I recently took a trip to see some really good friends in Northern California. They moved to Oakland about 2 years ago and have recently relocated to Sonoma. During my visit we went to some really great places to eat. Not to mention, I had all the wine I could drink up in Sonoma. I was vegan before they moved and they are both gluten free, so we knew there maybe some difficulties finding places that we could all enjoy. Sonoma itself was not very vegan friendly. They did have an Indian restaurant, Delhi Belly Fine Indian Cuisine, that was vegan friendly and an ice cream shop, Sweet Scoops, that offered a few vegan choices but that was about it. The local Whole Foods got me through breakfast the first day but pretty much all my other meals came from 30mins to an hour away. I guess most wines don’t pair as well with a plant based diet?
The first place I ate when I got off the plane was a mac and cheese exclusive restaurant called Homeroom in Oakland. They offer all different combos of the classic as well as gluten free and vegan options. The vegan mac and cheese with grilled pineapples added was AMAZING. It was very creamy, rich, and had that comfort food feeling. The portions were large enough for two people to share, which when looking around, most people were doing. My friend had to order the gluten free and I ordered the vegan, so we both had a second meal for the next day. They had a pretty good selection of beers and wines as well. I had a great local wheat beer, that I can’t remember the name of now and my friend had a hard cider. They even offered a gluten free/vegan brownie that the two of us could split (which was good, but a little dry IMO). The whole meal was unbelievable but a little on the expensive side (just part of the “charm” of living anywhere in California).
The next day (and the day after that) I ate at a sandwich shop called Ike’s. Ike’s is more of a small chain (they have them in Arizona as well, which is where I am heading this week) with several locations all over California. They offer probably over 50 different combos of sandwiches, including an extensive vegan section. The first time I went I had the XXXtina, which was a buffalo wing sauce on mock breaded chicken with vegan cheese. They ask you if you want to add lettuce, tomato and a “dirty sauce” (which is like a garlic mayo I believe). I had the works and it was AMAZING! The second time we went (only because the Mac and Cheese place was too far) I had the Tom Brady, which is avocado, garlic herb sauce, grilled mushrooms, mock chicken and vegan cheese, along with the lettuce and tomato that I added. If you want a side they have chips and a variety of bottled jucies and drinks along with fountain drinks. The sandwiches are a really decent size, maybe about 10-12 inches and you have a choice of white, wheat, gluten free, and sourdough. And they stuff them really full! But they are not really a “sit down” kind of place. The first location that we went to had two big tables with shared seating and the second location only had two, very small, round tables. The three of us huddled around our table and as soon as we finished, another group jumped to claim it as their own. They do offer online ordering for pick up, and in my opinion that was the way to go if you don’t have far to return back home. Ike’s too, was a little on the expensive side for a sandwich shop. Not sure if that was because it was in CA or not. I really do hope to have a chance to try them again when I go to Arizona. They have a sandwich called The Pilgrim that I would love to try next!
When we ventured into San Fransisco to go to Fisherman’s Wharf, we found a small place called 3 Potato 4. This was a cute little place to get baked, wedge style, french fries and all vegan soups. They bake the wedges right there in front of you and you can try one of several sauces, like specialty ketchup, hot sauces, and ranch variations, that you can get on top your fries or on the side. I can’t remember if they were all vegan or not, but I believe they were all marked. I got the Spicy Jalapeño Ranch Chipotle on the side. They also have several different salts that you can sprinkle on your fries and are available to sample first. I put the Hawaiian Black Lava on mine! The three soups they had to offer were all vegan and gluten free. I can’t remember the exact name of the one I had, but I believe it was a kale and pea soup. The fries were very good, but the soup was amazing! My friends had the 3 bean chili, which to me didn’t look as appealing, but I guess that just might be the Texan in me! As I mentioned, they were a very small place. No seating was available inside, only standing room with a table with holes in it, where you could place your paper cone of fries. We opted to eat outside in the courtyard that was around the corner.
So if you are heading into the Bay Area anytime soon, I would highly recommend trying all of these places! Whether you are vegan or not, you will NOT be disappointed! All of these places would be amazing here in Austin and I have already contacted them all via Facebook to make that suggestion!