Vegan Friendly: The Far West Lounge by Modern Times in Encinitas

The Short and Skinny

Large windows open onto Highway 101, pulling the ocean breeze into Encinitas’ newest vegan food and beer destination.

The Vibe

Dozens of cyclist fly by as the crowd slowly forms outside of The Far West Lounge by Modern Times in Encinitas. Within 20 minutes of opening, the bar is full of breakfast sandwiches and beer flights.

Curling around a marble top horseshoe bar, friends sip beer as their kids climb the underlit stadium seating in soccer practice threads. The papered walls wear badges of the company’s strong “mid-century maximalist” branding—from trays of felted TV dinners to cross-stitch rackets by Modern Times’ inhouse “art gnomes.” In the corner, a mini mart offers beer cans, coffee beans, and Modern Times branded swag to-go.

Read more at: http://ediblesandiego.ediblecommunities.com/eat/vegan-friendly-far-west-lounge-modern-times-encinitas

Advertisements

Vegan Night 5: The Kamayan Experience

The scent of banana leaves filled the dining room of Trade Winds Tavern. We waited, sipping on wine and kombucha, for the orchestrated meal to begin. A parade moved through the dining room laying serpentine fistfuls of rice between each group as Coconut Mushroom Sisig—a chopped stew spiked with chilies and acid—and Vegan Adobo “Chicken”—proteins traditionally slow cooked in vinegar and spices—were ladled before us. Chopsticks gently tipped the display with shaved chilies (which I ate all of) while a large mound of Bicol Express—a coconut chili “pork” —reached for me as I reached for it.

A plump Pulled Jackfruit Siopao—a tender steamed bun—arrived and we dug in, fingers first, with marked caution that quickly turns into confidence.

The kamayan experience was new to me. A communal feast rooted in Filipino culture which was tolerated under Spanish colonization but then nearly erased when American brought their pearl clenching etiquette* to the island at the end of the Spanish-American War (1898 Treaty of Paris). Through these outside forces weaponized the spoon and fork, the rural family tradition of shared food eaten with the hands persists—which Michael and Noelle, aka @vegainzcouple, shared with the San Diego vegan and vegan-curious community on Saturday July 21, 2018.

Digging into the stews with unprotected digits proved easier—and frankly, funner—then expected. It assumes a level of trust between diners, a forced intimacy that is rare within American’s Protestant tendencies. Kamayan also forces the attention up, between people, as diners don’t dare risk getting Sisig covered fingerprints all over their smart phones.

At the end, small cups of fluffy Halo Halo—Filipino-style shaved ice—appeared floating with bits of sweet bean, jellies, and puffed rice, finishing off a highlight meal of this pop-up series and bringing a communal civility to the states.

Trade Winds Tavern
7767 Balboa Avenue
San Diego, CA 92111
instagram.com/tradewindstavern

Monthly Vegan Night Pop-Up Series:
vegannightsd.com

*This is ridiculous example of the American kettle calling the Filipino pot black. So many classic American dishes, of this and future eras, are eaten by hand. In the late 1800’s Americans where finger fooding toast, corn cob, BBQ, hush puppies, cookies…

Vegan Friendly: Bar Snacks at Madison on Park

The Short and Skinny

This hip space, which undulates between indoor and out, is known for creative cocktails, but they also have some seriously great vegan options.

The Vibe

The soft blue paint of the simple façade blends into the clear skies above. Window frames popped up like visors offer glimpses of the wood-rich interior. Cedar planked walls are accented by geometric pops of blue, mustard yellow, and soft pink and modern fixtures resemble drops of white glass clenched in brass. Unseen from the street is the modern basilica of a dining room—a breezy semi-outdoor space enveloped by a 20-foot high arch.

Read more athttp://ediblesandiego.ediblecommunities.com/eat/vegan-friendly-bar-snacks-madison-park

Pokez (San Diego, CA)

One thing I know to be true about San Diego vegans: You are either a Rancho’s person or a Pokez person (plus a few Liticker’s punks). Me, I give all my marbles to Pokez. One of the few quantifiable reasons I can understand people preferring Rancho’s is their vegan cheese. But a dusting of unmelted Daiya isn’t going to sway my heart—especially when I can bask in the warmth of Pokez’s Potato Flautas ($8.79).

What do potato flautas have to do with vegan cheese? Well, if you’ve ever been online you’ve probably seen a million links to vegan “potato cheese.” People swear by the gummy, oozing, texture of warm, zealously-whipped, hot potatoes—and when you take that concept and roll it up in a deep-fried flour tortilla and top it with guacamole, pico, and iceberg with a side of rice and beans, you get my favorite San Diego Chicano dish that is not a burrito stuffed with tofu, potato, and mushrooms.

The Tofu, Mushroom, Potato Burrito ($7.75) at is where my Pokez’ affection began. Charred chewy bits and pale hearts ngari-firmed San Diego Soy Dairy tofu clump together in creamy potatoes with chewy sauteed button mushrooms. Wrapped with crisp iceberg and pico, the heft is smothered in (an optional) gravy-like Rancho sauce. Served with a signature scoop of Pokez’ cabbage salad—a crisp collection and simple and mysterious ingredients that gain infamy to all who try it.

 

The Tofu Fajitas ($11.75) are another frequent visitor to my table. Yes, both these plates above make up the single dish. Smoke singles arise from the sizzling cast iron platter of seared tofu with tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions dripping with a glossy, almost teriyaki-style, sauce.  The second plate holds the “garnishes”: guacamole, salsa fresca, the infamous cabbage salad, yellow rice, refined beans and a roll of seamed corn or flour tortillas. There should definitely be leftovers when ordering this dish, if not, I think there maybe something wring with you because no human should be able to consume this much good food in one sitting.

 

Apparently Machaca ($7.25) is a classic thing people ate growing up, or growing out, and still get really excited about. The blend of sauteed onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and crushed tofu is more akin to a scramble in my eye—and as a vegetable laden scramble, it is quite successful.

Every so often I wild flame runs through body and I order something new to me Pokez. I’ve yet to be dissatisfied with any—ANY—choice made. Such as the time I ordered this Tofu Burrito ($7.50)—a girth of refried pinto beans, rice, San Diego Soy Dairy tofu, a cool swath of guacamole, salsa fresca, and lettuce.

One day I was feeling “healthy” and so ordered the Tostada Tofu Salad ($8.75) which I now think is the unhealthiest menu item. The deep fried flour tortilla bowl is layered with beans, tomatoes, lettuce, salsa fresca, and guacamole then topped with a fan of seasoned tofu. Despite feeling engorged before ordering it, I loved the quarter of the bowl that I managed to devour right after this photo was taken and the 3/4 of the bowl I ate for lunch the next day.

Intellectually I understand that there are people who don’t like Pokez–the vote tally on Vegan in San Diego’s Best of SD made the majority opinion all too clear. For those who don’t care for sticker laden bathrooms, kind but non-pandering service, and sharing a dining room with people putting Mitski and Misfits on the jukebox, it’s awesome that San Diego has other vegan friendly Mexican joints for you. But for those of you who value food that tastes good, I’ll see you in one of Pokez’ wooden booths soothing our hunger with cabbage salad and smothered our souls in Ranchera sauce.

Pokez
947 E St.
San Diego, CA 92101

pokezrestaurant.com

Awash Market (San Diego, CA)

Awash Market (San Diego, CA)

One of the biggest fights of my life occurred after someone asked “What is your favorite cuisine?”

After a pondering pause—with pizzas, banh mis, and pad see-ew fly through the flavor pockets of my mind—I said:

“Ethiopian”

To which they rebutted, “Ethiopian is not a cuisine.”

Let the gospel rain upon that poor naysayer. Ethiopia, and Ethiopian cuisine is an insanely rich and diverse historical treasure that speaks to my eternal taste buds. If you want to know to know more about the history of Ethiopian food, I recommend checking out Harry Kolman’s book Mesob Across America.

Ethiopian food is a tactile adventure of sour fermented injera, the rich nose-filling spice of berbere, a protein infusion of peas and lentils, sweet turmeric hued potatoes and cabbage, and greens spanning from deeply seasoned collards to bright lemon licked lettuces. The harmonious pallet offer enough diversity to sustain daily indulgence without encouraging food exhaustion… at least for me.

While my favorite spot lives in Los Angeles, San Diego’s Awash Market holds steady at number two.

Awash Market is easy to pass by, as I did, and I did many many times. With booze, coffee, flour, toiletries in the front it’s easy to overlook the outstanding food in the back. Once I overcame my intimidation of the convenience store en suite dining room, I found a kitchen that excels at all the Ethiopian vegan classics. Regarding the vegan options, while some traditional recipes call for clarified butter, the staff here has repeatedly confirmed that they proudly use oil as the fat in all their veggie dishes.

Awash Market (San Diego, CA)

Awash Market (San Diego, CA)

Injera  – Made in house, the tender rolls of sour fermented wheat and teff are some of the freshest I’ve ever encountered. They are available for sale in the front market, and fly off the shelf for good reason. A gluten free, 100% teff, version is available if the kitchen is given a few hours notice.

Miser Wot – Split lentils and spicy red pepper brought together in a coarse and oily stew. The grease soaks through the injera base creating a sodden treat once the bulk is gone.

Kik Alicha – A mild split pea stew with onion, garlic and turmeric that tempers the palate between spicier bites.

Shiro Wot – A gorgeous slurry of ground chickpea flour, berbere, and tomato. Soft and silky on the tongue and by far my favorite dish at Awash. This treat is not usually offered on veggie combinations platters at other restaurants, so I relish receiving it as a baseline selection at Awash.

Ye’abasha Gomen – Spiced collards greens that often taste rather muddy to me at every Ethiopian restaurant. This one is no better or worst that the average gomen offering out there.

Tikel Gomen – Sweetly braised cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions with cumin, turmeric, and ginger. This is my second favorite dish at Awash.

Green Salad – Sometimes this isn’t on the platter—which is a shame. The light lemon dressing on the romaine, tomatoes and onions is notably more harmonious then the weird Italian dressing so many other Ethiopian restaurants tend to use.

Berbere – Sometimes the kitchen adds a mound of powdered and a dollop of berbere paste to accent the heat of the dish. If you like your food spicy, be sure to request these.

Awash Market (San Diego, CA)

Awash Market
2884 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92104

Chennai Tiffins (San Diego, CA)

I always thought North Indian food was my jam, but I’ve quickly fallen head over idli for South Indian cuisine! Chennai Tiffins is now my favorite Indian restaurant in San Diego. The food is simple, made with mild hands but with a soft complexity that comes through if allowed. Plus they are always super accommodating when I ask for my food to be prepared without ghee.

I love to start with an order of Idlis (steamed lentil and rice cakes) with sambar (unlimited and free!) and an array of chutneys. I’d come here for the chutneys alone! Rich bowls of tomato, peanut, mint, coconut, and ginger that span the range from sweet and mild (coconut) to punchy and hot (ginger)… although none are over the top spicy.The tomato is my favorite, but there is something here to please all palates.  

The Spring Dosa—a fermented lentil and rice crepe stuffed with tomatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots, cilantro and chilies—is my top pick. The light balance of the crisp veggies against the soft tang of the crepe suites me greatly. If you order this be sure to emphasize no ghee…this wasn’t one of the dosa the waitress originally offered me as vegan-friendly but I pressed her on it because it’s my favorite combination. When she brought it to the table she proudly proclaimed “With no ghee!” and gave me a reassuring smile.

The Poori with Bajji, one of the vegan as-is dishes floats to the table on air-filled pillows of deep fried bread with a cup of potato curry. It’s great option for those who think Indian food is too spicy.

Anahre Kara Dosa is a simple lentil and rice flour crepe slathered with red chili paste. The slow burn of the chili lets the fermentation of the dosa shine.

When I’m extra hungry I also order a plate of Samosas. The two peaks arrives sprinkled with cilantro, chopped red onion, and kala namak (black salt) and are finished off with a squeeze of lime. I never thought to add lime to a samosa, but the fresh acidity deeps the earthy spices within.

Special Rava Dosa with potato masala is also favorite of mine. 

Or there is the simple the Onion Rava. This crispy sheet of editable lace made of rice flour and cream of wheat, flecked with sharp and sweet red onion, is addicting. 

Chennai Tiffins
9474 Black Mountain Rd.
San Diego, CA 92126

chennaitiffins.com

Flavors of East Africa (San Diego, CA)

Immigrating from Kenya, June Owino came to San Diego a hopeful accountant who liked to cook. Happenstance brought Owino in front of the stove then out into the streets of the Farmer’s Market as Flavor’s of East Africa. The city embrace his stewed veggies and wafting spices—his booth remains one of the most popular of the San Diego Farmer’s Market scene—and so in 2011 a permanent store front opened in University Heights.

If you’re making your first visit to Flavor’s of East Africa, a sambusa is a must—these are the staple of Owino’s repertoire. The triangle folded pastries, stuffed lentils, potatoes or spinach, make a great handheld treat at the farmer’s market—but when I hit the restaurant I like to order food I can dig into with a knife and fork.

The thick cut Marsala Fries stand  at the top of my appetizer recommendations. Slathered in tangy tomato, the fries arrive to the table still crispy as the robust sauce soaks into the skin.

The Sukuma Wiki is my favorite dish on the entire Flavors of East Africa menu. Lightly sautéed cabbage and collard greens are spiked with fresh herbs and garlic. These crisp greens pair perfectly with the Dengu—lentils stewed garlic, onions, curry and coconut creme. The scoop of carrot flecked wali (a fragrant rice) far exceed the dry flatbread—the only disappointing item I’ve found from this kitchen. Despite the brown pockmarking, these taste like raw tortillas.

The other large vegan offering is the Biringanya. Chopped eggplant stewed in a creamy tomato sauce with “African spices.” It was a touch mild for me on it’s own but makes an excellent counter part to the Sukuma Wiki for those willing to share (me, always).

On my last visit, the waitress had a bit trouble with the concept of vegan (“I couldn’t live without peanut butter” she stated after we said no milk eggs or butter…). But I eventually got assurance that ALL the vegetarian menu items are vegan, so eat away!

Flavors of East Africa
2322 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92104
619-955-8778

flavorsofeastafrica.com
Instagram: @flavorsofeastafrica

Torrey Pints, Whole Foods La Jolla (San Diego,CA)

There are some good (great!) vegan items that have just hit the menu Torrey Pints! Chef Vanessa Briscoe created a slew of new vegan options for the pub menu. I got a sneak preview of the in progress items and am THRILLED with the new offerings.

While the quantity of items doesn’t compare to some other Whole Foods pub menus,  the quality is superb. The largely whole-food and plant-based dishes explore the chef’s creative edge… to our benefit!

The Raw Vegan Paleo Wrap is filled with veggies, black beans and quiona then given a hint of complex sweetness from shredded coconut and fresh pineapple. Finished with black salt… I predict I’ll be eating a lot of these in the future.

Eggplant Marianna maybe coming soon to Torrey Pints Tapas night! Crinkly skin of a Thai eggplant curl up exposing tender seed-filled flesh in a pool of pulpy tomato sauce and basil oil.

When first saw the Heirloom Tomato sandwich I though: Um, it’s just a slice of tomato on bread… But this is a fine example of produce quality shining! Juicy fat slices of tomato are slathered in a mint basil mayo and stuffed inside a ciabatta bun. It’s my favorite of the new items.

Spicy SD Soy Dairy Tofu Bites… this are good if for some reason you’re not in the mood for the Buffalo Cauliflower—which, don’t worry, is still on the new menu.

And lastly, the Beyond Meat Beast Burger has come to Torrey Pints! Layered with shaved beets and greens on a Bread & Cie ciabatta bun slathered in herbed mayo it’s a beautiful change up from the previous taro burger.

Torrey Pints
Whole Foods Market
8825 Villa La Jolla Dr
La Jolla, CA 92037

wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/lajolla
Instagram: @wfmlajolla
Twitter: @wfmsandiego

All food hosted.

Civico 1845 (San Diego, CA)

A child fell at my feet. Staring down in bewilderment, a lanky man leapt out from behind a brown paper covered door singing the child’s name in an Italian accent. Ushering the babe into a late night construction site, my eyes followed them past the reclaimed wood interior to the writing on the windows. My eyes paused when I saw the word: Vegan.

I bookmaked the Civico 1845 and waiting for the opening.

After an initial visit opening week, I returned with the lovely Dining with DevynRobins Vegan Life and Robin’s cousin. Sitting on the patio, our waitress approached, lips parted as through to speak. She caught glimpse of us holding the vegan menu and winked.

“I guess you don’t need to hear about the catch of the day,” she said.

“No thanks,” we smiled back.

“Hold on a sec…” she uttered while sneaking away. Moments later she returned with the tall lean man I had seen nights before.  “This is Pietro Galloo, our vegan chef!”

We introduced ourselves as Pietro went over the menu pointing out his favorites. He also explained how when opening this restaurant with his brother—even though the prime Little Italy corner needs no gimmicks to lure customers in—he insisted on offering a full vegan menu. The team agreed to let him produce the menu for one month. It became an instant success so it is here to stay.

We started off with the Piccolo Calzone. Crescents of dough filled with a seitan ragout, almond ricotta and homemade mozzarella. These taste very “homemade” which to me is just alright.

Next up was the much better Mushroom “Calamari.” Breaded and fried oyster mushrooms served with spicy arrabbiata sauce. Although Robin and her cousin ordered this dish, I instinctively reached across the table and took a forkful before they even touched it.

“Ooop! Sorry!” I exclaimed as I shoveled the mushrooms into my mouth. They taste as good as they look.

Robin order the Eggplant, parmigiana style, with a side of penne pomodoro. I had this dish previously and recommended it to the table–the portion was thankfully more generous than opening week. It is a simple dish of sliced eggplant stewed into silky slabs in tomato sauce. The penne is tender, with a bite some think impossible to create without egg, smothered in more sauce and fresh basil. I find this the most satisfying entree on Civico 1845’s vegan menu.

Also, Civico 1845 is the first restaurant I’ve been to with tableside vegan Parmesan–made with noosh, pinenuts and so on–it is such a joy!

Robin’s cousin ordered the Ravioli, stuffed with spinach and vegan ricotta, in a San Marzano Sauce. While I find the vegan pasta dough does not hold up well in the stuffed or layered dished (like the lasagna), the downy ravioli filling superseded this concern.

Having already tasted my way through the pastas, I ordered the Pizza di Scarola. This wedge of escarole pie is stiffed with buttery greens, black olives, sicilian cappers and chili peppers. The dough is simple, somewhat dense, which holds up to the rich interior whose complexity builds with each bite.

Devyn ordered the Penne alla Vodka, a pink tomato and cream sauce not often seen in vegan form. Again, I find Civico 1845’s vegan treatment of penne pasta to be superb; although the sauce got a bit lost in it all.

For dessert, we shared the vegan Tiramisu. Pietro charged it up that night with a chocolate, instead of vanilla, custard. To me, the thrill of tiramisu is the bite of rum and bitterness of espresso, neither of which I detect in this cake. Still, it is a very good moist white cake stuffed with custard.

Last, we tackled the Strawberry Cake with lemon creme filling. The ultra moist cake offers a homey end to dinner. I recommend it over the tiramisu… at least through strawberry season.

Civico 1845
1845 India Street
San Diego, CA 92101
619-431-5990
civico1845.com