5 Must-Try Vegan Options in Orange County »
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: while LA is undoubtedly the vegan Mecca in Southern California, Orange County isn’t far behind. Orange County is located between Los Angeles and San Diego, roughly an hour from each, and has amassed quite a collection of excellent vegan restaurants that are definitely worth the visit.
Since it would probably take at least a few dozen paragraphs to tell you about all the vegan options in Orange County, I’ve decided to spare you a wall of text and instead recommend restaurants based on meal-times throughout the day, from brunch to a late night snack [Ed. note: can we organize everything like this always?]. A lot of people will be coming to town this upcoming weekend to attend the Natural Products Expo, not to mention those who visit for the beaches or Disneyland on a regular basis, so now is the perfect time to recommend the best vegan options for those on a tight schedule or for those that may only be visiting Orange County for a day or two. I’ve only included restaurants that are unique to Orange County so you can maximize your time and try new things!
Pictured above: The vegan Huevos Rancheros at Seabirds Kitchen
Brunch: Seabirds Kitchen in Costa Mesa, CA
There used to be limited options for breakfast or brunch for vegans in Orange County, but no more! Though there are several options for vegan brunch, my number one go-to is Seabirds Kitchen. Seabirds started off as a vegan food truck in Orange County (you probably saw them on Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race), but recently opened a brick and mortar location in Costa Mesa. I am a big fan of all their menu items at any time of the day, but you can usually find me there for their weekend brunches, which feature seasonal mouth-watering creations like huevos rancheros, waffles, breakfast quesadillas, breakfast bowls and the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever tasted (bonus points: it is served with fried pickles as garnish!). If you have room, make sure to try their chaffle, a decadent half waffle, half churro creation topped with coconut sorbet [Ed. note: HOLD THE PHONE! I NEED A CHAFFLE STAT!]. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 1 pm.
Pictured above: The vegan torta with Soyrizo at Tacos Cancun
Lunch: Tacos Cancun in Costa Mesa, CA
Tacos Cancun is a tiny hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant that has a whole separate vegan menu. Not only that, but they also have a separate grill for preparing vegan food. They actually get it, guys!! They have all sorts of vegan dishes you can order with soy “beef”, Soyrizo or even vegan “chicken.” My favorite is the torta, which I order with Soyrizo, and is kinda like a Sloppy Joe (dare I say Sloppy José?). I’m also a fan of the vegan nachos, which are HUGE, and topped with vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, beans, and all sorts of other goodies. You also HAVE to get the vegan horchata, which is served in a fancy wine goblet so you feel all fancy. If you happen to be there on a Mondays, also ask them about their vegan special, which in the past has included homemade tamales or chile rellenos. Don’t forget to order their vegan fried ice cream, too! A quick tip: you need to specifically ask for the vegan option when ordering since they aren’t a strictly all-vegan restaurant.
Pictured above: A snack of vegan chili cheese fries and vegan corn dog from Vegan Pizza
Mid-Afternoon Snack: Vegan Pizza in Garden Grove, CA
The perfect place to grab a mid-afternoon snack to tide you over until dinner is located in Garden Grove, about 10 minutes away from Disneyland. And the perfect snack? Vegan corn dogs! Though the restaurant name is Vegan Pizza (and their pizzas are delectably delicious), my favorite item on the menu is the corn dog, made with a veggie dog that’s dipped in some kind of magical batter that gets deep fried to glorious perfection!
Pictured above: Au Lac’s spring rolls served with peanut sauce
Dinner: Au Lac in Fountain Valley, CA
If you are looking for a memorable dinner, look no further than Au Lac in Fountain Valley (just outside of Huntington Beach). It may not look like much from the outside since it is situated in a strip mall, but once you step inside you are transported to an opulent dining room with deep red walls. The menu is all vegan and offers an array of Asian-inspired cooked vegan dishes as well as a full raw menu. While there are many Asian-inspired vegan restaurants in Orange County, Au Lac’s flavorful and elegant dishes make them stand out big time.
Pictured above: A variety of vegan donuts from The Donuttery
Late Night Snack: The Donuttery in Huntington Beach, CA
Have a hankering for vegan donuts at 3 AM? The Donuttery in Huntington Beach has you covered! They are open 24-hours and though they aren’t an exclusively vegan eatery, they have quite a selection of vegan donuts that keeps growing and growing! Their newest vegan flavor is blueberry, but they have plain, glazed, chocolate, maple, lemon and so many more. This is the perfect pit-stop after a late night on the town, an early morning treat or anytime you want vegan donuts (which is pretty much any and all the time for me!).
I hope to see you at one of these fine vegan or vegan-friendly establishments soon!
Sarah Jahier is The Spooky Vegan, an Orange County-based blogger who wanders the night in search of vegan options. She writes about the vegan lifestyle and her other two obsessions, Halloween and horror, on her site, The Spooky Vegan. You can follow her daily esoteric ramblings on Twitter.
It’s been a pretty chilly 67 degrees in SoCal, so I needed a little something to warm up! AHAHAHAHA, just kidding, I wear tank tops everywhere, only to be met with a concerned, “Aren’t you cold?” NO WAY! I JUST MOVED HERE FROM SAN FRANCISCO! (And before that Chicago! And before that, Humboldt County! This is the eternal summer phase of my life! But yeah, actually, I could’ve used a light sweater, I just didn’t bring one, me having so many assumptions about southern California and everything.)
The truth is, I’ve been eating out with my family at a bunch of restaurants that serve clam chowder and it’s left me with a hankering for a vegan version. So thank you, Isa! This Glam Chowder, as with all of your recipes, is awesome. Plus, I’m super into it being soy and gluten-free to boot! My pal Amanda texted me awhile back, letting me know this recipe was bomb; I just want to say “Thanks, girl! You were right! Hey, can you send me some of your future-award-winning jalapeño mac’n cheese? It would be so greatly appreciated! XoXo.”
Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! »
Chipotle announced fantastic news this week, stating that its popular Sofritas option will be going nationwide. CEO Steve Ells commented, “Many of our customers, we’ve realized, are vegetarian or vegan, or generally meat-reducers or concerned about their diet and questioning about how the animals are raised and how much meat they should be eating.”
The ag-gag battles continued this week, with the Idaho legislature sending a dairy industry-backed bill to the governor that, if signed, would make it a crime to take a video of animal abuse on a factory farm. Some Idaho newspapers are editorializing against the bill and even yogurt brand Chobani is urging a veto. The governor’s office indicates that it’s received well over 11,000 phone calls in opposition, and very few in support. You can take action here.
In Arizona, the PR battle on ag-gag continued, with op-eds and more.
Finally, wondering why vegetarians live longer? TIME offers seven reasons this week.
Vice President, Farm Animal Protection
The Humane Society of the United States
Follow at http://twitter.com/pshapiro
P.S. Video of the week: Goats just wanna have fun…
P.P.S. Photo of the week: New HSUS ads in action!
Vegan Drinks NYC Recap: Chickpea & Olive serves the yum! »
Chickpea & Olive was the food vender for February’s Vegan Drinks last night and boy did they have their act together! The menu was pretty fun because they had polenta bowls and you got to pick from a bunch of toppings. I got slow roasted chickpeas and roasted Brussels. I also got a half of a beet parmesan hero—delish!
And I got one of the cannolis! I’ve never had a cannoli, which everyone thought was absurd, but I just never had one ok! But according to Deb, Vegan Drinks founder, this cannoli was good but a little different as the “shell” (thanks Abby Bean! It’s not called a “cookie thing” guys!) was thicker than it usually is I guess. And the cream had amaretto flavor the girls said—which I thought was just almond extract and very yum as I love almond extract. The chocolate chips were a nice touch too! And I thought cannolis were stuffed with whipped cream but it’s more like custard and I like that much better.
As you can see, there was a nice turnout! And this was an early pic. And yes that is Deb on the lower left. And yes that is Party Girl on the screen. And yes that movie RULES. So does Deb. And thanks to Jess Davis for organizing and bringing Wild Bird Fund in! I hope they sold some shirts and got some new volunteers. If you want to volunteer (you actually get to handle the birds! Like, for their own good! OMG!), check out their site. You can donate there as well.
Come to the next Vegan Drinks! They are the last Thursday of every month! Follow their FB for reminders.
BONUS: Cute goslings at the Wild Bird Fund sanctuary! Pic from their blog:
Chipotle is taking Sofritas nation-wide! »
Breaking news from Death and Taxes:
Wednesday, after spending a year on select menus throughout the country to gauge public interest, Chipotle is officially adding the mother-effing delicious vegan and GMO-free Sofritas to their menu in all 44 states where Chipotle is available.
I’m sure you are all feeling exactly how I am right now: OMG coworkers are THE WORST! But forget about that for a moment because Hodo Soy is coming to a Chipotle near you starting March 3rd!
Angelenos: Vegan Chili Cook-Off this Sunday! »
This Sunday all your vegan chili eating dreams could come true at Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank, CA! It’s time for their annual chili cook-off! $10 gets you FIVE 3-ounce tastes of chili and one voting ballot for the Peoples’ Choice Award!! FIVE TYPES OF CHILI!
Amazing local chefs participating are:
Chef Erick Simmons (Tony’s Darts Away/ Mohawk Bend)
Randy Clemens (author of @The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook)
Greg Daniels (Haven Collective)
Zel and Reuben Allen (VegParadise.com)
Alec Loguercio (Chili John’s)
Chef Tal Ronnen (Crossroads Executive Chef, author of The Conscious Cook)
Cathy Chaplin (Gastronomyblog.com, author of Food Lover’s Guide to Los Angeles)
Caroline Pardilla (CarolineOnCrack.com)
Watch this KTLA video to see Zel and Rueben Allen (perhaps THE cutest vegan couple EVER) demoing how to make vegan chili! They run Vegetarians in Paradise, and have been vegan for 25 years. Vegans on local tv!! I LOVE L.A.! (Yes, I know, this is technically in Burbank.) Also, local news reporters crack me up! (More exclamation points!!)
It’s supposed to rain this weekend (finally!), so it will be PERFECT chili eating weather. Don’t miss it! RSVP on their Facebook Event Page.
Lil Bub’s Big Fund will go towards supporting extra-needs animals, like it says:
All funds collected will be distributed as grants to organizations to support cats that need special care or extra help getting adopted due to conditions such as:
• physical deformity
• birth defects
• developmental disability (i.e. cerebral hypoplasia)
• mobility impairment
• wounds suffered from a disaster, accident, or abuse (i.e. burns due to a fire, broken bones due to car accident or physical abuse, etc.)
• any permanent diseases/illness (FIV, Leukemia, diabetes, etc)
• old age
Eligible grant recipients may include, but are not limited to, the following projects that support cats: emergency and ongoing veterinary or medical care, physical and behavioral rehabilitation, hospice and sanctuary care, shelter enrichment, foster programs, adoption events and adoption make-ready costs, relocation programs to improve adoptability, safety net programs for owned cats to reduce pet relinquishment and to keep families together, and costs associated with emergencies, disasters, or cruelty responses.
Yay Lil Bub is so amazing! Let’s all donate and help the animals!
Vegan berry danishes: a love story! »
At this point in time, February 2014, I have been vegan for almost SEVEN years. Six and half years ago, I never could have imagined I would make it this long. I went vegan straight from being an omni, and that first year definitely had its ups and downs. My boyfriend at the time was vegan and we were working as bakers at The Chicago Diner, so it made sense to try veganism out. Obviously it stuck, and I am loving this lifestyle more and more with each passing year!
A lot of times I talk about things I miss, because there are a lot of treats from my omni days that I sometimes wish I could still eat. Yes, physically I could still eat them, but it’s not worth it to me. I try to keep things positive and only talk about the foods I miss when I find vegan versions that remind me of the originals! It’s so exciting when that happens, like with So Delicious Coconut Milk Minis filling the spot in my heart that had been missing Eskimo Pies! I didn’t even know that void was there until I bit into the delectable treat!
One of my very favorite breakfast foods, beside blueberry Toaster’s Strudels, used be cheese danishes. If they had berries in them, I’d probably eat two. Maybe the berry danish sugar coursing through my body, ready to be burned off, was why I always loved PE, even though I was scared of the alphas and scared of the ball.
2013 was a big year for me and the berry danishes. I had THREE! THREE BERRY DANISHES! I know that number doesn’t sound like much, but before those three, the number was zero.
My very favorite one was from Sweet Pea Baking Company in Portland, Oregon. The reason it was my favorite was because it had not only berries in it, but CHEESE! It had a sweet vegan cream cheese in there, and I was so happy. Actually, I think ECSTATIC is the better word here. Do any other vegan bakeries make them like this? I must know!
Sweet Pea Baking Company amongst the other stores at the vegan mini-mall in PDX.
The danish I loved and still think of fondly. Is that an apple slice I spy? Were there apple slices as well? I don’t know, all I can remember is that there were cheese and berries!
I would take another trip to Phoenix just to eat at Green vegetarian restaurant and Nami!
Though this particular danish didn’t have cheese in it, the flaky pastry layers and fresh blueberry filling more than made up for it!
Unfortunately I do not have a picture of my danish from Timeless Coffee in Oakland! Sometimes I just gotta eat my food and not worry about snapping a photo, feel me? Timeless is one of my favorite Bay Area eateries, definitely in my top 5! In fact, even though I moved down to Southern California last week, I’m coming to SF for a comedy show, because a Jen Kirkman live podcast taping is a show NOT to be missed! Of course the first thing I’m going to do after landing in Oakland is hit up Timeless with my partner-in-crime, Britney! We need fuel (and probably some liquid courage) before we ask our favorite comedienne to sign everything on our person and possibly for a photo we can post all over social media.
Since it would be blasphemous to leave you with no pictures of Timeless treats, I present you with the best breakfast beverage of all time (iced coffee) and my second favorite breakfast pastry, the scone! Timeless makes vegan, savory, cheddar, bacon scones and they are phenomenal!
San Jose: Bakesale for Pups is March 15th! »
Yay San Jose! You get your own vegan bakesale to benefit the doggies! My new favorite blog Vegan Dollhouse is behind the event. They make CUTE VEGAN FOOD! Those are my three favorite words and they’re all in a row!
So make sure you go, rain or shine, and bring your puppies or kiddos if you have them! They are still looking for bakers so email email@example.com if you can help out.
Let’s Help Souley Vegan start a “Grab and Go” Line! »
First of all, I want to start off by saying that if you’ve never been to Souley Vegan in Oakland, CA, well, that’s just silly (GO THERE RIGHT NOW).
WAIT, before you go, clickity click here and donate to their fundraising campaign for a Souley Vegan Grab and Go soul food line. Donate big money so it can spread from the San Francisco Bay Area to LA (where yours truly can eat said soul food all the days and nights she damn well pleases. Kthx.). Just in case I wasn’t clear, I DREAM OF THEIR FRIED TOFU.
Tamearra Dyson (who is a totally radiant, amazing woman, as demonstrated in the video above), started Souley Vegan restaurant without any sort of outside funding, and is kicking some serious ass. Now she needs our help to take things to this next level (read: MORE AMAZING VEGAN SOUL FOOD FOR US). There are even incentives for donating (how’d she know we love presents?!)!
Remember that time you said you wanted to be more generous?!? Now’s the time to (literally) put your money where your mouth is (how does that saying make sense?). And once more, for good measure, DONATE HERE. (But, seriously, it’s in my Top 5 fave places to eat in the Bay Area. Souley Vegan is legit!)