Vegan at the end of the Rubicon

There are two ends of the Rubicon trail in Northern California.

Most people start on the Loon Lake end and make their way toward South Lake Tahoe on the Eastern end.  While the West end at Loon doesn’t have any amenities, the Lake Tahoe region has a ton of great, hidden vegan gems – some to hit up, and some to avoid.

I will update this little guide as my time in Tahoe expands and I am able to check out more and more places.

The Brewery at Lake Tahoe

3542 Lake Tahoe Blvd,  South Lake Tahoe, CA

The perfect spot for a post-wheeling pint.

This is one of my favorite places on the Lake.  First, the beers are awesome.  Second, if the weather permits, you can sit out front in their oversized picnic tables and swing your feet as the traffic goes by.  Third, they have an awesome vegan burger (house made) and great hop-salt fries.

The menu describes the burger as “A homemade vegan burger made with spent brew grains and black beans with lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and your choice of (non-vegan) cheese.”

An awesome vegan burger!

While their website leaves a lot to be desired, check it out anyway.

Jalisco Grill

2660 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA

Looking for something quick and good?

I found a GREAT burrito at Jalisco Grill that was cheap and quick.  While no menu item is vegan, I was able to hack together a burrito with black beans, rice, lettuce, toms, and salsa.  It was simple, relatively healthy, and a fulfilling meal while my meat eating friends dined on animal parts.

A vegan hacked burrito.

Simple Bliss Vegan Cafe

2540 Lake Tahoe Blvd #7, South Lake Tahoe, CA

I couldn’t believe my eyes when we stumbled across the Simple Bliss Vegan Cafe.  A dedicated vegan joint in South Lake Tahoe!?  I will save a full reiew for the coming days, but if looking for some great food and vegan selections, be sure to hit it up.

My “classic burger” based on Lentils. Super good!

The burgers seem good, and the nachos were amazing.  In all honesty, the service was weak and the coffee was a little weird (cashew milk latte).   But for a full on vegan establishment in Tahoe, it is a great spot, albeit a little spendy.

Kristin’s devilish bagel.

Dam Cafe

55 W Lake Blvd, Tahoe City, CA

If you are taking a “left” at the end of Rubicon-McKinney, heading North on 89, there are some options as well.  The Dam Cafe was a great stop for breakfast on our way out of town.

I was surprised at the “Veganrito” on the menu which is a basic vegan burrito with “Costa Rican style rice and beans,” avo, and the basics.   Their coffee was also pretty good (Illy) and they offer soy and almond milks.  They also offer “veggie sausage” but I didn’t ask if it was vegan.

Apologies for no photos, but we were on a tight schedule!

Fire Sign Cafe

1785 West Lake Blvd., Tahoe City, CA

While I didn’t make it into the Fire Sign Cafe this last trip, some friends of mine did and they raved about the vegan options.  The following morning (a Saturday) we attempted our own visit but the popular brunch spot was flooded with long waits and a full parking lot.  So maybe next time.

Tahoma Meadows

6821 West Lake Blvd., Tahoma CA

Looking for a place to crash?  Check out Tahoma Meadows in Tahoma.  A great little B&B right off the highway that does a fantastic job of catering to us pesky vegans.  While each morning is different, they have granola and cereals with almond milk and their breakfast potatoes (while amazing) are also vegan.

Our tray on the first morning.

The staff at Tahoma Meadows is also incredibly welcoming and warm!!!

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There are many places that show up on Happy Cow that I will check out each time we venture to the Rubicon.  I’ll update this post!

Product Review: Gardein Porkless Bites

While roaming our local New Seasons today, something caught me eye in the rainbow of colors in the Gardein freezer section. It seriously is starting to look like Rainbow Brite puked Skittles all over the place.

Anyway, the pink highlight color on the bag drew my eye and I snagged the last bag in the freezer.

The bag promises it contains a packet of awesome sauce.  So with that, we planned on making it part of tonight’s dinner.

Pardon the messy stove but these splattered a little!

As with all of Gardein’s fake meats, these were simple to make.  Simply toss the frozen bites into a skillet with some oil and cook thoroughly.  Toss in the awesome sauce, and serve over a bed of whatever starchy goodness you want.  We went with some sticky rice.

Simple, quick, and deelish.

I was really surprised with how good the texture and firmness was, combined with just enough little spice to keep things interesting.

Kristin swears this is her new favorite Gardein product, we’ll see if that withstands time and Gardein’s habit of adding more and more items.

Overall, these were really good. Quick and easy and can be added to just about anything!  And the best part?  My Muslim friends can partake!

Trail Review: Crushers [OREGON]

I always laugh at the often obscure names given to trails in our area.  Some, I am sure have a backstory (Stick in the Nose is an actual trail name) while others I think are a lame attempt at sounding intimidating.  But Crushers has always had that scary spot in my mind.

Not just due to the name, but due to the massive boulder field that is the trail.  It is probably the ultimate rock crawling trail in this area.

The trail begins with a common filter that has a pretty easy line even though it looks menacing.

My Jeep on the filter. Photo (c) Matthew Duffy

After the filter, the trail meanders through a short section of forest where tight trees and tippy rocks test the hard and soft tops of the crew.  But with a little road building to offset the lean, we all came through unscathed (although I taco’d my tie rod pretty bad).

Mike spots Matt through the last of the tight forest.

Once out of the woods, the trail opens into a wide boulder field.  It is pretty much open play, with no real determined trail.  You will see above the exit from “upper crushers” and the trail for “lower crushers” clearly stays at the lower end of the boulder field.

Vu tackling a nice line on lower crushers.

This is a really great trail.  I ended up turning around about mid way through though, as my tie rod was bent bad and I had very limited driver steering.  I plan on going back soon though to finish the whole run.

Duffy on an upper section of the boulders.

A good spotter (read: experienced) is a must on Crushers, as is some good articulation and undercarriage armor.  I would also highly recommend a winch and good recovery gear.

Product Install: Rugged Ridge Spartan Grille

I was one of the early adopters of the “bedlined grille” look.  My OEM paint was chipping from winter road debris, and I just thought it made sense to have a durable, easy to repaint grille coating on the front of the Jeep.  However, when it came to repaint it this Summer I got the great idea to use a new, polyurethane liner and totally messed it up.

So it was time to find a new grille.

And, while this is not a review, I have been really happy with my new Spartan Grille from Rugged Ridge.

I hope this install writeup will help anyone that comes across a couple of the trickier parts of this install. Check out my unboxing video for the Spartan Grille!

Continue reading Product Install: Rugged Ridge Spartan Grille

Product Install: Artec Aluminum 4 Door Bellypan Armor Kit

This is a VERY involved install that will require exhaust configurations, trips to the tool store, modifications, Jeep friends, and beer.  This is NOT a quick “bolt-up” installation as I thought it would be.  Understand that – you may require multiple days to get it done right.

This was one of the most significant installs I have done on my Jeep.

Continue reading Product Install: Artec Aluminum 4 Door Bellypan Armor Kit

On the Gay Confederacy

A lot of surprising, ground shaking history was made this week, with the Supreme Court deciding that gay marriage is protected by the US constitution, and struck down all state-level bans.  This is a huge victory for millions of gay couples that can now celebrate their relationship with equality, and a victory for a society that bills itself as free.  And, many of my friends know I am a HUGE supporter of marriage equality.

But I feel a pang of irony in the celebratory news, as we also force the removal of the confederate flag from our collective psyche.

Continue reading On the Gay Confederacy

The 2015 Jeep Jamboree in Tillamook, Oregon

I pulled into my driveway at 12:30AM this morning.  The Jeep is covered in beach sand, trail dust, and mud.  Camera parts, snack bags, and camping gear still litters the Jeep.  This is all the result of one thing: an amazing 1st Annual Jeep Jamboree for Tillamook, Oregon.

The first day, I setup my makeshift camp in the open field at Tillamook Fairgrounds.  It was awesome to see all the Jeeps filing in as the day progressed.  Jeeps of all ages and makes made the journey – Cherokees, Grands, and Wranglers from early CJs through the latest JKs.

Continue reading The 2015 Jeep Jamboree in Tillamook, Oregon

What if I was Deserted on a Tropical Island?

When it comes to annoying questions Vegans are often pestered with, the “desert island” is probably the worst.

The question typically starts with something like this:

“So what if you were on a desert island and all there was is a cow/pig/chicken.  Would you eat it?”

And I get the allure of this question…vegans tend to be pretty militant in our commitment, so people want to test our limits.

But I want to tackle this question and put it to bed for all future vegans.

Continue reading What if I was Deserted on a Tropical Island?

Restaurant Review: Next Level Burger [Bend]

When it comes to vegan fast food, us vegans miss out on three key elements of the fast food culture:

1. We don’t camp out weeks in advance of an opening.  And, while I would never be one of the schmucks in a $20 Coleman tent sleeping on a sidewalk outside some vegan Chick-Fil-A, the concept of it is appealing.  I mean, how committed do you need to be to artery-clogging, fat soaked food to actually sleep outside for a week?  That is true, foodie commitment.

Camping in the winter for a week. For fried chicken.

2.  We can’t just have a greasy, bad-for-you burger experience.  Most vegan burgers I have seen are typically some malted oregano-kale infused, carrot fiber burger, promising all kinds of health claims. Sometimes, I just want to eat something bad for me too.

3. We don’t have a vegan fast food mecca that beckons us to make multi-mile journeys off major interstates.   We need a vegan In-and-Out kinda place.

So when I heard there was a new vegan burger joint in Bend, I had a chance to do a little of all three.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: Next Level Burger [Bend]

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