The inspiration behind Alebrijes Mexican Bistro is the stuff of nightmares?Pedro Linares? nightmares, to be specific. At the age of 30, the Mexican artist fell deathly ill. As he lay in bed, unconscious, he dreamt of a strange world filled with brightly colored monsters?a donkey with butterfly wings and a rooster with the head of an eagle among others?all shouting ?alebrijes, alebrijes, alebrijes!? When he awoke, he wanted to show his family and friends all that he had seen, so he replicated his first alebrije from brightly painted papier-m?ch?. To this day, his family still crafts these strange creatures to serve as unusual home accents.
Pedro Linares' monsters inspired Alebrijes Mexican Bistro's name, as well as its decor, which showcases brightly colored paintings of his nightmarish beasts. In 2012, the bistro also won the Lodi News Reader?s Choice award for Best Mexican Restaurant, thanks to its gourmet burritos and regionally inspired dishes such as oaxaca mole, guanajuato bacon-wrapped prawns, and guacamole prepared in the style of Mexico City. The restaurant also infuses their own tequilas.
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’s name is slightly misleading—but only slightly. The menu is indeed vegetarian, but it’s also 100% vegan and organic. That means vegetable broth pho that swaps out tripe for tofu and soy protein. Eclectic dishes from Asia and the Middle East round out the menu, and many feature noodles made from scratch.
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.
You don’t have to love tofu to love Tofoo Com Chay’s tofu-based pho, which closely imitates the flavor of the traditional beef noodle soup. As the name indicates, this restaurant specializes in all forms of tofu. Try the tofu sausage on a stick—a skewered ball of tofu baked in the oven and served with a side of peanut sauce.
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.