San Diego has a pretty decent vegan scene, and Moncai Vegan is a cornerstone. The nice thing about it, is that it contrasts to the “fast food” nature of other pillars, such as Evolution and Veggie Grill.
Moncai Vegan is more of a take your time and relax kinda place.
While a small space, it is setup very well with about six or seven tables. The ambiance is a bit austere, but the warm service combined with the scent of fresh baked goodies more than makes up for it. They have an awesome display case filled with donuts , cinnamon buns, and other baked goodies.
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!