Pica Pica is a fairly new Venezuelan restaurant in the mission. Not being super-familiar with Venezuelan cuisine, I decided to go where no white women (except many white women) have gone before. The things I do for you people!
At Pica Pica, they serve up a really basic menu consisting of various sandwiches and um, that’s about it. Oh, there are a few soups, empanadas, and salads too. Not sure about the veganity of the empanadas, I went with a sandwich. You get to choose your “bread”, which are all made from corn (this whole place is gluten-free and wheat-free!). There are three choices, two savory and one sweet, and the lovely gentleman at the counter informed me that they’re all vegan. HOORAY! I went with the Arepa, which is basically a thick savory corn pancake. Delicious. I chose “La Vegetariana” for my filling (which is what you see above*), which consists of tofu, avocado, black beans, and plantains. YES PLEASE. They also have several vegan spreads to choose from if you want to give your sandwich a kick! And you do, all of the ingredients are great but none of them pack a flavor punch (wow, my descriptions are kinda violent today. This is because I am depressed and upset, it has nothing to do with you guys, you’re great).
Everything was fantastic, if really basic. For $8, the sandwich is large and in charge and will fill you up, unless nothing does, and that’s more for therapy than a sandwich. Oh! I also got some Yuca Fries (the same stuff that’s used to make Daiya! Amazing!), which were absolutely delicious when dipped in the housemade spicy ketchup.
All in all, this is a great place to stop off for a quick lunch or dinner. The seating is limited so I wouldn’t hog it all afternoon unless you don’t care what other people think and if that’s the case, what’s your secret?
FINAL THOUGHTS: I originally thought my meal was good but nothing to write home about but when I craved it the next day, I knew there was a lil’ something special about Pica Pica. Or maybe it’s that huge empty well inside of me that I’m trying to fill. Who knows!
*Gentle readers, I hope you do not find my photo offensive. I think it looks like a perfectly appetizing sandwich, whereas my gross-ass pervert friend thinks it looks like a vagina coming to eat you. To that I say, “Uh, if your vagina looks like that, get thee to the OBGYN on the double. They could build the next Alien sequel around what you’ve got going on down there.” In other news: PUKE. and: I’M SORRY.
No, I didn’t trap Slimer and put him in a cup (asshole!), that’s the vegan Avocado Milkshake from Frog Hollow Cafe in the Ferry Building. It’s THE BOMB; it’s rich, creamy, sweet perfection in a cup. Filling and oh-so-delicious, you’re a damn fool not to pick one up for lunch and sit on the bay and watch seagulls shit on tourists OMG FUN.
In addition to the milkshake, they have a rotating menu of salads, sandwiches, and stir-frys, all of which are vegan or can be made vegan. Also, a tall-ass birdie told me that they are thinking about adding some vegan pastries to the mix too. MAKE IT SO, FROG HOLLOW.
If you’re stuck working for a living (sucka!), you might as well get some kicks while you can. I mean, we’ll all be in the ground soon, ya know? Cheers!
Anyway, she said lots of nice stuff about the future of food heading in the vegan direction and it was lovely and inspiring. The had a limited menu at the grand opening but it’s all up now so check it out and then go support the vegans who are doing it to it!
Oh dude, they’re having a contest right now, win $1,000 worth of vegan food. Do it. To it.
Fraîche redux »
Okay, first of all, you’re probably thinking, “why the HELL are you reviewing a FROZEN yogurt place in December? Haven’t you been outside lately? I’m already frozen enough.” But some of us are crazy. For some of us, a frozen treat on a freezing night is homeopathic, fighting the cold by embracing the cold. Or maybe it’s that a smooth dessert with infinite toppings is always nice no matter what the season.
What I do know is that walking into Fraîche is like walking into a hug. The heat is blasting (and I mean seriously blasting, they must crank it up to 80), the doors stay shut, and the counter people are immediately friendly. And it’s not just me. On weekends, this place is PACKED, even on the coldest winter night you can imagine. It’s like an oasis of summer, where for just a few moments, you can discard your winter coats and mingle with/silently scorn the Blairs and Serenas of Pacific Heights.
When I set out to review Fraîche, I hadn’t read our previous review of the Palo Alto location. Either the power of Vegansaurus swayed the owners to shape up, or the San Francisco location is run by completely different and far superior people. Because the situation for vegans is vastly improved.
Let’s get some basics out of the way. Yes, the soy frozen yogurt is vegan. Yes, there are vegan toppings. Yes, the staff knows which are which. Yes, the granola contains honey. Yes, the shaved chocolate, pictured here, is vegan. Unlike our Palo Alto experience, if you ask if something is vegan, they will answer confidently or find out.
If you already like frozen yogurt or remember it from the last froyo craze in the ’80s, go here. Everything you remember about it is still good, and this time it’s vegan. And don’t miss the Wall of Health Claims, a laminated poster devoted to various unlikely facts about frozen yogurt, including my favorite about how you’ll lose weight if you eat it every day. You can basically ignore everything the Wall of Health Claims has to say. I’m sure a tiny cup of frozen yogurt topped with fruit is better for you than eating a pallet of Twinkies until you collapse into a diabetic haze, but when you get down to it, you’re really just eating soft serve ice cream with a probiotic twist. There’s nothing magical about it. If you like the idea of soft serve with delicious toppings, Fraîche will scratch that itch. But you probably won’t lose weight. Also who cares, it’s dessert!
Frâiche is open until 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends, which makes them my new best friend. Find them at 1910 Fillmore St. in SF. In addition to the Palo Alto location, they’re also right on the Stanford University campus.
Nature’s Express, a vegan fast food joint, comes to Berkeley! THANK YOU, HIPPIES! »
So how’s this for some bullshit? Solano Avenue in Berkeley/Albany, home to dozens of dining spots, HAS NO vegan establishments. What the hell is wrong with those supposedly granola-and-animal-loving Solano Ave. hippies? Well, the correct answer is A LOT. But lucky for us, things are about to change (at least in the realm of veg food…we don’t have a hopeful outlook on the crystal deodorant and wearing Birkenstocks-with-socks front).
Starting in early January 2010, the small vegan chain Nature’s Express is opening a branch at 1823 Solano Ave. in Berkeley. (Most people think of Solano as being in Albany, but the eastern part of the street is technically still Berkeley. The geography lessons are free, bitches!)
That’s right, soon you’ll be able to dine cheaply and cruelty-free among the hordes of aging hippie foodies. Great! But you ask: How cheap? How vegan? And is the food any good?
Well smarty pants, here’s the menu* from the Rancho Mirage location. Look, it’s cheap! And according to Molly Patrick, Nature’s Express General Manager for Northern Cali, everything is 100 percent vegan!
Yes, but is it nasty? Yelpers overwhelmingly like it. What? Those fools hate everything because they think that’s comedy?! Maybe that’s the case but they’re loving on Nature’s Express. And the ones who don’t probably shop directly from puppy mills. SO EVIL!
Anyway, Nature’s Express plans to open up shop in Berkeley around Jan. 6th or 7th. They will be celebrating their grand opening on Jan. 15, 2010. We will keep you posted about this event (free food!?) and the exact date they will open because that’s how we do!
*Of definite interest is the biblical burrito…wtf is that!? I’ll take it! Also, is this a cult? Not sure, don’t care. Oooh also, tempeh ruebens and chicken roll tacos and garden lasagna!? YES and YES and YES!
Thanks to Claude for this awesome insider info & fabulous post!!
Restaurant Review: Shangri-La Vegan in Oakland! »
Manzanita Shangri-La Vegan is the place to go when you’re sick of feeling like a big fat greasy intoxicated pig and need to feel cleansed, which is obviously not good for all occasions but certainly has its place. It’s organic, vegan, macrobiotic food FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. I know that just made half of you go, “oooh…tell me more” and it made the other half (the smarter half, some might say) go, “DISGUSTING I HATE YOU LAURA I HOPE THIS BLOG BURNS TO THE GROUND.” However, I would ask you to reserve judgment as I am so often unwilling to do. Manzanita Shangri-La Vegan is actually quite fantastic. Be prepared to be surrounded by white people with dreads who might step outside for a delightful mid-meal game of hacky sack (but you’re used to that by now, aren’t you). Just go with it. If you can’t handle a woman coming up for some fresh air after an invigorating partner yoga session to openly breastfeed her seven-year-old, what can you handle!? JESUS, GROW A PAIR.
Things that are especially delicious: the salad dressings, the kale (I don’t know what they do but MAGIC!), and actually pretty much everything is really good. Except the vegan baked goods. As you might have guessed, I’m a junk food vegan so I know how hard it is to get the baked goods right, but come on. You’ve got time and a kitchen, let’s get to practicing! Less time making daisy chains and sexing in communal hot tubs (SHUDDER) and more time in the kitchen! ALL SAID, this place sounds way more hippy-dippy than it actually is (lie) and the food is way worth a visit (truth).
The Plant Cafe has happy hour at their new location in Pier 3 from 4 to 7 p.m. (don’t quote me on these hours because i have a hella bad memory…just use them as a loose guideline. A jumping-off point, if you will) during which time you can procure three slider (!!!) versions of their (FAMOUS AND DELICIOUS AND FILLED WITH BEETS AND LENTILS AND MUSHROOMS AND CASHEWS AND BULGUR WHEAT AND IT SOUNDS ALL HEALTHY AND UNAPPETIZING BUT YOU’RE WRONG IT IS AMAZING) Plant Burger to enjoy for $10. Get this along with some local microbrew and vegan patatas bravas and your shit is MADE, you fancy bitch. Now GO, it’s almost 4 and (I think it might be) that’s when it starts!
Also, make sure to ask that the burgers be on vegan buns! Good lord, a vegan’s work is never done.
Being vegan, most of the time it’s easy to make decisions at restaurants. Usually at most there’s two or three vegan or veganizable items on a menu. With years of practice, it takes about three seconds to flip through a menu and zero in on what I can eat with pinpoint accuracy. (It also “helps” if your parents are there: “Look honey, they have tofu!”)
It can be a little daunting to eat someplace with a really big vegan menu. Cha-Ya’s menu is about six pages long and everything on it (over 50 items) is vegan. I’ve eaten some meals here that were oddly disappointing, and others that were “fuck yes” amazing.
My advice for navigating Cha-Ya is this: only get things you’ve heard of before at other Japanese restaurants. Simpler is better. Their tempura is awesome. Their gyoza is amazing. The miso soup and sushi are really good, too. Things like cold soba salad are OKAY, but wouldn’t you rather have something fried? They also have something called “Moon Garden.” Don’t get that. Just don’t. And though you might have heard of natto before, don’t get that unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing. Do enjoy some warm sake with your meal. Do get the ice cream sundae for dessert: it’s vanilla So Delicious with green tea sauce, adzuki bean sauce, pineapple chunks, and toasted nuts. Um, yes.
Cha-Ya has sort of a weird ambience, though. It’s bright and clean and sterile in there, like a cafeteria in the future. This is the case at all three locations so it must be what they’re going for. Japanese people are crazy! I can say that because I once dated someone Japanese, that’s how it works. They only accept cash so be sure to bring some. At the Mission location, they were kind enough to install an ATM inside, but that also makes it feel like you’re eating in a liquor store. The other two locations have ATMs nearby. In other news, ACCEPT A FUCKING CREDIT CARD WHY DON’T YOU IT’S 2009 GODDAMN.
Recipe: Corn Jalapeño, Marry Me. »
Corn is CHEAP and plenty this time of year: 25 cents at Safeway and 50 cents for organic stuff at Whole Foods. My local produce stand was more expensive than either of these so you make the call.
Serving size: for two
Prep time: 15 min
2 ears of corn (white or yellow, though I prefer white)
1 to 2 tomatoes (Roma, sweet 100, heirloom—whatevs)
Italian parsley (optional)
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Take corn, husks and all, and place directly on middle rack. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven; set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, get the mise en place ready. Everything is according to taste. I tend to prefer corn as the main focus so I go easy on the onion and tomato:
a. dice half a jalapeño into really small bits, seeds and all
b. dice red onion (I go easy on the raw onion)
c. dice tomatoes into small chunks. Best to squeeze the seeds out first so your corn salad isnt watery. If you use sweet 100s or baby tomatoes, slice in half.
3. Remove husks from corn. Take a knife and shear kernels from cob. Place kernels in large bowl.
4. Add jalapeño, onion, tomato to bowl. Add juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime. Adjust according to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Optional: chop sprinkling of parsley and add at end.
Jalapeño and lime are really important in this dish; they make it bright and kicky.
This is another delicious recipe from the brilliant mind of Fancy Nancy. We <3 us some Nancy recipes.