Patxi’s: Eerily Cheesy

No pizza will ever seem quite as satisfying as the grease-laden deep dish pizza I ate three years ago at Uno’s, after a day of walking around Chicago in freezing rain. But since I am not running a marathon or fattening up for winter, the healthier “Cali style” Chicago pizza at Patxi’s hits the spot well enough. Yesterday, A and I placed an order, then walked around sunny Hayes Valley popping into boutiques and candy stores while waiting for it to cook. We’re definitely not in Chicago anymore.

It was one of my first forays into Hayes Valley, an adorable shopping nook next to the Financial District. My roommate has worked at various restaurants on this street for years, so I expect to come more often. A feast at her current restaurant Nojo is in the works!

"Do you want an action shot?" The charming waiter offered when I asked if I could take a photo. I knew the angle would be messed up, but snapped it quickly as not to delay the eating process. Keepin’ it real. (haaaay A)

Our 10” pie with whole wheat crust and half spinach and tomato for A, half vegan cheese and mushrooms, olives and onions for me ($22). Patxi’s offers several brands of alternative cheese, and I was very eager to try Daiya for the first time since it’s been a hit in the vegan world for its eerily cheesy properties.

Verdict: more similar than most other store brands, but still lacks the sharp umami of cheese and the “stretch factor”. While I’d enjoy Daiya in small amounts, I found it a bit too salty and one dimensional in flavor, and too snotty in texture (sorry I went there). Bear in mind, I’m not a huge fan of real cheese, so my favorite kind on the Vegan Pizza Tour remains the tofu garlic ricotta at Lanesplitters…or maybe the one at Bobby G’s. Point is, not this one.

But this is not a review for Daiya! I know Patxi’s makes a mean California-Chicago style pizza and think they do a better job than Zachary’s, which everyone on the East Bay is obsessed with. Patxi’s isn’t trying to be something it’s not–I mean, if I asked for whole wheat vegan pizza at Uno’s I’d probably be exiled from Chicago–but they do their own thang deliciously.

FoodUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitled

Service UntitledUntitledUntitledUntitled

Ambiance UntitledUntitledUntitled

Value UntitledUntitledUntitled

Pizza Plaza Takes The Lead

We had time, a car, and big appetites – perfect time to try Pizza Plaza! It won for best vegan pizza in the entire bay area, and I’ve heard nothing short of raves from vegans. If this place was closer to Berkeley I’d be hitting it up all the time. Still, 10 minutes is all it takes to drive there and I’d go back for any occasion. seriously so much win.

we straight up in (north) oakland. not a fancy place - there are four tables, a counter you place orders, and a map of alemeda county hanging on the wall. they do get many more pickups/deliveries than dine in

we straight up in (north) Oakland. not a fancy place - there are four tables, a counter you place orders, and a map of Alemeda county hanging on the wall. they do get many more pickups/deliveries than dine in

the interior was the size of my bedroom. i took pic of their fridge because i thought they made very wise choices in beverage offerings. i like that coconut juice and ginger ale are equally represented. you can't lose with those two.

the interior was the size of my bedroom. i took a pic of their fridge because i thought they made very wise choices in beverage offerings. i like that coconut juice and ginger ale are equally represented. you can't lose with those two.

I heard magical things about the vegan buffalo wings. the three of us split half an order (6) of the "hot" type because how else would anyone want buffalo wings! i see the appeal of these, but i wouldn't get them again. 1) i don't miss meat nor care for processed fake meat 2)it tasted exactly like chinese mock meat made from tofu. which is not a bad thing, but i've had this sort of thing growing up and it is much better in stir-frys along with other veggies/grains. that said, the "wings" were really juicy and had fibrous like chicken, and it even had a layer of "skin". the seasoning was more unique than its asian counterparts, and this super spicy powder on the outside was awesome. the vegan ranch was also the best i've had - i'd dip anything in that. it was just a little too salty and processed for me.

I heard magical things about the vegan buffalo wings. the three of us split half an order (6) of the "hot" type because how else would anyone want buffalo wings! i see the appeal of these, but i wouldn't get them again. 1) i don't miss meat nor care for processed fake meat 2)it tasted exactly like chinese mock meat made from tofu. which is not bad , but i've had this sort of thing growing up and it is much better in stir-frys along with other veggies/grains. that said, the "wings" were really juicy and had fibrous like chicken, and it even had a layer of "skin". the seasoning was more unique than its asian counterparts, and this super spicy powder on the outside was awesome. the vegan ranch was also the best i've had - i'd dip anything in that. it was just a little too salty and processed for me.

beautiful! this place is insane with vegetarian toppings. i swear they have over 40 types with five different vegan meats, nuts, any kind of veggie, fruit. and you can get up to three of these on a slice of vegan pizze for only 4! on this night i chose mushroom, eggplant, and avocado. i wanted allllll of them so i'll need to go back until i try them all. the crust is made with whole wheat flour, it's thinner than Lanesplitters but thicker than bobby g's. the sides are crispy but the middle is perfectly chewy. and THIS is what i call vegan cheese success. it is not sauce, it is not overpowered by garlic/random flavors, and it melts! it actually tasted like cheese!

beautiful! this place is insane with vegetarian toppings. i swear they have over 40 types with five different vegan meats, nuts, any kind of veggie, fruit. and you can get up to three of these on a slice of vegan pizza for only 4! one slice is a huge square which they cut into two triangles. on this night i chose mushroom, eggplant, and avocado. i wanted allllll of them so i'll need to go back. the crust is made with whole wheat flour, thinner than Lanesplitters but thicker than bobby g's. just right, i'd say. the sides are crispy but the middle is perfectly chewy. and THIS is what i call vegan cheese success. it is not sauce, it is not overpowered by garlic/random flavors, and it melts! according to the sign, this is "teese" from chicago. exotic. it actually tasted like cheese!

that is, i thought it tasted like cheese until S and C's pizza arrived and reminded me what it really smelled like. They got a small vegetarian pizza (15?) which included mushrooms, artichokes, zuchinni, onion, garlic, and fresh tomatoes. judging by how it looked, and then confirming with them, it didn't seem like a very special pie. it looked kind of bland, and not saucy enough. for normal pizza in berkeley, i find it hard to beat the slab of grease that comes from Fat Slice. But this was very mediocre, especially for the price. they both agreed that they wouldn't come here for this pizza. it is undoubtably very healthy though. and for vegan pizza, this is in first place!

that is, i thought it tasted like cheese until S and C's pizza arrived and reminded me what it really smelled like. They got a small vegetarian pizza (15?) which included mushrooms, artichokes, zucchini, onion, garlic, and fresh tomatoes. judging by how it looked, and then confirming with them, it wasn't a very special pie. it looked kind of bland, and not saucy enough (i'm a saucy person). for normal pizza in berkeley, i find it hard to beat the slab of grease that comes from Fat Slice. This was very mediocre, especially for the price. they both agreed that they wouldn't come here for this pizza. it is undoubtably very healthy though. and for vegan pizza, Pizza Plaza takes first place!

this is not the end of the vegan pizza tour, since there are still a couple places out there that i haven’t hit up. but most pizza places use real cheese by default, and vegan options – if they exist – are an afterthought. Pizza Plaza actually gives vegans precedent and it’s better to skip the real stuff.

i adore you, pizza plaza. you have so many other v toppings and v lasagna and v desserts (allegedly) that i would like to try. want to see you again soon. let’s rendezvous under the bleachers after school if this sounds good to you?

Food Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled

Service N/A (but the staff is very charming)

Value Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled

Ambiance Untitled Untitled


the hunt continues

i had bobby g’s pizza before starting this blog and was impressed enough by it to kickoff my east bay vegan pizza search. the cheese they use seems to be the same as Lanesplitter’s, but everything else paled in comparison. the only benefit of this place is that it’s two blocks from my house.

i got the lunch special for 3.5 which includes a slice of pizza and a soda. for .50 i added my favorite fungal topping. i believe everything is organic, and they have a huge variety of condiments like nutritional yeast, ponzu sauce, 10 types of hot sauce, all the dried herbs your heart could desire, etc etc.  the crust is thin and crispy, i'm not sure what it's reminiscent of. i don't think they make the vegan cheese - it's soy-based and packed with garlic. in my experience there are two categories of cheese - the saucy kind like this, and the shredded kind that doesn't really ever melt, so lots of people hate it. i am a fan of both, but i'm getting bored of the former so won't be seeing bobby g's again

i got the lunch special for 3.5 which includes a slice of pizza and a soda. for .50 i added my favorite fungal topping. i believe everything is organic, and they have a huge variety of condiments like nutritional yeast, ponzu sauce, 10 types of hot sauce, all the dried herbs your heart could desire, etc etc. the crust is thin and crispy, i'm not sure what it's reminiscent of. i don't think they make the vegan cheese - it's soy-based and packed with garlic. in my experience there are two categories of cheese - the saucy kind like this, and the shredded kind that doesn't really ever melt, so lots of people hate it. i am a fan of both, but i'm getting bored of the former so won't be seeing bobby g's again

the service/staff was all over the place this day. while we were there they made four huge mistakes and had to give major refunds to people. K didn't get his slice until i almost finished mine and they prob would've forgotten about it completely if we didn't ask (happened to two people behind us). they also made an extra slice of mine so they gave me the other for free.

the service/staff was all over the place this day. while we were there they made four huge mistakes and had to give major refunds to people. K didn't get his slice until i almost finished mine and they prob would've forgotten about it completely if we didn't ask (happened to two people behind us). they also made an extra slice of mine so they gave me the other for free.

Food UntitledUntitledUntitled

Service UntitledUntitledUntitled

Value UntitledUntitledUntitled

Ambiance UntitledUntitledUntitled

Lanesplitter’s with an Herbivore finish

Sorry the picture qualities for this post are atrotious, even for me!

After a couple failed attempts I finally made it to Lanesplitter Pub & Pizza! They have two sit-down locations and one for whole pie pick-up around here, all modest-sized and dingy from the outside. Never would you guess that half their menu is vegetarian or that they use one of the best vegan cheeses in Berkeley. My “Best Vegan Pizza” search just recently started, but theirs took the lead with Notta Ricotta. I despise normal ricotta but that’s what I love about vegan cheeses that don’t try to imitate the real stuff.

had a pic without flash but it slipped through a tear in the time-space continuum

had a pic without flash but it slipped through a tear in the time-space continuum

This has more of a creamy, herby, soybeany flavor. The crust is Sicilian style, with olives which comes in a combo with salad and drink (5.50 or 6.25 for two slices). You can opt for the thinner, Neopolitan crust but I wanted to relive my Roman holidays where 50% of what I consumed was thick pizza crust. Dio mio, this was the best crust i’ve EVER had, trumping Italy. Looks are deceiving but it was unbelievably doughy and soft, while every bit of the edges/bottom was crispy in contrast. It’s not much in the looks department but there was not one part of the crust that tasted dry or hard. It reminds me of my favorite foccacia at Cafe Giovanni, but with more tastiness on top and without the rosemary (bummer). I wish they used olives that weren’t canned but I’d get it again because another richer, stronger flavor held up well to the light base.

salad with garbanzo/kidney beans and garlic vinaigrette

salad with garbanzo/kidney beans and garlic vinaigrette

None of their dressings sounded that appealing but this is quite a nice salad for something that comes with a combo! It needed more flavor. If you took all the combo salads and lined them up in a beauty pageant this would make it to the finals but probably blow it by answering a question with being grateful for the shiny hair God gave her.

Vegan Eggplant Bake (9.75) with spinach, mushroom, onion and roasted garlic in red sauce, smothered in Notta Ricotta

Vegan Eggplant Bake (9.75) with spinach, mushroom, onion and roasted garlic in red sauce, smothered in Notta Ricotta

I wanted a carb component in this, but that’s not their fault. It was prepared well but I could make it at home, in which case I’d also add a lot more salt and herbs.  This one should consider packing her bags.

vegan german chocolate cake with pecans (6.25)

vegan german chocolate cake with pecans (6.25)

From Herbivore, one of my favorite albiet trendy/overpriced vegan places. Impromptu purchase after my friend raved about the cake, and seeing as I rarely feel like getting dessert I went with the impulse. It was perfectly moist and I loved the fudge icing and coconut sauce. Vegan desserts are pretty hard to mess up in my book, unless they require buttery flavor (cookies) but I’m sure that’s replicable nowadays. Maybe I’m still not a dessert person. If you’re a chocoholic, I prob wouldn’t recommend this because even though it looks dark it doesn’t have a strong chocolate flavor compared to other cakes. It reminded me of carob but it probably was just milder cocoa. Good for people who don’t want dark chocolate. But then you might try the carrot cake, which is what I’m going to do next time.

Ratings for Lanesplitter only

Food UntitledUntitledUntitledUntitled

Service UntitledUntitledUntitledUntitled

Ambiance UntitledUntitled

Price UntitledUntitledUntitled