hey everyone! time for an OC field report from reader nicky tracy. in the following post, she explores a mostly vegan and gluten-free bakery called sensitive sweets in fountain valley. i can’t wait to check this place out!
Vegan dining options in Orange County aren’t exactly few and far between, but when you’re gluten-free and have an insatiable sweet tooth, that can be a whole ‘nother story entirely. Naturally when I got wind that an all gluten-free and vegan-friendly bakery had opened up in northern Orange County, I couldn’t wait to investigate. Sensitive Sweets, located off of Brookhurst and Slater Ave in Fountain Valley in a little strip mall next to Le V Cuisine and Golden Scorpion Tattoo, offers some of the best vegan gluten-free breads, cupcakes, cookies and muffins I’ve had yet, without charging an arm and a leg and without the nasty aftertaste typically left behind by garbanzo/fava bean-based baked goods.
Although not everything in the bakery is vegan (the lemon bars and fudge brownies both contain egg and the marshmallows they use contain gelatin), most of their sweets are vegan-friendly and those that aren’t are clearly marked otherwise.Tags: desserts, field report, gluten-free, orange county, vegan bakers
hey dudes, we’ve got yet another awesome field report for you today. it comes to us all the way from allison ritto in orange county, where she checks out the vegan options at matador cantina in fullerton. i love vegan mexican food, and this place is dangerously close to bootlegger’s brewery…tacos and beer this weekend, anyone?
In an Orange County city of over 100,000 you’d think vegetarian and vegan restaurants would be in abundance. But the only time a completely vegan restaurant can be found in Fullerton is when the Seabirds Truck rolls into town. My hometown, full of college students, health food stores and not one but two Farmer’s Markets, does not have a single dedicated vegan eatery- yet. There are paltry options at a few places if you have the patience to research, quiz the staff, and cross your fingers. I was completely skeptical when I heard that Matador Cantina, in the heart of Downtown Fullerton’s restaurants and bars, was advertising vegan tacos. Mexican food usually falls into two categories: unsafe but “authentic” (lardy beans, rice made with chicken broth) or safe but quickly tiresome fast food (sorry, Chipotle). When eating at most sit-down Mexican restaurants I am lucky if I get a bean and veggie burrito and chips without cow grease to soak up the tequila and quell my salty tears of disappointment. Many places will shrug and try to sell you tortillas with manteca, sauce made with chicken stock, and veggies cooked on a meat juice-soaked grill and insist that your burrito is vegetarian because there isn’t a big chunk of pork in it. Yes I’m talking about you, Super Mex! It’s not because they hate us vegans, they probably just don’t understand, so I resist the urge to vandalize those poor ignorant businesses. So when a restaurant DOES care, and goes out of their way to call an item vegan in black and white on the menu for the world to see, my heart does a little hippity-hop.Tags: field report, fullerton, mexican food, orange county, tacos
December 26th, 2010other
I have to be honest: It was one of THOSE kinda days. Well, I’m not the world’s most physical guy, but I can lift a box or two. Add to that, I had nothing to do on Christmas Eve Eve, so I was very happy to rock it on down to Orange County in a friend’s truck to help load some chairs, on the promise of “grabbing a beer or two” on the way back.
Listen – If offered, ALWAYS help your friends get stuff from far afield, as you’ll have a designated driver (they don’t see it that way, but you sure as heck fire should) and if you’re extra lucky they’ll want to pick up the tab pretty much anywhere you go. After all, time and muscles (even my puny ones) = money. Or beer at least. And maybe even vegan food too. Read on….Tags: beer, food truck, orange county, quick bites, sushi
we’ve sampled the goods at seabirds truck before, and while we were impressed the first time around, recently we WERE BLOWN AWAY by their delicious food. before, we’d opted for burger, hummus plate, and vegetable bowl…but this time, we were all about the mexican dishes: tacos, taquitos, and burritos! yeow!
we hit up seabirds with a group of friends during one of their brewery stints at the bruery in orange county. the place was packed, but we were lucky enough to find a table to crowd around, and we ordered a bunch of stuff to share. i started with the beer-battered avocado taco, which was phenomenal. right after i ordered it, i could see them slicing up the whole avocado and hand battering each slice. the result was freshly fried perfection, all topped off with cabbage and a creamy jalapeno sauce.
i also ordered a jerk jackfruit taco, which consisted of seasoned and marinated jackfruit topped with onion, cilantro, and green salsa. AMAZING! look out pure luck, because this really gives your jackfruit carnitas a run for their money. i need to learn how to make jackfruit myself, because it really is the best meat substitute ever…without actually being fake meat. i dunno how they do it. magic.
next up, the table got an order of fried potato jackfruit taquitos to share. i only tried a bite of these babies, but boy were they deadly! soft warm potato chunks and flavorful jackfruit strips all wrapped up in a crunchy fried shell. pure genius! they went down quite nicely dipped in seabirds’ incredible guacamole.
lastly, my husband ordered the locals burrito, which i was sure to steal several bites from. this burrito came packed with all the good stuff—grilled potatoes, beans, brown rice, caramelized onions, guacamole, and vegan sour cream. the 6 ingredients i just listed are probably some of my favorite foods on this planet, so of course i was a huge fan of this burrito. plus it was massive for just $6…and very delicious. i’d highly recommend it.
i really wish seabirds would move to los angeles, because they’ve gotta be my favorite food truck ever. now i’ve tried almost everything on the menu, and it’s all been amazing….not to mention entirely vegan and made with quality ingredients. seriously guys, seabirds rocks. track them down and make the trek to orange county. the food is so good, it’ll be worth it.Tags: orange county, truck
Do you remember the moment in The Wizard Of Oz where the celluloid goes from monochrome to color? Well, I had a similar experience last week when I drove alongside a dusty railroad track to a barren industrial park on the outskirts of downtown Fullerton, Orange County. The monochromatic middle-American dustbowl view turned into vibrant color as I stepped inside our destination: Bootlegger’s Brewery.
Suddenly I was surrounded by brew kettles, mash tuns, piles of kegs and a makeshift “tap room” (which was actually a corner of the brewery itself).
What’s more, as I looked back out toward the parking lot, I could see Seabirds, California’s only entirely vegan food truck, pulling up and getting ready to serve food.
Now, many of us have been to plush beer bars with comfortable seating and a vast array of beer on tap. Some of us have also been to tap houses: usually less comfortable and with a much smaller choice, but the beer is fresh from the brewery which means it’s as good as you can get. The experience at Bootlegger’s is a little different as you’re actually sitting right inside a working brewery, and the beers are served to you directly from the kegs that have been filled and aged by the brewing team.
While we waited for Seabirds to set up, we enjoyed a few pints of the outstanding “Old World Hefe”, a traditionally brewed unfiltered ale that was extremely drinkable (some might say, TOO drinkable!). We also enjoyed the “Palomino Pale Ale” which was served via a contraption called a “Hopinator”, a sort-of glass tank containing fresh hops under a little pressure. The beer flows over the hops right before it gets served and they impart a fresh, floral flavor that is to die for. In fact, Bootlegger’s chose Citra hops, a relatively recent American hop strain that’s finding its way into more and more beer varieties.
At Bootlegger’s, your beer is served from glass preserve jars rather than glasses, and you sit (if you’re lucky enough to get a seat) on plastic lawn chairs either inside the brewhouse or outside in the parking lot. Urban chic it isn’t, but if you care about being in a place with friendly people, great beer and awesome food you will find few places better in Orange County, or anywhere else. Talking of food, we managed to tear ourselves away from drinking to step outside and grab a bite from Seabirds truck, which was open for business just outside the brewhouse.
I regularly run into food trucks at various events, and it’s surprising how many of them are quite vegan friendly. As Seabirds is entirely plant-based, though, everything on the menu is up for grabs, and we wasted no time in availing ourselves of a few dishes. First up was a Veggie Burrito in a bowl (kindly made in advance for us with no bell peppers) which was a deceptively tasty collection of chopped vegetables, beans, rice and a tangy salsa/guacamole combination. It was truly remarkable, so fresh and healthy tasting yet full of flavor. I’d certainly have that again, and I bet the burrito is even better.
Next up we were drawn to the Seabird burger, as they proudly proclaim the patty is “home made”. I’m a sucker for home made burger patties as so many places use off-the shelf burgers (at worst Boca, at best Gardein). Not Seabirds! Their burger was perfectly prepared with just the right amount of ingredients – a nut/seed patty with crunchy onion, tomato and fresh lettuce on top of a tangy sauce (also home made) in a wholewheat bun. There’s something about fresh farm-produced organic ingredients that are carefully prepared – they taste SO DAMN GOOD! You can pig out without feeling bloated, and that’s exactly what happened here.
Feeling the need to be bloated, though, we also ordered a side of hummus and pita bread and were delighted with its freshness and taste. I sometimes forget how awesome something so simple can be, and Seabirds really delivered a super-creamy hummus that wasn’t too oily. Oh yum.
We planned to eat some more food, but were just too full. Next time we’re going to go all-out for some of the more exotic dishes like the Beer Battered Avocado Taco, Jerk Jackfruit Taco and the “Bella” – grilled portabella mushroom and pesto sandwich. Oh and for those with a sweet tooth, Seabirds also offers dessert – delicious vegan cupcakes by Luscious Organics.
Not only is the food stunningly good, but the crew at Seabirds are so pleasant, polite and nice that I felt like picking each one up and hugging them. I tend to do that when I’m drunk, though, so don’t read too much into it.
I really wish Seabirds would put some extra miles on that spiffy truck and go a few miles further up I5 to LA for some of our events closer to home. The good news, though, is that even if Seabirds can’t come home with you a growler full of fresh Bootlegger’s brew can. 🙂
As we headed away from Bootleggers, along the dusty railroad line to our car, I took one last look back toward the brewery and food truck and was again reminded of The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and the gang look down at The Emerald City in the distance – a tempting vista of wonder ahead. As we headed away back to LA things turned into black and white again, but I’m sure that was the pints of Palomino finally taking control of my consciousness.
Bootlegger’s BreweryTags: beer, brewery, burger, burrito, food truck, orange county
401 S Richman Ave
Fullerton, CA 92832
Thur and Fri 4pm – 9pm, Sat 2pm – 9pm
August 16th, 2010the stand
the stand in orange county is a southern california institution. people have been telling me about this restaurant for years, and according to reports on happycow, it’s been around since the ’60s. the tiny vegan eatery is located right by the ocean in laguna beach, and serves up a large yet simple menu consisting of things like salads, sandwiches, burritos, and smoothies.
the focus is on plant-based natural foods, so that means no animal products, but also no processed fake meats or cheeses…even tofu and seitan are absent from the menu. the stand pulls it off though, with delicious meals based around fresh vegetables, legumes, brown rice, and incredible sauces. we went there for the first time last week and loved it.
i have been kind of obsessed with bowls lately, and if i see one on a menu, i have to order it. luckily for me, the stand has tons of appetizing bowls to choose from, so i went with the special bowl. for just under 6 bucks, it came with filled up brown rice, pinto beans, mild salsa, and a garnish of shredded vegetables. it’s normally served with guacamole as well, but i opted for some extra hot salsa instead—so good. the sauce at the stand is so flavorful and fresh, it really took the entire bowl to the next level. for an extremely basic dish, i really loved this thing. all the ingredients were high quality, it was well cooked, and perfectly seasoned. positively scrumptious.
my husband went with the vegetable salad, a plate piled high with cabbage, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, celery, zucchini, sprouts, carrots, jimaca, parsley, and sunflower seeds…served with lemon herb dressing. he asked for it with no bell peppers, and the stand was happy to oblige. although the plate this thing was served on was a bit too small (i mean, just look at that pic!), everything was fresh and tasty.
the atmosphere at the stand is kind of what you’d expect from a little beach joint. the place is really, actually A STAND, with a tiny counter to order at and a handful of outdoor tables to sit at. even at around 2:30pm on a weekday, this place was crowded—so i imagine summer weekends could get pretty crazy. although it was packed, our food was ready almost immediately, so whatever they are doing back there in that little kitchen is obviously working.
i can’t wait to return to the stand, and i know this place will be a destination every time i’m in laguna beach. the food is simple yet tasty and fulfilling, and the atmosphere is modest yet charming. plus, it feels good to support an all vegan establishment that has been around for so long.
PS: when you are done eating at the stand, head directly across the street for beach access and a nice little public deck overlooking the ocean. lovely!
Tags: bowls, laguna beach, orange county, salad
any reader of this blog knows that we are huge fans of gardein. we live off their vegan protein creations—both the packaged goods and commercial products are part of our daily lives. we are avid beer drinkers as well, so naturally when we heard that gardein had made its way onto the menu at the irvine yard house location (a restaurant that brags they have the word’s largest selection of draft beer), we were beyond excited.
we found the irvine yard house menu online, and discovered that a whopping 25 menu items could be modified to include gardein. while that’s impressive and definitely a coup for the vegetarian world, we couldn’t help but notice that almost all the items contained dairy…bearnaise sliders, chicken caeser, spicy thai chicken pizza, etc. some of the items did look veganizable, though, so we were determined to make it work. we didn’t want a repeat of the chipotle situation (which was later resolved), so we decided to contact yard house in advance and see just how much they were willing to accommodate vegans.Tags: gardein, irvine, orange county
if you live in los angeles and want to have a completely unique vegan food experience, lemme tell you, it is definitely worth making the hour-plus drive to orange county to visit au lac. located in fountain valley, the humanese restaurant offers an entirely vegan menu, with several raw and cooked selections. all the raw foodies i know have nothing but wonderful things to say about this place, so my husband and i stopped in to check it out a few weeks ago when we were in the area.
we decided to go all out, ordering appetizers off both the raw and cooked menus, plus dessert (which is only available in raw). thankfully, although we ordered several dishes, the some of them were quite small, so we left feeling satisfied but not overly stuffed.
for our cooked appetizer, we started with a flash-fried tofu dish called ‘da hu rang muoi,’ which consisted of ultra-soft tofu in a light batter and cooked with salt, pepper, cilantro and jalapeno. this may sound like a typical asian tofu appetizer, but oh my word, it wasn’t! probably the best tofu dish i’ve ever tasted, it was barely coated with batter, completely covered in seasoning, and perfectly soft and moist in the middle.
for our raw appetizer, we went with the chimichurri, which turned out to be two slices of doughy bread with an oil and herb sauce for dipping. i seriously have no clue how they got ‘raw’ bread to taste so fucking good, but this dish was spongy, soft and porous beyond belief. even if you aren’t in to raw food, i’d recommend the chimichurri. not to mention the perfect infusion of fresh herbs and oil…excellent dipping sauce any way you look at it. at $5, it was pretty pricey for two pieces of bread, but i definitely think it was worth it.
for his main course, my husband ordered the ‘bo luc lac’, which was a massive plate of watercress and vegetables tossed in a light vinegar dressing, all topped with several slabs of faux beef. for just ten bucks this thing was absolutely huge, and everything tasted amazing. the soy meat was tender and well seasoned, and all the vegetables tasted extra fresh. i stole several bites of this throughout the meal.
i went raw on my main dish and ordered jino’s pizza, a small round of raw bread covered in vegetables and a ‘cheese’ sauce. while i ended up liking my pizza in the long run, my enjoyment was overshadowed by the fact it arrived about 20 minutes later than my husband’s main course. in fact, he finished his food before i even started mine! when the pizza finally did arrive, it was delicious, albeit rather small for $12. i guess raw food is just phenomenally expensive any way you look at it, so at least this tasted really good. the crust was soft and squishy, kinda like the chimichurri appetizer, and was covered in just the right amount of herbs and vegetables. the cheese sauce was exceptionally creamy and tangy, and i couldn’t help but wonder what it would taste like on a plate of raw nachos. don’t let the picture fool you, the pizza was very small, maybe 3 or 4 inches across, i’d say the size of a medium pancake.
au lac offers a raw dessert menu, and i was told by several people not to leave without trying the donut holes. while i was a bit skeptical of raw donut holes, these suckers definitely converted me. covered in a sugary powder, the round little treats had a distinctively nutty flavor and were filled with a thick rich syrup.
i actually almost spilled the syrup all over me when biting into the first one, because i didn’t know what to expect! while my husband wasn’t a fan of the donut holes at all, i thought they were wonderful. definitely like nothing i’ve ever eaten before, i highly recommend them.
so overall, our visit to au lac was a great success, leaving us filled to the brim with healthy vegan raw and cooked food. the cuisine there is definitely unusual, as is the decor (think asian-inspired 1980s), so this place may not be for everyone. although if you have an appreciation for raw food or humanese cuisine, or if you are just in for a tasty adventure, au lac will not disappoint.
plus, did i mention they have the coolest parking spots ever? check out the one above…reserved just for me. 🙂
au lacTags: asian, dessert, donut, orange county, pizza, raw, tofu, vegan
16563 Brookhurst St
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Tue-Sun. 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Tue-Sun. 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
i am jealous of people who live in orange county. not just because they are all rich and shit, but because they have some great vegan dining options that i covet. in addition to that’s amore (awesome vegan pizza/italian food), they also have a swanky all-raw/vegan bar and lounge called 118 degrees.
i have never been to the actual restaurant, but i am dying to hit it up after trying their food at coachella. they were at the festival selling their packaged foods under the name jenny’s raw and organic. we ordered the raw taco and pizza with a pasta side salad, both of which were refreshingly delicious.
while the taco was tasty, it was more like a salad than a taco…you know, the kind where they use lettuce instead of a tortilla. i preferred the pizza and pasta, which tasted extremely light and were covered in fresh vegetables.
after checking out 118’s menu online, i am anxious to get over there asap. they have stuff like raw tamales, enchiladas and nachos, not to mention an array of high quality beers and mixed drinks. maybe they could open up a los angeles location soon…that would be rad.
118 degreesTags: coachella, orange county, organic, raw
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Monday through Saturday
9am to 10pm (last seating at 9pm)
10am to 9pm (last seating at 8pm)
Sunday Brunch 10am to 3pm
for us vegans in los angeles, there sure aren’t very many pizza options. a lot of places have a soy cheese option, but that usually contains casein…some places do offer vegan pizza, but the fake cheese never melts quite right. lucky for us, though, a new all-vegetarian and vegan-friendly pizza parlor has opened up just 30 miles away in cerritos, and dude, it is so worth the drive. we headed out to that’s amore over the weekend and had vegan pizza so good, it tasted vegetarian.
that’s amore is a pure vegetarian pizza kitchen with a large menu full of of entrees, pizzas and sandwiches that can ALL be veganized. seriously, it’s a dream come true. if this place were closer to my house, i’d be there several times a week. i know it sounds too good to be true, so check out there menu here:
my husband and i took a detour to that’s amore last weekend, on our way home from long beach, and seriously…the food was not to be believed. although the menu was massive and tempting, we opted for the build-your-own pizza option, and settled on a pie with vegan cheese, tofurky sausage, mushrooms and tomatoes. wow, can you believe that order? vegan cheese, vegetable toppings and tofurky sausage?!?!?! i don’t know anywhere i could get such a vegan feast, other than my own kitchen. almost all the food at that’s amore is vegan, except they do have a normal cheese option. other than that, you can close your eyes and point at random shit on the menu, order it and be fine. i can’t even express how wonderful this is to me. they also clearly state on the menu that “vegan dishes are cooked with exclusive utensils.” there ya have it: no cross-contamination worries.
our pizza came out of the oven in record time, the thing was bloody huge, and the crust was amazing. definitely the most authentic new york style crust i’ve ever tried since becoming a vegan: thin, chalky and oh so tasty.
not to mention, the VEGAN CHEESE! this shit was melty-ist, most wonderful vegan dairy-style concoction i’ve ever tasted. the super-friendly server told us they use follow your heart cheese, but i assure you, it tasted much better than that. in my experience FYH cheese is pretty stubborn when it comes to melting, but that’s amore somehow gets around the problem. maybe it’s their oven, or the way they shred it…either way, this stuff melts and has the texture of real fucking cheese. amazing.
when you fill up on pizza from that’s amore, ask your sweet and helpful server about the dessert options. we inquired and wound up with an incredible, freshly-made vegan cannoli. de-lish! they should really add this stuff to the menu, it would be a tragedy for sweet-seeking vegans to leave that’s amore, never knowing they have incredible desserts.
that’s amore makes me want to move to the oc, full stop. the food is killer, it’s all meat-free, and everything can be veganized. oh oh oh, and they serve wine and beer, what’s not to like?
…well…um….ok, if i wanna get nit-picky, the ambience leaves something to be desired. it’s in a strip mall, the lighting is so bright that it’s annoying, and they play a rotation of 8 really corny italian-themed rat pack songs nonstop, turned up to 11. if i lived in cerritos, that’s amore would definitely be the perfect place to get a pizza to-go. i would only eat in because i live about an hour away, and i would rather put up with a less-than-perfect atmosphere than a reheated pizza.
overall though, that’s amore is incredible. head out to cerritos as soon as you can, and try everything on the menu. it’s gotta be the best, authentic, new york style vegan pizza i’ve ever had.
that’s amoreTags: cerritos, follow your heart, italian, orange county, pizza, tofurky, vegan cheese
13349 artesia blvd.
cerritos, ca 90703