California Dreaming: The Speedy Vegan Cruises the California Coastline

Vegan restaurant options are endless in the Golden State and I took advantage of quite a few on a recent two week trip out there. It's hard to know where to begin so I will tell you about some of my favorites.  

 Feeling JOifull...

Feeling JOifull...

My husband and I just loved JOi Cafe   an organic, plant-based, gluten-free cafe in Westlake Village, everything on the menu appealed to us so we ended up eating there three times!  It was not just the food that got our attention it was also the breezy friendly atmosphere and warm inviting staff.  On one of our visits I was lucky to meet one of the owners, the lovely and energetic Joi Stearns. Joi's personal story is so inspirational and her passion for her business is evident.  We loved all four salads on the menu Thai Me Up, The Bob Marley, Hula Kale and Caesar Salad but the Hula Kale was our favorite. The  Shiva Bowl was outstanding and the Curried Cauliflower soup was bursting with flavor. We had breakfast  at Joi one morning and were blown away by the Superfood Pancakes, the Savory Breakfast Bowl and Joi's House-Made Granola.  Thanks Joi I will be trying to recreate many of these dishes at home.

 

Veggie Grill in several locations was also a repeat or to be honest a threepeat.  The Quinoa Power Salad topped with a portobello mushroom was what beaconed us over and over. I know there are countless other options on the menu but truthfully I never made it past this dish on all three visits. I named it the Quinoa Power Portobello Salad and could not get over how juicy and tasty they were able to get the mushroom. A very satisfying salad indeed.

 Quinoa Power Portobello Salad at Veggie Grill

Quinoa Power Portobello Salad at Veggie Grill

We had a lovely dinner at Little Pine, a 100% organic vegan bistro in Sliver Lake, L.A. that was recently opened by Moby. 100% of profits from the restaurant are donated to animal welfare organizations. We started with Panzanella and Brussels Sprouts but the star of our meal was the Mushroom Bourguignon.  The depth of flavor was so delicious that we were very tempted to lick the plate. I am sure Julia Childs would have approved of this dish.  We finished off the meal with S'mores Ganache which was a great little treat to share, beautifully presented oh so decadent.

 Little Pine love....

Little Pine love....

Mesa Verde in Santa Barbara  has a unique presentation of a very creative selection of Mediterranean plates.  We had a fun dinner on the patio and were impressed with the flavors the colors and the freshness.

 Trilogy Sanctuary in La Jolla

Trilogy Sanctuary in La Jolla

The second week of my trip  I was joined by my daughter, we drove up the coast to San Francisco starting in San Diego. I decided to make this week a 95% raw week so we had a great start to our day at the cafe at Trilogy Sanctuary, a rooftop yoga studio in La Jolla.  We shared a beautiful Superfood Acai Bowl and the Green Goddess Raw Chopped Salad with the most delicious smokey tomato dressing. We sat outside after our meal and sipped tea while watching an aerial yoga class.

 

After a day of exploring had a very late lunch at a raw vegan restaurant called Peace Pies and we loved their menu.  We started with Chips n' Guac and then shared the Karmic Kale Salad and the Magical Mango Curry Wrap.  This is raw food at its best. We enjoyed the meal so much that we made a point of having lunch the next day at their other location in Encinitas on our drive up the coast. We were happy we did and really enjoyed the Peaceful Pizza and Mystical Mushroom Quesadilla. There was no room for dessert but it looked like they had a great selection.

 Peace Pies in San Diego and Encanitas

Peace Pies in San Diego and Encanitas

We ended up having delicious raw picnics along the roadside with stunning vistas as we made our way up the coast and popped into a few more juice bars and restaurants along the way. Lunch at Green Table in Santa Barbara was a treat. I chose the Raw Vegan Wrap without cheese and the Fresh Start juice blend which I highly recommend. Vitality Bowls in Palo Alto was a great find for big beautiful bowls of goodness on a warm day.  A favorite here was the The Green Bowl but we substituted the granola with mulberries to keep it raw.

As the weather warms it is easier to eat more raw foods and somehow makes me feel full of energy so I will continue to eat mostly raw for the next several months just adding in baked sweet potatoes, steamed greens and beans from time to time.  I'll let you know how it goes.....