Native Foods Cafe Gets Hella $$ To Expand  »

I would completely pay $15 million dollars to eat Native Foods’ Soul Bowls for life. Photo by Bing / Flickr

Native Foods just got more mainstream, in the bestest most amazing way! Several moneybags private capitol investment people just decided the whole Native concept was worth $15 million, so BAM! Native Foods Cafes will now be literally everywhere. There’s one opening in my living room.

Get the full details via hard-hitting Nation’s Restaurant News.

Key points: 

  • Same owners
  • Chicago and Colorado helped prove the concept worked nationally (you’re welcome, I eat at the Boulder one SO MUCH)
  • 12-14 new locations opening this year (including 5 in DC), another 25-30 in 2015, and hopefully 200 by 2019. 

BRING IT ON, Native Foods! One day we’ll be telling our grandkids about the days when the only good road trip food for vegans was Chipotle. Psych, remember when Subway was literally the only thing?!?


LA’s Pressed Juicery to open SF location in Noe Valley!  »

Two weeks ago, on a recent trip in a paradise I like to call LA, I hit up one of my fave spots — Pressed Juicery in West Hollywood! While purchasing a mass amount of juice and trying to make small talk with the register dude, I was told two incredible things: that it was their one year anniversary, so I’d be getting 10% off my order and that they were planning on opening up an SF location. I was very excited upon hearing this, but while walking away I couldn’t help but think of the lip service and broken promises we in the Bay Area have been given about getting our own Babycakes and Native Foods, and so I promptly let it go. image

However, it looks as though we actually are getting a Pressed Juicery and soon too! Eater SF says it’s going to be in Noe Vally; that the space is already available! I’m not going to hold my breath or anything, but I’m pretty stoked about this — I think my heart even skipped a beat. I’ll be here waiting for you, Pressed Juicery. I love you so! 


Vegan Roadtrip: Chicago!   »

The rainy season is upon us, and combined with much shorter, winter days, I’m longing for the fun and daylight of summertime! So in an effort to cheer myself up, I thought we could look at all of the places I ate this summer, when I went to Chicago. That’s fun, right?

First, I tried El Nuevo Mexicano. I’d written about them in the past, on this very blog, and finally my opportunity to try it had arrived!

Of course my party had margaritas! My love of the margarita was born in the city of Chicago. They’re so delectable there.

For dinner I had this beast of a quesadilla. Not too shabby, eh? Their menu vegan menu changes periodically, but I’m pretty sure these were filled with seitan, Daiya, pico de gallo, and sauteed onions and bell peppers. They were delicious and very filling!

The next two days were a little scattered and uninteresting as far as food goes. My friend and I hightailed to mid-Michigan for a friend’s wedding, and it was slim pickings. My wedding meal looked like this:
Actually, the bride was very considerate of my diet, and a long-time vegetarian herself. Not pictured is some beautiful white squash with basil and oh so much wine.

Back in the city, I went to The Handlebar, as it’s one of my all-time favorite places to be! Now, usually when I’m there, I get the samosas for an appetizer and the buffalo “chicken” ranch wrap as my entree. For this visit, I decided to go a little crazy and mix things up!

I know you won’t believe this, but pictured above was my first foray in to the world of fried pickle spears. I fell fast, I fell hard, and now I order them anytime they’re available on a menu. I would also like to say, loudly and proudly, that I am Team Pickle Spear, but who am I kidding; I’ll gobble up deep-fried pickle chips like nobody’s business.

Then, there were fried avocado tacos. Deep-fried avocados—please, it was a no-brainer. As much as I may have liked them, I’m still head over heels for my buffalo-chicken wrap. It’s good to try new things, as sometimes it validates your love for the tried and true, right?

And then, the next night, IT HAPPENED—I tried Native Foods Cafe for the first time! I will now long for the Oaklahoma bacon cheeseburger every day until we are reunited again. Oh man, the cheddar sauce alone … Why must you live so far from San Francisco, Native Foods?

Native Foods Cafe in Wicker Park!

My friend Stephanie ordered the sweet potato fries.

My girl Nora got a massive plate of nachos!

Buffalo chicken strips are MY JAM, so of course I ordered them!

Last but certainly not least — the Oaklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger, in all its glory!

The next day, I tried to go to Quesadilla: La Reyna del Sur and it was closed! How dare you get in the way of my vegan gorging, Fourth of July? Instead, I went to my old late-night post-bars standby, Lazo’s tacos. It was all right. It’s much better at 3 a.m., but I appreciated the flood of memories I had walking in.

Decent, but is much tastier as an after-hours-everything-else-is-closed meal.

That concludes my Chicago trip! I know there are a lot of places I didn’t go, as time and also room in my stomach didn’t allow for it. I know you guys get super-excited about reccommending the Chicago Diner as well, but believe me, I know about it! I ate there almost every day when I worked there as a baker in 2006-‘07.


Weird Fish is delicious; forget anything else you may have heard!  »

Recently, you may recall that I said some unflattering things about San Francisco’s Weird Fish. I may have said these things, even though I hadn’t eaten there in over a year and a half, since it became Dante’s Weird Fish. I may have posed the questions “Is there any reason to go to Weird Fish these days? Are any vegans enjoying themselves there?” I’m back to clear the air: The answers are yes! YES ON BOTH ACCOUNTS. 

Last week, my friend Robert was in town, visiting from Chicago. Seeing as how he gets to eat at Native Foods and the Handlebar anytime he wants, I wanted to bring him to what I though might be the S.F. equivalent. And I selfishly wanted to try their fish and chips, and what better excuse to gorge on a basket of fried food than having a visitor in town?

It was awesome. We ordered almost every vegan thing on the menu! And we loved all of it—it was a fried food frenzy! Hey, sometimes you gotta treat yourself (even if on the same night you have your three roommates plus three house-guests with only one bathroom in the apartment, whatevs).

We didn’t actually try the Buffalo Girls, which is what started my snark-fest in the first place, but we did eat EVERYTHING else. I’m officially Team Weird Fish! The seitan fish and sweet potato chips were better than ever! The fried pickles were delectable, juicy spears, and the yam and spinach taco was colorful and tasty! We were so stoked, Robert wanted to go back before he left.

Tender, perfectly battered seitan “fish” atop sweet potato fries.

Fried pickle spears—my favorite!

Spinach and yam taco, topped with guacamole and pumpkin seeds!


JB’s summer vacation: Chicago, cupcakes, beauty, and bags!   »

Hey everyone! I’ve been on a hiatus, on summer vacay if you will. I went to Chicago, Michigan, and my parent’s house out in the East Bay. All kinds of exciting things happened—I drank rum in the back of a pick-up truck at a wedding in Michigan (a wedding where vegan food was served! The bride loves me), I ate at The Handlebar AND Native Foods (OMG, I so get what the big deal about Native Foods is now!), and back in California, I made cupcakes for my sister’s baby shower! That was a really big deal, as it’s a huge step for my family to have the dessert be completely vegan!

Now that I’m back, I have all sorts of exciting things to share! First, for all you vegan beauty and fashion fiends out there, check out the blog Logical Harmony! I absolutely love this blog, and actually found it because Tashina is a huge fan of Source (where I spend most of my waking hours). She’s always taking the most fantastic pictures (via Instagram, like all the cool kids nerds) of our food there, as well as all things beauty related. Follow her on Twitter, and be sure to check out her lovely and informative blog!

A couple months ago, I bought a bag from Alex Eaves' company, Stay Vocal, and let me tell you, it’s a wonderful, sturdy travel companion! His company is awesome (and he’s vegan!) because all of his apparel and bags are reused. For instance, my bag is an old MXPX tote, turned inside out with a Stay Vocal logo on it! At first I was like, “it’s going to be inside out? I don’t know about this…” but I love it! I highly recommend his stuff—the hippie in me digs his mission, plus it’s great quality. My bag reads “Reuse because you can’t recycle the planet,” and fellow “re-usetarians” are always beaming at me when they read it.

I also finally took the Vegansaurus new food challenge! It happened in July, but that’s me—always late to the party. I worked with jackfruit, making a dish similar to this one. I was inspired by the jackfruit sandwich that Rachel had in Colorado. I can’t wait to play with it some more, so I can post a recipe I’m super proud of. I’m stoked that jackfruit is a meat substitute of sorts (for carnitas or pulled pork) that is actually not processed flour, soy, or some other crazy combination of ingredients that tend to be hard to digest.

That’s it for now—I got a lot of posts to catch up on before the coffee wears off. 


Denver’s getting it’s own full-time vegan store! Take that, Bay Area!
I already told you about our monthly pop-up, Neat Market, where I got my hands on my first-ever bag of soy curls. They’re so good I risk marital disquiet by picking them out of the stew whenever we cook with them. 
Well now Joshua LaBure, Denver’s resident over-achieving vegan (he started Neat Market and Chomp! and I should probably interview him soon), has inked a deal on a storefront and hopes to open the place by July. He’s planning a Kickstarter campaign, so look for an update on that, and read more if you want on Westword's blog.
Meanwhile, in other Colorado vegan news: Reliable sources tell me Native Foods is opening in Boulder on May 29; Trader Joe’s is coming to Denver and Boulder within the next year; the Boulder farmers markets are in full swing and the Denver ones start this week; and on Friday, May 18, the Vegan Van will be parked in front of Sweet Action Ice Cream, serving something amazing and top-secret that may involve waffles and me fainting.
I love Colorado.

Denver’s getting it’s own full-time vegan store! Take that, Bay Area!

I already told you about our monthly pop-up, Neat Market, where I got my hands on my first-ever bag of soy curls. They’re so good I risk marital disquiet by picking them out of the stew whenever we cook with them. 

Well now Joshua LaBure, Denver’s resident over-achieving vegan (he started Neat Market and Chomp! and I should probably interview him soon), has inked a deal on a storefront and hopes to open the place by July. He’s planning a Kickstarter campaign, so look for an update on that, and read more if you want on Westword's blog.

Meanwhile, in other Colorado vegan news: Reliable sources tell me Native Foods is opening in Boulder on May 29; Trader Joe’s is coming to Denver and Boulder within the next year; the Boulder farmers markets are in full swing and the Denver ones start this week; and on Friday, May 18, the Vegan Van will be parked in front of Sweet Action Ice Cream, serving something amazing and top-secret that may involve waffles and me fainting.

I love Colorado.


Good Things Coming to Colorado!  »

Native Foods Veggie Soy Burger photo by KayOne73 on

I love Colorado! But I’ve got a bunch of new reasons to love it more! I thought I’d share just to be a bitch and make you jealous. Or maybe to convince everyone on the coasts that the center of this country has something to offer other than Tea Parties and rodeos. 

  1. VegNews reports that Native Foods Cafe plans to open 15 new locations this year. They were supposed to come to SF and never did, so I’m dubious, but one of those alleged new spots is Boulder AKA Berkeley of the Mountains, home of my office. Chicken Run Ranch Burgers for me EVERY DAY! Don’t fail me, NFC, or there WILL be trouble. Like an angry email, maybe?
  2. This Sunday, Denver’s getting a pop-up vegan market! Boom, town is instantly cooler! Plants And Animals (host of Chomp) is teaming up with Portland’s Food Fight grocery to bring rad things to my city without me even needing to use the internet! I’m so psyched, everyone who’s anyone is gonna be there, including Beet Box vegan bakery and the Denver Seitan Company!
  3. The Vegan Van! Check this: D-town has its very own brand-new fully-vegan food truck! I got to hang out next to its founder, Amie, at the Avocado Takedown a while ago and her food was TO DIE FOR. I actually might have to kill myself to get a chance to try this stuff, that’s how literally I intend that idiom. Or maybe I’ll just go find her on Sunday at the Neat Market and send you photos! Maybe that!
  4. Google Offers has 50% off right now at Watercourse Foods, my current favorite restaurant. Three words: Seitan Hot Wings. I done bought 4 coupons, everyone’s invited!

Oh so you want to come visit now? Fine, fine, I might even let you stay at my house. Maybe. Only if you bring the whole Berkeley Bowl with you.


Guest post: Eating vegan in Los Angeles!  »

My beau and I set out on a three day eating extravaganza adventure to eat as much tasty Los Angeles vegan food as we could possibly fit our mouths around.

Day one
Our journey began as soon as we stepped onto the tarmac at Burbank airport, and my kindly obliging parents brought us some Veggie Grill. We got my fave, the chipotle BBQ burger, and the All-American Stack (live out all your burger junk food fantasies - it’s got onion rings on it!!). The bf thought the two burgers tasted too similar, but I say they’re probably the best damn veggie burgers I’ve had. Plus Veggie Grill has won over many an omnivorous friend.

On Saturday, we tackled some Los Feliz/Silverlake delicacies: Cruzer Pizza and Scoops ice cream. Cruzer isn’t the best vegan pizza I’ve ever had, but it’s damn tasty & affordable, plus they’re an all-vegan pizzeria! We got it to go and ate it in Griffith park, where we were serenaded by drum circles and the carousel organ.

Next up was Scoops. Hoo, boy. Scoops always has four vegan flavors, which are all crazy inventive and wacky and ridiculously awesome! Scoops takes customer suggestions for flavors, so you never know what to expect. We got pomegramate tiramisu (I know, holy shit, right?!), banana oreo, and pear champagne sorbet. Just in case you’re some sick masochist who needs additional incentive to go to Scoops (what part of pomegranate tiramisu ice cream don’t you understand?), it’s right across the street from another amazing vegan restaurant, Pure Luck. They have jackfruit carnitas burritos! And sweet potato fries! And sweet potato fries in a jackfruit carnitas burrito! [Ed.: It looks like Pure Luck is closing. We cry a million tears]

We took a short break from gorging with the Museum of Jurassic Technology. I know, it’s not food or vegan-related, but if you appreciate humor and/or conceptual art, it’s the best tourist attraction in L.A.

Then more gorging at the beloved Native Foods Cafe. We split the Native Nachos: infinite layers of deliciousness! It’s listed as an appetizer, but it’s enough for two people to get completely stuffed. Native Foods founder and head chef Tanya Petrovna is completely adorable. Every table has flyers with what she’s up to and this month it included building a tree house out of recycled materials for her rescued cats. Come on. Plus, the bathrooms have info on why elephants shouldn’t be exploited for entertainment. Tanya’s clearly got the right idea; lure people in with delicious food, then convert them to animal rights.

Day two

We culminated our gustatory odyssey in a run-down mall in Little Tokyo. Past all the Karaoke bars and Korean BBQ restaurants lies a vegan heaven. Shojin. The restaurant itself is beautiful and peaceful. Deciding what to order was a painful and lengthly ordeal, but well worth it.

We started with appetizers: pumpkin croquettes, and stuffed shiitake mushrooms. I have never tasted such an amazing combination of new flavors and textures as the pumpkin croquettes with homemade ketchup.

Then we reached le petit mort: the dynamite roll, a spicy tofu “tuna” roll with spicy mayo and green onion on top with spicy soy sauce. It lives up to its name; it has an explosively spicy and charred flavor—incredibly savory and satisfying. We got the dragon roll too, but it couldn’t hold our attention when we had the dynamite roll sitting right in front of us.

It’s not really fair for anything to follow Shojin, but we had to keep go(rg)ing. For dinner we went to Vinh Loi Tofu House in Reseda. Don’t let the whole strip-mall-in-Reseda thing scare you; they’re all vegan, make their own tofu and soy milk, and are Vietnamese fake meat heaven. I’ve heard the soups are souperb (sorry), but haven’t tried them yet.

Since it wouldn’t be L.A. without gratuitous driving, we had dessert at My Vegan in Pasadena. Coconut ice cream, banana spring rolls, and carrot cake. BONUS MEAL!

I couldn’t pass up a chance to go to Stuff I Eat in Inglewood, an all-vegan restaurant whose motto is, “If you don’t want meat, try the Stuff I Eat!” It’s like Souley Vegan + Mexican food on high-quality acid. Case in point: the Kilamanjaro Quesadilla topped with vegan cheese sauce, organic wild and black rice, seasoned tofu, black beans, mock chicken salad, carrot un-tuna, organic sauteed portobello mushrooms, sauteed broccoli, tomatoes, corn, and guacamole.

Though we left L.A., our exercise in gluttony will never really end, especially when we live in a land of Cinnaholic and Scream Sorbet.

Katie C. is a former Los Angelino who’s forsaken the smog and best vegan food ever for Berkeley. She works with autistic kids, and gives presentations on the evils of factory farming. Check out Vegansaurus’ previous L.A. coverage here!


Work at Native Foods! In San Francisco! THAT’S RIGHT NATIVE FOODS IS COMING TO SF!  »

The amaaaaaazing southern California vegan chain, Native Foods, is coming to SF, and they want to hire you! In your face, Depression 2.0! I mean, at least a little bit, they can’t hire all your funemployed asses.

Man, I love Native Foods so much, and if you don’t already, you will soon love it, too. Could you even read that sentence? Moving on! It’s Herbivore (hey! it’s one of the first ever Vegansaurus reviews! A classic, if you will AND YOU WILL) taken to the next level. Chicken Run Ranch Burger, would you mind if I hollered at you?



Interview: Livia Stone!  »

Livia Stone is THE BEST for tons of reasons. I’ll name a few because that’s what this whole “Interview a Veg*n*” thing is about and if I’m anything, it’s somewhat competent at my non-paying blogging job. Livia is a vegan who works in animal welfare and thus, spreading the veg love in a community that loves animals but doesn’t always know that the best way to love them is not to eat them. She is the hospital manager at WildCare Bay Area, the only place to take injured and/or sick wild animals for good quality care in the SF Bay Area (they even take pigeons and mice and skunks!!). Seriously, if you ever find a wild animal in need of help, CALL THEM! She’s also just an awesome friend and the all-around bomb. We love her and you will too or else you are an idiot and shouldn’t be on this site anyway, idiot. Oh also, if she’ll be at the Farm Sanctuary California Hoe Down this Saturday so if you see her, HOLLA!

Are you vegan for health, environmental, animal rights reasons, or a combination?
Initially I went veg because I realized I didn’t need to kill or exploit animals to live, but as I learned more—especially about the environmental impact of animal agriculture—I can’t believe anyone who is interested in going “green” doesn’t give up or at least reduce the amount of animal products they consume.

How long have you been vegan? Why did you become vegan?
I’ve been vegan for 10 years. I had been vegetarian already for several years, but that impulse was based entirely on compassion. When I started learning about the issues, I knew I needed to do more.

You work in the hospital at Wildcare (one of the beneficiaries of the May 8 SF Vegan Bakesale!) with wounded and sick wildlife; got any amazing/crazy/inspiring stories?
Definitely some crazy stories, usually on a daily basis. Rescuing an animal is often a transformative experience for people—and that’s very inspiring. I see a lot of cruelty and apathy, and so whenever people do the right thing for animals it gives me a little more energy to continue on. I remember one case where a man found an opossum in his garage. He reached into a box without looking, and promptly got bitten by a startled opossum who had found himself a nice place to sleep. The bite wasn’t serious, but the health department is very strict about mammal bites because of the risk of rabies, which is fatal in humans without treatment. Usually, we are forced to euthanize the animal to test for rabies, which drives us nuts because rabies is actually very rare in most species around here. But, of course it’s understandable that the health department wants to keep tabs because we could have an outbreak at any time. This opossum was clearly healthy and acting in normally, so we offered to quarantine as an alternative (which we always do) but since a human was bitten we didn’t have much hope. Going that route means you have to get rabies shots, because you don’t know if you’ve been exposed or not. But the man who was bitten called everyone he could and said he would do whatever it took—he didn’t want the opossum killed for his mistake! We’ve never had anyone do that before. So the opossum got free room and board for a month and was released because he never showed any signs of illness. [Ed.: That’s one of the best stories we’ve ever heard about humans. Usually we are THE WORST! Side note: Was this man cute? Single??]

Any tips on what we should do if we find wounded or sick wildlife?
In the Bay Area, you can always call WildCare and we can help you determine if it is indeed an emergency and who the nearest rehabilitator is: 415-456-SAVE (7283). Many times babies are “kidnapped” by well-meaning people! We can also determine if a reunite is possible in the case of babies.
Often the first impulse is to take an injured animal to a veterinarian, but there’s usually a charge and more importantly, most have no special training for wildlife. At WildCare, we have technicians and wildlife veterinarians who care for our wild patients.
If you find an animal that is obviously injured and you can capture them safely, keep them in a secure box or kennel with air holes. The things to remember are to keep the 
animal WARM, DARK, and QUIET. Babies especially can get chilled easily; put a heating pad under half of the box. Don’t try to feed or give water—sometimes that can do more harm than good and many species have very specific needs.

Can just anyone foster wild animals? How do we go about doing that?
No. Rehabilitators have lots of permits and conditions that need to be met. It is illegal for members of the public to keep wildlife (you can rescue, though!). If you volunteer at a local wildlife center, you will be able to care for the animals under the center’s permit. Many centers offer training classes to prepare you for foster care.

Do you have any companion animals? Where are they from?

Yes! Roshi the Russian tortoise came into WildCare and needed a forever home, since he’s not from these parts. My cat Brewster is from a shelter in Los Angeles, and Pippie the cat was rescued by my veterinarian after being hit by a car. Pedro and Maggie are Rocket Dogs!

Do you have any super cute photos of animals to share with us? 
You can check out WildCare’s website for videos and photos!

What is your favorite animal? I know, this one is REALLY TOUGH.
 Every day I have a new favorite animal! But, I especially adore crows.

Favorite vegan cookbook?
I rarely cook from cookbooks, but one that I have made a ton from is Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World!

I know you’ve been doing a lot of baking and cooking lately! What’s your favorite vegan dish to make? What about for a vegan bakesale?
Since I’ve discovered Daiya cheese I’ve been making a mean mac ‘n cheese casserole but generally I’m big on making soups from scratch, especially heirloom tomato soup. For bakesales, just about anything from my cupcake cookbook. The carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting recipe is amazing!

Favorite vegan dish at a restaurant? 
Cornmeal crusted oyster mushrooms at Millennium!

Favorite vegan restaurant?

I love Native Foods in Southern California, Candle 79 in New York City, and in the Bay Area, Millennium. I think Candle 79 trumps them all, though. SEITAN PICCATA—fuggedaboutit!

You’re going to the Farm Sanctuary California Hoe Down THIS SATURDAY (EVERYONE GO!!!!), who are you most excited to pet/hang out with?? 
PIGS!!! Love me some pigs. Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web made me vegetarian.

Are you willing to have Vegansaurus over and cook us a vegan feast? If so, what day?

Our gift to Livia: A damned cute pig named Edgar from Pig Peace Sanctuary. Enjoy the cuteness!

*there are more awesome interviews on the site but our search is for shit and hopefully we can fix that soon but who knows, I’m only so good at my “job.”

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