tasting (which isn't great for everyday but for a treat now and then it's a perfect dessert).  I loved that they had several vegan dessert items on their menu, something you don't see often in non-veg places. The service was great and the place had a really cool, almost political community vibe that I was extremely into.

And that wraps up my dining experience in Santa Barbara.  Once again I apologize for the lack of food photos but I hope you enjoy the other pictures in any case.  Part 2 of this post will be a bit longer as it includes many of the wonderful places we ate at in San Francisco!

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