If you live in the OC and you’re vegan or vegetarian, or you have visiting friends or relatives who are, it can be a little challenging to find restaurants Orange County who cater to your dietary needs. Most places have one or two options on the menu, but where are the places who serve an exclusively non-meat menu? Don’t worry; we’re here to tell you about some of the best ones around.
Located in Costa Mesa on Bristol Street, this charming spot offers seasonal vegan dishes that are big on flavor. They also mix up some eye-opening cocktails to accompany your brunch. Begin with one of their smaller plates, like the purple taquitos with potatoes, almond feta, fermented curtido, and chipotle sour cream, or the white bean pozole with tomato, carrots, kale, and quinoa. For the main, the beer-battered avo taco with fried avocado, red onion, and Seabird sauce hits the spot. Get two of them!
The Wheel of Life
In Irvine on Culver Drive, this place has casual vegan dishes with a Southeast Asian flair. The pad thai and several curry options will fill you up and tickle your taste buds just right. Begin with the fantastic pan-fried spinach buns or the spicy bamboo shoots. As for the main course, it’s got to be either the Pa-Nang curry with vege-beef, peanut sauce, and red curry, or the Pad Thai-style noodles with pan-fried tofu, mildly spicy sauce, bean sprouts and ground peanuts. If you dare, get your spicy. You’ll be crying, but you won’t be able to stop eating. Take the pain; it’s so worth it.
Native Foods Cafe
Last but by no means least is Native Foods Cafe, in Costa Mesa on Bristol Street. They have vegan-fare made with mock-meats, and you order at the counter and take the food back to the table yourself. There are always great daily specials, so check those out before you make your selection. We like the Super-Italian meatball sub, with pho-meatballs, pumpkin seed pesto, ranch dressing, Native Parmesan, and roasted sweet peppers. Either that or the Chicken Run Ranch Burger, with crispy battered pho-chicken, carrots and onions, romaine, and ranch dressing, served on whole wheat.
Here’s hoping you enjoy these spots where vegetarians and vegans get top-billing. It’s nice to know that there are some places around where the carnivores don’t rule the roost.