It seems like everyone is hating on the Californians right now.
Portland is growing literally exponentially, with what seems like boundless growth. Condos ate growing like weeds in popular areas like Williams, Division, and Belmont. Many of these areas are almost unrecognizable. And that, I think, is the biggest fear with that growth – people that moved to Portland (and Oregon as a whole) for the quirky, small-city vibe, know it is losing that very characteristic.
Rents are skyrocketing, and the influx of cash offers on homes is raising real estate prices outside the capability of many that helped shape and build this very city.
I, too am just as guilty as we play the “Count the California plates” along streets like Alberta, Hawthorne, and Kenton.
This year’s Rubicon trip would be unlike any other we have ever taken. Maybe it was the seemingly countless trailer flops. Or maybe it was the legendary campsite. Or, the fact we started in Wentworth Springs instead of Loon Lake.
When I used to travel to Singapore, I always made sure to stop at VeganBurg – a country-wide vegan burger joint that prided itself on healthy vegan options.
So when I heard their first (and only) US location was in the heart of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, I knew I needed to go.
While the menu options seemed little lighter than I remember, the space itself was really nice, clean, and bright. I ordered the “Cracked Mayo” burger with seaweed fries (not as hippy as they sound, I promise), and Kristin ordered the Smoked Franks with a side of fries. Landen went with the standard – Chicken Tenders.
Way back in the day, I was a defense contractor and one of my projects was located in Twentynine Palms, California. At that time I was vegetarian, and we didn’t have fancy apps like Happy Cow to show us the way. We had to ask people.
One person told me way back then about a place in Joshua Tree (JT) called Crossroads Cafe. From that moment on in 2005, I would drive each morning from 29P to JT for their delicious espresso and vegetarian breakfast.
On a recent trip to Anaheim, California, I escaped the hotel and went off the grid in hopes of finding a good vegan place. Happy Cow did not disappoint and I ended up finding Mitasie 3 in Huntington Beach.
One of my favorite parts of traveling is finding new vegan places to eat. Last night I arrived in Anaheim, California and resigned myself to a dinner at the local Taco Bell. But I figured I should check the Happy Cow app, and sure enough, it delivered in spades!
I found a 100% vegan pizzeria about a mile from my hotel called Vegan Pizza.
I opted for the walk, to check out the place but was pleasantly surprised they also delivered.
I walked up to the little shop in the middle of a nondescript Socal strip mall.
When it comes to vegan grocery stores, Food Fight in Portland is considered my own personal “high water mark.” They just don’t get any better than that.
So I was really stunned to find a vegan grocery store in California that blew Food Fight out of the proverbial coconut water.
Viva La Vegan is a huge grocery store in an old railroad building nestled among the community of Rancho Cucamonga. With a ton of open space and great lighting, the store is bright and airy, and very well laid out.
I’ll be honest. From time to time I miss the ability to go grab a bag of fried, cheesy, meaty food from a fast food joint. And, while there are plenty of vegan places that try to fill this niche, have never found one that did it perfectly.
When I found out I was heading to San Diego, I knew I’d also haveta make a beeline for Evolution. Evolution’s tag line is simple “Delicious Vegan Fast Food. ”
The building is located in an easy location nicely situated next to Balboa Park and seemed to have ample parking (I walked there). It was nice to see a drive up window, proving that vegans should also be allowed the occasional lazy fast food experience.
The outdoor seating area, while a bit sparse was nice, and provided a shady spot to eat out of the sun. Service was brisk and friendly.
I ordered at the register where they also had a nice selection of grab and go foods, desserts, and drinks. I picked up an organic Blue Sky organic soda to go with my lunch. The decision was tough, between the Bacon Cheeseburger and the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, but at the staff’s recommendation I went with the Buffalo.
What was most exciting for me? Honestly it was the greasy bag that reminded me of lunch at Ronnie’s (a legendary, non-vegan greasy spoon lunch spot in Auburn MA my family would frequent). Inside the bag was an awesome white bag of fries, the buffalo chicken sandwich, and ketchup. It was brilliant. Taking the fast food theme even further, a voice squawked over the intercom when my order was ready to be picked up at the counter.
I opened the bag, and the strong smell of Buffalo indicated I made the right choice. This sandwich was absolutely amazing. The “chick’n,” while similar to Gardein seemed housemade and had a great texture and flavor. The soft bun was also super good.
The fries, made fresh from Kennebec potatoes were cooked to perfection and had just the right salt.
I had to save some room for the chocolate shake I ordered. Made with housemade ice cream, it was not too heavy but perfectly sweet.
The best part of this meal was that I didn’t leave in a food coma. While I definitely treated myself to some good ol’ vegan junk food, I still felt good enough to walk the 2 miles back to the hotel.
I still have about four days left in San Diego, so I know I will be back to Evolution!