Delicious Vegan Dishes Uncovered
Spring is a time when we welcome a plethora of new fruits and vegetables to the farm stands, restaurant menus and of course, our kitchen table! What a perfect time to roam about, and discover some of the “vegan-style” dishes that are right here in our charming neighborhoods of Newport Beach. Now, before we can begin this adventure, let’s first define Vegan, which is not as simple as it might sound – it has layers, shall we say!
What is Vegan-ism?
The term vegan was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson when he co-founded the Vegan Society in England. Initially it meant “non-dairy vegetarian” and later referred to include not exploiting animals. Interest in Veganism has increased considerably over the years, with many creative food options available in supermarkets and restaurants around the world. A follower of veganism is known as a Vegan. Vegetarians, in a general sense, do not eat any type of meat, chicken or fish of any type. Instead they consume: juices, beans legumes (lentils, grains, rice, wheat, quinoa), vegetables, fruits, nuts and soy products, such as tofu, edamame and consume some dairy. Lacto-Vegetarians do not eat eggs, but do consume other dairy products. Ovo-Vegetarians do not eat meat or dairy but do eat eggs (some do this because they are lactose-intolerant). And some Vegans do not eat meat, but do consume certain types of fish. So as you can see, it is a mixed bag. Fresh ingredients are a hallmark of Vegans, that we can be sure of!
A Vegan Cuisine Sampler- By Neighborhood
Fashion Island- Nordstrom Café Bistro
Located on the lower level of Nordstrom is a surprise of a dining spot. The wood paneled café offers delicious soups, Croque Madame, salads, brick oven pizzas, as well as fish & chicken entrees. With a Vegan menu in mind, here are two salads that really are winners: 1) A Berry & Fig Salad-a bevy of organic baby greens and arugula, fresh seasonal berries, dried figs, spiced candied almonds, goat cheese and served with a vanilla bean vinaigrette ($12.95); and 2) A Grilled Asparagus Farro & Frisee Salad- farro, grilled asparagus, French green beans, frisee, tomatoes, toasted pistachios, aged manchego cheese with a honey sherry vinaigrette dressing ($11.25).
Nordstrom at Fashion Island- 901 Newport Center Drive
Hours: Monday-Friday 11:00am-8:00pm and Sat. until 7:00pm and Sunday until 6:00pm
Balboa Village- Cruisers Pizza Bar & Grill
Cruises Bar & Grill is just steps from the Balboa Ferry, and pays homage to the 1970’s beach cruisers – encouraging their clientele to just enjoy the ride. They have 25 big screens TV’s so this is sports bar nirvana. They have brought in a professional chef to present exceptional food, and they have done just that! Two of the three owners are long-time bartenders, so they have elevated craft cocktails to new level as well. Seeking a Vegan experience, I would recommend their Gluten-Free Veggie Flatbread Pizza. This is prepared with a housemade gluten-free crispy crust topped with their gluten-free pizza sauce, grilled red peppers, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and basil ($12.95). They also have side orders of: grilled Asparagus, sauteed Kale, steamed Broccoli, Quinoa salad and not to be missed cinnamon sweet potato fries.
801 East Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, CA 92661
Hours: Monday – Friday 11:00am – 2:00am and Saturday – Sunday 9:00am – 2:00am
Airport Area- Bosscat Kitchen + Libations
Bosscat Kitchen + Libations is fairly new to the market, and is located right next door to Ten Asian Bistro. Chef Peter Petro has over 20 years of experience, and hails originally from just north of Boston, MA. The menu surprised me at first, as it features ingredients, flavors and cooking techniques associated with the South. In addition to beer, wine and craft cocktails, Bosscat has an exclusive whiskey tasting room—-stocked with an assortment of over 100 select whiskey, bourbon and scotch options from around the world. Wow! Ordering Vegan-style, I would start with an order of these two items for the table: Cornbread Madeleines, served with huckleberry sweet cream butter ($6), and the housemade Pickles & Vegetables ($4). Next, I would order The Black-Eyed Pea Fritter Club Sandwich. This is a deep fried black-eyed pea dumpling with a spicy mayonnaise, dressed with: lettuce, tomatoes, onions, avocado and goat cheese ($12). And for sides, guests cannot pass up the secret recipe Bosscat fries, with their chow-chow catsup ($4), and the Roasted Root Vegetables—featuring the chef’s selection, sprinkled with paprika and sea salt ($4).
4647 MacArthur Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92660
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 11am – 11pm (kitchen closes at 10pm), Friday: 11am – 1am
(kitchen closes at 11pm), Saturday: 6pm – 1am (kitchen closes at 11pm), and Sunday: Brunch served 11am-2pm (kitchen closes at 2pm).
Mariners Mile Newport Beach- Pizza Nova
Pizza Nova (in what was previously the Div Bar location) specializes in gourmet pizzas that are hand stretched, then baked in an authentic Italian wood-burning oven. The pastas are made fresh daily and all the sauces and recipes are made right there on the premises. The salads are enormous and pizzas made available in both 10 and 14 inched sizes. Best of all, they also have a dock on the water side, and guests can arrange to dock and dine or pick up an order to go!
You know you have someone thinking ahead, when they have a separate oven for the baking of a gluten-free pizza crust! Guests can specify this type of crust, as desired. As for a Vegan selection, I would lean toward this delicious option—-a Gorgonzola Pear Pizza which is prepared with: an alfredo sauce made with three cheeses: gorgonzola, fontina and mozzarella, baked with fresh sliced pears and topped with a spinach salad tossed with balsamic vinaigrette, caramelized walnuts, onions and pears. And if you are driving the boat and need one hand free, try the Roasted Veggie Sandwich, which is packed with flavor. This is made with: fire-roasted Portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, olives, Roma tomatoes, grilled zucchini, goat cheese and mozzarella cheese, lettuce tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette and pesto mayonnaise aioli spread on a freshly baked bun.
2601 West Coast Hwy, Newport Beach
Hours: Every day 11:00am – 9:00pm
Corona del Mar- Panini Café
Panini is a small café with outside seating hugging along the sidewalk. The menu is influenced by Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The entire menu denotes both Vegan and Organic items with symbols, making it quite easy to identify the Vegan items. Here are my picks, and this charming spot has plenty to choose from…. For a starter, I would suggest the Organic Humus Trio (a House Special). This is a combination of traditional Garbanzo, Black Bean and Edamame Hummus. This is blended with Olive Oil, fresh garlic and fresh lime juice ($8.95). The Babaganooj is also delicious. This is roasted Eggplant with fresh garlic, onion, organic yogurt and olive oil ($7.95). The Lentil Soup is another perfect Vegan starter—made with organic lentils, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, red onion, parsley, mint, crushed pepper in a rich vegetable broth. (Cup $2.95 or Bowl $5.95). If in the mood for a sandwich, the Grilled Vegetable on Foccacia bread is the one. This includes: Grilled Eggplant, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Roasted Red Peppers and Onions with Smoked Mozzarella ($10.95). For an entrée, the Charbroiled Organic Tofu Kabob offers a colorful presentation. It is served on a skewer of Grilled Vegetables, served with Hummus, Basmati Rice or Organic Wheat Pilaf and a choice of salad—-Caesar, Mediterranean Greek or Romaine Avocado Salad. ($10.95).
2333 East Coast Hwy, Corona del Mar
Hours: Every day from 7:00am-10:00pm
Newport Coast- Ruby’s Shake Shack
There are times when nothing seems to satisfy the taste buds except a homemade dessert of some sort. I have just the answer, and this one comes with an incredible view as well. The Ruby’s Shake Shack is on the ocean side of Pacific Coast Highway, and the tables and umbrellas are perched above the Crystal Cove State Beach. It is picture perfect at any time of day, and especially at dusk. The parking is scarce with one small strip of parking and no other alternative nearby. So cars just line up, and wait. So pack your patience. The Shakes are all handmade to order and use fresh ingredients for the fruit-based shakes (banana & strawberry). However there are many other treat-filled options, including: peanut butter, chocolate chip cookie dough, black forest, salted caramel, and the list goes on and on.
7703 East Coast Hwy, Newport Coast
Hours: Monday –Thursday and Sunday 7:00am-9:00pm and Friday & Saturday until 10:00pm
So there we have it. A host of spots to enjoy a Vegan-style meal and hopefully we have introduced you to something new and different. Dine well!