September 16, 2005

Brown rice and curried grass in restaurants.

Wondering where to take a vegan friend for dinner in the extended Bay Area? Here are some suggestions in fairly haphazard order.

Cha-Ya, Shattuck Ave. just north of Virginia St. in Berkeley.
Completely vegan Japanese restaurant - sushi, noodle and rice dishes, soups, dessert, the whole delicious works.

Great Wall, College Ave. just south of Alcatraz Ave. in Berkeley.
Chinese Buddhist restaurant that serves conventional Chinese-restaurant dishes made with seitan and other fake meats. Watch out for the fish, which is real.

Golden Era, O'Farrell east of Leavenworth in San Francisco.
Golden Lotus, Franklin between 13th and International in Oakland.
Two Chinese/Vietnamese vegetarian restaurants under the same ownership, with an absolutely enormous selection of fake-meat dishes. Do not watch out for the fish, because it isn't real.

Cafe Colucci, Telegraph just north of Alcatraz in Berkeley.
Ethiopian restaurant serving both meat and vegetarian dishes; nearly all of the vegetarian dishes are fully vegan.

Addis, Telegraph between 61st and 62nd in Oakland.
Also an Ethiopian restaurant with meat and vegan dishes. Slightly less popular, and therefore quieter, than Cafe Colucci.

Ital Calabash, Adeline south of Ashby in Berkeley.
Ital Calabash, Franklin at 14th in Oakland.
All-vegan Jamaican restaurant which is frankly fucking amazing. Expect earsplitting reggae music, cheerful service from a chatty Rasta dude, and really damned delicious sweet fried plantains.

Herbivore, Divisadero north of Fell in San Francisco.
Herbivore, Valencia north of 21st in San Francisco.
Herbivore, Shattuck around Haste in Berkeley.
All-vegan restaurant with a variety of American-y, Italian-y, and generally Asian-y dishes. Slightly spendy but quite delicious.

Millennium, Geary east of Jones in San Francisco.
Stoa, Emerson east of Hamilton in Palo Alto.
Really, don't ask me about either of these. I've never been to them, and all I know is that they're both fancy, expensive, vegetarian, and reported to be delicious.

Smart Alec's, Telegraph at Durant in Berkeley.
"Healthy fast food" place in Berkeley which has recently expanded into regular meat items but does some excellent vegan burgers, sandwiches, and soups.

Spud's Pizza, Adeline at Alcatraz in Berkeley.
Pizza and calzone restaurant which will make absolutely anything, including cheesy breadsticks, with soy cheese upon request. I can't guarantee that their brand of soy cheese is vegan, because I haven't been able to bring myself to ask.

Papalote, 24th west of Valencia in San Francisco.
Mexican restaurant serving both meat and vegan versions of standard Mexican-restaurant fare, including heavenly tofu mole burritos.

Saturn Cafe, Laurel west of Front in Santa Cruz.
Vegetarian diner that used to serve vegan equivalents of almost everything on their menu, but has recently cut a lot of them. Still does a mean vegan riblet sandwich and soy cream sundaes.

Udupi Palace, University east of Martin Luther King Jr in Berkeley.
South Indian vegetarian restaurant with mostly stuffed-flatbread based dishes and plenty of vegan options.

New World Vegetarian, 8th west of Broadway in Oakland.
All-vegan smorgasbord of incredibly tasty Asian, European and American dishes.

Fellini, University at Acton in Berkeley.
Italian restaurant serving vegetarian, vegan and omnivore options (frequently all three for the same dishes). Actually no longer the best vegan brunch in the East Bay, because of Herbivore.

Jamaican Soul, San Pablo south of University in Berkeley.
Serves vegan and meat dishes in tasty and enormous buffet plates. The folks serving will usually tell you which dishes are vegan without you needing to ask.

Included with reluctance:

Raphael, Center east of Shattuck in Berkeley.
Upscale vegetarian Italian restaurant with vegan options. Honestly somewhat limited for vegans, although not nearly as much as most Italian restaurants. Don't go there with a lacto-ovo-vegetarian because you'll be sad all night about what they were eating that you couldn't have.

Cafe Gratitude, Shattuck north of Francisco in Berkeley.
Fine. Fine. The food is delicious. The dessert is beyond delicious. I still hate the attitude.

How about in Portland?

If you need my help to find vegan food in Portland, you are just not trying. Still, I am nothing if not accommodating. Consider this section under construction until I get my shit together to write descriptions and get exact addresses.

Veganopolis (SW Stark and 4th)
Nutshell (N Williams and Beech)
Vita (NE Alberta and 31st)
Bye and Bye (NE Alberta and 10th, and I'm cheating because this one is a bar)
Laughing Planet (N Mississippi and Failing, SE Belmont and 32nd, NW Kearney and 21st, and way the fuck down on SE Woodstock and 41st.)
Paradox (SE Belmont and 34th)
Food Fight (SE Division and 42nd Stark and 12th!, and not actually a restaurant either)
Blossoming Lotus (NW Davis and 9th)
Pirate's Tavern (NW Industrial and St. Helen's)
FlavourSpot (N Lombard and Denver)
BackSpace (NW Couch and 5th)
Voodoo Donut (SW Ankeny and 3rd)
Garbonzo's (NW Kearney and 21st as of a couple of years ago. I don't know if it's still there)

Other cities?

Araya's, NE University and 47th in Seattle (vegan Thai).
Follow Your Heart, Sherman Way at Jordan in Canoga Park (vegetarian homestyle restaurant and health-food market).

The following are general rules that I've discovered after four years of trying to eat vegan in restaurants.

  1. Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurants will almost always have something vegan. It may be an appetizer plate, but it will be tasty and safe to eat.
  2. The exception to that rule is full-meal Moroccan restaurants, where you can order a vegan main dish but the bastela will still have egg and the soup will still have chicken broth.
  3. Bar and grill places? Forget it.
  4. In Italian restaurants you will, 9 times out of 10, wind up with a plate of spaghetti with marinara or oil-and-herb sauce.
  5. Sushi restaurants usually have tasty vegan options, but the miso soup and noodle bowls have fish stock in them unless otherwise specified.
  6. Mexican restaurants are really iffy, because there's often lard in the refried beans and tortillas even if you order a vegetable dish.
  7. In Thai restaurants, you'll want to ask about fish in the sauces (Pad Thai sauce, for example) and fried egg in the dishes.
  8. Indian restaurants generally have good vegan options, but the danger is that you won't be able to have any of the cool soothing yogurt sauces and your mouth will be a fiery ball of pain.

That's all I've got for right now. Katie? Jacob? Anybody who can think of something I've missed, add it in the comments section and I will incorporate it into the list. This, along with my recipe posts and assorted other stuff that I'm planning to post in the future, is going into a fourth category of worthwhile Snoqualmie posts: useful information for being vegan and vegetarian. You'll be able to click it from my "links" section under the wholly unexpected title of Brown Rice And Curried Grass.

Posted by dianna at September 16, 2005 11:00 AM

Don't forget Araya's, in Seattle.

Posted by: Jacob at September 16, 2005 01:03 PM

I couldn't remember how to spell it. Thank you.

Posted by: Dianna at September 16, 2005 01:15 PM