Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Restaurant Review: The Natural Cafe

While staying at the in-law's in California, they kept urging us to "go try the new veggie restaurant." The Natural Cafe has several locations: Downtown Santa Barbara, Uptown Santa Barbara, Old Town Goleta, Newbury Park, Westlake Village, San Luis Obispo, Moorpark, and Santa Maria -- all locations are basically 101 fwy West/North of Los Angeles.

This restaurant is not 100% Vegetarian, but they do have many Vegan options and not just salads. There's tofu, tempeh, humus, falafel, and even soy ice cream.

You order the food at the counter, take a number, and they bring the food out. You help yourself to silverware, condiments (all organic), and water. It's a casual atmosphere and the location we visited had a pretty outdoor patio.



'Vegan tomato soup with red potatoes' was the soup of the day, so I started my meal with a cup of that. It had big chunks of red potatoes, carrots, tomato, and basil. The flavor was just right and I found myself wanting more. The nutty whole wheat bread on the side was perfect for dipping.





Starting at the top with Art's meal, you see 'Dalai Dog' for $4.25 -- It's a tofu hot dog served on a whole wheat bun with mustard, red onion, ketchup and relish. They threw some blue corn chips on each of our plates, even mine, which was 'Tempeh Tacos' for $6.50 -- Ground soy tempeh in a zesty red sauce on corn tortillas with vegan cheese, topped with shredded lettuce, and I asked them to leave off the sprouts. In the middle, you see a side of 'Sauteed Tofu' $2.50, which Art ordered and didn't finish cuz it was too dry. No matter, we'll be back because that's about all there is for veggie food in the area. We were just thrilled to go out to eat without having to tell the chain-restaurant waiter what's up. You should go too if you're in the area. :o)

15 comments:

julie hasson said...

This looks like a cool restaurant chain. I'll have to keep it in mind the next time I'm in L.A. Have you tried M Cafe on Melrose? The food is unbelievably good!

Do you have any good veggie places to eat at in Boise? When we lived there we didn't have too many choices.

Carrie™ said...

Soup looks (and sounds) fantastic! Your plates look great. Too bad about the dry tofu.

KleoPatra said...

Wow, i'm so gonna check at least one of those out on a future road trip. Too bad about the dry tofu. And girl, i totally know what you mean about being thrilled to go out to eat without the stress of having "the talk" with a waiter... or a chef! i've SO been there!!! Great head's up on this little chain. Awesome!

Candi said...

Yum! I read through the menu in envy! Lol! Looks so good. I love the sound of that soup!! I'd be so happy to see tempeh tacos on any menu.

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

Hi Julie: I have not tried M Cafe yet, but it is on my list of to-do's in LA, thanks to your suggestion! In Boise, the best veggie place is Mai Thai -- there's one downtown and also in Eagle. They specialize in mock meats, and it really rocks! They send us thank-you notes in the mail, we go there so much! :o)

Thanks for checking in on me, everybody!

XO

turquoise cro said...

That soup looks YUMMY! Welcome back sweets! xoCinda

Johanna3 said...

looks great!
thanks for the review!

Urban Vegan said...

Looks like a great option! Tempeh tacos sound tempting.

springsandwells said...

Oh yeah, I like Native Foods. Whenever I pass through Santa Barbara, I always eat there. I love that it's basically all healthy and yummy. The best combo!

Also, I didn't realize that you are in Boise!! Cool! One of my best friends just moved to Boise, and we are coming there for her wedding in July. I couldn't figure out where I might be able to eat - but I will definitely remember Mai Thai. Phew! Good to have a spot in mind. Their wedding is being catered with BBQ - so I'll have to bring some clif bars or something for myself. :)

Amey

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

Hi Amey: One of your girlfriends moved to Boise?! You'll be here in July?! That's so great. Maybe we could meet up!? You could come to my place (less than 5 min. from downtown) for some vegan eats -- or we could meet for a meal @ Mai Thai -- or whatever works with your schedule. I think our men have music in common & it'd be awsome to meet you! What d'ya think? :o)

scottishvegan said...

That looks great...I must remember this place when I am out and about. Thanks for telling us about it!

vko said...

It's always nice to hear about a chain restaurant with vegan optiona- hurray!

Liliy said...

Oooh, finally a resturant chain with something other then salad as a vegan dish. Speaking of which, there is a good vegan friendly resturant in the Kitty Hawk, North Carolina region called Seaside Gourmet to go. It's not 100% vegetarian, they serve fish but it's the only veggie eat there and even meat eaters love it. Anyways, I had a soup similar to what you got there.

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