I just returned from our vacation to visit colleagues, family & friends in the San Diego area. I decided, before we left home, that I would continue to eat vegan as much as possible on the trip. We drove, total of 16 hours, & stopped for the night half way. It wasn’t difficult to eat this way once we got to San Diego, but a bit of a challenge before that. I do have a rule for myself; no eating/snacking in the car. The only exceptions to that rule are coffee, tea & water.
On our way to San Diego we stopped at the Olive Garden for lunch. Now don’t laugh. It was the only thing we could find that knew what a salad was. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had a lot of vegan choices. Click on the link above. You can order the salad with a vegan dressing of oil, vinegar & spices. The bread-sticks are vegan if you ask them not to brush them with the butter & garlic, although some vegan sites say that it is dairy free. I would ask first. Our server said it wasn’t vegan, but then again she didn’t know what a vegan was until I told her 🙂 Their Minestrone soup, so good, is vegan. Most of their pasta’s are vegan & they have marinara sauce for them. I had the salad & soup. There are other choices as well.
Dinner found us at the Veggie Grill in Santa Monica. “Vegan chain offering sandwiches, salads, faux meats & sides in a modern, counter-service setting.” They are all over the place. Check the website for a location near you. We both had the Falla-Full Sandwich. “2 flatbread sandwiches with house-made falafel, hummus, skchug sauce, mint, basil, cilantro, tzatziki, pepperoncini. Vegan!
Fortunately, when we arrived in San Diego, our family & friends cooked healthy vegan meals for us on several evenings while we were there. That helped a great deal. We also hit Jimbo’s when we arrived to stock up on freshly ground peanut butter, a few vegan salads from the deli, Majestic Hummus which is my favorite, fruit & whole grain crackers. This way we were able to have breakfast & some lunches in our hotel room when we were not otherwise occupied with visiting or shopping 🙂
My daughter & her co-workers took us out to lunch at a new vegan place in Encinitas called Plant Power Fast Food. 100% plant based food. She & I shared the Mushroom Swiss Burger & regular fries. We asked for the black bean burger & it was delicious. One of her friends was a meat eater & ordered the Chicken Sandwich. It looked just like fried chicken & according to her tasted like it too. This is a great place to get vegan fast food & if you stick to the black bean burger it is less processed. Check out their website for more information. They are also located in Ocean Beach.
Another place that we ate at was the Lotus Cafe & Juice Bar in Encinitas. It has vegan options but also serves fish, turkey & chicken. You can eat there with any family member no matter their food choices. I like the sandwiches & the soups. There is always a vegan soup on the menu. There are quite a few salad options & several vegan dressings. Tahini is my favorite.
My favorite place to eat, Jyoti-Bihanga, was closed the day we went there. It is on Adams Ave. in San Diego. I love their vegan Neatloaf Sandwich with Mashed Potatoes & Gravy! Take someone with you if you go there as the sandwich could serve 2! But of course I eat it by myself & have to be helped out of the restaurant!
Since we were all disappointed, hot & tired when we found that Jyoti-Bihanga was closed we succumbed to the call for Mexican food. When in San Diego… So, we went to our favorite place in La Jolla, Don Bravo Grill & Cantina We have been going there for over 25 years when it was called Bahia Grill. I started out ordering the potato rolled tacos, which can be vegan, but fell from grace when I remembered how awesome their guacamole was. Also, I saw a quesadilla go by on a tray. Oh well, can’t be perfect. But I did share the quesadilla 🙂
I was invited out for breakfast twice & I chose to go to the Naked Cafe in Encinitas & the second time to the Naked Cafe in Carlsbad. They are also located in Solana Beach & Point Loma. Wonderful place for Kona Coffee & if you are vegetarian. Vegan, not so much. Luckily one of the vegan options they have is one I really like; Yin & Yang, “crisp rosemary potatoes, jalapenos, onions & tomatoes, balanced with red beans, avocado, salsa, and a fresh tortilla”. Yum! If you are a vegetarian they will add an egg &/or cheese.
Another lunch date was at the Thai Society in Encinitas. I really like Thai food. Easy to be vegan at Thai restaurants. I had the Tom Kha Soup “coconut milk, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, tomatoes, mushrooms and cilantro” with their Fresh Spring Rolls “tofu, rice noodles, lettuce, carrots, mint and cucumber / peanut sauce, plum sauce and citrus soy sauce”. I was introduced to this restaurant because their owner, a breast cancer survivor, catered an event for SDCRI. Lovely place & wonderful food! Now, we drive to Brookings, Oregon, for our Thai experience 🙂
When I finished eating at the Thai Society, I popped next door to KC Tandoor. They make vegan samosas & vegan naan. I bought them to take to our daughter’s for dinner. She made lentils & salad to go with them. Check out the link to the menu above. There are lots & lots of vegan options. Good Indian food! They have also catered an event for SDCRI. Very nice people.
Our drive home was fun because we stopped to see the Botanical Gardens at UC Berkeley. It was a great time to be there, flowers everywhere. If you are ever in that area I encourage you to stop & take a leisurely stroll. Eating wise we stopped at In & Out Burger for a quick lunch. I did not eat vegan there but did order their Grilled Cheese which is their burger without the burger. I also shared fries with my husband. It is fun to have fast-food that is freshly made. For dinner we stopped at an Olive Garden because it was the only thing open at that time & right off the freeway. I was so looking forward to a big, fresh, salad! NO SALAD! An E-coli outbreak caused the Olive Garden to pull all their lettuce. Ended up with Minestrone soup again.
When we got closer to home, we stopped at a Co-op in Eureka to shop for fresh veggies! We had an apple for a snack. It is interesting that the only thing I really missed was a big salad every evening. We are so very grateful to those friends & family who made vegan meals with big, lovely salads just for us!
There are a number of restaurants in the San Diego area that have vegan options. I have only mentioned a handful. I have found that if you tell your server that you are a vegan, they will help you find something to eat. Here are a few in Encinitas area.
- EVE Encinitas: Casual vegan restaurant serving imaginative menus of plant-based meals. Haven’t tried this one.
- Nectarine Grove: Cozy cafe highlighting health-conscious eats, including paleo, gluten-free & vegan dishes. Haven’t tried this one
- Native Foods California: Chain for creative, Californian-style vegan fare, including mock-meat dishes, ordered at a counter. I never liked this one. Too processed.
- Ki’s Restaurant: Wholesome, home-style meals made with organic ingredients served in a 2-story house with ocean view. Vegan options. Love Ki’s
I learned on this trip that you can survive as a vegan with a little bit of creativity. Stores with a deli & fresh produce are great to stock up on snacks & breakfast foods. Our hotel in Encinitas had a nice breakfast in the morning. My husband loved their pancakes. I stuck to my freshly ground peanut butter or hummus on crackers. Having fresh fruit in the room was also a must. Coffee? Oh yes, I had my coffee every chance I got 🙂
I hope that this blog shows that eating on the road can be healthy no matter how you eat. Until next week…Mary 🙂