Surprise: Bender’s in San Francisco serves top-notch vegan bar food! »
How could you guys not tell me how delicious the vegan food is at Bender’s? Or maybe you did and I wasn’t listening? No matter, I’m disappointed in everyone all the same.
It was Allan of Mission Mission’s urging that I go and try the vegan menu there, and he’s not even a vegan! Though I was not expecting too much, I ended up so stoked with my seitan taco I went again the next week! Melissa of Food and Loathing was in town, and I was like “GIRL, after you eat at Source, we have to go to Bender’s!” So I rallied the vegan troops, including the platonic love of my life, Sarah M. Smart.
Let’s feast our eyes, shall we? I’m sorry about the flash—taking pictures in dark bars never goes very well.
Yes, those are tater tots and vegan ranch in the background!
The seitan Philly cheesesteak might be my new favorite sandwich in the city! I was never a Philly cheesesteak fan when I ate meat, so I usually shy away from these bad boys. Bender’s, you’ve stolen my heart and tested everything I thought I knew.
Sarah got the fried pickles and OMG that ranch is blinding!
Let’s not forget the seitan taco; this baby started it all! It is HUGE in real life, and scrumptious.
I totally forgive you for not letting me in on Bender’s vegan menu. I see how you would want to keep it to yourself, but now the world shall know it’s greatness! I think it’s really actually my fault because I just could not keep up with what was going on in that kitchen. Sorry about the misplaced blame there, friends.
[Bender’s signage photo via Facebook; taco photo by Britney Roque.]
What kind of a lunatic fries guacamole? A vegan lunatic fries guacamole.
Delightful and unexpected vegan finds: 15 Romolo! »
15 Romolo is near my school, right off Broadway, so it’s very popular with my school homies. I had been there a few times before but recently I’ve been going A LOT because it’s just been delightful! Sorry about the picture below, they have mood lighting so that was the best I could do; that’s the spicy carrot and fennel dip with pita and dude, it’s the hotness! I came upon this appetizer because I was there with some folks and I asked the waiter if the spiced cauliflower was vegan—yes it was! In addition, so was my handsome young waiter! I LOVE when I find a vegan waiter because while I prefer a vegan restaurant (of course), I’m also pretty happy when people for sure know what’s vegan and what’s not. A relaxing confidence runs through me and the food tastes that much better!
So this carrot fennel dip, I was like, “whaa? sounds weird!” but IT’S NOT. I swear to goodness that it kind of tastes like when you dip a grilled cheese in tomato soup. I swear! And it has that good pita—all grilled and whatnot. The handsome young waiter also assured me that the fries are cooked in their own private oil—they don’t share it with any meat or whatevs. And the fries are goood. The menu changes regularly, and there’s not much in the way of a vegan entree, but it’s more of a cocktail and appetizer place. Oh! The waiter said they may be adding a vegan dessert very soon! Keep an eye out! And speaking of cocktails, they have some crazy shit. Crazy GOOD shit. They are pricey but they are delicious. They put like basil in them and all kinds of good shit. Mmmm. See, I prefer to drink my meals anyway, so it works out great for me!
OK so remember this: if you are hanging with some hip but fancyish people and they are trying to make you go to some wack place after work, steer them to 15 Romolo instead! You won’t be disappointed. Also, don’t miss the jukebox! As a jukebox enthusiast I can assure you this one is top-notch. Iggy Pop + Hall and Oates = happy Megan Rascal!
[photo by Megan Rascal]
Review: Jay’s Cheesesteak! »
Now, down to business.
Back in the day when food was not repulsive to me—it feels like I can’t remember such a time*—I used to love the seitan cheesesteak sandwich, minus the cheese and mayo, with extra extra onions, from Jay’s Cheesesteak. It is the perfect sandwich and vegan! Yay! If you are feeling extravagant, you can have them make any of their cheesesteaks vegan. You can choose from tomato and pepper, mushroom, pizza, teriyaki, and more. The pizza cheesesteak is especially super-fantastic, all marinara-sauced deliciousness and shit. Go on with your bad self, pizza cheesesteak.
One gripe: These fools recently started charging 50 cents extra for the seitan cheesesteaks. WRONG! And before anyone is like, “Well, Laura, seitan is probably more expensive than government-subsidized ground chuck,” I will tell you this: JAY’S CHEESESTEAK USES NIMAN RANCH DEAD COW. Niman Ranch is the poster boy for “humanely” raised, grass-fed, sustainably farmed, Michael Pollan Richy-Rich-style beef. You ain’t at Food 4 Less anymore, Dorothy. This shiz is $$$$$. And I, for one, am so sick of paying extra for food that COSTS LESS. I’m looking at you, soy milk at Starbucks. Oh also, no vegan cheese. Boo.
A few logisticalities: There are two Jay’s Cheesesteak locations, one in the Mission on 21st Street near Valencia, and one in the Western Addition on Divisadero. Both locations are open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. They are both in good bar neighborhoods, which is excellent because they are ideal drinking food. Very limited seating, so see previous sentence about going to a bar.
*About 10 hours ago. I have mild congestion/am dying.
[photos via yelp]
Review: Rosamunde Sausage Grill! »
Rosamunde is a shitbox hole-in-the-wall where you can order all kinds of gross-ass dead animal sausages and a couple vegan sausages. I believe they use Tofurky brand. The sauerkraut is first-rate and the grilled onions are delicious too. Basically everything you ever wanted to put on a sausage and the buns are terrific! And I’m not talking about the crazy German lady who works there! Or if I am, I’m also talking about the actual sausage buns too! The pickles are NYC Jewish deli-style too, definitely worth the buck. Other than that, you can’t really eat in but you can take your sausage to one of the 54 bars nearby and enjoy it with some beer. Sausage and beer, people love that, right? I think that’s how it goes, fuck if I know, I’ve checked out of relating to the human race like three years ago.
A final note: Whenever I come in here, I feel like recreating the breakdown scene from Half Baked* but with sausage. First I would point to the dead chicken sausage and say, “Fuck you!” and then I would point to the dead lamb sausage and say, “Fuck you!” and then I would point to the vegan sausage and say, “You’re cool!” and then, “I’m out!” Actually, I would prolly say, “I’m out, bitches!” but that wouldn’t be staying true to the film. And if I’m anything, it’s accurate. And very good-looking.
*This is a really great movie, by the way. It was written by Dave Chappelle, directed by Tamra Davis (WHO ALSO DIRECTED THE PEERLESS BILLY MADISON and is married to Beastie Boy Mike D!) and has a cameo by Tommy Chong as the Squirrel Master. Have I piqued your interest?
[photo via yelp]