At Chaat Bhavan, a full menu of Indian fare avoids meat as fastidiously as if it were a banana peel on a video-game highway. Snacks include masala chaat, a spicy fruit chutney served with crispy wafers, and missal pav, a mixture of black lentils and crispy noodles. Pan-cooked spinach paratha bread sops up soupy entrees such as the chana sag, which pairs garbanzo beans with fresh spinach, and the aloo gobi mattar, a union of potatoes, peas, and spices. Everything on Chaat Bhavan?s bill of fare is meat-free, and many eats also accommodate Jain customs and veganism.
While most students spent their time playing outside after the final school bell rang each day, Ramzi was inside his father’s falafel shop in Nazareth, Israel, helping to prep chickpea patties between working on homework questions. Those late afternoons instilled in Ramzi a passion for the restaurant business, one that outlived his first career in the tech industry. Now at the helm of his own Middle Eastern eatery, Falafel, etc., Ramzi and his wife Zuhad season their handmade falafels each morning before kettle-frying them in front of patrons. They also fill plates with skewered lamb, chicken shawarma, hummus, and pitas. On the outdoor patio, tables flank a multi-tiered water fountain filled with wished-upon pennies and strands of mermaid hair.
Sid Fanarof, inspired by the artists around him, sought to do something creative in the kitchen. ZPizza, which started in Laguna Beach and now has locations across the globe, fills with bustling chefs experimenting with ingredients traditionally associated with Indian, Californian, and Mexican cuisine. A parade of organic vegetables and skim-milk mozzarella from Wisconsin leads into the eateries, and organic wheat flour bakes over open flame to a crisp finish. “If you don’t hear the crunch, it’s not a ZPizza,” Fanarof says of the crusts on his website.
Chefs first slather the crusts with sweet basil pesto, roasted-garlic sauce, or organic tomato sauce. Their hands flutter across, sprinkling on fistfuls of toppings such as MSG-free pepperoni, additive-free sausage, three types of mushrooms, roasted eggplant, and pine nuts. Vegan cheese and gluten-free crusts allow everyone to enjoy the pizzas except for those trying to hide the fact that they superglued their mouths closed.
First opened in the U.S. in Milpitas, Loving Hut is dedicated to health, compassion, and a sustainable planet. Chefs at Loving Hut whip up pan-Asian food made with 100% vegan ingredients, from tofu to nongenetically modified vegetables. A comfortable setting with clean, white tables and booths host plates of seasoned yam flour crescents and handmade bean curd cakes wrapped in seaweed. As sconces dance along the musical staffs painted on the walls, a large mirror reveals the identical diners eating in Backwards Earth, where savory flavors actually taste sweet and people startle cars when their engines backfire.
Vegetarian House uses organic, locally grown, genetically unmodified ingredients to create a menu of sustainable sustenance that will prolong, if not completely circumvent the evolution of human flippers. Preface your dinner with an order of quinoa sushi (red quinoa with avocado, mushroom, onion, pickle, carrot, and a creamy sauce wrapped in sushi nori, $9.95), a bowl of Thai curry soup (potato, carrot, soy protein, tofu, and coconut milk, $8.95/small), or a plate of raw fettuccine (celery-root noodles, collard greens, carrot, tomato, beet, cucumber, red pepper, pistachios, and almonds in a creamy almond sauce, $12.95). Sweep your taste buds off their soft-tissue toes with Spicy Cha Cha (yam-flour crescents crumbled and seasoned with spices, red bell peppers, basil, and chili, $12.95), Gurus Curry (exotic blend of curries and spices, soy protein, potato, tomato, and onion, $11.95), or a lunchtime avocado BLT (tempeh seasoned with smoked paprika and mixed spices, topped with avocado, lettuce, and tomato, $10.95). Desserts include a gluten-free organic Meyer lemon curd ($5.95), vegan cheesecake ($4.50), and Italian sorbet ($5.95). Accompany the delish eats with a glass of fresh, organic carrot juice ($4.50), non-alcoholic beer ($3.50), or a refreshing root-beer float (Virgil's root beer and soy ice cream, $4.50).
Burgers, Mexican food, and Asian food couldn't be much more different, but at The Happy Bamboo, they share something vital in common?they're all vegan. Using organic produce from local farms, chefs craft comfort-food meals that run the gamut of comforting global flavors, from soy chicken burgers topped with saut?ed mushrooms to combination pho with soy ham, soy beef, tofu, and veggies.
The Happy Bamboo's owners are particularly pleased with their vegan Mexican selections, not commonly seen in the area. Customers can try the veggie carnitas tacos or any of the gluten-free options, which are prepared in a special area to minimize the risk of cross-contamination, and can accessorize any meal with a sweet treat like caramel flan.