Vegan MoFo Post #11!
This posts takes us to Mountain View, San Mateo, San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, all part of the greater Bay Area. Of course the Bay Area is quite vegan friendly, with pretty good public transportation and a generally amazing selection of produce. I saw some of the best avocados of my life here, my friends.
An overnight stop in Los Gatos, CA to stay with a friend of mine who took us out to downtown Mountain View. If I’m correct, this is also the home of Google. That said, my friend took us out to a place called Tied House Brewery and Cafe with good craft beer and it wasn’t hard to veganize some items on the menu. This our flight of beers, yum! One of my missions on this trip is to drink my share of American craft beer! The restaurant didn’t have any specifically vegan items on the menu, but it wasn’t hard to veganize this pasta. Not the most exciting thing in the world, but I wanted a lot of veggies and I got a lot in this dish!My cousins were nice enough to host me for a night in San Mateo and take me to the airport for my flight to Alaska the next morning. She was awesome and threw together a vegan dinner for us, including some grilled portobello burgers with vegan cheese and a big salad with plenty of avocados with some delicious margaritas, California-style. Yay for home-cooked food while traveling, thanks you two!
After my trip to Alaska it was back to the Bay Area for a week for me! One of my good friends from college was traveling so I was able to rent her room in her co-op in north Oakland to have a hint of normalcy for a week. After a red-eye flight from Alaska with a layover in Seattle AND a very cramped middle seat, I was about ready to die upon arrival and was in no state to cool. I walked over to Actual Cafe and got these Veggie Arepas, which I confirmed were vegan with the guy at the counter. The veggie arepas were made from fried plantains, avocado, smoked tofu, tamarind chutney and spicy tamari-veggie slaw over a grilled arepa. Pretty awesome right?
Pretty much next door Actual Cafe is James & the Giant Cupcake and they have a few vegan options! I got the Sugar ‘N Spice mini-cupcake. According to their website they have a lot of vegan flavors, but they only had about three the day I arrived. Cupcake was great though! Lucky me, Berkeley has it’s own all vegan grocery store called Republic of V. I stopped by my first day to stock up! Got a cocomels coconut caramel bar, Earth Balance cheddar mac and cheese (my new American obsession), vegan Toona to try out since I keep reading about it on the internet, some smoked vegan cashew cream cheese recommended to me by the guy at the counter and crackers. The cheese was highly recommended and it was pretty good! I was going to go with a block cheese but two people in the store convinced me to go with this local option. It was pretty great on crackers. One pretty awesome thing in the Bay Area is the casual carpool. Basically, if you go to one of the allotted spots, you can get a ride into San Francisco proper for free (or sometimes a $1 donation). This works because going on the Bay Bridge without anyone else in the car costs about $6, but having 3+ people in the car brings the price down to $2 for the driver. This was so easy and well-organized, I loved it! It took me longer to walk to my closest stop than to get over the bridge and into the city! For a Google map of all the casual carpool sites in the East Bay look here. For more info about Casual Carpool check out this website.
After taking the casual carpool, I had some work to do so I headed over to Epicenter Cafe, which I found on the foursquare list of Best Coffices in San Francisco. They had good coffee and a vegan brownie option, but when I got there I realized they only give tickets for 2 hours of wifi and I needed to work three hours that day. Oops.
After getting some work done I walked all the way down Mission Street to Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese Restaurant after the glory of Shojin in LA. This didn’t quite live up to Shojin, but it was still good and much cheaper. I got the green roll above and my entree came with miso soup. My main dish, veggies, tofu and tofu pocks with seaweed over rice. Simple, but good! After a night at Prizefighter in Oakland for some delicious cocktails, a friend and I headed over to Jasmin Blossom Thai Cuisine where I got this eggplant and tofu dish with rice. It was delicious and the waiter was happy to veganize everything for me (no fish sauce). Way before I started this trip, I KNEW I wanted to go to Cinnaholic, the all-vegan cinnamon bun shop In Berkeley. I was so overwhelmed when I got there I didn’t even know where to start! So many options for frostings and toppings. I went with the vegan s’mores cinnamon bun. Holy crap it was amazing!I did my meal in reverse, getting dessert before dinner, so after walking around a bit I headed over to C U Sushi, where I chowed down on one of their specials, a vegetable tempura roll with an avocado roll and a couple pieces of tempura for $10. Not bad and delicious!
In Berlin I always have problems with getting hard unripe avocado in my sushi, I’d say it happens to me 50% of the time when I order sushi in Berlin. I’ve even had a stand-off with waitresses where I brought a mostly uneaten plate where 3/4 of the roll was rock hard avocado and demanded to not have to pay the full price, after which they told me I “should have asked if the avocado was ripe”!. There’s German customer service for you. In my opinion, they shouldn’t serve me sushi with gross hard avocado, as it really is totally disgusting with the avocado isn’t ripe. Whew, now that I’ve ranted, I did NOT run into this problem in California. Thank goodness, as I had almost given up on ordering avocado sushi and I love avocado sushi! Last but not least, two different friends recommended I check out Berkeley Bowl, a big grocery store with two locations in Berkeley. I went to Berkeley Bowl West and their produce section was OUTSTANDING and HUGE. I swear it was half of the very large store. I even saw all these fruits that I had never seen before. They even had fresh durian if you look all the way to the left! Avocado porn right there. The avocados are perfect every time! Heaven!
Since I was in Oakland a whole week I got a $30 membership for 30 days to Square One Yoga Collective, which has two locations. It ended up being cheaper if I took even just two classes than the $16 drop-in rate. I took a couple of the best yoga classes of my life at the Meryville location with a guy named Broderick, whose classes were absolutely phenomenal!
Try Dog Eared Books in San Francisco proper! They had a nice little book store selling antique maps, had a local literature section and even zines! New and used books, pretty cool!
Prizefighter – Delicious cocktails with homemade elixers, shuffleboard, outdoor patio and craft beer in Emeryville near downtwon Oakland.
Lost & Found – Huge craft beer selection and a big beer garden in downtown Oakland. They had a vegan sloppy Joe on the menu that was alright. Go for the beers, get food once you realize you’re a bit too drunk.
Cafe van Kleef – Pure kitschy glee with greyhounds made from fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, so delicious. Downside is I waited about 20 minutes for the one bathroom while doing the pee pee dance. Upside is I peed so much faster than the dudes in front of me that the guys in line high-fived me when I came out.
There you have it, I touched just the tip of the iceberg in the Bay Area, but it was pretty great. I also found this Zen Habits Guide to Vegan San Francisco quite useful if you’re looking for more tips!
Next stop…the long three day drive to Denver across Nevada, Utah and Wyoming! Get ready for some more #makingitwork and a whole lot of nothingness! For more check out the Recipe Index, Post by Location page or follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!