Socal Eats: Part Two

I won’t post day by day eats because they got truly pathetic on a few of the days (3 protein bars pathetic)

Native Foods is a chain that reminds me of Herbivore. Despite the advantages of indie establishments, I like that one can always count on a large selection of well-conceived, well-prepared food from vegan chains.

Fish tacos instantly bring me back to taco Tuesdays at the Rubio's next to my high school. I haven't had fish in years and I knew the Baja Surf Tacos (8) with soft corn tortillas, crispy battered Tempeh, homemade surfer sauce, salsa fresca, shredded cabbage and guacamole were calling my name. The tartar-like sauce and fried tempeh made these taste just like the real thing, with a hint of soy. Guacamole and salsa on top never goes wrong. If I had some hot sauce and lime to drizzle, like old times, I would have never known it was vegan. Best, most satisfying dish I've had up to this point.

That is, until dinnertime when Veggie Grill almost gave it a run for its money. Apparently this place consciously avoids labeling any of its food "vegan" so as not to put off the typical Irvin-ian. I was warned that the prices are high for fast food and that might affect my opinion of the food. Yes, prices are high and menu less inspired, but so delicious nonetheless

That is, until dinnertime rolled around. Apparently Veggie Grill consciously avoids labeling its food as "vegan" so as not to put of the typical Irvin-ian. I was warned that the prices are high for rather uninspired fast-food. This is very true but its deliciousness could not be denied

To show my 'shroom spirit I chose Papa's Portobello Burger (9) with chopped tomato, basil and garlic pomodoro, carmelized onion, pesto, and chipotle ranch with a side of chili. This is my first time getting a portobello burger and it might be my new default now. The meaty mushroom was seeped in a smoky marinade, charred to perfection, and the pesto and garlic were the icing on the proverbial cake. I would've been okay with half the amount of ranch dressing, but overall none of the flavors competed and this was clearly food prepared by people who want to prove that vegan food doesn't have to be bland. The chili was cold and unremarkable. The price is steeper than I'm used to for a vegan burger (most places in Berkeley have them for under 5) but if you want a gourmet burger experience in a fast-food atmosphere, this is the place to be.

The Bali Bliss with Indonesian tempeh, the fixin's, and more chipotle ranch tasted like nothing "Indonesian" but it was entirely enjoyed and devoured. The sweet potato fries were nice but Amanda's is half the price.


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