Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Carnivore's vegan spot

Native Foods Café makes at least one "mixed family" happy

Portobello and Sausage Burger at Native Foods Cafe
Portobello and Sausage Burger at Native Foods Cafe
Place

Native Foods Café

3369 Rosecrans Street, San Diego

It was the day before Mother’s Day and the kids and I wanted to give my wife a nice meal.

She’s been a vegetarian for more than a year so I figured a steakhouse was out. Luckily, Native Foods Café had just opened a location down in the Sports Arena area.

Native Foods Café is a Chicago-based chain restaurant catering to vegans and vegetarians that has locations all over southern California, as well as Colorado, the Midwest, Washington, D.C., and Oregon.

The exterior of Native Foods Cafe in Loma Portal

The Sports Arena area location is the newest, though there is also one in Encinitas.

The chain is filling a void for people who want to eat vegetarian, but still want dishes that remind them of meat. Think of it as a vegetarian version of, say, a Cheesecake Factory or a Coco’s. The menu is varied, with vegan tributes to Asian, Mexican and Caribbean cuisines, but the Café’s specialty are dishes made with variations of fake bacon, fake chicken, fake sausage.

And it tastes really good. I didn’t miss the meat. Not too much anyway.

I ordered the Portobello and Sausage Burger, which uses a sausage-flavored patty of seitan, a fake meat made from wheat. It was topped with caramelized onions, tomato salsa, roasted garlic, and creamy pumpkin-seed pesto.

Bangkok Curry Bowl at Native Foods Cafe

Honestly, I was surprised how good it was. I am not a fan of fake meat (except for soy corn dogs), but the only thing missing from this sausage patty and a real one is the coronary.

The sweet potato fries on the side were crisp and hot.

The Saigon Roll appetizer with braised lemongrass tofu, daikon and carrot, brown rice, and a tangy peanut dipping sauce, was a high point as well. My kids and I fought over it, until my wife pointed out that it was supposed to be a meal honoring her.

She had the last bite.

Spicy split pea soup at Native Foods Cafe

My wife was very happy with the Bangkok Curry Bowl, which is tofu steak over veggies, kale, brown rice with a lemongrass and ginger curry made with coconut milk. It was a huge amount of food so she took some of it home and said it was even better reheated a few hours later.

Twister Wrap at Native Foods Cafe

Soups change each day and I chose the Spicy Split Pea. It was brothier and not as thick as other pea soups, but it had just the right amount of spice. Garlic croutons added a nice crunch.

My daughter enjoyed the Twister Wrap, which had fake chicken, baby greens, and cucumber salsa. She had the chipotle sauce on the side. It was too spicy for her, so I dipped my fries in it instead.

Brontosaurus burrito at Native Foods Cafe in Loma Portal

My son is more particular. He ordered the Brontosaurus Burrito off the kids menu. It comes with shredded fake cheese and avocado and he was surprised at how much he liked it.

We all were surprised. I don’t know if it was the quality of the food or our shock at how delicious the food was, but we had a lot more energy by the time we left than we had when we arrived.

Native Foods Café serves beer and wine, but we tried some of the housemade drinks. The lavender lemonade was refreshing, as was the watermelon fresca. The blueberry hibiscus iced tea sounded better than it tasted, but a little lemonade perked it up.

A lot of true vegans don’t like meat substitutes like the kind served at Native Foods Café, but to people who want to eat healthy but still like the taste of meat, it’s a great place. It’s also a good place for “mixed families” like ours because there is something for everyone.

Peanut butter parfait at Native Foods Cafe

Including dessert.

I liked the peanut butter parfait, which is served with banana bread crumbles and chocolate chips. However, the zucchini date cake is the thing to get. It’s sweetened with orange juice and comes with a zippy coconut caramel sauce.

Would I go back? Uh, yeah. My wife’s already decided that for me.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

More on Orange County vs. Del Mar fair money

What Ed Bedford thinks of Governor Newsom
Next Article

Three poems for August by Dorothy Parker

With an acidic wit and keen eye for flawed humanity
Portobello and Sausage Burger at Native Foods Cafe
Portobello and Sausage Burger at Native Foods Cafe
Place

Native Foods Café

3369 Rosecrans Street, San Diego

It was the day before Mother’s Day and the kids and I wanted to give my wife a nice meal.

She’s been a vegetarian for more than a year so I figured a steakhouse was out. Luckily, Native Foods Café had just opened a location down in the Sports Arena area.

Native Foods Café is a Chicago-based chain restaurant catering to vegans and vegetarians that has locations all over southern California, as well as Colorado, the Midwest, Washington, D.C., and Oregon.

The exterior of Native Foods Cafe in Loma Portal

The Sports Arena area location is the newest, though there is also one in Encinitas.

The chain is filling a void for people who want to eat vegetarian, but still want dishes that remind them of meat. Think of it as a vegetarian version of, say, a Cheesecake Factory or a Coco’s. The menu is varied, with vegan tributes to Asian, Mexican and Caribbean cuisines, but the Café’s specialty are dishes made with variations of fake bacon, fake chicken, fake sausage.

And it tastes really good. I didn’t miss the meat. Not too much anyway.

I ordered the Portobello and Sausage Burger, which uses a sausage-flavored patty of seitan, a fake meat made from wheat. It was topped with caramelized onions, tomato salsa, roasted garlic, and creamy pumpkin-seed pesto.

Bangkok Curry Bowl at Native Foods Cafe

Honestly, I was surprised how good it was. I am not a fan of fake meat (except for soy corn dogs), but the only thing missing from this sausage patty and a real one is the coronary.

The sweet potato fries on the side were crisp and hot.

The Saigon Roll appetizer with braised lemongrass tofu, daikon and carrot, brown rice, and a tangy peanut dipping sauce, was a high point as well. My kids and I fought over it, until my wife pointed out that it was supposed to be a meal honoring her.

She had the last bite.

Spicy split pea soup at Native Foods Cafe

My wife was very happy with the Bangkok Curry Bowl, which is tofu steak over veggies, kale, brown rice with a lemongrass and ginger curry made with coconut milk. It was a huge amount of food so she took some of it home and said it was even better reheated a few hours later.

Twister Wrap at Native Foods Cafe

Soups change each day and I chose the Spicy Split Pea. It was brothier and not as thick as other pea soups, but it had just the right amount of spice. Garlic croutons added a nice crunch.

My daughter enjoyed the Twister Wrap, which had fake chicken, baby greens, and cucumber salsa. She had the chipotle sauce on the side. It was too spicy for her, so I dipped my fries in it instead.

Brontosaurus burrito at Native Foods Cafe in Loma Portal

My son is more particular. He ordered the Brontosaurus Burrito off the kids menu. It comes with shredded fake cheese and avocado and he was surprised at how much he liked it.

We all were surprised. I don’t know if it was the quality of the food or our shock at how delicious the food was, but we had a lot more energy by the time we left than we had when we arrived.

Native Foods Café serves beer and wine, but we tried some of the housemade drinks. The lavender lemonade was refreshing, as was the watermelon fresca. The blueberry hibiscus iced tea sounded better than it tasted, but a little lemonade perked it up.

A lot of true vegans don’t like meat substitutes like the kind served at Native Foods Café, but to people who want to eat healthy but still like the taste of meat, it’s a great place. It’s also a good place for “mixed families” like ours because there is something for everyone.

Peanut butter parfait at Native Foods Cafe

Including dessert.

I liked the peanut butter parfait, which is served with banana bread crumbles and chocolate chips. However, the zucchini date cake is the thing to get. It’s sweetened with orange juice and comes with a zippy coconut caramel sauce.

Would I go back? Uh, yeah. My wife’s already decided that for me.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Native Americans who rocked the world

Stevie Salas, FreeMartin, City Windows, Charles Burton Blues Band, Army of Love
Next Article

Nicholas Wiseman: a great influence on John Henry Newman

Also known as author of Fabiola, a novel
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close