Category Archives: Vegan Friendly Restaurant

♥ Veganism Is Deprivation

And if you believe that, I have only one thing to say to you: black forest cake. Oh, yes. Just look at this bad boy.

Vegan black forest cake.

 J and I stopped for lunch at the Dandelion Cafe in Reno, Nevada. We were expecting to find a veggie sandwich and a hummus plate, that sort of thing. We were delighted to find a menu full of options. And a cold case full of vegan desserts.

I don’t remember what we ordered for lunch. I don’t recall anything but this glorious slice of cake. Chocolate, cherry and whipped (non-dairy) cream slice o’ heaven on a plate.

This cake could convert Paula Deen herself.

♥ Imitation And Flattery

There are two vegan-friendly restaurants in South Lake Tahoe. Now, when I say “vegan-friendly”, I mean that the wait staff are knowledgeable about their menu items and about veganism in general. Specifically, they don’t subject us to nonsense like “but you still eat fish, right?” Both restaurants offers a variety of tempeh and tofu alternatives in most of their entrees.

During the summer months, we love the rooftop dining at Freshies with spectacular views of Lake Tahoe.  And Barbie’s wedding, Tahoe style, on the roof itself.

But, it’s hard to get a table at Freshies with less than an hour wait during the summer months when tourist traffic is the heaviest. And they refuse to take a dinner order to go. I guess being a local repeat customer amounts to nothing in their eyes. Hmph.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Maybe so, but flattery was the furthest thing from my mind when I came up with this copycat of my favorite meal at Freshies. It felt more like necessity, actually. I needed my big salad fix; and I needed it in less than an hour.

First, the appetizer: My Tri Fries. Yams, sweet potatoes and Russet potatoes fried up crisp and served with Caribbean spices. These babies are simply addictive. And, luckily, they were easy to replicate. Better still, my version is oven-fried, not deep-fried. The method is simple: toss 3 pounds of the cut potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon of seasoning (I used Walkerswood Dried Jamaican Jerk Seasoning). Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 450F for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping halfway through the baking time.

My take on The Crunch, “the local’s favorite”: layered baby greens, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot, broccoli, tomato, avocado and sunflower seeds. Freshies serves The Crunch with a creamy basil dressing, but it’s made with buttermilk so I always ordered a substitute vegan dressing. I liked the sound of a creamy basil dressing, so I played around and came up with my version, and it has fast become our favorite salad dressing.

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Creamy Basil Dressing

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup Vegenaise

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil

Directions:

Blend all ingredients with a handheld blender until smooth. I like to thin it with a bit of  water before serving.

♥ So Long, Seattle

J and I spent our last week as Washington residents playing tourist and snapping photos of our favorite local vistas. Washington may call itself the “Evergreen State”; but the “evergreen” slogan doesn’t only pertain to Washington’s endless variety of coniferous trees. The unofficial state plant has to be moss – it grows on everything!

I heart Anacortes: I can see Canada from my house! Okay, not really.

As far as evergreens go, however, my personal favorite is the Madrona. This lovely tree resides in Washington Park, not far from our house. I miss it already!

Just another Fidalgo Island sunset. Ho hum.

La Conner is located practically in our backyard. The Skagit Tulip Festival every spring: nuff said!

J and I first met in Coupeville, said to be the oldest town in Washington (and the location of the movie Practical Magic, too). Life as J once knew it was forever changed that day. Oh yeah, he also went vegan!

Even when you drive across Deception Pass as often as we did, you cannot take it for granted: it requires a few extra moments to simply gaze and wonder. It was a frequent fly over for J, too.

Farewell, Whidbey Island.

We made one last trip to “the” tourist destination on the west side of the state: Pike Place Market! The construction project at the market got in the way of our photo-taking, so we borrowed a picture from the Market’s home page instead:

The very first Starbucks is across the street from the market and people were literally lined up out the door. After living in Washington for 14 years, J finally succumbed and ordered his first Starbucks. Ever.

Lastly, we stopped at Pizza Pi in Seattle’s University District for a couple of awesome vegan pies (and plenty of leftovers for road food, too).

Maximum Margherita

Ex-Meat Lovers

Two (plus) days in the car makes for a couple of very cranky girls!

At last, our first glimpse of Lake Tahoe:

We’re here, we’re here!!

And waiting for us at the end of our 900 mile journey is an all too familiar sight for us lately:

So, we are once again living in a “tunnel” house; the movers left us just enough  room between the furniture and the boxes for a pathway from the front door to the back door. I’m afraid to even look in the garage underneath the house!

Moving is hell on everyone.

♥ Finding Vegan l The Tahoe Road Trip

Most of the drive from northwestern Washington to northern California was largely uneventful. Rainy, but uneventful. We stopped at our favorite Co-Op in Bellingham and we also hit a Costco along the way to stock up on the basic food necessities for the long drive and the motel room living that lay ahead of us. We drove through a mini blizzard (although it probably wasn’t considered “mini” to the two-wheel drive cars with all-season tires on them) from the Placerville area to South Lake Tahoe. I pitied the poor folks, dressed in their light clothing (shorts – really? Seriously?), underneath their cars in the piles of snow installing those crappy cable chains (I heart my 4WD Xterra!). The Weather Channel called it the “Western Wallop” and we drove straight into it. It was an adventure.

After a good night’s sleep at our motel in South Lake Tahoe, we spent the next two days exploring the hamlets and villages around the north shore of the lake.  We looked at a few available homes in Incline Village, Kings Beach, Tahoe City and Truckee. We saw a lot of local shops along the way that we made a mental note to come back and visit when we had more time (and more room in the vehicle, too). We quickly decided that, although lovely areas all of them, South Lake Tahoe was the place with the best “home vibe” for us. The rest of our time house-hunting and playing tourist was spent in and around South Lake Tahoe.

Some evenings, we fended for ourselves with hummus vegetable plates and wonderfully stinky garlic bread, courtesy of Costco.

Or, we created some fabulous vegan club-like sandwiches with a yummy multi-grain bread from Lake Tahoe Sierra Grains, Yves vegan deli meats, vegan Pepper Jack cheese, Vegenaise, Grey Poupon Harvest Coarse Ground, lettuce, tomato and avocado.

In the mornings we ate plain bagels with peanut butter, bananas, homemade yogurt, and/or J’s favorite homemade granola; both of which I had prepared in advance for our road trip. We used the plastic cups provided by the motel to make our own travel yogurt parfait cups.

Our greyt boy was especially fond of the local off-leash dog park, where he could get his daily run on, and the nearby Dog.Dog.Cat. with the bakery doggie treats.

For human eats and treats, we consulted HappyCow.net for the Lake Tahoe area and we found some restaurant and natural foods store listings with vegan/vegetarian options.  We took our appetites and our cameras (with the flash off – we don’t want to be rude) along with us to check them out.

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Stony Ridge Uncommon Kitchen inside New Moon Natural Foods – Tahoe City

New Moon is a small, but wonderful, natural foods store in Tahoe City with a very vegan friendly deli located within it. We stopped by while we were out exploring the north lake area and we ordered a big lunch (leftovers to take back to the motel with us) and we did a bit of shopping, too.

I ordered the Thai Salad with Peanut Dressing and it didn’t last long. In fact, I remembered to take the photo halfway through the salad.

J ordered the Thai Peanut Noodle Salad, but I don’t have a picture of it because J was apparently very hungry and he wolfed it down while I was digging out my camera. I managed to get one bite from him and there was no mystery why it disappeared so fast.

Sprouted Lentil Dahl – a bowl of protein-packed goodness. I thought this would be good in a wrap or with some brown rice and some additional dressing, too.

Inari – a tofu skin (yuba) pocket with white rice inside it and served with a sweet teriyaki sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger. These didn’t last long, either.

We found our to-go dessert, too: a tub of vegan cookie dough. Vegan cookie dough doesn’t have eggs in it, so it is safe to eat it raw. A sweet luxury like this makes a traveling vegan very happy.

J was happy with the beer that he found at New Moon, too: Triple Exultation, Pliny The Elder and Baltic Thunder – all are hard to find in Washington, and he should know.

One observation that we made while checking out their prepared food selection in the deli: some foods labeled “vegan” contained honey in the list of ingredients. I suppose that is a matter of choice for some vegans (whether honey is vegan or not), but to us it is an animal/insect product so we do not eat it. I was never that fond of “bee puke” in my omnivore days, anyway, so avoiding it now hasn’t been a great hardship.

Sprouts Natural Foods Café – South Lake Tahoe

This place always seemed busy, which is a good indicator of the quality of their food. The staff was über friendly, knowledgeable and helpful; all we had to do is tell them we were vegan and what sounded good to us and we were good to go.

I had the Vegetable Crunch sandwich on a bagel (because their sandwich bread contains honey, he told me. Having it in a wrap is another vegan option). I ordered it without cheese and exchanged the honey mustard dressing for balsamic vinaigrette. I also ordered the Soup Du Jour—which is always vegan at Sprouts—and this particular day it was Hawaiian BBQ. Mmm mmm!

J ordered the Classic Burrito with tempeh, holding the cheese and sour cream. It was so loaded with veggies and salsa that it was impossible to pick up; so he ate it with a fork and knife. Of course, it was wonderful.

Both of our orders came with sesame tortilla chips – SO good. The meals were wonderful and definitely hit the spot. Bonus, we were able to order a beer with our lunch, too.

Freshies Restaurant & Bar – South Lake Tahoe

A bit of Hawai’i in frozen Lake Tahoe, how cool is that? It’s located in a tiny strip mall building but once you step through the door you feel like you are in a Hawaiian plate lunch café, minus the humidity and chickens milling about outside.

They begin serving dinner at 5:00 and we arrived at 4:30. I didn’t look at their dinner menu so I am not sure how the offerings differed from the soup, salad & taco “lunch-ish” menu that we ordered off of, but we were not disappointed.

For starters, we ordered the small (boat) My Tri Fries: freshly cut yams, sweet potatoes and organic russet potatoes fried in California Rice Bran Oil and seasoned with Caribbean spices. Oh…my…gawd.

I ordered the local’s favorite salad (to atone for the fried potatoes appetizer): The Crunch, minus the two cheeses. It’s loaded with crunchy veggie and seed goodness. The creamy basil salad dressing that makes the salad (the waiter says) would have been wonderful, were it vegan, but I swapped it out for balsamic vinaigrette. I added grilled Portobello mushrooms to the salad to make it a real hearty meal. It’s even better with grilled tofu.

J’s meal was mouth-watering to look at and even better tasting: the 2 taco platter with one blackened tofu and one blackened tempeh. He held the cheese and ordered extra salsa in lieu of the chipotle tartar. The tacos came with organic rice and black beans and an out-of-this-world slaw (I detected a hint of roasted sesame oil). I most definitely will be ordering that our next trip back to Tahoe; it was all I could do not to make him switch plates with me.

We typically don’t order dessert when we eat out (and usually there aren’t any vegan options when we eat vegan in an omnivore restaurant), but we couldn’t resist the mousse-like Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie on a homemade graham crust. Definitely another “oh…my…gawd” moment!

Oh, and J was stoked that Freshies has Pliny The Elder on tap.

The Free Bird – South Lake Tahoe

Free Bird is a cute little organic take-out joint no bigger than a Washington espresso stand! In the milder months you could take advantage of the outdoor seating area, though. We ordered their only vegan offerings that day: Curry Potato Samosas with Mango Chutney and French Lentil & Rice Soup to share (more “oh…my…gawd” goodness).

While we waited for the food, we enjoyed some seasonal infused water (lemon slices and sprigs of fresh rosemary – what a cool idea and very refreshing) and J ordered a Cacao Bliss Smoothie (raw cacao powder, coconut milk, almond butter, agave nectar and a pinch of Celtic sea salt). Bliss it was. The smoothie was so good that I probably drank most of what was J’s smoothie and I made sure to stop there again on our way out of town for another one (instead of ho-hum coffee).

Grass Roots Natural Foods – South Lake Tahoe

As I mentioned in the previous post, we found our Christmas dinner dessert, the vegan gravy mix and our dinner rolls (bonus: the leftover rolls made some good road food with peanut butter.) at this cool little natural foods store.

Grass Roots is a small, but well-stocked for its size, store. And the people working there were very helpful: I was thrilled to learn that they will special order for me when I live there. So, with a little advance planning and creative storage, I will be able to do my “specialty” vegan shopping locally rather than traveling to the nearest Whole Foods in Reno, Nevada.

J found some delectable homemade cookies there, too (yes, that is a dinner plate that the cookie is on). We enjoyed that bad boy with a hot chocolate (made with soy milk) and peppermint schnapps.