Thai IDEA Vegetarian is a brand-new, all veg restaurant in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, and it’s mighty tasty! I especially enjoy that the vegan dishes are clearly marked on the menu, and and every item has a vegan option. Well, that’s if it’s not vegan to begin with, which many are. Fantastic! On the menu, they clearly state that they don’t use any fish or oyster sauces, which is always my #1 concern at Thai restaurants. Obviously, they’re extra wonderful. Plus, the food is damn good. Anyway, read my entire review over at SF Weekly and then go read The Tender’s review to see that omnivores also love it (small victories!) and THEN go get busy on some of those Firecracker Balls! Sexy!
Morty’s Deli in the Tenderloin: nice sandwiches you got there! »
First of all, I love me a nice sandwich, and I love me vegan options in SF’s Tenderloin. I also love that Morty’s Deli’s motto is “…a nice sandwich,” and its logo is a basset hound. Hilarious! Plus they have beer on tap! WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?
Morty’s is a kick-ass deli with more vegan options than the menu appears to have. You just have to ask; for example, the No. 174 can be made vegan with marinated tofu, even though the menu doesn’t say it. Tim, the handsome face behind the menu, says he recently started leaning toward veganism himself for health reasons. Go, Tim!
The vibe is coffeehouse-meets-deli, and the beer is free-flowing on weekdays till 8 p.m., so maybe look into weekend hours? The people demand beer and sandwiches on weekends!
Now I love to eat, so I ordered a whole lot. Of course, I started with a salad.
because salad is all vegans eat, AM I RIGHT?!
But on the realio, the lettuce, tomatoes, and tangy dressing were all crisp and fresh, and the homemade croutons were top-notch. (Not pictured: french fries, because I ate them too fast.)
Then came a Soy Reuben. I was super-pumped for this sandwich, maybe overly so, because sauerkraut makes me rather damp in the crotchal region.
It was tasty, even though we had to sub dijon mustard in for the Russian dressing. However, might I suggest pressing the tofu a little more? I know tofu preparation can seem formidable, but it really doesn’t taste right to me unless it’s good and dry before you marinate and cook it. Juicy seitan? Good. Juicy tempeh? Excellent. Juicy tofu? Kinda gross and floppy. However, the flavors were good, the sauerkraut (UNGFDHGFDNGFGHT) was crunchy and tart, it came on real rye bread, and I would order it again.
The winner of the day was the Garden Sandwich (order without cheese). It was super-amazing: hummus and veggies, including ARTICHOKES and avocado and greens, on an onion kaiser roll. The hummus was supremely flavorful and added just the right amount of creaminess to the crunch of the veggies. It’s a basic sandwich, but it was my favorite.
Other options: daily made-from-scratch vegan soup (and the french onion soup is vegan if you order without cheese, HUGE bonus to me), Shroomin’ Sandwich, build your own sandwich, gluten-free bread, beer, delivery (HELLO SANDWICH BUDGET), and did I mention BEER?
Another thing I like about Morty’s is you don’t have to be like, “Does this have mayonnaise on it?” or “I want that without cheese,” because you can just say, “Make it vegan” and they totally know what that means. Seriously, get in there. N.B. I tried to pay for at least some of my huge order, but Morty’s was having none of it. Thanks, Morty’s! I’ll be back, not in a Terminator kind of way.
SF’s Saigon Sandwiches: NOT vegan (or even vegetarian), but can be made so! »
An AWESOME Vietnamese-speaking friend of Vegansaurus very kindly helped us get the full answer on whether or not Saigon Sandwiches cooks their tofu in meat juice and the crappy answer is: YES, the do. This is major-bummer sadness, but our investigator also reported that the sandwich artists were really nice and super forthcoming with a solution, even though he didn’t even ask for one! Turns out, you can ask for the tofu to be cooked with soy sauce (make sure to specify no fish sauce, just soy sauce!) and BAM! It’s vegan! Without the mayo, of course.
Man, life can be complicated sometimes. But it can also be delicious, and I’m here to report that with all those specifications, this sandwich is THE BOMB. I also just thought of something: we should encourage them to put up a sign by the tofu sandwich that says, “Ask if you want it made vegetarian or vegan” so that people know the tofu isn’t automatically veg. I bet if enough people ask (politely! And get your Vietnamese-speaking friends to ask, too! Or get them to teach you how to ask in Vietnamese and practice a bunch to make sure you don’t embarrass yourself/accidentally ask one of the employees to eat your mom’s penis!), it would happen. I’m currently in the Marty’s vegan dining rules state of mind where I ask about ERRYTHANG but you know, lots of people don’t. And it’s a bummer when your tofu comes covered in blood, for realz.
If you are getting an enormous sandwich for about 10 cents from a hole in the wall that’s crazy crowded and the sandwich artisans are working at crazy fast speed and you don’t speak their language, you’re just gonna have to decide if it’s worth it or not. if it is, you just gotta let go and let god, you feel me? I am OK with eating the tofu banh mi from Saigon Sandwiches (tofu cooked in soy sauce/no mayo, natch) because I am super-poor, I go at slower times of the day so nothing’s rushed, and I want to support their veg options. I also have a stomach of steel and when the apocalypse comes (three days!), I’ll be totally fine eating directly from garbage cans and sewers.* Anyway, I’m off track, the point is, if that makes you uncomfortable—perfectly understandable, you’re a better person than I—then you gotta find another place to get your banh mi fix! I’m not sure where, as I don’t think Banh Mai is still serving, and I haven’t tried Bun Mee yet. Anyone? They have an eggplant banh mi that looks pretty awesome—anyone know if it’s vegan? Or do I have to go do more investigative journalism?
[unappetizing pic of half-eaten tofu banh mi from yelp!]
*And you know what? You will too if you want to defeat that devil army!
Little Bird Coffeehouse in the Tenderloin! »
VEGAN BREAKFAST ALERT! One of the hardest things for vegans in this city to find is a suitable breakfast or brunch option. Well, there’s a new sheriff in town and they put a motherfucking bird on it! Little Bird Coffeehouse is a fairly new place in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood that serves up all kinds of vegan breakfast and brunch options, including damn good gluten-free blue corn waffles (covered in fresh fruit, maple syrup, and Earth Balance!), damn good vegan breakfast sandwiches (made with Soyrizo, tofu scramble, vegan cheese and magic), and lots of other damn good vegan stuff like donuts and muffins and other fantastic shiz. Also, various types of non-dairy milk for your coffee and tea beverages! It’s no-frills, with a counter for ordering and some rickety tables and chairs to enjoy your goodies. This place is a little interesting because it’s like stepping through a tear in the fabric of the universe and ending up in the Mission. When I’ve eaten there, its been infested with miner bros* ordering espresso and reading David Foster Wallace. Not a bad scene, just FYI.
I’d bring your friends, wife, LOVAS, kids. And I’d hide your parents unless they’re OK with no table service and enjoy listening to Ani Difranco whine about the 1990s. It’s really nice to have some more options in this area of town and I’d like to see them be the little bird that could so get on down there and eat some some breakfast panini.
Soyrizo breakfast sandwich
Little Bird Coffeehouse is at 835 Geary St. (at Larkin), (415) 440-2165, open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CASH-ONLY, Y’ALL.
*TM Kate Losse. It refers to a specific type of dude who wears plaid shirts and scruffy beards, à la gold miners. I will demonstrate:
Real gold miner
Peta wants to rename the Tenderloin, I say go for it »
SFist published this letter that Peta sent to the mayor of the fair San Francisco:
March 29, 2011
The Honorable Edwin M. Lee
Mayor of San Francisco
Dear Mayor Lee,
I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 2 million members and supporters, including thousands in the Bay Area, with an idea that could help revitalize the struggling Tenderloin district: rename it the “Tempeh District.” By discarding an outdated moniker that evokes the horrors of the meat trade, you’ll be sending a strong message to progressive businesses and health-conscious residents that this neighborhood is ready for a fresh start.
Tempeh, a protein-packed food made from soybeans, is a healthy, cruelty-free meat substitute. In contrast, tenderloin comes from real suffering. In today’s intensive meat production industry, piglets have their tails and testicles cut off without being given any painkillers and breeding sows are confined for life to metal crates so small they can’t even turn around or take two steps. Cattle are burned with hot irons, their horns are cut or burned off, and males are castrated—all without painkillers.
It’s true that the Tenderloin echoes vice and corruption and that slaughterhouses are constantly found to be in violation of the law and more. But now’s the perfect time to put the city’s past in the deep freeze. San Francisco is now renowned for some of the best vegan cuisine in the world, and the city deserves a neighborhood named after a delicious cruelty-free food instead of the flesh of an abused animal. If Tempeh doesn’t excite you, how about Granola Flats or Seitan’s Lair? You could even run a contest to choose a veggie moniker.
Executive Vice President
Thoughts? I think it’s HILARIOUS! But I’m the resident Peta antics fan. And I also have a passion for renaming things. Some people in the SFist’s comments have some good neighborhood renaming ideas (though I wouldn’t read all the comments, they are likely to offend) like we could call Hunters Point “Gatherers Point.”
In reality, I wouldn’t rename the Tenderloin the “Tempeh District” but a name change might be just the thing to revitalize the area! People are acting like it’s crazy but neighborhood names come and go and any time you want to gentrify an area, you GOT to change the name, or at least find an old name like Northern Liberties and bring it back. What was the name of the Tenderloin neighborhood like 150 years ago? Though I’m fine with the standard “Gayborhood” as far as gentrifying usually goes.
[Graphic from Ork Posters!]
New Vegan Event in San Francisco YES!! It’s the Vegan Happy Hour S.F. and it’s at Hemlock Tavern every 2nd Friday of the month. Which means it just happened. SOWWY. However, this is your advanced warning for next month and all consecutive months until the end of time.
It’s a potluck so bring food to share and you can fan them/get more info on their Facebook page. By the looks of their first event, there was hella fried food there CAN I GET A WHAT WHAT FOR DELICIOUS FRY!? Also, vegan drink specials! Let’s get drunk and eat fried food until we’re all so disoriented that we wander into traffic/get involved in an orgy/do something else regrettable!
Violet Bake Shoppe bakesale presale! »
Violet Sweet Shoppe won’t be at our bakesales next weekend (COME) but she’ll be at the Hemlock Tavern today, June 22nd, selling her (delicious) wares! Cinnamon roll cookies with vanilla icing; spice cake with creamy cinnamon frosting; and THE MOST AMAZING ginger cookie things with a lemony cream filling! They ARE SO VERY VERY DELICIOUS. You must eat all of them.
Crystal of Violet Sweet Shoppe will be at the Hemlock Tavern from 5-8 p.m. today. There is a $5 show at 6 p.m., and the bar is serving vegan white Russians. The Hemlock Tavern is at 1131 Polk St., between Post and Sutter.
I have a rule for Millennium. You take me here, I will put out. Whether you like it or not. I’ve made a not-interested-in-ladies-in-that-way friend very uncomfortable after he so politely paid the tab. Basically, you pull out your charge card and I’m knocking shit down, crawling across the table and COMIN’ TO GETCHA! Hot, I know.
Speaking of hot, let’s talk Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day, what is that about exactly? I’ll tell you. It’s about love, showing affection through consumerism, and anal sex. Not necessarily in that order but everyone has to get something out of it. What I’m trying to get at here is that Millennium is the perfect Valentine’s day spot for the vegan vagina in your life. I don’t know why I just typed vegan vagina, it’s like I lost control of my fingers and it just came out. I apologize. This post is about to get a lot less vulgar and a lot more SEXY! Because sex sells and Vegansaurus needs some traffic! SEX!
First sexy thing about Millennium, it’s located in a nice hotel. Restaurants in hotels are always sexy unless it’s the Holiday Inn Kids Eat Free, but I already promised I’d stay away from vulgar. First non-sexy thing about Millennium, the hotel is in the Tenderloin, where crackheads go to die. I’m not just saying that, it’s on maps. It’s depressing in a way that can only be described as mass suffering multiplied by urine plus a meth-head jamboree. Can I get a what-what for city living!?
Second sexy thing about Millennium, they have TheMostAmazing drink menu, often including a vegan white russian! Excellent mixed drinks with vodka they infuse themselves and an extensive beer and wine menu…all vegan, all excellent!
Third sexy thing, Millennium’s staff is sexy and adorable. Second non-sexy thing, not all of the clientele is sexy and adorable. Fourth sexy thing, dim lighting makes everything better!
Fifth sexy thing, THE MENU! It’s mostly seasonal but there are a few standout items on the all-organic menu that you’ll see year-round. The Zaatar and Garlic Spiced Hand-Cut Frittes (that’s fries to the rest of us!) are fucking amazing. YOU MUST GET THEM. Even if you aren’t a fry person (GET AWAY FROM ME!), these things will blow your mind! Sesame Cornmeal Crusted Oyster Mushrooms are a classic on the menu and I love them. I normally am way averse to mushrooms but those little suckers fit the ticket! Right now they’re serving Rancho Gordo Cannelini Runner Beans, which is basically a bruschetta of beans and seitan that is A-MAZING. I could easily make a meal (and often do) of appetizers and drinks. I think those are the best things they offer and it’s a lot cheaper than ordering full meals! Don’t get me wrong, the entrees are often delicious (like the currently offered, Seared Emerald Rice Cake with Indonesian red coconut curry, winter root veggies, lemongrass tofu and all sorts of other yummy things!) but they are more costly, usually ranging from $20-$25 while the appetizers and starters are more like $4-$10 and can be equally filling and provide more flavor combos bang for your buck!
The desserts are always yummy, ranging from their chocolate midnight cake (excellent and always on the menu!) to tiramisu to shortcakes to poached fruits to my favorite (and the cheapest!), The Sweet Ending, which is just some truffles and cookies and is always extra delicious. I’ve spent a couple weeknights as follows: walked into Millennium, sat at the bar, had a beer, the fries and a sweet ending and some excellent conversation with the bartenders and gotten out for $15. High class.
Right now, they are offering a Frugal Foodie deal, because sometimes it’s hard to be extra frivolous and gluttonous when everyone around you is losing their jobs and applying for government cheese and being all poor and depressed and shit. So I thought this was a very classy thing for them to do. Sunday through Wednesday they offer a three-course prix fixe option for $38/person with an optional wine pairing for $12. V. nice!
And in conclusion, please see the first “paragraph” of this review: I’m not wearing any underwear. THANK YOU AND GOOD NIGHT!
Review: Golden Era Vegetarian Restaurant »
Golden Era is the original Supreme Master Ching Hai enterprise restaurant in San Francisco. Nearly every item on the menu is vegan; the mock meats are the delicious, mysterious kinds made of fungus and gluten and some such; and the menu is longer than a tabloid. That said, I will try to be brief.
Lettuce wraps = ¡muy delicioso!
House rice clay pot = ¡muy delicioso!
Wonton soup = ¡muy delicioso!
Red bean vegan milkshake = ¡muy, muy delicioso!
Flan = eh.
Mocha cake = ¡muy delicioso!
If eating here required membership in the cult of Supreme Master, I would not have much trouble renouncing whatever vestiges of Christianity* I yet vaguely retain.
I love this place. I love the waitstaff, how they leave you alone for a very long time and never insist you have rice when you don’t want it. I love the patrons for eating here instead of a terrible meaty restaurant of death. I love Supreme Master’s plan to save the world from global warming through veganism. If only they delivered.
Tip: If you have leftovers from different dishes, cook them up together in a pan the next day and make your own Golden Era at home!
*except for Christmas. Who doesn’t love a virgin birth? Also presents, and drinking whisky all day.
Review: Lahore Karahi! »
Lahore Karahi. What to say. It’s not much to look at and it’s located where dreams go to die but this place is off the motherflipping CHAIN. Do yourself a favor and put something on you don’t mind smelling like Pakistani food for the rest of its life and get your ass over to this place. Forget about all the other Indian-Pakistani places you think are great because the food is cheap and the health code violations are plentiful, because this place is cheaper and the health code violations are probably more egregious (it’s more authentic that way! and honestly, if you ever eat out in a city, you just have to assume your meal is made up of 10 percent rat hair).
If you’re not a moron, you’ll order the vegetable sabzi. It. is. AMAZING. Not oily at all and full of delicious Pakistani flavor. The rice is something magical and the roti (with sesame seeds! delightful touch!) is INSANE. I mean, that bread will physically get up and knock you over being all, “Bitch, I am delicious!” Pretty much everything vegetarian on the menu can be made vegan, just ask! The guy who takes your order isn’t a jerk so much as he likes to GET THINGS DONE. ON HIS TERMS. Whatever, just roll with it, you ain’t got nowhere better to be. Because there is nowhere better to be.
IT IS IMPERATIVE that you come here with people you don’t mind spending time with; the wait for food can sometimes be intense. However, as soon as the food comes, you won’t have time to talk: you’ll be stuffing your face! Your internal monologue will be all, “FUCK WORDS! THIS MOUTH IS FOR EATING!”
Honestly, I wanted to bust into song after this meal. Unfortunately that song was Ludacris’ “Area Codes,” and that is not a song you want to sing in the Tenderloin, for fear of being confused with an actual pimp.
[photo via yelp]