Bikini Bites’ wants to open a vegan taco cart in Orange County and they need your help! »
"Don’t discriminate, accomodate! Vegans need food too!”
UPDATE: Bikini Bites reached their fundraising goal! Yay! BUT you can still donate so Bikini Bites can get an extra awesome cart with totally metal accessories!
Bikini Bites embodies the DIY punk spirit, as its creator Betty Mankiller is a one-woman vegan catering rock star specializing in tantalizing on-the-go food! She regularly serves up her all-vegan noms at various concerts, record release parties, and other special events around Orange County and LA. Besides running her own catering business, she recently created the all-vegan menu for the Black Rose Tavern in Los Angeles, regularly hosts fundraisers for animal rescues, and donates a portion of her profits to animal welfare causes.
I have had the absolute pleasure of enjoying her home-cooked comfort food at various shows and events, and can attest to her wizardry with vegan food! Her specialty is vegan tacos, and let me tell you, once you have tasted her spicy tofu tacos or carne asada tacos you won’t be able to resist going back for seconds (and thirds, and fourths)!
Good news for Orange County vegans: Betty’s goal is to purchase a mobile taco cart so she can make more of her tasty tacos and cater more events! She is currently fundraising to help purchase one, so please consider donating to make this happen! OC definitely needs a vegan taco cart, and how great would this be at various venues, concerts and events?!
Take a look at some of her specialties (all vegan!) and join in drooling with me:
Seitan buffalo wings with bleu cheese dressing
Mac & Cheese with coconut bacon
Bleu cheese wedge with coconut back
Black bean burgers with bacon vegenaise
Loaded nachos with spicy sunflower cheese
Carne Asada tacos with citrus cabbage slaw
Spicy tofu tacos with citrus cabbage slaw
Betty is almost at her fundraising goal, but needs a few more donations to make it happen! Please consider donating to Bikini Bites, whose motto is “changing the world one bite at a time”!
Please donate at: http://www.gofundme.com/8mwv8o!
Visit and like Bikini Bites on Facebook!
Sarah Jahier is The Spooky Vegan, an Orange County-based blogger who wanders the night in search of vegan options. She writes about the vegan lifestyle and her other two obsessions, Halloween and horror, on her site, The Spooky Vegan. You can follow her daily esoteric ramblings on Twitter.
Recipe: fried tempeh tacos! »
I love fried food! I try not to eat it very often, because it can be quite decadent and I don’t know how to stop myself, but man-oh-man it’s fun! I get jealous of my friends’ fish tacos when we go out for Mexican food. Not the fish part obviously, it’s the fact they get to eat tacos with deep-fried protein and I don’t! This always seems to happen at the joints with a less-than-par vegetarian menu, so I’m left crying over my margarita. I’m just kidding, I never cry when margaritas are involved!
I got the idea to make my own “fish” tacos after one of these debacles. You can use any protein you like, but I like the tenderness of steamed tempeh in this recipe. There’s also no “fish” taste, but please, we’re just getting too technical. They’re delicious! Now pass the margaritas!
1 8oz package of tempeh
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 Tbs chili powder
3/4 Tbs cumin
1/2 Tbs salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup + 1 Tbs rice flour
3/4 cup water
Chop your tempeh in to strips, widthwise. I usually get about 12 even strips. I always steam my tempeh first. It’s not a necessary step, but I like the tenderness it gives the tempeh. As that’s steaming, I toast all of my spices, from the chili powder to black pepper. I then pour them into a small mixing bowl with the corn starch. Mix the spices and the cornstarch together well! In another bowl, whisk the water and rice flour. This mixture will be watery, don’t worry about it!
Heat up oil in a medium to large sauce pan. I usually put in enough oil to fill 1/4 of the pan. You will know your oil is hot enough to start frying when, if you splatter the tiniest bit of water in the pan, it sizzles. Once my oil is hot enough, I like to keep the heat right in between medium and medium high. Too hot and your food will burn, too low and your food will be overly greasy.
Take your steamed tempeh strips, and one at a time, first dip them in the cornstarch and spice mixture, being sure to cover all sides. Then dip your cornstarched strip in the flour-water mixture. Quickly set your tempeh strip in your pan to start frying! Each side takes only about two minutes. The batter doesn’t necessarily brown, but it hardens up, so that helps to tell when it’s done. Put only about four strips into the pan at once because you’ll need room to flip them over.
As the tempeh strips are done frying, take them out of the pan and set onto a plate covered with a couple paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
That’s everything! It was hard to save any tempeh strips to actually make tacos out of! I topped mine with a homemade guacamole, only to realize afterwards that I should have also picked up some cabbage at the store. Next time! The fish tacos at California Pizza Kitchen come with zesty ranch, and I think that flavor combination sounds delicious. I just so happen to have a vegan ranch recipe in my repertoire for you!
Sliced tempeh, about to be steamed.
Toasting my spices! It only takes about two minutes in a dry pan on medium heat.
Tempeh covered in the cornstarch and spices mixture.
Fry tempeh, fry!
My recipe just so happens to be gluten-free, but you can easily make a gluten-full batter with 1/2 cup flour to 1/2 cup water.
Bright Star in Rancho Cucamonga: Go there! »
It’s my last week as a resident in the Bay Area, and while I am reminiscing about my life as a NorCal girl, I am very excited to begin new adventures in the city of angels! I was the last Vegansaurus contributor left in the bay, where this blog started, and now I’m leaving! Oh well, things change, right? At this very moment my life is in boxes in my parents’ garage, so yeah, I’d say things change.
Before I make it to LA however, there will be a month-long pitt-stop in Temecula, where members of my family are starting to relocate. I am trying to convince my mom that we would have a blast visiting the Temecula wineries, as neither of us has gone wine-tasting before. Since she only enjoys white zin, I’m sure you can imagine that my convincing, begging and pleading, is not going very smoothly. If you have any tips for me about how to go about vineyard crawling, or want to join me in sampling all the vino Temecula has to offer, it would be greatly appreciated. We’ll discuss in Disqus below.
Alright, on to the point of this post! In June of 2012, my sister picked me up from Ontario airport and gave me a list of vegan restaurants in the area we could stop at on the way to her place. After closely examining a few menus I chose Bright Star in Rancho Cucamonga! I’ve been promising my little sis I’d do a recap of our meal, as we both loved it, and as a lady of my word, almost two years later, it’s here! Another note about our trip: I sang Rancho Cucamonga to the tune of La Cucaracha over and over again. She laughed every time. She was also about six months pregnant, so I’m guessing her maternal instinct must have set in big time because normally she has no patience for my shenanigans (I don’t blame her).
All of the details of my family life aside, I am grieving moving away from my beloved Bay Area, but am very excited to eat my way through southern California! Okay fine, I’m excited about much more than that, like, somewhat affordable rent for a studio apartment, warm beaches, celebrity sightings and Temecula wine tours. Alright, alright, alright, without further ado, I present you with one of the restaurants I am most looking forward to revisiting when I get down south: Bright Star Thai Vegan restaurant!
They have miso soup! I love miso soup and I hardly ever get to order
it when I go out!
Tempura vegetables with vegan shrimp! I was SO STOKED!
I got the orange chicken dinner special, which came with salad, a spring roll, fried brown rice and the miso soup pictured above. All this for $8.95! I am not the biggest fan of rice, so I gave it to my sister and I think I must’ve been able to eat most of the tempura veggies in return. We are the perfect dinner companions!
My sister got the Bright Star Pad Thai with soy chicken. She is not vegan, and possibly what you would refer to as a picky eater. However, she is a fan of soy chicken and kept exclaiming “I can’t even tell this is vegan!” with a huge smile on her face.
We were so happy with our visit to Bright Star! I was delighted about my sister being into vegan food, I tried to see how far I could push this thing. We tested another one of my favorites, Food For Lovers queso and she liked it! She took me to my first Fresh and Easy, where I found Gardein chicken and overly-packaged vegetables, so we had vegan taco night at her house, with her hubs and cutie-pie sister-in-law!
The Gardein chicken tacos were a hit and I have also been just looking for any excuse in the last year and half to show this picture off.
Bright Star is located in Rancho Cucamonga along with Viva la Vegan’s original store! You can make a whole vegan afternoon of it all! Side note: I get really tired of Thai food because it feels like that’s all everyone wants, all the time, but I thought Bright Star really rose above what I am used to. We also went to Earth Bistro while I was in Temecula, but I only like to spend my time writing about things I enjoyed. I’m thinking they might be worth another shot since I’ll be in town for a month, but my sister and I were not pleased.
You can find Bright Star Thai Vegan Cuisine at 9819 Foothill Boulevard, Unit F, in Rancho Cucamonga. You can reach them by phone at 909 980 9797.
Recipe: Vegan fry bread tacos! »
Fry Bread tacos, you guys, am I right? They’re scrumptious. If you live in the Bay Area, I highly recommend that you visit Rocky at El Rio, because he will take care of you. I realize some of you don’t have that option, or are perhaps too lazy to hop on Muni (it takes like an hour to get there from the Haight), so this is for you. We’re doing a recipe here. Or rather, I’m linking you to the Food Network site, because their recipe worked out so well for me.
I followed this recipe from the Food Network website. I was happy with the results. Now, I’m not claiming it’s like, super authentic or anything, but the fry bread was tasty and reminiscent of Rocky’s, so I was pleased. I simplified the recipe a little because I kneaded the dough right in the bowl, just until the ingredients were combined, instead of on a floured countertop. I’m also pretty sure I didn’t refrigerate the dough because it seemed unnecessary and I like to cut corners when I can. Hey, I’m a busy girl (there’s a lot available on Netflix to catch up on).
Let’s be real, I ate two of these guys before they even hit the paper towels.
I topped mine with Daiya cheese, refried beans, lettuce and homemade guacamole.
Try ‘em out, learn a little something about Navajo history and culture, and make a plan to go visit Rocky at El Rio sometime (isn’t it about time you booked that flight to S.F.?)
Surprise: Bender’s in San Francisco serves top-notch vegan bar food! »
How could you guys not tell me how delicious the vegan food is at Bender’s? Or maybe you did and I wasn’t listening? No matter, I’m disappointed in everyone all the same.
It was Allan of Mission Mission's urging that I go and try the vegan menu there, and he's not even a vegan! Though I was not expecting too much, I ended up so stoked with my seitan taco I went again the next week! Melissa of Food and Loathing was in town, and I was like “GIRL, after you eat at Source, we have to go to Bender’s!” So I rallied the vegan troops, including the platonic love of my life, Sarah M. Smart.
Let’s feast our eyes, shall we? I’m sorry about the flash—taking pictures in dark bars never goes very well.
Yes, those are tater tots and vegan ranch in the background!
The seitan Philly cheesesteak might be my new favorite sandwich in the city! I was never a Philly cheesesteak fan when I ate meat, so I usually shy away from these bad boys. Bender’s, you’ve stolen my heart and tested everything I thought I knew.
Sarah got the fried pickles and OMG that ranch is blinding!
Let’s not forget the seitan taco; this baby started it all! It is HUGE in real life, and scrumptious.
I totally forgive you for not letting me in on Bender’s vegan menu. I see how you would want to keep it to yourself, but now the world shall know it’s greatness! I think it’s really actually my fault because I just could not keep up with what was going on in that kitchen. Sorry about the misplaced blame there, friends.
[Bender’s signage photo via Facebook; taco photo by Britney Roque.]
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!
Guest post: Eating vegan in Mexico City: Tacos Hola (El Güero), Azul Condesa, and Nirvana Vegetariano in Condesa-Roma! »
Welcome to Vegansaurus’ weeklong guest series on eating vegan in Mexico City! All content by Rika of Vegan Miam!
I spent all of April in Mexico City (Distrito Federal), the capital of Mexico and the largest city in North America. Mexico City is divided into colonias (neighborhoods). In this series, I’ll guide you through a few of the colonias I explored, and some of the beautiful, delicious vegan food I ate.
All the neighborhoods are unique in their own ways; you just have to decide want you want to do, and eat. Tip: If you don’t speak Spanish, have some phrases prepared about to your dietary preferences. Many people speak some English, but there’s no guarantee.
Condesa-Roma was my favorite neighborhood in Mexico City; it reminded me of Berlin and Portland, Ore. If you are traveling on a budget, I would recommend staying in Condesa-Roma, where you can also enjoy food and architecture at the same time.
One taqueria in Condesa offers delicious, vegan-friendly, slow-cooked tacos: It is officially known as Tacos Hola, or El Güero, and has been open since 1968. It is located on the corner of Amsterdam and Michoacán. Vegan fillings offered include guacamole (so creamy and good!), acelgas (braised chard), nopales (cactus), and arroz (rice). Add condiments like pickled vegetables (onions, peppers, jalapeños), salsa verde (very spicy pureed raw habañero), salsa roja (medium-hot), and lime wedges.
My first time at Tacos Hola I had tacos with acelgas, nopales, and guacamole (15 pesos, approximately $1.12 US). The second time I added rice to make a perfect vegan taco. The addition of pickled vegetables turned out to be delectable, along with the heat from the jalapeños. I couldn’t taste the nopales very much, but I could taste the creamy guacamole and braised chard very well.
My partner got nopales and arroz, and added the spicy pickled vegetables and medium-spicy salsa roja. If you really want a spicy salsa, go for the green one!
At Azul Condesa, I ordered a vegan-friendly dish from their seasonal mango menu: guacamole with chunks of fresh mango, served with tortilla chips.
My partner ordered organic hibiscus flower enchiladas, served with light tomato and smoky chipotle sauces. Make sure to ask for it without cheese (“sin queso”)!
If you would like to try something different, such as a fusion of traditional Afro-Carribean and Mexican dishes incorporating a variety of tropical fruits, I would recommend the buffet at Nirvana Vegetariano. You can get lots of food for not much money (60 pesos, approximately $4.50 US).
The tamales are freshly made with grilled vegetables. They were really yummy! Best tamales ever! You’ll want to avoid the tamales a block of feta cheese on top, though.
Nirvana Vegetariano also offers fresh corn tortillas, rice, plantain and eggplants, vegan gyro-like meat with hint of pineapples, and much more to make your own tacos. I really like the plantain and eggplants; it tasted sweet and roasted, especially creamy. Everything was very delicious—I had no complaints!
Based both in Oregon and worldwide, Taiwanese vegan Rika has run an international and travel vegan blog since July 2011. She documents and photographs vegan cuisine, airports/lounges, groceries, products, and home cooking. She also spends her time abroad caring for and feeding feral cats and dogs. You can find her on Twitter and Pinterest. Check out all her posts for Vegansaurus!
There’s a vegan taco tricycle in the Mission? Alright! »
This is big-ish news for the vegan fatties of San Francisco. Via Tablehopper, which I will copy and paste below:
There’s also a cart from Portland that has now made its way to the 415, the ~TREATMACHINE~, which the owner tells me is “a made-from-scratch vegan taco moped food cart (it’s a trike).” Look for $2 vegan tacos, featuring handmade tortillas, avocado, mango, yam, plantain, homemade sauces, and black beans. Follow its whereabouts in the Mission on Twitter.
Sounds good! I’ll happily play Sloppy Seconds to Portland for a delicious vegan taco. It looks like TREATMachine is mainly selling it on the corner of 19th and Valencia streets, and you can find out their exact schedule via Twitter. And, uh, if you show up and they’re not there, you can get vegan tacos in about 15 places within a block, so no skin off your back. TACOS TACOS TACOS.
Here’s what the thing looks like, in case you’re wondering (or wandering the streets looking for it. I don’t know, ignore me.):
Restaurant review: Nick’s Tacos at Underdog, plus your weekend plans! »
Underdog is a sports bar that serves Nick’s Tacos, located in an area of San Francisco I like to refer to as the Mid Sunset. Not quite Outer, not quite Inner. Technically, what is 19th and Irving? I have no clue.
Nick believes in slow food, fast, which I guess I love. I don’t respect the Slow Food movement so much, as it tends to be super meat-heavy/hypocritical. Unless we are talking about cooking dinner in my apartment! My old roommate Vanessa said I am a great cook, but she can’t wait two hours to eat. What?! I like the flavors to meld—and I cook on low so I can check Facebook every two seconds.
I went to Underdog’s on a whim last year with two friends, as one of them knew the bartender and we NEEDED to make it for beer-and-taco happy hour. Taco happy hour, by the way, is only for ‘street-style’ meat tacos, but Nick’s is so inexpensive, you won’t stay too mad about that. Perhaps they will make the street tacos sans meat, I’ve never asked.
Drinking and tacos are two of my FAVORITE THINGS! I could tell I was gonna like the food as soon as our chips and salsa came. SO COLORFUL AND FRESH! I mean, really? In a bar? I was not expecting this.
That first time, I ordered the vegetarian tacos, which come Nick’s Way in a crispy corn tortilla wrapped in a soft flour tortilla. YES AND YES.
The second time I visited UnderNick’s, I had the taco salad. SO AMAZING. The best part is that it is a vegan entree, so I didn’t have to waste time asking for no cheese or sour cream and then stress out it’s going to come with those condiments anyway. Cilantro-lime vinaigrette? Done. Fresh tomatoes and delicious guacamole? Done. The best part, other than how it tastes, is that it doesn’t come in a heavy, fried tortilla shell, the part of the salad I always try to abstain from and then demolish in 30 seconds flat. Instead they decoratively top the salad with tortilla curls!
The first time I went to Underdog’s, my friend informed me of second Underdog up the street (different place of business completely). So after gorging on chips, salsa and tacos, I found room in my stomach for a vegan sausage dog with sauerkraut. And then went home and made seitan (while checking Facebook constantly).
Here’s your itinerary for this weekend (whenever your weekend is. Mine is Mondays and Tuesdays, holla!). Go to Ocean Beach, try to stay warm and work up an nice appetite/beer buzz on the sand, and as you are heading back to the city stop at Nick’s. Scarf down your food so that before your stomach can register it’s full, you can demolish a vegan sausage dog down the street. Sounds like a perfect day to me!
Underdog Sports Bar and Grill is located at 1824 Irving between 19th and 20th Avenues in the Sunset. It can get pretty bro-y on game days, so I’d avoid it at all costs then. Here’s the menu [.pdf]. [Ed.: I’ve heard that on Fridays during happy hour, they have $1 margaritas. Girrrrrrrl…]
San Franciscans Jenn and Heather spent Christmas in Barcelona this year! For lunch, they made garbanzo bean and chorizo tacos with fresh salsa and homemade tortillas—all of it from scratch! Felices fiestas to you two, too!