This past weekend, Shawn and I went on a mini-road trip up to San Francisco with his sister, Amy. We packed some tofurky sandwiches and hit the road on Friday afternoon and arrived later that night. We were lucky enough to be hosted by Shawn and Amy’s childhood friend Cristen and her husband Tim. I’ve been to San Francisco before but haven’t had an opportunity to try out many of the the vegan eats around town. Before we left, we got some great recommendations from veg friends on where to try out. There were so many places to try, we were only able to hit up a few in the two days we were there.
The first place we checked out was Ike’s Place for some vegan sandwiches. We had been warned about the lines but it was a beautiful day out and it didn’t take too long to get our food. We ordered the vegan Meatless Mike, a sort of meatball sub and the vegan Eli Manning, a tofurky sandwich with garlic sauce, avocado, mushroom and soy cheese. I had been loading up on tofurky on the way up, so I was much more interested in the meatball sub, but the Eli Manning was really amazing. It’s easy to make a decent sandwich but it’s no small task to make a great sandwich. The flavors in the Eli Manning were perfectly balanced. It was not overloaded with toppings but had all the tastes you wanted in each bite. The bread was fresh and the whole thing was truly fantastic.
One of the places that we absolutely had to go to was MaggieMudd for vegan sundaes. While we frequent Scoops here in LA for amazing vegan ice cream, it’s not the same as a sundae. Shawn got a decked out Tarmack lover with three scoops of chocolate and peanut butter ice cream and topped off with whipped cream, peanut butter and chocolate sauce and peanuts. I don’t even know how he ate this whole thing, it was so huge. I went with a more traditional mini-waffle sundae. A waffle cone filled with chocolate mint cookie ice cream and topped with marshmallow sauce and whipped cream. It was super tasty and quite a treat. Everyone was craving more for the next day we were there. I’m glad it’s in SF since it’s not something I would want to have all the time, but it’s a great once in a while indulgence.
We also visited Weird Fish to test out the vegan fish and chips. The vegan fish is actually either batter fried tofu or seitan, which of course we tried both of. The seitan comes with a vegan tartar sauce while the tofu comes with a sweet and sour sauce. They both come on a bed of regular and sweet potato fries. The seitan was very flavorful and fresh and the tofu was super soft and moist. Both were great but the tofu was definitely the favorite. Again, while I really enjoyed trying out this place, it’s not something I would want to get on a regular basis as one can only eat so much fried food. We did discover though that they do have vegan pancakes and breakfast options so I’m sure we’ll be back to try those.
For me, one of the highlights was going to Rainbow Grocery. I was honestly mesmerized by the great amount of bulk foods and vegan options. There are some great grocery stores these days for vegans but Rainbow Grocery was really exciting. I wanted to buy everything! They seriously had everything you need. I restrained myself and only got some vegan raspberry flavored gelatin and chocolate drops. We tried some of the baked goods but I honestly couldn’t even eat them. My vanilla cupcake tasted like a corn muffin.
On our last night we went out to dinner at Greens. While the restaurant is all vegetarian, they are able to make a number of the dishes vegan, and a few are already vegan. We tried a few different entrees and appetizers and everything was generally good. I wasn’t particularly blown away and the prices were a bit much for the quality. I really enjoyed the appetizers we had, a carrot ginger soup and a greens and citrus salad. Shawn ordered the pea ravioli which was quite tasty and I had some vegetable skewers which were good, but nothing exciting. I think I had a case of simply ordering the wrong thing, as everyone else was extremely pleased with their meals. On the other hand, our waiter was so awful it was comical. He kept disappearing and forgetting about us. By the end of the night we were all laughing because we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. Luckily we all had a sense of humor about it instead of getting too annoyed.
On our way home we decided to stop in Fresno and managed to find Au Lac Cafe. This vegetarian restaurant ended up being a big surprise. It was exciting enough to find someplace that wasn’t fast food not too far off the freeway, but this place was super good. They had a relatively small menu, and it didn’t seem like anything we hadn’t had before. I ordered the peppered veggie fish, expecting something similar to what you might find at a Thai vegan restaurant in Los Angeles. On the contrary, the fish was not only super moist, but the pepper sauce had a unique, full flavor. Mixed with some soft rice and steamed veggies, not only was this dish delicious, it was filling and satisfying. These chunks of veggie fish were flaky and soft and I know I will be fantasizing about them the next time I order some veggie fish around here. There is no comparison between these and the veggie fish patties I’m used to.
Shawn ordered some garlic veggie chicken which was equally fantastic. Again, the veggie chicken strips were moist and with no un-savory chewiness that you sometimes get with fake meats. The garlic flavor was strong and delicious but not overpowering. Just writing about this I want to go back. Not everything on the menu was vegan but it clearly told you what was only vegetarian. They had some of the meats for sale in bulk but I was concerned about bringing the frozen food back when we still had quite a drive back home. Right now I’m really regretting that decision.
They also had a really awesome RV out back. I’m sort of in love with all the little animals painted on this thing, including that happy sheep you see up top. If you’re ever in Fresno, I definitely recommend checking this place out.