New Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe location in Oakland! »
Say it’s one of those days where not only is your stomach hungry, but so are your eyes. Maybe you are hanging out with omnis who don’t want vegan food, I mean, what are they supposed to eat at a VEGAN restaurant?! Enter Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe: options for everyone! Incredibly attractive punk rock clientele and employees (it’s co-owned by Green Day’s Mike Dirnt, after all)! BEER SPECIALS! As a car-less San Franciscan, I would probably eat more meals at Rudy’s, but getting to Emeryville is a pain, especially on public transit and an empty stomach?
Fortunately, Rudy’s just opened a new location in Uptown Oakland! At its new addy, 1805 Telegraph Ave., Rudy’s is next to the Fox Theatre and within walking distance from the 19th Street BART station. Perfect! Tofu Rancheros, I’m coming back for you!
Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe is open at its new location from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., and boasts $1 Bud, Bud Light and Miller High Life beers from 9 p.m. to midnight. I’m so there!
Interview with Susan from The Breakroom Cafe! Plus, they’re serving VEGAN BRUNCH!! »
Have you ever wondered how one of your favorite vegetarian restaurants got their start? Here’s the story of The Breakroom Cafe in downtown Oakland! Susan, a 10-year veteran of working in bars and restaurants (and a kick-ass, awesome girl), and her partner Jason, a former department store manager (and all-around really cool guy), dreamed about opening a vegetarian restaurant and went for it! Coming up on the fourth anniversary of The Breakroom, Susan and Jason reflect on starting their veg business.
Vegansaurus: What was your opening date?
Susan: July 14, 2007. You were there, Anne! I think you just happened to be walking by or something, and you saw we were finally open. I remember us forcing all these free pastries on you.
What made you want to start a vegetarian restaurant?
While living in Cleveland, I always fantasized about moving to another state and running a vegetarian restaurant. After moving to Oakland, I served at a vegan restaurant for a few years, where I learned that there was definitely a market for vegetarian food out here. While browsing Craigslist, Jason found a space available, and voila! To be honest though, I thought this place would be more of a coffee shop that sells veg sandwiches. It turned out to be a sandwich shop that sells coffee.
Where do you draw inspiration for your menu items?
I guess it’s different for each menu item. I remember loving Sloppy Joes as a kid. Remember that Manwich stuff? Loved it! And since becoming vegetarian at 16, I had a craving for it, so I knew we had to have a vegan Sloppy Joe on the menu.M ost of the menu items are veg versions of familiar standard American sandwiches that people may miss eating since becoming vegan/vegetarian.
What’s your most popular dish?
It’s a toss-up between the Meatball, Club and Turkey/Bacon.
If your Sloppy Joe sandwich was a song, what song would it be?
Maybe "Cool It Now," that New Edition song—for those that think it’s too spicy!
Tell us a funny story about an unwitting omnivore who ordered one of your veg sandwiches.
None specifically comes to mind, but there are those that just don’t understand the imitation meat concept. We’ve had people say, “So when it says bacon, it’s not really bacon?” We say “nope,” and the next question is, “But what about the Ham & Swiss sandwich? That’s real ham, right? We answer “No,” and then they move on to questioning the “turkey.”
I noticed that there’s a cock on the front of your building, what’s up with that?
I guess the owner of the previous business Zodiac Desserts put it there. I didn’t even notice it until a few months after we bought the business, a friend and I were walking by the shop and we both noticed it at the same time. I was like “Where the hell did that rooster come from?”
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to start a vegan business, what would it be?
Make food that NON-vegan/-vegetarians will like, and make them believe they could survive not eating meat.
This is Laura here and I just want to chime in because Breakroom just started doing Sunday brunch! It’s from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and it’s the BOMB! A huge plate of potatoes, veggie ham, tofu scramble, fruit, AND french toast for like 10 bucks! You’ll be full for days! MORE VEGAN BRUNCH IN THE EAST BAY, Y’ALL!!! Oh, and here’s a shitty camera phone picture because I love you:
Uh, and you can check out their Facebook page for more updates and better photos!
Breakroom Cafe: 300 13th Street, Oakland. (510) 836-3864. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Anne Martin is an eater of free pastries and a lover of veg restaurants. She is a Ph.D. Candidate at UC Berkeley’s City & Regional Planning department, and is a member of the Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy. When Anne is not researching or eating vegan Hearty Bagel sandwiches at The Breakroom, you will find her volunteering with Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary.
Little Bird Coffeehouse in the Tenderloin! »
VEGAN BREAKFAST ALERT! One of the hardest things for vegans in this city to find is a suitable breakfast or brunch option. Well, there’s a new sheriff in town and they put a motherfucking bird on it! Little Bird Coffeehouse is a fairly new place in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood that serves up all kinds of vegan breakfast and brunch options, including damn good gluten-free blue corn waffles (covered in fresh fruit, maple syrup, and Earth Balance!), damn good vegan breakfast sandwiches (made with Soyrizo, tofu scramble, vegan cheese and magic), and lots of other damn good vegan stuff like donuts and muffins and other fantastic shiz. Also, various types of non-dairy milk for your coffee and tea beverages! It’s no-frills, with a counter for ordering and some rickety tables and chairs to enjoy your goodies. This place is a little interesting because it’s like stepping through a tear in the fabric of the universe and ending up in the Mission. When I’ve eaten there, its been infested with miner bros* ordering espresso and reading David Foster Wallace. Not a bad scene, just FYI.
I’d bring your friends, wife, LOVAS, kids. And I’d hide your parents unless they’re OK with no table service and enjoy listening to Ani Difranco whine about the 1990s. It’s really nice to have some more options in this area of town and I’d like to see them be the little bird that could so get on down there and eat some some breakfast panini.
Soyrizo breakfast sandwich
Little Bird Coffeehouse is at 835 Geary St. (at Larkin), (415) 440-2165, open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CASH-ONLY, Y’ALL.
*TM Kate Losse. It refers to a specific type of dude who wears plaid shirts and scruffy beards, à la gold miners. I will demonstrate:
Real gold miner
Guest post: Vegan in St. Louis: because you might have a connecting flight cancelled here someday »
As a born-and-raised Midwesterner, I developed a country-mouse inferiority complex at a young age, and like Janice Dickinson before me, I was all “I’M A CELEBRITY, GET ME OUT OF HERE.” So that’s what I did, for a while. Now I’m back, living in my hometown of St. Louis, Mo., and surprise, surprise, vegan food is now almost as ubiquitous here as getting a DWI in the Busch Stadium parking lot. Holla! Here’s a fat-pants-approved guide to eating vegan in St. Louis.
Waking up with an unbearable hangover means the same thing wherever I live: time for cheap-ass vegan brunch. Thankfully, St. Louis is with me on this. On Sundays, Shangri-La Diner offers a rotating brunch buffet including vegan French toast, meat-free brown sugar ham, sausage patties, breakfast potatoes, Southwest tofu scramble, and fresh fruit, and other, less expected dishes, such as vegan green bean casserole. Shangri-La also serves slamming vegan milkshakes, sandwiches, and desserts. A few blocks away, Black Bear Bakery does vegans proud with a similar array of vegan breakfast classics, as well as vegan cookies, cakes, and muffins. At Sweet Art Bakeshop & Art Studio, vegan brunch goes off the rails: breakfast quesadillas packed with potato, roasted red peppers, vegan sausage, and vegan cheese topped with avocado. If you sleep through brunch, stop by Sweet Art for a vegan BLT or any and all of the cafe’s LIKE WHOA vegan cupcakes: Boston cream pie, carrot ginger, red velvet, chai-spice, orange blossom, and more. For a unique vegan brunch, head to Rooster, where vegan Crêpe Suzette is served all week long. Rooster also offers a variety of vegan-friendly crepe inclusions, from oven-dried tomatoes with fresh basil to roasted apples with cinnamon and brown sugar. Keep things real (tipsy) and wash down breakfast at Rooster with mimosas, bloody Marys, beer, or wine.
My bottom-line for lunch is simple: inexpensive, no-frills, and filling enough to ride me out until dinner. Pair lunch with a pint of Missouri-brewed beer at Atomic Cowboy, where spicy vegetarian chili sans cheese makes snow in March seem almost charming. Channel your inner Liz Lemon with sandwiches at Foundation Grounds (the Madahoochi layers vegan cheddar cheese, marinated red onion, and spinach) or at the Mud House (the portobello reuben minus Swiss cheese still equals GIMME THAT). Hit up Cheesology for vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, or trek out to Vegadeli, located in Chesterfield, Mo., where rich people serve other rich people vegan burgers, nachos, tacos, and more.
Forget about New York City and Chicago, because local chain Pi Pizzeria in St. Louis is where vegan deep-dish pizza IS AT. Even President Obama agrees! The recipe for vegan pizza at Pi is simple: heaps of Daiya vegan cheese and spicy marinara, all the veggies you can stomach, and optional vegan Match Meat toppings. In addition to deep dish, Pi also serves vegan, gluten-free thin crust pizza, salads, and desserts, as well as great happy hour specials.
If you’re not down for pizza, CRAZY, go Midwest-traditional and grab house-brewed beer and a bite at Schlafly Bottleworks, where they serve vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, lasagna, and portobello burgers topped with Teese. For fancier fare, mosey on down the street to Boogaloo for Jamaican Johnny cakes with roasted plantains or yucca mashed potatoes. If you’re in St. Louis during baseball season, check out the veggie chicken and garlic fries at Dizzy’s Diner inside Busch Stadium, or hit up one of the arena’s many concession stands for soft pretzels, peanuts, or beer. Unfortunately, ordering a veggie dog at St. Louis’ famous stadium still isn’t an option—hey, guess what? You’re still in the Midwest.
[Photos, from the top: vegan brunch at Shangri-La; vegan deep-dish pizza at Pi Pizzeria; and portobello burger with soy cheese at Schlafly Bottleworks. This post was written by Liz Miller, who is pretty much the best. She loves champagne, beer, working out with sledgehammers, Arrested Development, 30 Rock, being sassy, and generally tearing shit up. You should try to be her friend because she would totally hate that.]
Donut Farm’s brunch: still delicious! I took an omnivore on Sunday, and she got the jalapeño hash browns special and loved it. Then she bought doughnuts! Obviously I did too, being a reasonable human being and all, and we took them home to our omnivore families who adored them.
There is no reason to eat gross animal products when you can get such good vegan food, I mean, really. Further, San Francisco, you are super-slacking in the vegan brunch area. FOR SHAME.
Cinnamon rolls from reader Sheri’s Christmas brunch; they’re looking good!
[send us your holiday food photos! we’re taking them through Saturday, Jan. 1!]
Bonjour, butternut squash cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting! They are super-easy to make and they taste like they’ve got pumpkin (squash, whatever) pie inside.
The filling recipe goes like this:
½ cup Earth Balance (or similar)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup butternut squash purée
3 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. cardamom
2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. coriander
Cream the vegan butter and sugar until well combined. Add squash purée and spices, mix thoroughly but gently. I then refrigerated mine for like 12 hours, as I made it the night before, but if you can refrigerate yours for an hour, that’d be fine. You want the filling to be thick and gloppy so it stays within the confines of the dough when you work with it.
Follow instructions for filling and baking in your cinnamon roll recipe (here are some ideas!). I baked mine for 30ish minutes at 360 F (yeah I know; I was splitting the difference between two sets of instructions). After about 30 minutes out of the oven, I frosted them, using the cream cheese frosting recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World with extra cream cheese and a little sour cream (leftovers).
Eat warm, though they’re really good cold, too.
You guys, it’s the brand-new vegan brunch at Donut Farm and it’s off the chain! You need to eat it NOW. You get one plate option, or you can choose a sandwich or pancakes (blueberry or plain). The plate option this week was tofu scramble with tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach, hash browns, toast with housemade vegan butter. Coffee was good and strong! Everything is organic and at $8 for a giant plate, you’re getting a deal. It’s Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and you’ll be very happy that you went. Trust! I love brunch. I love it so much. That is all.
Vegan sushi, why what a delightful brunch! These little gems come from Pepper Tree in Houston, Texas, and I do believe a person could eat 50 of them in one sitting, they look so light and fresh and tasty. Now what would you drink at fruit-and-vegetable-sushi brunch: shōchū cocktails? Um, yes. OK, field trip to Houston!
[photo by laceygerard]