Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
The Raw and the Vegan - Peace Pies
Like many people today, I try to combine driving errands. Today’s stops took me to Encinitas, which by virtue of the time, included lunch. There are many excellent places to eat in Leucadia and Encinitas. I decided to try Peace Pies, which replaced a similar restaurant, The Greenery. Like The Greenery, Peace Pies serves raw, organic, vegan cuisine. Their menu is also soy and gluten free.
Off the Hwy. 101, just south of Leucadia Blvd., Peace Pies is tucked away at 133 Daphne Street. A little skimpy, the parking amounts to about two dedicated spaces and some street parking. However, I always managed to find a spot when I went to The Greenery and I had success today. The entrance opens into a courtyard with a large mural and outdoor seating. As I stepped into the restaurant, I felt transported back to my college days in Santa Cruz: Red Hot Chili Peppers played in the background and a guy with dreads tucked up under a cap bustled around inside.
I gravitated toward a glass display case with many to-go options, including fresh juices. I chose a veggie sandwich and a kale salad, which I brought up to the register. A hipster wearing a driving cap and a t-shirt with “Truth” printed on it asked if I had been there before. Since I hadn’t and was eating there, he informed me I could place an order and they would bring it out on a plate. As I put the to-go containers back, he mentioned a burger option and pointed out a pint of blood orange juice in the case. I went with his suggestions and found a place to sit inside.
Looking around, I noticed that they sold eco-friendly goods, as well as a raw food cookbook and a Peace Pies t-shirt. I was surprised, but very interested in the glass straws that they were selling for $10, obviously an alternative to plastic. My growling stomach brought my attention back just in time for my food to be served. The burger, with kale chips on the side ($9), was a blend of sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts, topped with cashew cheese, and the other usual burger fixings on a flat “bun”. The bun will be the biggest difference to those not accustomed to raw food. Like raw crackers, they are created through dehydration rather than cooking. The result is something akin to a slightly stale, thick cracker. That sounds bad, but if you readjust your thinking with that expectation; it’s actually quite good!
The kale salad ($8) included Red Russian kale, which is one of the tastiest kales in my opinion. Slivered yellow beets, red bell peppers and carrots made up the rest of the ingredients. The garlic-lemon dressing came on the side, as well as two sesame crackers. As I ate, a couple came in. They were looking at the menu, when Mr. “Truth” asked them if they had been in before. They replied that they hadn’t. He explained about the to-go case and the option for eating in-house, as well as the specials for the day: a mango curry wrap and an almond-crusted Portobello mushroom sandwich. It was fun to see the variety of people coming into Peace Pies to eat, including the obvious regulars who stopped by while I was there.
It is easy to see how someone could become a regular. The food is fresh, locally sourced, organic and delicious. My burger satisfied very much like a “meat” burger just not hot and not on an oversized bun. It’s probably blasphemous to say this, but I would prefer a raw bun even for a beef burger. So many buns are too doughy and get soggy really fast. My kale chips had enough spice to give them a little zing. The dressing on the salad made it for me because I’m partial to lemony dressings. Like the raw vs. standard bun issue, kale is an excellent alternative to regular lettuces because it doesn’t get soggy from the dressing. Unfortunately, I ended up having to take my fresh juice ($5) with me to drink later because I was stuffed!
You don’t have to be a raw foodist or even vegan to appreciate Peace Pies, though the quality of the ingredients and variety of menu items might entice you to consider moving in that direction. Apparently, they offer cooking classes if you’d like to learn more. I could tell that the couple that had never been there before was impressed…and they saved room for dessert!
Peace Pies is located at 133 Daphne Street in Encinitas. They also have a location in Ocean Beach. Phone: 760-479-0996 http://peacepies.com/