This week's dining adventure was a visit to Shabu Pub, a hot pot restaurant in the Land Park neighborhood. It opened in 2016 in the space previously occupied by Blockbuster Video, but this was the first time I'd tried it.
Shabu is a style of cooking that involves dipping a variety of ingredients in a boiling broth, similar to a fondue. If you go to dinner at Shabu Pub, you would order a large pot of broth, which would be placed on a burner in the middle of your table. The pot has two sections, so if you're dining with a friend, you can have two different broths. The vegan options are either the miso or the kimchi broth. The server also mentioned a third vegan broth that isn't on the menu, which consisted of water, salt, onions, seaweed, and I don't know what all.
Then you choose the assortment of ingredients you want to cook in the broth. For vegans, there is a vegetable assortment. The specific vegetables may vary, but the server can probably tell you what's available. There's also an add-on menu, where you can choose specific vegetables or tofu for an additional cost.
That's what happens if you go for dinner. I, however, was there for lunch, when Shabu Pub offers a mini pot, an individual pot of broth that comes to the table with its own little burner and with the vegetable assortment already in the pot. I ordered the miso broth, and the vegetable assortment included tofu, udon noodles, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, asparagus, tomatoes, mushrooms, lotus root, green beans, cabbage, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting. It was quite a flavorful and satisfying lunch!
Shabu Pub is located at 4400 Freeport Boulevard, and their phone number is 916-736-1268. They don't seem to have a website, but their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/shabupubsacramento/. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and for dinner Sunday through Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
I met my friend Deborah for lunch the other day at Meet & Eat in the Land Park neighborhood. I had eaten there before, and hadn't found it to be particularly vegan-friendly, but thought I'd give it another chance.
I asked about a few different dishes before deciding on the spicy veggie spaghetti, which is vegan if you order it without the Parmesan, and if you skip the garlic bread that would normally accompany it. The dish consisted of spaghetti tossed with a nice variety of vegetables and chili oil, then topped with avocado slices and raw pumpkin seeds. It was very good and I would order it again.
I went back for lunch a couple of days later with my husband Phil. This time, I ordered the Buddha Bar tacos, which are vegan if you get them without the feta cheese. They were also very good -- corn tortillas filled with roasted sweet potato, arugula, guacamole, pico de gallo, radishes, pumpkin seeds, and micro herbs.
I've found that Meet & Eat and its sister restaurant in Curtis Park, Café Dantorels, are very vegetarian-friendly, but it's not always easy to veganize their vegetarian dishes. One thing that sounded interesting on the Meet & Eat menu, for example, was a tofu burger. The menu didn't list any ingredients that sounded particularly problematic, but I thought I'd ask the server if it was vegan, just to be on the safe side. She checked with the kitchen and came back to tell me the onions, the barbecue sauce, and the bun weren't vegan. Similarly, I noticed one day recently that Café Dantorels was offering the Impossible Burger, but the mayo, cheese, and bun weren't vegan. I could live without the mayo and the cheese, but I sent a message asking why on earth they didn't have a vegan bun to go with their vegan burger. They responded that they didn't have the storage capacity to carry vegan bread, but I could always order the burger wrapped in a lettuce leaf. Umm, no.
The bottom line is that it's entirely possible to get a lovely vegan meal at both Meet & Eat and Café Dantorels, but you have to be very careful. Don't assume that a dish is vegan based on the menu description, and be prepared to ask questions.
A few days ago, I got a message from a fellow vegan asking if I'd ever checked out La Cosecha, the restaurant at downtown's Cesar Chavez Plaza. I had not, so I made a point of heading over there for lunch on Friday. Thanks for the suggestion, Kathryn!
Aside from the chips and salsa or guacamole (which is vegan if you have them leave off the cotija), there was only one vegan option on the lunch menu, but it was a good one -- tacos de papa. This plate comes with three tacos, corn tortillas filled with Yukon potatoes, poblano sofrito, pickled onion, and radish. There is a non-vegan version of these tacos, so make sure to let the staff know that you want your tacos made vegan. They were really good, and even better when I added in a little of the salsa and guacamole that I ordered with my chips!
La Cosecha has a couple of other vegan items listed on their brunch and dinner menus. For brunch, they offer tostada de Cosecha, two tostadas topped with beans, avocado, habanero salsa, jicama slaw, pickled onions, and tomatoes. In addition to the tacos de papa, the dinner menu also offers enchiladas de calabacita, three enchiladas filled with sautéed squash, zucchini, and corn.
I don't read comics, and coffee has never been my beverage of choice. So why on earth did I make not one but two trips to Oblivion Comics & Coffee this past week? Well, I went for the toast!
As I was scrolling through my Instagram feed last Sunday, I saw that someone (thanks, April!) had posted pictures of some yummy-looking vegan items from Oblivion. So I drove downtown Monday to see what they had. In addition to all the coffee drinks you would expect from a place with "coffee" in its name, they had a menu full of specialty toast items, almost all of which are or can be made vegan. They use bread from my favorite local bread baker, Grateful Bread, and instead of butter, they use Smart Balance Original buttery spread.
Then they add other spreads and toppings. I couldn't resist the Winter Is Coming toast, consisting of French bread, buttery spread, cream cheese (yes, they have a vegan cream cheese option), crushed Oreo cookies, and chocolate syrup. Toast has never tasted so good! Other sweet toast options include cinnamon sugar, sprinkles, peanut butter with strawberry and blackberry preserves, and cream cheese with preserves. The only toast that can't be made vegan is the one that has Nutella on it. And if toast isn't your thing, they also carry a selection of Sugar Plum Vegan baked goods.
I went back Friday, hoping to try the avocado toast, but they were out of avocado. My next choice was called (I believe) the Rip & Dip -- toasted sourdough with buttery spread, garlic salt, and a choice of hummus or marinara sauce for dipping. They were also out of hummus, so I ordered it with the marinara sauce. Very tasty!
Even though I'm not a coffee drinker, I thought I should get a coffee so I could include the picture in this post. I ordered a latte with almond milk (they also have soy milk, both for an extra charge). I thought the Wonder Woman logo on top was a nice touch.
And I even bought a comic book!
Oblivion Comics & Coffee is located at 1020 11th Street, Suite 100, and their phone number is 916-329-8839. Their website address is http://oblivioncomics.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/oblivioncomics/. The café part of the store is open Sunday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Camellia Coffee Roasters opened recently in the space at the WAL Public Market on R Street formerly occupied by Metro Kitchen + Drinkery. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but I had heard they might have vegan options, so I drove over on the weekend to check it out.
There were three vegan muffins in the glass case at the counter, as well as a few non-vegan pastries. I wasn't really in the mood for a muffin, so I asked if they had any other vegan menu items. I was told they could make me a coconut yogurt parfait, which sounded perfect. In addition to the coconut yogurt, it had granola, agave, and mixed berries. It was an excellent mid-morning treat.
I also ordered a latte with coconut milk. Their other non-dairy milk option is almond milk. There is an extra cost for the non-dairy milks.
My husband Phil and I celebrated our anniversary this past week by having dinner at one of the hottest new restaurants in town, Canon. This East Sacramento eatery has been popular since the day it opened, so I made sure to get a reservation a couple of weeks ahead of time.
The dinner menu, which changes seasonally, currently has four vegan small plates. I chose three of them to try. The first was the pickled vegetable plate, consisting of house-pickled cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, and onions. They were served on a bed of crushed ice, which I thought was a nice touch. This dish looked much prettier when it arrived at the table, but I started to serve myself before I took the picture, and then had to try to put everything back where it was.
Next, I had the citrus salad, which was my favorite dish of the three. It had orange and grapefruit slices, thin strips of sweet potato, and generous portions of avocado, which were coated in red quinoa and then fried. The salad was dressed with a green curry emulsion.
My last dish was the roasted carrots, which were served in a West African peanut sauce with crispy kale, onions, cilantro, and peanuts. I liked the creamy peanut sauce, which really enhanced the flavor of the carrots.
The one vegan dish I didn't try was the charred broccoli di ciccio, with kimchi vinaigrette. Next time...
Canon is located at 1719 34th Street, and their phone number is 916-469-2433. Their website address is https://canoneastsac.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/canoneastsac/. Canon is open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday from 4:00 p.m. to midnight, and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to midnight. They are also open for brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., but their brunch menu doesn't list any vegan options.
I just returned from a short vacation in Panama, which is why it's been awhile since my last post. One of the first things I wanted to do when I got back to town was to try Mas Taco Bar on R Street, which opened a couple of weeks ago. So I headed over there for lunch today.
Mas Taco Bar offers both tacos and bowls, and there are two types of each that are vegan. I decided to try a little bit of both. I ordered the butternut squash taco, topped with braised Swiss chard and pepito salsa verde, and the roasted cauliflower bowl, consisting of roasted cauliflower, romesco sauce, cilantro, and bell pepper over brown rice. Both were very good, especially with a little Cholula jalapeño and poblano hot sauce sprinkled over the top, but I liked the taco best.
Mas Taco Bar also has some interesting mocktails on their drink menu. I was torn between the Berry Tasty (fresh strawberry, raspberry, pineapple, and ginger ale) and the Virgin Mas'garita (fresh lime, agave, and soda). I opted for the Virgin Mas'garita and loved it. I thought it had exactly the right amount of lip-puckering sourness.
Mas Taco Bar is located at 1800 15th Street, in the space formerly occupied by Dos Coyotes, and their phone number is 916-706-1330. The restaurant's website address is https://mastacobar.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/mastacobar/. Mas Taco Bar is open Monday through Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to midnight, Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Normally, my weekly blog article gets posted on Sunday night, but I'm so excited about this one I can't wait! The very first restaurant I wrote about for my Sacramento Vegan blog was Célestin’s
Island Eats and Cajun Cuisine. Célestin’s had always been a favorite of mine, and I appreciated them all the more after I went vegan in 2002 because they offered clearly-marked vegan options on their menu. Sadly, less than a month after I wrote that blog post, Célestin’s closed, and I've been missing the restaurant, and their amazing vegetarian gumbo, ever since.
Now, six-and-a-half years later, Phoebe and Patrick Célestin have come out of retirement to open a new iteration of their fabulous restaurant in the McKinley Park neighborhood. They opened their doors today, and I didn't waste any time getting over there.
Once again, their vegan items are clearly marked on the menu, although all I really cared about was getting myself a bowl of the vegetarian gumbo. It did not disappoint! Chunks of butternut squash, cremini mushrooms, bell peppers, and zucchini shared the bowl with rice and a broth that had a nice little kick to it. I was sure I'd end up taking some of it home, but I didn't stop eating until I'd finished every bite.
Almost as exciting to me as the gumbo was the return of Célestin’s fresh limeade. I travel to Colombia often, and I try to drink my fill of limonada natural while I'm there because I know there is no fresh limeade to be had at Sacramento restaurants. Now I know I can have it whenever I like at Célestin’s.
The new restaurant is tiny, so tables have been placed very close together, and ordering is done at the counter rather than at the table. Some of the Haitian art that hung in Célestin’s previous location adorns the walls in the new space, and Phoebe and Patrick Célestin are there to make sure the new Celestin's lives up to everyone's fond memories of the old Celestin's. The place was packed today, a testament to how much people in Sacramento have missed this restaurant.
Last month, someone asked on my Sacramento Vegan Facebook page where the best vegan pizza in Sacramento could be found. As you can imagine, people had lots of opinions on the subject! Buffalo Pizza, Pizza Bell, the Federalist, and some of the chain pizza parlors all made the list. There was one chain restaurant that two people mentioned, and I was surprised I hadn't heard of it before. Mod Pizza moved into Howe Bout Arden recently, so I drove over for lunch a few days ago to give it a try.
Mod Pizza follows the Pieology and Blaze Pizza assembly line model, where you have all the ingredients displayed in front of you and you tell the person waiting on you what you want on your pizza. Their dough is vegan, and they have three vegan sauces -- red, BBQ, and garlic rub. Next you choose your toppings; mine were mushrooms, black olives, Greek olive mix, and artichokes. Finally, you can have them add the vegan cheese, which they keep in a separate container, away from all the other cheeses. It only takes a few minutes to bake it, so I was chowing down on my delicious pizza in no time.
Even better than the pizza, though, were the cinnamon strips I had for dessert! Basically, they top a small pizza crust with a cinnamon sugar mixture and bake it. They have three dipping sauce choices, but only the strawberry sauce is vegan. That was fine with me -- it was great!
I don't usually mention the drinks I have, since they're not that interesting, but I have to recommend the house-made Marion blackberry lemonade they were serving over by the fountain drinks. Honestly, I'd go back just for the cinnamon strips and the blackberry lemonade. Thanks to the local vegans who recommended this restaurant!
Mod Pizza is located at the corner of Howe and Arden at 2100 Arden Way, and their phone number is 916-515-9834. Their website address is https://modpizza.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MODPizza/?ref=br_rs. The restaurant is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. In addition to the Sacramento restaurant, other local Mod Pizza locations are in Rocklin and West Sacramento, with the website indicating that a Rancho Cordova restaurant is coming soon.
A few days ago, I braved pouring rain and blustery winds to check out the newest ice cream shop offering vegan options in Sacramento. It's not ice cream weather yet, but when a fellow vegan sent me information about Icicles, I had to check it out.
Icicles is a Northern California chain that just opened a Sacramento location on Howe Avenue. They create frozen dessert rolls by pouring liquid onto an ice cold pan and forming it into a rectangle, which can then be cut into pieces and rolled up. They offer three vegan flavors that are fruit-based: raspberry, strawberry lemonade, and mango.
I asked for a combination of the three, which I thought would result in a dish containing three different types of rolls. Instead, they mixed the three flavors together before pouring it onto the frozen pan. Fortunately, the flavors tasted great mixed together. After the rolls were made and placed in the dish, I moved on to the topping station, where I asked for strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberry syrup. It was a delicious dessert, and I'm sure it will be even more popular when the hot weather returns.
One caveat: the man who made my dessert did a great job of scraping the residue of the previous ice cream roll off the pan, but the disclaimer you see in the ingredient list of many packaged foods probably applies here -- the fruit roll-ups are made on the same equipment as the ice cream, so there may be trace amounts of non-vegan ingredients in your dessert.