Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Vegan Dining in California Part 2: San Francisco

From the minute we landed in San Francisco, I knew we had entered a vegan friendly city.  In their airport, alone was Plant Cafe, a great spot (while not vegan nor vegetarian they still had wonderful vegan options).  Forrest and I ordered the Plant Burger (a lovely combination of beets, cashews, lentils and mushrooms) and some tasty desserts.  The burger was flavorful, filling and a fun red color which made it visually pleasing as well.  The cookie and cupcakes we got were also quite good, though not the best dessert I've ever had.

If you are in San Francisco I highly recommend stopping by Gracias Madre.  Forrest and my three year anniversary happened to occur while out in CA so we decided to celebrate at this authentic vegan mexican restaurant.  The place was fabulous!  They had many long and large wooden tables for group sitting (we were at a table with an other random couple), two singing guitarists, and a long bar with wine, beer (tap and bottled) and liquor.

We ordered the Flautas de Camote and the Empanada for our apps and shared the Tacos for our entree.  The Flautas de Camote were fried flautas stuffed with sweet potato and onions topped with guacamole  pico de gallo, and a cashew cream.  They had some nice flavor but were, honestly, a little boring for my taste.  However, the Empanadas, filled with fried plantains and served over a spicy mole sauce, was delicious.  The texture was fantastic and the contrast of spice and salt was done to perfection.  The Tacos were good, solid tacos but nothing out of the ordinary as far as presentation or composition.  However, the fresh organic veggies inside the tacos were delicious and compensated for the otherwise somewhat boring dish.  We were too stuffed for dessert but overall I was very pleased with our entire experience there.

Our second to last day in CA, we ventured out to the Embarcadero for Brunch and found ourselves at Plant Cafe once again.  This one, like the one in the airport, had many vegan options and and even larger menu.  (Plus we got a seat right by the water and the place was really beautiful).

What really impressed me was, not only were there a few vegan sandwiches and salads, but there was even a vegan brunch option for a tofu scramble! Most places that have vegan options might offer you a salad or if you're really lucky perhaps sides of veggies made sans the butter.  However, here they actually had a a tasty scramble with multigrain toast.  I was a tad more boring and got the Kale salad but it was still just as delicious.  We ended the late morning meal with a lovely slice of raw raspberry cashew cheesecake. Might I add we had a few choices for dessert as 3/6 of their listed desserts were vegan!

I have to say, however, my favorite place we ate was Herbivore.  We went there on our last day in San Francisco for Brunch and everything from the atmosphere, to the service, to the food was outstanding.  It was a bit too chilly to sit outside but I saw a lovely patio in the back of the establishment which I am sure is wonderful in warmer weather.  We sat along the wall and our waiter was very friendly and patient as we poured over the menu.

I ordered the Southwestern Tofu Scramble, which was all kinds of delicious.  It came with tofu scramble filled with onions and bell peppers, a great big side of black beans, potato hash, an in-house made salsa, sour cream, and a huge slice of blueberry cornbread.  I was in heaven! The size was so generous and the price so good: something not easy to find in NYC.

Forrest ordered the trail mix pancakes which were not as component packed as my dish, but just as delicious.  They came with three lovely sized pancakes filled with coconut, walnuts, and chocolate chips served with a nice serving of fresh fruit.

All in all it was a lovely trip and I was really impressed with all the vegan options in the city.  I hope any of you traveling out there get a chance to try out some of these places!

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