A Vegan in Central Europe: One week in the Holy Land! »
December 17 marked the end of my four months living in Prague (sad face), but marked the beginning of a cool weeklong journey to Israel. While all of my friends heading back to the states were dealing with this load of bullshit, I was flying almost worry-free to the Middle East. What do I think about this paradise? Yeah, lots of tension, especially in Jerusalem, but some of the BEST FUCKING FOOD YOU WILL EVER TASTE. If you ever make the trek, you need to try some authentic Middle Eastern yum-food. Some key phrases: Ani tivoni (“I’m vegan”); blee beitzim, khalavi, kharvi (“without eggs, milk, meat”).
If you make it to Jerusalem, you will probably hang out on Ben Yehuda, or at the Shuk, which means you’ll be within spitting distance of a Moshiko. BEST FALAFEL EVER. The ironic thing about eating vegan in Israel is that you’re best off going to a place with meat, because then you know that all of the veg accoutrements are parve, i.e., without dairy. You can ask about eggs with yesh beitzim? If you’re vegetarian (boo), you can probably find some good dairy eateries in the mostly kosher city. In the lovely bad boy pictured, you got the delicious fried falafel, hummus, red cabbage, tahini, spicy-ass-muhfuckin-sauce, and salat. SO FUCKING YUMMY, and it costs like ₪14 ($3.88 U.S.).
Haifa, an ancient sea port, also has much by way of delicious dining. I made it to Café Louise (the sign of the place is in Hebrew), an organically minded café in the Mount Carmel area of Haifa, very close to the Baha’i Gardens on the 23 bus. Pictured is their Indian-style sandwich, filled with roasted parsnips, yam, and cauliflower with tamari-tahini sauce, and a side-salad with balsamic dressing. The total: ₪45 ($12.50 U.S.). I also got a yummy shake made with melon, mango, coconut, soy, and originally honey—d’vash in Hebrew, so say blee d’vash for “without honey”—but they were able to substitute maple syrup in for me. It was Uhhh-mayzing with a capital U. Damn, those Israelis know how to make a good shake.
Probably my favorite city was Tel Aviv. My first time stepping into the Mediterranean was so pleasant; in December, the water is still warm enough to walk through, and the weather was about 70 F—beats the 20 F/snowing/icy in Prague! I recommend is the Dizengof and Ben Gurion instersection, accessible by the 5 bus from the new bus station. There, you’ll see a smoothie shack on the corner (YUMMMM). Go a few stores west on Dizengoff and you’ll get to this amazing all-hummus place. ALL HUMMUS. JUST HUMMUS AND PITA. They put paprika, olive oil, whole chickpeas, tahini, and lemon salt in mine, topped off with some cut parsley, for ₪22 ($6) including unlimited pita. While I couldn’t finish the whole plate for fear of exploding, I definitely got my fill. And it felt great. Sort of. Back to the shake-shack thing: YOU NEED TO GO. They have these places all over, and their shakes are entirely fruit-based and yummy as shit. I tried the coconut/pineapple/banana mix and the pineapple/banana/orange mix, and they were both awesomeasfuck. And vegan as fuck, too.
Another food-related note, regarding Israel in general. Pictured to the right is a shuk, or market. They have these in almost every major city, and they’re all great. This one is the shuk in Jerusalem; you will definitely go there if you ever visit the city. They have stalls filled with the freshest vegetables and fruits all grown locally (Israel doesn’t import for the most part), dried fruits and nuts, small coffee places, yummy juice places where you can get yummy aforementioned shakes, and even ceramic artist collectives. This is where you can attempt to haggle, taste everything you see—mostly—and experience mayhem like you’ve never experienced before. I’ve heard it gets especially crazy on Friday mornings when everyone’s trying to get their shopping done before Shabbat.
[Hebrew translations and all photos by Brianna!]
Falafel Burgers! These are for burgers but you can make balls too and serve in pita bread as you like!
1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight
½ cup fava beans, soaked overnight
¼ cup bulgar
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
6 Tbsp chopped parsley
½ tsp chili powder
2 rounded Tbsp wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Few drops of water, as needed
EVO for frying
Red Roasted Pepper Hummus with Kalamati Olive Tahini sauce
4 whole wheat rolls
1 heirloom tomato, Sliced
1 avocado, sliced 4 ways (I left this out today)
4 slices red onion
Drain the chickpeas and fava beans thoroughly and pulse in the food processor until lightly broken up. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to pulse until you have the texture of coarse breadcrumbs.
Gently form into patties.
Fry in hot oil at 350 degrees for 4-5 minutes, or until crisp and golden.
Drain. Assemble the burger. Serve with more hummus on the side and tahini sauce.
Sunrise Deli! »
I am declaring Sunrise Deli the best falafel in San Francisco proper. DEAL WITH IT. You all can argue with me but whatever, I don’t care what you have to say and won’t pretend to, either. As you can easily tell, I am a popular girl.
I was turned on to Sunrise by the good people at VegNews magazine and Brassica Supperclub and they collectively know their shit (read: food). The best suggestion I got was to buy some hot falafel balls (hehehe) to eat while they make your sandwich! OH MAN ALIVE! Hot, crispy, not too greasy but plenty greasy enough, they are truly something! So often falafels are too dry/hard/dense/stale but not here.
You can get your sandwich with or without the eggplant/potato combo; people seem to feel strongly about the authenticity/deliciousness of this (as they do about so many about so many seemingly ridiculous things) but I freaking love it. You can also get one with avocado I KNOW BUT SO GOOD or a plate with four falafel balls (hehehe), salad, hummus and tahini.
So again, it’s the best falafel in San Francisco and I don’t care if you say differently because guess what, I won’t be reading the comments or checking my email or having any communication with the outside world ever again so COMPLAIN AWAY, I KNOW I’M RIGHT KTHXBYE.
Vegansaurus’s sexy Valentine’s Day vegan dining guide! »
Giving you the gift of game, part 1.
It’s a vegan cliché to go here for a special event, but take it up a notch by booking a table at the Aphrodisiac Dinner (next month’s is February 15), along with a room at the adjoining Hotel California.
While Greens is guilty of a more old-school, covered-in-butter, ’70s-style of vegetarian cooking, it’s so gorgeous you may just have to put up with it. Greens is offering an $88 prix fixe menu on V-Day (double the price of their normal prix fixe menu) but if you want to drop the cash while admiring the ocean (and the good looks of your date), be sure to call ahead to make sure you can actually eat something.
Another restaurant that you can also parlay into an overnight hotel rendez-vous (it’s inside the Hotel Carlton ), Saha is a small plates, Middle Eastern restaurant that’s vegan-friendly. They even feature that holy grail: a vegan dessert at a non-vegan restaurant.
Yes, you can eat the same genre of food cheaper at Udupi Palace paces away but it’s Valentine’s Day, not Tuesday night takeout. It’s time to have some class with your potato-stuffed pancake and array of chutneys. Expect a long wait. Remove some of the class you just earned by going to the liquor store across the street and drinking on the sidewalk.
In the erstwhile Last Supper Club space, Beretta has only recently started catering to vegans in a real way by offering vegan cheese (we think it’s Teese) and vegan sausage on their tasty thin-crust pizzas. They also have an excellent drink menu. This would be a nice V-Day option for a “special friend” or someone you just started dating who you don’t want to freak out. It’s nice, but it’s still casual.
The Front Porch
A Vegansaurus Favorite, the sexy Front Porch rarely disappoints (and if they do, they are very nice about it and will continue to push French fries on you). They have a daily rotating vegan special and wine in a box! No prix fixe, but they say they’ll have some special treats on the menu. As with Dosa, expect to wait for your table.
Restaurants With Explicitly Labeled Vegetarian Options for V-Day That We Haven’t Been To:
Cafe Majestic: ($70 prix fixe vegetarian menu)
Maharani ($42 vegetarian menu)
Mission Beach Cafe ($75 five-course dinner with champagne toast. OpenTable also says there will be vegan options, but no menu on the website yet!)
Know of any other restaurants offering veg options on Valentine’s Day? Any other nice restaurants that you’d recommend? Leave it in the comments!
Review: Old Jerusalem! »
While I’ve already declared the best falafel in the city to be found at Sabra Grill, there are certain obstacles to attaining this heavenly food that prove sometimes insurmountable. To wit: mandatory closings on the Sabbath and all Jewish holidays, location, lack of delivery services. So what does a person do when she wants a tasty falafel on a Saturday afternoon, or a Tuesday night? Especially if she lives in the Mission, or Bernal Heights, or Noe Valley?
The answer is Old Jerusalem. It offers hands-down the best falafel in the Mission, the moistest and tastiest, plus they make two varieties: regular, and stuffed, which has fried onions, roasted pine nuts and sumac in the middle. You can substitute the stuffed falafel for the standard in the falafel sandwich, which I recommend because the stuffed ones are much, much tastier than the regular, and better overall than any other falafel I’ve had in the city, Sabra’s aside, of course.
I suppose a drawback is that Old Jerusalem doesn’t offer the eggplant or french fries that come standard in other falafel sandwiches. Then again, when those extras are fancying up what are bland, dry, crumbly falafels, then I will take Old Jerusalem’s sandwich of less diverse but ultimately way higher quality ingredients. So there.
Old Jerusalem has really long hours, and delivers, so you can have your Middle Eastern food without having to leave the house. If you live too close to justify delivery, call your order in ahead. On weekend nights especially the place is really busy; it’s tiny, and doesn’t take many people to fill up.
If you are for whatever reasons interested in other things than falafel, they make good stuff like ful—hummus made with fava beans instead of chickpeas—and fatta—hummus plus bread and olives—and of course, the Arabic salad, which you assume no place could get wrong, but some restaurants buy crappy tomatoes and ruin everything. Not Old Jerusalem, though. You can also get a vegetarian combo plate, and a lentil soup. They do make a great deal of meat dishes, lots of lamb, and yes that is disgusting! Still, not a reason to skip the really good falafel, especially when your choices are so few and far between around here. Honestly, I have had better hummus, on its own, but Old Jerusalem’s falafel sandwiches are quite good, and so available! Go, eat one, it will make you full and happy.