When it comes to a healthy lifestyle healthy eating, the Californians have pretty much nailed it. So it’s not surprising this massive state has several vegetarian restaurants worth writing home about. Here is our pick.
Where: Sacramento, California, USA
Why: Known as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, Sacramento grows more than 160 crops in and around the city and many chefs have taken advantage of the abundance of produce in the area. One of Sacramento’s most popular vegetarian restaurants, Mother, offers a special 10-course vegetarian tasting menu for two. The menu rotates monthly to include a variety of dishes from cabbage dumplings and coconut curry to freshly baked cookies and corn ice cream. There are also few menu items are inherently vegan where others can be made vegan with simple omissions.
What: Gracias Madre
Where: West Hollywood
Why: Located on Melrose Avenue in the heart of West Hollywood’s trendy Design District, Gracias Madre offers 100% organic, plant-based, Mexican cuisine using locally-sourced ingredients. The popular eatery serves colourful farm-fresh food throughout the day, complemented by chic exteriors on the patio with hand-woven chairs, wrought iron fixtures, embroidered fabrics and hanging plants.
Where: San Diego
Why: Located in the heart of University Heights, Plumeria in San Diego is dedicated to producing high-quality vegetarian food. All of the dishes are free of fish sauces and animal products, prepared fresh daily and use only the finest ingredients available. Unique dishes on the menu include flower cups with tofu, peas and carrots, pad thai beans and pumpkin curry.
What: Wildest Greens
Where: Greater Palm Springs
Why: Located on Palm Desert’s famous El Paseo Drive, Wildest Greens is a vegetarian restaurant that taps into the organic farm-to-table concept. Diners can choose from the eight different food and drink outlets, including The Garden – offering custom salads and flat breads – and a Grab ‘n’ Go section. The restaurant aims to make diners feel healthier and happier and its broad menus reflect this, from burritos and grain bowls packed with veggies to guilt-free burgers and freshly made juices. www.visitgreaterpalmsprings.com
Where: Sonoma County
Why: Few restaurants do vegetarian fare quite as stylishly as Lowell’s; a sleek, chic Italian café in Sebastopol that delights with contemporary dishes, created so lovingly that meat is barely missed. Recipes are full of flavour, from the ‘macrobowl’ of red rice, heirloom beans, braised greens, marinated root and fermented vegetables, to a beautiful ‘gemischter salat’ of hearty greens, shaved root vegetables, toasted pepitas and a roasted beet vinaigrette. The majority of the ingredients used are sourced from Sonoma County, including Sebastopol-based boutique ranchers. www.sonomacounty.com
What: Saturn Café
Where: Santa Cruz
Why: Opened in 1979, Saturn Café’s mission is to do everything based on the community and the planet, by creating delectable vegetarian dishes that create fewer greenhouse gasses. Wide selections of vegetarian weekend brunch options are now offered at the café, including breakfast nachos, omelettes and chilli dishes.
What: Secret Spot
Where: Huntington Beach
Why: Located right by Bolsa Chica State Beach just off the Pacific Coast Highway is the not-so-secret Huntington Beach eatery, Secret Spot – a vegetarian haven. Customers will find an assortment of fresh juices and smoothies, as well as veggie burritos, tacos and sandwiches. Many of the items on the menu can also easily be made vegan for those who follow a plant-based diet. Foodies should make sure they finish their trip to Secret Spot with a tasty vegan cookie. www.surfcityusa.com
Where: South Lake Tahoe
Why: Freshies is a local Lake Tahoe favourite and offers some of the tastiest, freshest food in the area. Dishes are skilfully prepared by Chef Erik and his team, which puts tons of love into every plate. The restaurant offers a menu that is innovative, wholesome and focused on organic cuisine, whilst there’s also an outstanding selection of craft beers and carefully selected fine wines.
What: Café Gratitude
Where: Newport Beach and Los Angeles
Why: A mecca for active and healthy seaside living, it’s no surprise that Newport Beach is a hotbed for alternative eating options and caters to its health-conscious residents. One of the regions favoured spots – Café Gratitude – has won acclaim for its exotic combinations. The all-vegan café is chockfull of plant-based goodness, from beer-battered coconut to macrobiotic bowls and mushroom-stuffed burritos. The Indian Curry Bowls are especially tasty and change daily. There are gluten-free options too.
What: Garden of Eat’n
Where: Mammoth Lakes
Why: Garden of Eat’n is an intimate farm-to-table restaurant that excludes GMOs and offers many vegetarian dishes. Chef and owner Lynne Blanche opened the restaurant after a friend mentioned he wanted fresh, delicious food for his hikes. After a long hike, relax with a picnic and healthy selection of foods from the eatery. Favourites include their delicious Greek salad or exotic Thai Yellow Curry. www.visitmammoth.com