Vegan Travel, Romance Novel-Style in Mendocino  »

Up a small highway from the beach cliffs of Mendocino, surrounded by lush, color-popping gardens, sits the breezy Stanford Inn by the Sea eco-resort. I mean, don’t you already feel more relaxed?

Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Maybe you’ve even visited? I went for the first time a few months back and I can’t believe it took me this long.

Full disclosure: while still a bit folksy, this was a luxurious vacation for me. I normally crash on friend’s couches or find the cheapest possible sun-bleached California motel. While The Stanford Inn is no such place, it’s also not a hyper modern or glam resort of the boutique hotel variety.

It does, however, serve you fresh, warm vegan chocolate chip cookies upon arrival, and every day after that. God, I wish someone would leave gooey cookies out for me nightly back in the real world.

There’s also a complimentary dessert and tea-time nightly for guests. And this was my introduction to the Stanford Inn at the Sea, after a windy drive from San Francisco. With my husband and rescue chug in tow, I walked past an already-crackling fireplace in the modest, lodge-like common area and devoured a rich chocolate torte with hints of orange along with a mug of hot mint tea.

When we made it to the room, there were vegan dog treats wrapped in plastic with a bow and the aforementioned chocolate cookie plate — because we needed more desserts — along with a rustic bedroom set and wood-burning fireplace, already roaring.  We opened the picture window porch doors to views of endless greenery and far off waters. It’s all feeling very Danielle Steel at this point.

We traipsed through the gardens to meet the lodge’s elderly llamas, who lived up to their expected cuteness, along with a few donkeys and at least one pony. Below that we walked down to Catch a Canoe & Bicycle Too, on the edge of the river. The inn has a deal with Catch a Canoe, and guests can ride complimentary mountain bikes during their stay.

Later, we made it back to the saltwater pool and Jacuzzi at the Inn, essentially enchanted in the atrium trimmed with wild plants.

Throughout our stay, we munched complimentary breakfasts at the Raven’s Restaurant (attached to the inn) of delicious, decadent vegan Florentines and benedicts and the signature brunch dish: The Stanford Citrus Polenta over braised greens with cashew cream sauce. We returned nightly for the excellent tempeh burger, tamari-maple glazed tofu, and winter ravioli with butternutsquash filling in beurre blanc sauce.

Did I mention that our dog happily sat at our feet during the entire stay?

Perhaps it all sounds a bit (cashew) cheesy, but the comfort of knowing everything you’ll be eating is both vegan and yummy, matched to all those romance novel touches of crackling fireplaces, windswept beaches, colorful gardens, and secluded-feeling saltwater pools makes the Stanford Inn a rather irresistible spot for veg couples. 


Get out of town: The vegan charms of Northern California!  »

I should start by saying that California’s North Coast is a lot like San Francisco: often cold, foggy and filled with people who smell like a dirty pair of underwear. But, what the North Coast has that the City don’t is a whole lotta peace, quiet and ocean views for days. And this incredibly intoxicating smell of earth and fresh rain that I’ve never smelled anywhere else.
Vegan eating and food options are nowhere near as prevalent on the coast as they are in more urban areas, but they are available here, you just have to know where to look! But don’t all you city-dwellers move your asses up here, otherwise it’s going to get overpopulated and then where will all the wild turkeys, deer, and bunnies go?

As you’re making your way up to the coast, you’ll probably get hungry. I mean, driving’s EXHAUSTING right? My favorite place to stop for road food is High Tech Burrito in Windsor. They have three burritos sure to leave any vegan feeling fat, sassy and ready to continue the drive. Because seriously, you’re not even close to getting here yet. I highly recommend taking Highway 128 off of 101 North versus taking Highway 20. Highway 128 takes a little bit longer, but there’s much more to see, and much less switchbacks that make you feel like you want to puke all over your lap. Highway 128, trust me.

While you’re cruising up 128 and remarking over all the incredible beauty (because if you don’t find Anderson Valley beautiful, turn around and go home because I don’t want you tainting the coast with your shitty attitude), keep your eye out for signs for Boonville. Right before the town is Highway 253. Take a right on 253, and Anderson Valley Brewing Company will be on your left. Stop here. Drink beer. Eat free pretzels and peanuts. Yes, they will give you a basket of both if you ask. Buy beer. Take beer with you. Play disc golf! According to Barnivore, AVBC’s entire lineup of beers is vegan-friendly, so try them all. Just don’t get back behind the wheel until you’re sober, you lush.

Once you arrive on the Coast, you’re probably ready to eat more, drink your beer, or pass out drooling onto a pillow. Where should you stay? The Stanford Inn. Ok, yes, it’s not the cheapest option on the coast, but how can you go wrong with a place that not only serves vegan food at their Ravens Restaurant, but also has an organic garden, a strong focus on sustainability, is pet-friendly, and has ocean views? Quit being such a tightwad and go there already. They have resident horses you can pet! Horses!

[Photo by the Stanford Inn]

If you want something a little less upscale but still nice, check out the Coast Inn and Spa. It’s just south of Fort Bragg, right on Highway 1, and their CapHe restaurant menu is 80 percent raw, organic and focuses on alkalizing and energizing. If you’re into that kind of thing.

After your restful sleep imaging you can hear the ocean’s crashing waves, the options for breakfast are plentiful. Head south to the Little River Inn to enjoy some of their delicious vegan rancheros. And if you’re there on a Sunday, a free glass of champagne to boot. Woot free booze! If you’re looking for more “big-town” action, head to Fort Bragg, where you can find a vegan omelet at the Homestyle Cafe, or a bunch of vegan options at the organic eatery Cafe One.
[Photo by Little River Inn]

Lunch and dinner is really where you can start to party down. I highly recommend the Thai Burrito at the Mendocino Cafe—just don’t let them forget the peanut sauce on the side. I’m assuming you won’t be sick of burritos at this point, since loving and appreciating burritos is a requirement for living in the Bay Area. Frankie’s in Mendocino makes a mean vegan pizza (they use Daiya cheese, which is the bizness) and their falafel is fantastic. And they serve beer and wine.
[Photo by Frankie’s Mendocino]

If you’re feeling like a fat ass but still want an afternoon snack, look no further than the Living Light Cafe. Raw, gorgeous foods, and juices that will clean you right out. And yes, I’m referring to pooping. Don’t be embarrassed; everybody poops.

One of the best spots for beer on the coast is the North Coasting Brewing Company. I can’t lie-their vegan food selection is somewhat lacking, but the veggie burger is indeed vegan, it’s big and it comes with french fries. Which is good, because you’re going to need substantial food to soak up the awesome selection of beers on tap. I am a big fan of their IPA and the Old Rasputin. Fair warning: Rasputin packs a punch, and isn’t for the lightweights.

For dinner, stumble a couple blocks down the street to Mendo Bistro. Upstairs in the same building where you discovered Living Light, Mendo Bistro is good place for nicer vegan dinner selections. Their menu changes seasonally, but I’ve had a great root vegetable stew and pasta dish there, and they always have tofu and portobello mushroom on their “choice” menu.

Listen up y’all, because I am about to let you in on possibly the biggest insider vegan tip for the North Coast. Two words: Vegan potluck. You heard me, a potluck where every single dish is vegan. PIG OUT! Not only that, but it’s a group of really nice people too. They meet every second Saturday of the month, in Little River. It’s public knowledge and in the local papers, but I’m not going to tell you more than that. If you want to join us, do your homework and make a phone call. And bring something delicious, dammit. [Ed.: We found this! We are master sleuths!]

Now that you know the scoop on getting your vegan grub on in one of quite possibly the most beautiful places on earth, come visit. Bring your dogs, because if your dogs are anything like mine, attacking seaweed ropes and hauling ass along the beach are some of the most fun activities on earth.

As you’re schlepping around, beware of wild male turkeys hollering at you. It’s mating season and they’re looking for company. Bow chicka wow wow!

Tara Barnes is a writer, running and cycling nerd and vegan foodie currently living in a teeny, tiny town on California’s North Coast. She talks a lot about food and dogs at her blog VeganRahRah. Loves: Her hometown of Oakland, popcorn, and sleeping. Dislikes: Rude people, giant spoons, and not getting enough sleep.


This weekend in the citay by the baaaay…  »

Alternately, fun stuff you might enjoy if you’re a vegan in San Francisco this weekend WOO!

Friday, July 10th

Them crafty street food folk are at it again and this time they’re playing matchmatcker with Street Food for Singles (or coupled people who bring a single friend! but what about polyamorous freaky type folks? WHAT ABOUT THEM???) There will be plenty of vegan food on hand from Magic Curry Kart, Sexy Soup Lady, Wholesome Bakery (ALL VEGAN BAKERY CART!) and Bike Basket Pies (our fave!) so SINGLE VEGANS, get out there and do some carnivore converting! Take one for the team, ladies! Think how many dudes you can convert with the power of your singular vadge! I’m gonna puke! Anyway, they’ll most likely be on Linda st. at 19th st. in the Mission but follow one of them on twitter to find out for sure. 7:30p until they run out of eats/cops shut their asses down.

Saturday, July 11th

Our favorite shelter dog savers, Rocket Dog Rescue is having an adoption fair during the Bay area Derby Girls “Duel on the Docks”! Chicks on wheels and dogs being hella cute? You don’t want anything else, trust me! Oh and for food, they sell vegan hot dogs but the buns aren’t vegan but I guess you can eat it without one and just look hella creepy and pervy. OR bring your own and maybe give the rest to the dudes selling hot dogs to give to other vegans?? Oh and don’t forget to request vegan buns (hot) for the next event! If enough people ask, change will come! This is America, people! 6:30p to 10:30p at at Fort Mason.

SF VEGAN PROM WOO! 7:30p to 11:00p at a.Muse Gallery.

Sunday, July 12th

JACKSHIT. Unless you’re having a party or something?

AND FINALLY, if you’re looking to get out of town this weekend, the prices at The Stanford Inn are cheaper than they’ve been in 7 years! Check out our review here and then make your reservations here. OH ALSO, they have THREE NEW BABY LLAMAS. Um, I can’t believe you’re still in San Francisco. I am disgusted.

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