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. 


Restaurant review: the Handlebar in Chicago!  »

I’m going to Chicago next week and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m exhausted and the daily grind is killing me. It’s time for a break in lovely, humid Chicago! Instead of Muni, there will be CTA! Instead of AT&T Park, there will be Wrigley Field! Instead of Bottom of the Hill, there will be The Hideout! Instead of freezing Ocean Beach, there will be the Michigan Lakefront! Next Friday cannot come soon enough and though there are many things I am looking forward to, going to The Handlebar is at the top of my list. I love that place so much.

The Handlebar is a hip little restaurant, located in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. When I say hip, I mean it’s usually swarmed with bike messengers and hipsters, but that is okay with me, because they are quite an attractive demographic of people. I do enjoy eating with both my eyes and taste buds. Don’t let me forget the fetching* waitstaff, with their creative haircuts and tattoo sleeves. Speaking of waitstaff, I’m just gonna gloss over this part as best as possible—don’t go to The Handlebar if you are in a rush. Enjoy yourself. Bring something to read if you are alone; there may be a little wait between those pints or coffee refills.

Tattooed servers, bike messengers, hipsters and vegan food, I’m COMING. I can’t wait! In the meantime, let’s you and I look at pictures from my recent trip in January. Fun. (Please forgive the incredibly bright flash, the lighting was just atrocious—oh, those dark winter nights.)

Hush puppies with tartar sauce. Yes it’s vegan! Unbelievable!

Samosas with tamarind chutney.

This is the Buffalo “Chicken” Wrap with collard greens, and the only dish I ever order. I am a creature of habit. I just want it all the time. You understand, right? It’s spicy and creamy—it’s bliss. The wrap my dreams are made of.

The Handlebar has a smallish menu, with many vegan options. Everything they do is done to perfection. This is going to sound totally crazy, and I know it, but they make the most delicious samosas I’ve ever had. Is that blasphemy, considering it’s not an Indian food joint? Anyway, the chutney that comes with them—SUPERB. Their seitan? So tender and scrumptious. Their beer selection? Awesome and varied. When I was missing Humboldt, I needed to look no further than The Handlebar, as they have Lost Coast Brewery beers on tap.

Handlebar, I love you, I miss you, and I cannot wait for us to be reunited.

*Daaaang, have you been working out? You look really great. Doing anything this weekend?


S.F. Vegan Drinks is back on Thursday! New venue, new drinks!   »

C’mon, I know you missed all the awkward mingling and the chance to catch of glimpse of the hot ladies of VegNews and Vegansaurus! So hot. I’m stoked it’s in a new venue this time around (though I do love Martuni’s, change is good!) and the cocktail special will be vegan white Russians! I’m so there.

When: Thursday, Jan. 26, 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, 2323 Mission St. at 19th
Drinks: $3 bottled beer, $4 well drinks, and $5 vegan white Russians!
Food: Sweet potato tater tots, beer-battered onion rings, veggie burgers, and vegan sliders!

I just read on Yelp that they have tater tots cooked in truffle oil! For real?! Five baskets, please! It’s cool, I’ll share — that way I can talk your ear off about my upcoming trip to Chicago!*

*Hear that, Chicago vegans? I’ll be in your neck of the woods on Sunday, hopping all over Wicker Park (for the Handlebar and Sultan’s Market, obvi!) What an exhausting a fun week this is going to be!


Patxi’s Chicago Pizza is opening in the Inner Sunset!  »

So many incredible and amazing things come out of Chicago. Top 5: The Handlebar, Sultan’s Market, Mercy for Animals, me (I’m actually from the Bay Area, but I lived there for three years) and CHICAGO-STYLE PIZZA! I had it a few times before I went vegan, and man, is it decadent (by which I mean super, amazingly delicious)! Now that I live in San Francisco, I no longer have to go without, because everything is veganized here!

Although I haven’t eaten at Patxi’s Chicago Pizza yet, that my friends, is about to change. They are opening up a new location in the Inner Sunset! That’s almost right by my apartment! I can get some exercise walking over there before I gorge on a 5,000-calorie pizza (junk food is junk food—actually I’m TOTALLY in denial about that. The onion rings I just devoured were HELLA HEALTHY. My body is a temple and it is just thriving!).

Patxi’s is opening its fourth location late this summer/possibly fall, at Ninth Avenue and Irving Street. My apartment JUST SO happens to be conveniently located between Escape From New York and the future Patxi’s. I can get my daily serving of fruits and vegetables from pizza alone, can’t I? Yes? Goodbye outside world, I’m only leaving the house to eat pizza. Or pay the delivery guy. Or go to work to pay for said pizza. Actually, this is beginning to sound like the life I currently lead.

While trying to find vegan Chicago-style pizza IN Chicago, I stumbled upon this recipe from Quarrygirl. FUCK YES.

Patxi’s will be located at 822 Irving St. and its first East Bay location will open June 15 in Lafayette, at 3577 Mt. Diablo Blvd.! Lafayette?
OMG, how could I forget about OLD STYLE??? I wonder if Patxi’s can get a hold of this delicious beverage for the complete Chicago experience?

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