From our lady about town, meganallison:
I am eating a delicious cupcake with peanut butter frosting! The new Plant Cafe is going to be a valuable addition to my downtown life!
The new Plant Cafe is located at Pier 3 in The Embarcadero. GOD, Plant Cafe, can’t you open in a neighborhood that isn’t the worst? The Marina and now the FiDi? This shit is evil.
Island Earth Farmers’ Market in the Metreon! »
The Island Earth Farmers’ Market opened on May 15th in the Metreon (in the old Discovery Store space) and we hear that it has tons of vegan options, from vegan dim sum to vegan Afghan food to vegan pastries to an entirely veganfalafel stand! Has anyone been!? We’re gonna check it out tomorrow and want a heads-up on what to pig out on and what is funk nasty.
Expect a full report on the deliciousness or non-deliciousness of the Island Earth* Farmers’ Market after my stomach is pumped tomorrow. THE THINGS I DO.
*Island Earth? WTF? Sounds like a cult. Or a drum circle filled with dreaded (literally and follicularly) white dudes.
Update! So I’ve been twice now and these are my thoughts:
It has kinda has a third-world bazaar feel to it. This is both good and bad. Mainly just kinda weird. Now let’s get down to why we’re here, THE EATS! Vegan selections include juices, smoothies and other vegan snacks from Juicey Lucys, outstanding plantains from Soleil’s African Kitchen, many dim sum choices from the organic dim sum place (but pricey! ranging from $1.50-$2 a piece!), this flat, crepe-like bread from Bolani that’s stuffed with ingredients ranging from pumpkin to potato to spinach to lentils! Delicious and you can buy a container of dips, sauces and spreads too and most of those are vegan. Alive vegan raw foods has a stand with salads, sandwiches and more! Panorama Baking has a booth with lots of vegan loaves that were really inexpensive, I got a huge loaf of rosemary bread for $3! I didn’t see any vegan pastries but there is a chocolate place near the entrance to Yerba Buena Park called Vice and they had several vegan candy bars…I got the dark chocolate and sea salt and it was EXCELLENT! Oh and an all vegan falafel cart with very good falafel! They have two sizes, a large one for $7 and a smaller one for $4.50! I had the smaller one and it was plenty big, especially after sampling everything else! I am a glutton! Oh and a few fruit and vegetable vendors AND an outpost of our favorite San Francisco Herb Company! Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area. Limited seating but you can go into the park when it’s nice or I’m sure loiter inside the Metreon when it’s crappy.
Vegan Survival Guide: Westfield Center Mall! »
This Monday, as most of us return to our ridiculous jobs, let us celebrate the fun times every vegan has searching for affordable, tasty (read: not insanely expensive and edible) meals in the Financial District. Our guest post is brought to you by the fantastic Sharon who braves through the best and the worst of the Westfield Center Mall so that you may reap the rewards! What a gal!
At my stressful downtown job, the only time I get to myself during the day is my 45-minute lunch break. For whatever reason I almost always I find myself taking solace at the Westfield Center food court. Maybe it’s my Long Island upbringing, but there’s something oddly comforting about the variety of cuisine, the cafeteria trays, and knowing I’m just steps away from a Victoria’s Secret. (Who carries vegan skin care products now! Check it out.)
The Westfield Center has two distinct dining sections: There’s the familiar but pretty gross Panda Express section, which harkens back to my suburban upbringing when I thought a buttery Annie’s pretzel was a pretty good meal; and then, I’m not gonna front, there’s the bourgeois section with its bamboo lighting. The prices are admittedly a little higher, but there’s also a bounty of vegan options. This is my survival guide.
Sorabol: Korean Barbecue and veganism don’t usually go hand in hand, but Sorabol serves an awesome Bi Bim Bop bowl. There are a few tofu dishes as well, but I always go for this veggie bowl full of a variety of fresh and pickled veggies, rice, and jobche noodles.
San Francisco Soup Company: The soups here are great, and they always label what’s vegetarian and dairy-free. The vegan split pea is always on the menu, and there’s usually at least one other vegan special soup. Check out their salads, though. I often go for the Asian Chicken, substituting tofu, but becayse none of the recommended ones are vegan, you can always create your own. Their tofu is smoked and super tasty, and also comes in their yummy vegetarian wrap. Avoid their pre-made wraps though; they taste like plastic.
Out the Door: This is the take-out version of fancy-pantsy Vietnamese-fusion restaurant The Slanted Door. Similarly, it’s not the cheapest choice, but one of the healthier and tastiest. There’s a good variety of vegetable dishes, my favorite of which is the broccoli with five-spice pressed tofu. They often have a vegan curry special as well.
Also worth checking out:
The grilled Mesquite vegetable burrito at Andale Mexican Restaurant; the eggplant and tofu at Coriander Thai; any of the Middle Eastern dishes at Amoura.
What to avoid:
Although they have veggie burgers, Bistro Burger uses the cheesetastic Original Gardenburger. I’ve never even looked at the menu at Buckhorn Steakhouse because their workers bombard you with free samples of cow parts on toothpicks. And Bristol Farms: just don’t do it. It looks all fresh and Whole Foodsy, but their salad bar and hot foods bar are nauseating and ridiculously overpriced. They’re also non-union and always seem to have labor disputes, making your $15 worth of soggy spring rolls so not worth it.
Coming Soon! There’s a restaurant opening called Froots. Their website advertises fresh, healthy foods and smoothies, and I’m excited about the prospect of more vegan choices. There’s nothing sad about that, right?
The Plant Cafe! »
I bet if you look at how many places Vegansaurus reviews in the Mission vs. Vegansaurus reviews in the Marina, it would be equivalent to a see-saw with an extra fat manatee on one side and a Mycoplasma genitalium on the other. But let me explain:
1) All four of us call the Mission home. All four of us call the Marina TERRIFYING. 2) The Mission is filled with mostly amazing weirdos. The Marina is filled with skinny white bitches who BRONZE their non-existent CLEAVAGE, have CLAVICLES that could POKE AN EYE OUT and wear UGGS with TASSELS. I said, UGGS with TASSELS. God bless ‘em. It is also filled with Jr. Corporate Yahoos/Former College Date Rapists who work for their dad’s firms. SO HOT. 3) The Mission does not eat babies. The Marina eats babies.
I joke. I love to give the Marina a hard time. It’s mostly filled with hard-working yahoos who just want to HAVE A GOOD TIME LET’S GET DRUNK WOO!!! Ain’t nothing wrong with a little freaky freaky on the weekends, am I right, Chet!?
The Plant Cafe (formerly, Lettus Organic Cafe) is reason enough to make a trip to the Marina. Actually, let me be more specific, the Tempeh Picatta at The Plant Cafe is reason enough to make the trek to the Marina. It’s breaded and fried tempeh on top of a mound of VEGAN GARLIC MASHED POTATOES and fresh vegetables. All that is covered in the most delicious lemony capery picatta sauce you ever sunk your chompers into. Ugh, it is marvelous. They also have a wide range of vegan soups, sandwiches (a tempeh ruben so delectable that you bite into it and the VEGAN THOUSAND ISLAND dressing drips down your hands! Take that, Carls Jr!) and entrees! They even do many vegan items during brunch and I have it on word from a very reliable source (my stomach) that the tofu scrambles are first class. I also have it on word from a very reliable source (a friend’s stomach) that they get even better as the kitchen is always working to improve them…they even have a vegan pesto now! I love that…I love a kitchen that takes suggestion and isn’t all filled with stupid pride that doesn’t allow them to the BE! the BEST! they can BE! Thank you, Lettus er, Plant. Ugh, the worst name. Anyway. OH ALSO, GET THE PLANT BURGER. Get it with wasabi if you can but if not, JUST GET IT PLAIN. It will ruin you. DESTROY YOU.
They also have an entire range of vegan desserts including moist and delicious vegan cupcakes, many varieties of cookies and often some sort of loaf cake. Tianna, the pastry chef, is some sort of demi-god and her vegan baked goods are outrageous. If there is a devil’s food cake vegan cupcake when you are there, GET IT.
One demerit point for the surly bitch who took my most recent order. In the words of my girl Whitney Houston: Bitch, I don’t want your man and if I did, I woulda already had him, OKAY??? Plus one point for the magical Tianna and the one extremely competent and adorable busboy who was just so adorable I wanted to put him in my pocket and bring him home with me.
One final thing: I really appreciate the almost all organic approach. It must be really effin’ hard right now. Prices are reasonable for quality of ingredients used. Also, you are in the marina. She is expensive. Get over it or go back to the parts of the city where people of color are allowed.
Update (6/20/1009): New location at Pier 3 in The Embarcadero. Now all these a-holes have somewhere to go at lunch! Yay them! Plant Cafe, throw me a bone…a location in Noe Valley seems like it would make us both happy.
Review: Chevy’s Fresh Mex! »
I was a waitress at a Chevy’s one summer break from college. Oh fuck off. Like you never gave a blow job you didn’t regret. Actually, I waitressed at the Chevy’s in Alameda which was the VERY FIRST CHEVY’S EVER. Thas right. Chevy’s originated on The Island. You’re surprised? Alameda is basically Texas-Mexico. I know, I want to burn the whole Island down too. Anyway, that Chevy’s is now defunct but I picked up some odd shifts at different Bay Area Chevy’s and have eaten at a few (I KNOW) so I feel qualified to write a review about them and let’s be honest, even if I didn’t, I’d write it anyway.
Now, the only things to really eat at Chevy’s as a vegan are the chips, the salsa and the margaritas. Four food groups covered? Check! They actually have a large and decent tequila selection and I recommend a top shelf on the rocks with salt. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU TO GET THE FROZEN MARGARITAS. They totally skimp on the amount of tequila to nasty-sweet-slushy ratio and the only buzz you’ll end up with is a cold freeze followed by a shitty sugar rush. Or fuck it, who are we trying to kid? You’re at CHEVY’S. Get a MangoGuavaWatermelonRita with seven pieces of giant fruit and nine Mexican flags hanging off of it. It might be 2,000 calories and not get you even remotely drunk but you’ll be this ridiculously ridiculous American asshole drinking a fake margarita at a fake Mexican restaurant and let’s just do the damn thing!
You might also consider enjoying some fresh flour tortillas from “LA MAQUINA”. I’m pretty sure that’s Spanish for, “TERRIFYING DEATH TRAP”. It’s this insane tortilla-making machine that looks like a medieval torture device. They have one at every Chevy’s, lucky you. When I worked there, I had nightmares about getting my arm caught in LA MAQUINA and being left with a tortilla for a hand. Scary business. You can also get some shitty salads and a veggie fajitas plate but what’s the use? I already told you your dinner is seven margaritas and 10 baskets of chips. Oh also, don’t forget about,”El Happy Hour” (I couldn’t make this shit up) where all well drinks and some crappy beers are $3 from 4 to 7 p.m. I don’t think they do this in the SF locations because they know we can afford their ridiculous prices. Assholes.
Speaking of, since I’m always drunk off my dinner when I’m here, I can’t really comment on the service but I’m guessing by my skillz in that department that it’s pretty fucking horrendous. I was either drunk, high or completely disinterested during every single one of my shifts. In fact, I was probably a better waitress drunk than I ever was sober…at least then I was TRYING to focus so that I wouldn’t bite it when walking to your table or like, throw up on you. I’ll tell you another thing, fucking people who eat at Chevy’s are the fucking worst. I had my ass grabbed by a GUY WEARING A BACKWARDS BASEBALL CAP, I was referred to simply as “Red” by several dudes old enough to be dead and I can’t even tell you how many times I was condescended to by the Beverly Hillbillies out for a fancy dinner at Chevy’s. I made it a point to mention 19 times each shift that I was on BREAK from COLLEGE in NEW YORK CITY because I just couldn’t stand being asked if, “I understood the order?” one more time by some twat with seven teeth. Either that or I’d tell some bizarre lie about how I was a scientist from NASA who recently cracked the Flux Capacitor and traveled BACK through TIME into the FUTURE to er, wait tables at Chevy’s Tex Mex.
This is also the place where I learned from Sonya, the giantess Swedish bartender, to always order a “Crown and Water” on a date because even though it tastes like earwax, men love it. I’ve found this secret to be very true and ladies, I pass it on to you today. I’ve drank so many of these that I actually like the taste now, go figure. It’s no Midori Sour but come on, what is? There is no competing with the King of Girl Beer.
I hope this review doesn’t get me sued.
Logistics: Chevy’s has nine Bay Area locations, four in SF. Mostly downtown-ish and one in Stonestown shopping center. You might be forced to go there on a work-type event. That is when this review will help. I think.
Review: Crocker Galleria farmers market! »
Farmers Market Thursdays can make a work-week. The Crocker is attached to the Hunter Dulin building, a.k.a 111 Sutter (one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, incidentally), which makes it ridiculously convenient for the suits on the West Coast Wall Street, and because it’s so small, the nice vendors don’t have to make much of an effort to get to know you. The people I used to buy my bread from whose name I cannot remember—they do French-style breads and pastries (god how I lust for those little croissants) (damn you real butter)—they would remember what I want, and we had silly running jokes, and it made me happier to buy from them.
I think that the produce selection is very good. Yes, it is smaller than other markets, which to me is a selling point. You can see everything and make good choices without feeling overwhelmed or rushed. Everyone I’ve spoken with has answered my questions, and helped explain plant items with which I was not at all familiar. For example: yam greens. I neither knew that yams had greens, nor that they were edible. According to the vendor, they are a little bit sweet, and indeed they were.
The blueberry sellers have excellent blueberries. The summer fruits look delectable, and I never had a bad one. Prices are cheaper than supermarkets, although how they compare to the bigger, more popular markets I cannot say, being a lazy person who preferred the convenience of taking an elevator and walking 50 steps to the market each week. This was before the days of my CSA, of course. Now I shop farmers markets to supplement what the farm doesn’t bring me.
The size of the produce isn’t frightening, either, which I think is a big selling point. When melons made their first appearance, the cantaloupes were exactly what I expected cantaloupes to look, feel, and smell like. The Crocker farmers market is smaller than Heart of the City, and it’s only once a week, but I think the quality of the the produce is higher, and nearly everything is organically grown as well. If you are anywhere near the Crocker Galleria on Thursdays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., you must check it out. At least get an apple or a peach (depending on the season, of course).
Ultimately this place is great. I would like it better without the salmon guy always hassling you to eat his fish carcass, and some of those office ladies can be extremely pushy around a table of vegetables; those are personal irritations though, and don’t reflect at all on the high quality of produce and friendliness you get at this market. Buy a bunch of greens you’ve never tried before, and spend a little too much money on the homemade applesauce, because it is delicious and you won’t find it anywhere else.
[photo by Joel]
Review: Baladie Gourmet Cafe »
The lentil soup at Baladie is one of the best deals in the Financial District. A mere $3.25 for 16 ounces of delicious, hearty, spicy-if-you-want-it vegan lentil soup, plus toasted pitas, should you care for them. You know what you get for $3.25 at the wretched San Francisco Soup Company? NOTHING.
I had falafel in a pita once and it was all right; the hummus was good but the actual falafels were giant and dry. The dolmas are tasty. There’s a guy in the kitchen who wears two thin braids at the top of his forehead stuck straight up like antennae. Service is fast, even when they’re crowded. There is a big mural of Petra, the ancient rose city of Jordan, on the righthand wall; it is a little bit garish and absolutely beautiful. What I mean is, do not pass by Baladie on your way to Boxt Foods Co. or some other place to eat an overpriced salad on restaurant row (Kearny Street. You know). You will regret it in an hour when you are starving again.
What you should’ve ordered, especially on cold, bright, windy days, or foggy days, or rainy days, is LENTIL SOUP. It is so, so good. Everything you could want in a yellow lentil soup: carrots and potatoes and crispy little pita chips, and enough spice to break a little sweat along your hairline. I’d compare it to the first lentil soup I ever loved, namely my mother’s, but they are so different you couldn’t really compare them. And you can’t buy my mother’s soup from friendly people in an adorable little nook of a restaurant for $3.25, so Baladie it is.
I mean, I really love that soup.