Manzanita has been on my to-eat list for a few years. Not only is the food incredibly sustainable and the location convenient, it follows organic vegan macrobiotic guidelines, for which I have a huge soft spot. Animal rights and such food politics are great reasons to go vegan but my motivations are a bit more grounded in health/well-being (i.e. selfish). These food choices make more sense to me as an individual–local, in season, balanced and whole foods.
From the industrial factories of North Oakland springs this oasis of a restaurant. They are only open for lunch so the space can be used for a vegan Thai place at night. Talk about economic use of space! Who wants to start a 24hr cafe/discotheque with me?
Simple food, simple menu. I like food surprises so I appreciate having a limited menu at times. Manzanita basically cooks a set of dishes every day and the customer chooses between larger plates with more variety, smaller plates, a la carte, or the "simple" plate, geared towards those with specific health concerns. The simple plate is always salt and fat free.
S and I split the full meal so we could have room for one of their raw desserts. The lentil vegetable soup was spiced to perfection and felt creamy despite being fat free. The power of lentils, I tell ya.
Aside from presentation, my favorite part of this plate was the chewy, seasoned brown rice in the middle. It's all about variety. I could imagine myself making everything on this plate for myself. Sometimes that's not what I look for when I'm dining out, but I loved how at Manzanita, I felt at home--or at least in the home of a more mature, food savvy version of myself.
Raw "pumpkin" pie. Since working for Raw Bay Area, I've felt a renewed interest in raw food. The desserts at Manzanita range from raw to vegan to non-vegan, and all of them contain agave instead of sugar. I loved how the ingredients were listed right on the sign. This had butternut squash, coconut butter, dates, walnuts, agave, spices and vanilla. The aromatic mousse filling nicely complimented the heavier, chewy crust.
All in all, I’m fascinated and floored by Manzanita. Judging by the photos on the walls, it’s run by a team of Tibetan-Americans, possibly related. One of my food dreams is to own or work for a business that provides this kind of food. Food that is incredibly healthy but delicious that not only comforts people while they’re eating, but after they leave the table, knowing they are filled with nutrition. I have found my restaurant. Seeing something like this thriving in Oakland is so exciting and inspiring! Oh yeah, to make things even better, I had this on my birthday, before yoga and barhopping. Balance, right.