Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
Non-native Native Foods in Encinitas
Newly arrived veggy-vegan chain committed to speedy delivery
A new restaurant just opened in Encinitas and its staff is officially on the clock. I’m not talking about 15 minutes of fame or the brief window a debuting eatery has to make a success of itself before it fades into obscurity. In this case, it’s an internally imposed game of beat-the-clock mandated by the business’ owners Daniel Dolan and Andrea McGinty.
The basis of that tick-tockery is that all of the orders at their from-scratch chain of vegan/vegetarian Native Foods Cafés—including their newest outpost (127 N. El Camino Real, Encinitas)—make it out to patrons in 10 minutes or less. Seems a bit daunting, but nowhere near as hard as making love connections as the duo did when founding the popular It’s Just Lunch match-making business.
Apparently, the number 10 means a lot to these two. All of the dishes at their fast-casual (or else) spots are 10 dollars or less. Those offerings are made from all-natural ingredients and include salads, bowls, sandwiches and snacks. Among those are the Asian-inspired Bangkok curry bowl and “indie” noodle salad, the south-of-the-border Ensalada Azteca and Nuevo Native nachos, and Italian offerings including a super meatball sub.
Meatball? Wait, didn’t I just type the words “vegan” and “vegetarian?” Indeed I did. House-made seitan and tempeh are widely utilized throughout the menu to provide a wide array of options that provide an alternative to ground beef and sausage in a number of dishes.
Instead of soft drinks, Native Foods makes their own line of beverages including lavender lemonade and watermelon Fresca. There’s also craft beer, of which organic and gluten-free versions from Bison Brewing Company, Eel River Brewing and New Planet Beer are available.
Décor includes a mural featuring the Swami’s surf break and the Native Foods Café’s mantra, In Photosynthesis We Trust, scrolled over the counter. Dolan and McGinty, who have family in coastal North County, plan to open three more Native Foods Cafés in San Diego County by year’s end. The Encinitas location is the company’s fourteenth.
In celebration of the recent opening, the restaurant will hold two “Native Community Days” each month where a portion of proceeds benefit a local non-profit organization (which people can nominate by emailing <strong>email@example.com>), and guests receive a free dessert with the purchase of an entrée, side and Native drink.
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