Vegan Fast Food in San Diego

I grew up on a lot of fast food.  McDonald’s was a regular after school snack in my junior high days – which is actually kind of funny since I don’t eat at many fast food joints anymore.  The exception is of course for vegan fast food joints!!  I could eat at those everyday!! (well, not really- everyone has their grease capacity).

Evolution Fast Food is in the heart of San Diego.  Eat your meal and then burn it off by roaming the nearby Balboa Park.  Everything you could possibly want in the typical American fast food menu is there – sans animal products.  I don’t go to San Diego much, but I’ve tried enough to know that Evolution is my number 1 place to eat.  I think it might be the fact that they have vegan milkshakes!  I love milkshakes.  This trip I even got two milkshakes ($3.95) – a Chocolate Shake and a Strawberry Shake (strawberry shake picture came out blurry).   Oh man, these are good.

Evolution Fast Food Chocolate Shake

Chocolate Shake

Another “Holy Cow!!” moment was tasting their Chick’n Tenders ($3.50 small/$5.50 large).  These are how I remember chicken tenders.  The spices in the batter are perfect!  I got it with ranch to dip and I wish I had more – that little serving of ranch was barely enough for half these beauties.

Evolution Fast Food Chick'n Tenders

Chick’n Tenders

One dish I wouldn’t get again was the Chili Cheese Fries ($3.95).  I thought they were just ok.  The chili wasn’t my favorite and it was a juicy kind of chili that made the fries soggy pretty fast.

Evolution Fast Foods Chili Cheese Fries

Chili Cheese Fries

My friend got the Pesto Burger ($6.95) which he said he enjoyed.  It was just a burger with pesto slathered on it.  Mmm, vegan pesto.  I’m sure I would have enjoyed it, too.

Evolution Fast Food Pesto Burger

Pesto Burger

And I got the Bacon Cheeseburger ($7.75) (sorry the gigantic piece of lettuce is getting in the way!). I was getting so full from my shake and the appetizers, that I could barely eat this burger.  It was really good, though – although I might just want to come back and get 10 orders of the chick’n tenders.

Evolution Fast Food Bacon Cheeseburger

Bacon Cheeseburger

They also have a bunch of desserts packaged up ready for you to grab-and-go, which is exactly what I did.  I took a Boston Creme Cupcake ($3.50) home to enjoy a week later when all this food digested.  No really, I did eat it soon after and thought it was all right.  I’ve had better cupcakes up in LA, so I probably wouldn’t get this one again (and instead opt for a shake!!).

Evolution Fast Food Boston Creme Cupcake

Boston Creme Cupcake

They even have a drive-thru for that classic “lazy-American” experience!!

2965 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
619-550-1818

Daily 11 am – 9 pm

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Nite Moon Cafe in LA

Nite Moon Cafe is a vegetarian cafe located inside of Golden Bridge Yoga.  It’s the type of place where you order at the counter, sit down, and they will bring you your food.  I don’t go here that often, because they have limited hours on the weekends (and sometimes I’m not even ready by the time they close – bummer for this non-morning girl).

They always have a bunch of vegan goodies in their display cases tempting you to buy them as your order your meal.  I guess I get tempted pretty easily – just look at the bounty of goods I got!  The PB&J Bar was like solidified, sweetened peanut butter with just the right amount of jam – I loved it.  The Cinnamon Roll seemed a bit over baked – kind of crispy and drier.  The Daiya/Spinach Pocket was a nice savory snack – simple and delicious.

Golden Bridge Spinach/Daiya Pocket, Cinnamon Roll, PB&J Bar

Spinach/Daiya Pocket, Cinnamon Roll, PB&J Bar

For my entree, I got the Bridge Burger ($11.50): tempeh patty, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and 1000 Island dressing.  It comes with a large salad that if full of ingredients.  The burger seemed so simple, but it was so good!  I don’t know what they did to the tempeh, but it was seasoned just right.

Golden Bridge Tempeh Burger

Bridge Burger

My vegan guy got the Reuben ($11.50): sauerkraut, tempeh bacon, mustard, and 1000 Island dressing.  I liked this sandwich, but I don’t remember if my vegan guy did.

Golden Bridge Reuben

Reuben

And the best part about this place is that if you feel guilty about what you ate, you can always go in for a yoga class.  The more you move, the more you can eat!

1357 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Monday – Thursday: 10 am – 7:30 pm
Friday: 10 am – 2:30 pm
Saturday – Sunday: 10 am – 2:00pm

Shhh – there’s vegan food at The Secret Spot

I wish The Secret Spot was… well… a little more secret.  It’s this tiny cafe in Huntington Beach that is run by a bunch of youngins and some older surfer dude that is very welcoming to the customers.  However, like a lot of the reviews say, it takes awhile to get your food.  When I went, there was a longish line that moved very, very slowly.  I expected it, so no biggie.  I had gone once on a winter’s night and it was A LOT faster.

It was a weekend morning and I wanted something I don’t normally have, so my vegan guy and I decided to go here.  I saw on their board that they now had vegan pancakes, so I knew what I was getting.  It was a good thing, too, because their menu is a little confusing for vegans.  I wish they had a “can be prepared vegan” icon next to those items that are veganize-able.

The story of the Vegan Pancakes goes like this.  They looked good, came with syrup and some vegan butter, so I was excited.  I poured the syrup onto the pancakes and saw that the consistency was not like maple syrup (or even agave nectar) – was it honey?!!  I was worried that I had just ruined my vegan pancakes with a non-vegan product (well, not vegan for me).  I asked and the chef said that the syrup was vegan.  She went to get the container and presented me with a giant bottle of corn syrup- corn syrup?!!  Gross!  Who puts corn syrup on their pancakes?  I don’t, and will certainly not in the future, as well. I mean, the pancakes were decent, but that corn syrup was just not good.  The side of potatoes was not good, either.  It was full of bell peppers (yuck).

The Secret Spot Vegan Pancake with Fruit

Vegan Pancake with Fruit

My vegan guy went with another menu item that we deciphered to be vegan – their Western Garden Nut Wrap.  It’s made with their vegan meat substitute and grilled with organic greens, tomato, avocado and homemade BBQ sauce in a spinach tortilla.  I thought this dish was decent, although I don’t think my vegan guy was too enthusiastic about it.

The Secret Spot Wrap

Western Garden Nut Wrap

And I also saw they had vegan desserts.  I wanted to try their Vegan Hostess cake, but was sorry I did.  This was just a not-very-good tasting chocolate cupcake with a small scribble of vanilla frosting on top.  Hello?!  Hostess is supposed to have that chocolate ganache topping.  Not good, guys, not good.

The Secret Spot Hostess Cake

Hostess Cake

If you want to go to The Secret Spot, I recommend going at an off hour.  You’ll have plenty of questions, and they’ll be able to help you best when there aren’t a lot of customers waiting in line.  Good luck!

3801Warner Ave
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
562-592-4494

Monday: 8 am-9 pm
Saturday: 8 am-9 pm
Sunday:8 am-7 pm

Breakfast at Mother’s Market

Mother’s Market is an awesome place.  Not only is it a great grocery store filled with vegan food, but some locations have a sit down restaurant (available at Brea, Costa Mesa, Laguna Woods, Irvine, and Huntington Beach).  It’s one of the few places in Orange County to get a vegan breakfast – and it’s a good one, too!  The menu is entirely vegetarian (with one tuna dish) and most things can be made vegan if they aren’t already.

The newest member to the vegan breakfast menu are their Gluten Free Pancakes ($9.95).  They come with a healthy side of fruit.  These pancakes are really good.  Most people think gluten free foods are gross (and I agree a lot are), but not these pancakes.  They didn’t even taste gluten free.  I hope they don’t take these off the menu.

Mother's Market Pancakes

GF Pancakes

My vegan guy got the Ma’s Breakfast Melt ($8.95): two slices of toasted sourdough stuffed with tofu, avocado slices, vegan cheese, tomatoes and choice of “fakin’ bacon” or ”Gimme Lean” veggie sausage. It’s served with your choice of  herb roasted potatoes or organic brown rice.  I think my vegan guy thought it was too tofu-y, but I love that type of stuff.  I had a bite and thought it was delicious.

Mother's Market Ma's Breakfast Melt

Ma’s Breakfast Melt

Mother’s also serves lunch and dinner – and they have an incredible selection of juice, smoothies, and shakes.  I’ll have to post some of my favorites from those menus sometime!

¡Hola! from Native Foods

It seemed both my vegan guy and I were craving a bit of mexican inspired cuisine, because we both picked something with that south of the border taste at Native Foods.  My vegan guy went with the Nachos ($7.95): corn tortilla chips covered in black beans, Native Taco Meat, Native Chipotle Crema, Native Cheese, salsa fresca, and guacamole.  I’ll say it over and over, but I love cashew cheese (which is what the Native cheese is).  It’s just so creamy!  And it goes well on these nachos.  In fact, everything in the nachos tastes exceptionally well.

Native Foods Nachos

Nachos

Unlike the nachos, my Roasted Chile Taco Trio ($7.95) was not so great.  It sounded good with refried beans, roasted jalapenos and layered with brown rice, mango salsa, guacamole and cilantro.  But, sadly, the difficulty in eating them was just not worth the taste.  I prefer soft tacos or burritos over hard shelled tacos, but I definitely prefer hard shelled tacos over this mini taco salad shell crap.  Who eats a taco like this?  I expect to bite into a taco – not break off a piece of shell and scoop up the filling.  No bueno on the presentation, Native Foods.

Native Foods Tacos

Tacos

Who knows when this item will be taken off the menu, since they change it so frequently.  Get it while you can (if you so desire).

Long Beach Vegan Eatery

Long Beach Vegan Eatery is in (you guessed it!) Long Beach.  For such a large metropolitan area, I am surprised at the lack of vegan places to eat in this town.  LBVE opened shop a little less than a year ago to help fill this void and received mixed reviews.  Vegans can be a very supporting group of people, or they can be quite vicious.  I was sad to see lots of the latter being directed at LBVE.  I guess I’m just nice about presenting something I don’t like.  I don’t want to be mean about it – unless it’s totally deserved – like they lie about putting animal ingredients in something.  Then I’ll be perfectly content with letting the vicious vegans out to play.

I’m not really in Long Beach very often, but one day my vegan guy and I were driving from Orange County to LA and decided to stop in.  We got the Quesadilla ($6.95) with Daiya vegan cheese and black beans.  You can also get this with beefless crumbles, but I love beans, so my vegan guy had to just deal.  I loved this (mainly because I am such a bean aficionado).  My vegan guy would have liked it better with the beefless crumble (as he is not such a huge fan of this legume).

LBVE Quesadilla

Quesadilla

The quesadilla came with Chips and Salsa that we could have done without.  The quesadilla is so huge, I don’t know why it would need such a big side.

LBVE Chips and Salsa

Chips and Salsa

Keeping with the Mexican theme, we also got the Tacos ($6.50).  It comes with refried beans, lettuce, cheese, and your choice of beefless crumbles or seasoned chicken strips.  My vegan guy petitioned for the beefless crumbles, and that’s what we got (although I still want to try them with the chicken).  I liked these tacos – and trust me, there are more fillings underneath all that lettuce!

LBVE Tacos

Tacos

My vegan guy wanted the Hot Dogs ($8.95).  It comes with a potato of your choice (I wanted the Sweet Potato Tater Tots) and Chili.  I love vegan hot dogs, but I think this was too simple to pay $8.95 for.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the chili, either.  The tater tots were good.  I’d never had tater tots before (I was a PB&J kid and not a product of school lunches), so I don’t know how they compare to other people’s tots.

LBVE Hot Dog with Chili

Hot Dog with Chili and Tater Tots

And finally, we got the Kid’s Mac and Cheese ($4.95).  We thought we were getting some tiny portion, but this thing is like a meal for an adult.  I don’t know what fat kids are coming in here and eating this whole thing!!  And I say this knowing full well that I could have finished this as a kid!  Whether you finish this or not, I liked it.  I still think I’ve had better vegan mac and cheeses, but this was a great attempt.  I’d get it again (especially for that yummy garlic bread!).

LBVE Mac and Cheese

Kid’s Mac and Cheese

I hope you give Long Beach Vegan Eatery a chance.  Just don’t go in expecting healthy foods galore!  This is more of a vegan fast food/comfort foods type place.

2246 N. Lakewood Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90815
562-986-LBVE

Monday: 11 am – 2 pm
Tuesday–Sunday: 11 am – 8 pm

It is Tasty at Covina Tasty

I forget how I happened upon Covina Tasty, but I’m very glad I did.  This location used to be a Tastee Freeze franchise, but when the owner started swapping the meat-filled menu with veg alternatives, the headquarters said they must change their name. Thus, Tasty Covina was born and have been serving up vegetarian versions of the traditional Tastee Freeze menu since.

While it still kind of looks like a Tastee Freeze, it is no longer a part of that company.  There is no inside seating.  You just order at the window (left window is for ice creams and right window is for food) and eat at one of the picnic benches.

Tasty Covina

Tasty Covina

What can you get here?  The cheese is not vegan and the hot dogs buns aren’t either.  The owner said that he tries to get vegan hot dogs buns, but sometimes he just can’t get them from his supplier – although the hot dogs are vegan.  I was concerned that he didn’t know the true meaning of “vegan” as some places serve “vegan” fake meats that contain animal by-products.  But, this guy knew his stuff.  He was saying things about how it was hard trying to find vegan patties that didn’t have whey, etc.  This reassured me that he was actually checking the ingredients.

My first sandwich was a Chicken Sandwich with Avocado ($3.79 plus $0.99 for avocado).  I thought this was delicious.  Everything you could want from a fast food chicken sandwich.  The lack of extra vegan sauces was not missed.  The chicken was nice and crispy and the avocado added that creaminess that a fancy vegan special sauce or mayo would give.

Tasty Covina Chicken Sandwich with Avocado

Chicken Sandwich with Avocado

My second item was a Hamburger with Chili ($3.79 plus $0.79 for chili).  This had a very meaty patty and their homemade chili.  I also thought this burger was great – I don’t know which sandwich I liked better.

Tasty Covina Chili Burger

Chili Burger

And I wanted dessert from this awesome place.  Unfortunately their soft serve is not vegan, but they do carry Vegan Heaven‘s Tiramisu and ice creams.  They also hand dip their own frozen bananas.  I even asked to make sure the chocolate sauce was vegan, and he showed me the package.  Although not the healthiest, it was vegan.  My Frozen Banana ($2.09) was huge!  The owner even commented that most places don’t serve frozen bananas that big.  It was delicious, as well.  It was a great feeling to sit in front of this 70’s type place on a beautiful day eating my frozen banana.  There were even a few older gentlemen who were admiring the owner’s vintage VW Bug. The owner came out, revved it up, and turned on the radio to a very fitting song for the moment: The Guess Who’s “American Woman.”  I think I was born in the wrong era.

Tasty Covina Frozen Banana

Frozen Banana

I love this place.  The food is great and the feeling of being there just reminds me of youth and the innocence of it.  You must go here if you are ever in the Covina area.

1063 N. Citrus Ave.
Covina, CA 91722
626-332-8816

Daily 11 am to 11 pm

Quick Bite at Sushi Laguna

Most of us know that vegans can eat the basic vegetable roll at sushi restaurants.  Something I didn’t know for a long time was that some miso soups contained a fish broth (yuck!)  Now I diligently ask if the miso soup is vegetarian at all sushi places.  One place I know is ok for vegans is Sushi Laguna in Laguna Beach.  This is my favorite omnivorous sushi restaurant and I’ll tell you why (did you honestly think I wouldn’t?).

They have the vegetarian Miso Soup that I love.

Sushi Laguna Miso Soup

Miso Soup

And they always have the creamiest Avocado Rolls ever!  They are seriously some of the best avocado rolls I’ve had. Really, it’s a boring post, but it’s true.  And the rolls aren’t too expensive either.  They used to be $4.50, but I think they might be $4.75 now.  I’ve been to places that charge $8 for some crappy roll, so I think Sushi Laguna is a deal.

Sushi Laguna Avocado Rolls

Avocado Rolls

231 Ocean Ave
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

(949) 376-8786

Monday  – Thursday: 11:30 am-2 pm & 5:30 pm-10 pm
Friday: 11:30 am-2:30 pm & 5:00 pm-11 pm
Saturday: 12 pm-11 pm
Sunday: 12 pm-9 pm

I am Addicted to Chili Addiction

It has recently been announced that Chili Addiction will now be called The Addiction Bistro.  Whatever the name, I love this place.  It is an omnivorous restaurant with a large vegan menu (seen here).

I had never tried their Truffle Fries ($5), but decided to get them.  I love their fries, but I wasn’t getting a lot of truffle flavor in these.  I think the bottom fries ended up with most of that flavor.

Chili Addiction Truffle Fries

Truffle Fries

I always get a Chili Cheese Dog ($5.95) when I come to Chili Addiction – er… The Addiction Bistro.  They always have two vegan chilis to choose from, with two different spiciness levels.  I got a soyrizo-based chili on my dog, which was good, but I think I like the bean based chilis better.  I also wish they were able to melt the vegan cheese a bit more, but they end up topping the chili with cheese right before serving.

Chili Addiction Chili Cheese Dog

Chili Cheese Dog

My other favorite is the Chili Cheese Fries ($6).  This time I got it with a bean based chili.  I love this chili!  This one had a bunch of garbanzo beans – yum!  I can never find any recipes for chili like this.  Most chilis I see are the kind full of tomatoes.  I just want a nice beany chili – is that so hard to ask?  If anyone knows of any good recipes with limited or no tomatoes that are full of beans, please let me know.

Chili Addiction Chili Cheese Fries

Chili Cheese Fries

On another visit to The Addiction Bistro, my vegan guy and I tried their Chili Cheese Nachos ($8).  They make their own tortilla chips, but I actually wasn’t such a fan of them.  It was nice to try, but I think I’ll stick with the chili cheese fries.

Chili Addiction Chili Cheese Nachos

Chili Cheese Nachos

408 North La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA
323-203-1793

Tuesday – Sunday: 12pm – 9pm
Closed Mondays

Being Vegan in Rancho Cucamonga

I think I’ve said in every post from the Inland Empire that it is more difficult to be vegan here.  I sort of take that back, because of places like Bright Star in Rancho Cucamonga.  This all-vegan thai place is very similar to the vegan thai places all around LA (I never knew burgers and pancakes were such a Thai staple).  But, in addition to the burgers and pancakes, they do have more traditional Thai dishes.

I got a lot of food (and shared most with my family).  My first appetizer was the Shrimp Batter: deep fried soy shrimp and vegetable tempura with sweet plum sauce.  I normally don’t get tempura at Japanese restaurants, but this had a thicker batter and was quite good.  Sweet sauces are my thing (I’m not a salty soy sauce girl) and this one was delicious.

Bright Star Fried Shrimp and Veggies

Shrimp Batter

Another fried appetizer was next – the Fried Chicken.  This one also came with that delicious sweet plum sauce.  I liked this dish – simple, greasy comfort food.

Bright Star Fried Chicken Appetizer

Fried Chicken Appetizer

My favorite appetizer was the Chicken Satay.  This dish comes with a sauce that is the best sauce of all time: the peanut sauce.  Really – what can’t creamy peanuts go with??  If you aren’t into fake meats, they have this dish with tofu instead of chicken.

Bright Star Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay

Although tempted for more peanut sauce, I didn’t get the Pad Thai and instead went with Pad See Ew.  Really, there’s nothing “ew” about it! (sorry, bad pun).  Thick rice noodles are coated in a lovely, light brown sauce and tossed with two of my favorite veggies.  It’s great the next day, too!!

Bright Star Pad Sew Ew

Pad See Ew

My least favorite thing I ordered here was the Teriyaki Chicken.  I was expecting chunks of chicken marinated and coated in teriyaki sauce.  This was just some grilled chicken with a teriyaki dipping sauce.  Not as flavorful as I had hoped.

Bright Star Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki Chicken

But the Orange Tofu was a lovely dish.  They have it with chicken, but I had already ordered so much chicken.  The tofu was lightly fried, making it not so heavy.  And of course I’m going to like that sweet, orange sauce.

Bright Star Orange Tofu

Orange Tofu

And if all the sweet sauces didn’t satisfy that sugar craving, I wanted a small dessert.  They have a few more traditional desserts, but that Pancake just sounded too appetizing for me to pass up.  This pancake was nice, a little dense, and maybe not the best vegan pancake ever – but it will sure make those pancake cravings go away.

Bright Star Pancake

Pancake

And to make Rancho Cucamonga even more vegan friendly, I stopped by Viva la Vegan – a moderately sized all-vegan grocery store.  This place has lots of vegan products to offer.  You can get all kinds of things here: from organic produce to frozen foods to fresh foods prepared by local vegan vendors.  It’s kind of out of the way from me, but I sure would like to come here more often.

Viva La Vegan Grocery

Viva La Vegan Grocery

I didn’t get much (any perishable foods would have spoiled by the time I got home hours later), but I did get some stuff I can’t easily find in my local health foods store.  (Seriously – Chocolate Inspirations products are delicious!)

Viva La Vegan Goodies

Viva La Vegan Goodies

Bright Star
9819 Foothill Blvd Unit F
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
909-980-9797

Monday – Sunday: 11 am-10 pm

Viva la Vegan
9456 Roberds St
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91701
909-941-4495

Monday – Sunday: 10 am-8 pm