Where we live, there is not exactly a myriad of places to eat to choose from as a vegan. So, with our time off during spring break, we were very much looking forward to spending some time in California’s capital of plant-based food, Berkeley.
Berkeley, oh Berkeley! Jay and I had not been there for a long time, not since we went vegan. So, when the weather changed our plans for us, it was a big bummer. It rained for days. Then one morning, we awoke to the sun.
We knew what to do, I threw on my new vegan shirt from my new vegan friend, grabbed our coats and hopped in the car.
We only had a few hours before the crazy weather set in again, so we had to be diligent with our time. And yay! We were finally on our way!
First stop, Berkeley Bowl.
We wanted to get some fresh, and unique fruits and veggies. They often have fruits and veggies we do not get in our local markets.
The organic produce section is pretty big (the non-organic section is even bigger!) and I usually find a few yummy things. This time I found organic artichoke which I have been looking for a while now. We got some very fresh and crisp Persian cucumbers. And we got some basics, like Fuji apples, oranges, tangerines, garlic and portabella mushrooms at a crazy great price. All organic.
We strolled through their oil and vinegar section. We picked up some fancy vinegars (like fig vinegar-oooooh) for my parents. They have so much stuff there. They even had our favorite Follow Your Heart Pepper jack cheese, which we proceeded to pick up three, heehee!
The store is not pretty or fancy by any means, but it gets the job done. I most definitely recommend you check it out if in the area.
Being around all that food made me hungry. And a friend might have been working at a falafel shop close by. So, after checking out the near by comic store, we headed on over to The Flying Falafel.
It was a tiny little hole in the wall place, with a few seats. My friend was not there but we decided to stay and have a bite anyway because it smelt so good. Being gluten-free, I could have everything on the menu except for the pita bread. And dang it people, why has no one made a vegan gluten-free pita yet? Can it be that difficult? I mean we can clone living beings now, and still not gluten-free pita bread? Just sayin’.
Anywhoo, we ordered the pita bread meal (Jay and I share and he can eat the pita). Gotta say, it was so tasty!
Ya! The little falafels were light, crisp and full of flavor! Yum! We were pretty impressed. The veggies were fresh, and the fries, oh the spicy fries….so tasty! Oh geez, I’m getting hungry again! It was great, the people were very friendly, the place was clean and cute. The young man who made our food, Luis, was a gem! And thank you Chase for recommending it!
We did a bit of site seeing and I wanted to make sure we hit up that sanctuary store The Vegan Republic. The proceeds go directly to The Animal Place sanctuary, yay!
We tracked this place down and went it. It is just this small little store, kinds mom and pop style.
The guy who worked there was very nice and polite. They had many interesting items I had not seen before including some vegan beef jerky and vegan chocolates.
However, we went there with one propose: Violife cheeeeeeese! Well, I was bummed that their shelves of Violife was mostly empty.
But we did however grab a couple of cheese, that are so good, I’m going to do a blog just on them next week. In the meantime, if you are anywhere near any Violife cheese, just get it! Yes, I can now say they are all freakin good!
Now with only time left for one stop, the choices on our list were The Sanctuary Bistro (where I wanted to go so badly because they are not only completely vegan, but also completely gluten-free free…...ahhhh) or The Butcher’s Son (a vegan deli EVERY one recommends). Well, we were in the in between closed hours of the restaurant, so it looks like fate wanted us to go to the deli today. And so off we went!
When we finally found it and were looking at the menu, I became somewhat irritated. The menu only had a very small percentage of their items available gluten-free.
And when I found out all the desserts- including the drool worthy cupcakes- were off limits to me, I grew even more irritated. Ok, so I was definitely hangry (hungry so long you become angry for dumb reasons) and hadn’t realized it. I told Jay I didn’t want anything and I was just going to eat home food. Luckily, my kind hubbie knows me better than I know myself sometimes and just chuckled. He ordered the sandwich Luis from The Flying Falafel recommend which was the Jalapeno Business and ordered me the Pulled Pork. We then picked a drink, paid the nice lady at the register and waited at a table outside for our number to be called. Shortly thereafter, our order was ready and we took it to go.
That day it took us about an hour and a half to get home. And boy were we hungry! We got settled in, and it was finally time to try the sandwiches from The Butcher’s Son. I gotta say, they looked really messy and not very pretty to eat.
Nevertheless, I love, love, love sandwiches and barely ever get to have ones like I used pre-vegan days. So, I was trying it anyway! I cut my sandwich in half and tried a bite of this weird looking mess (couldn’t even really tell what is was, but I knew it wasn’t meat, so I was ok with it).
OH. MY. YODA.
It was so good!! I couldn't believe it! I wanted to shove all of it in my mouth at once it was so freakin tasty you guys!!
I stopped Jay from taking another bite of his sandwich so he could try mine. Yes, it is official…My sandwich is amazing!! I could not believe the texture, the flavors, how did they do this? Why doesn’t everyone do this? Why am I not there right now? But seriously, I am often skeptical of places EVERY one seems to love. But boy howdy, this place has a good reputation for a reason. It’s freakin fantastic! Ok, ok, I will need to try it out several times before I can confirm its true awesomeness (like this Indian food place I loved first time, then second time sucked, so I cannot recommend it). But I have a feeling these guys are consistently turning out quality work. And I look forward to checking up on their status, every single time I am in or near Berkeley.
A quick note on Berkeley….
Wow. This town, has thee most diverse group of restaurants I have ever seen. From Sri Lankan cuisine to veggie burgers, I mean the possibilities are endless in this town. And you know how you get a group of folks together to bar hop? Drink from bar to bar…Well, I want to restaurant hop! Yes, I want to spend days in Berkeley just eating my way through the town! Yay Berkeley and thank you Berkeley and all the kind folks who live there.
Thank you for reading! Where are your favorite places to eat plant based foods?
Come restaurant hop with us!