Strangely enough yesterday was the first time I had ever ventured into the Tenderloin. I had heard fables and tall tales abut how awful and scary the Tenderloin is, equivalent to Vancouver’s Surrey. In fact, the Tenderloin is a gem and only those daring enough to adventure into it’s decrepit belly are going to experience an important part of San Francisco history. My friend from Albuquerque (Kayla) just so happens to live in the Tenderloin so she invited me to her neck of the woods for brunch on Sunday morning.
I’ve been to a lot of coffee shops and cafés in my day, all of which have either be part of the homogenous blob of capitalism or unique to their own neighbourhood. Little Bird is a perfect example of a small café that keep true to the vibrance of their neighbourhood by keeping there menu simple, but versatile and having the walls be a stage for Tenderloin art and artists.
I had no idea what to expect when I visited this gem in the heart of the Tenderloin. Upon entering I immediately realized that almost every item on there menu was veganizable. Hell yeah! Their options for sandwich fillings were also incredible, house roasted tomatoes, hummus, avocados, garlic, vegan pesto, daiya. Amazing!!
After I ordered, the woman making my sandwich came and sat down next to me to inform me she was out of tofu scramble for the sandwich, but would make me a sandwich with avocado, daiya, hummus and roasted tomatoes. It was $4, panini pressed, delicious! I couldn’t be more happy in my surroundings with the service and with the food. Next time I go back I’m going to be prepared to try everything I can on the menu, especially this thing they call a kombuchosa, locally-made kombucha mixed with oj!
Thank you little bird for putting faith back into small cafés for me. Vancouver take note!
When a meat eater frequents a vegan restaurant, it must be outstanding. I had just about every local tell me to go to this restaurant, not because it was vegan, but because they love the food. This 100% vegan organic mexican restaurant doesn’t skimp on the ingredients or the dining out experience. Everything was well priced, fresh, portioned well, and beautifully assembled.
It was hard to choose what to eat because every dish was unique. From Prickly pear cactus to posolé, every dish had to be made to order and was a far cry from a burrito shack. I basically had no option in my decision, I was told that the tamale was a favourite and I would regret not trying it. Using stone-ground heirloom masa and fresh escabeche (spicy pickled veggies) I didn’t want this tamale to ever end. I truly see this restaurant as an inspiration for future vegan ventures because of the homemade, fresh aspect this restaurant embodies. To top it all off, they make their own corn tortillas and cashew cheese in house.
You could say that I am biased toward New Mexican/Mexican food and that’s why I am giving this restaurant such a good review, maybe, but the food was excellent, the service was professional, and the atmosphere was full of wood, tile and dimly lit tables. The tables were large and meant for two parties to dine at, bringing together different types of people for at least one meal. Dinner also included an authentic mariachi band, something that I have only yet experienced in New Mexico.
If you are ever in San Francisco, whether you are vegan or not, Gracias Madre is more than worth your time. Actually, maybe you should book a flight to San Francisco right now and go for dinner.
St. Francis Fountain
Kaylie: Soyrizo Burrito, Malloreigh: The Toasted Vegan.
The second I walked into St. Francis Fountain I was happy solely due to the well designed interior and light rays coming in through the windows. I felt as if I was back to the past and should have slicked back hair, trousers, and a white t-shirt with the sleeves rolled. Unfortunately Southwest Airlines lost my luggage, but that’s besides the point. What’s important is the food right?
I was delighted to eat but once again was wounded by the atrocious construction of a breakfast burrito. I guess that’s what I get for ordering a burrito in The Mission from a hipster cafe. My burrito was tofu and soyrizo wrapped in a tortilla. That’s it. I did get bland beans on the side and if I recall correctly a few potatoes, but honestly where’s the vegetables? The saving grace for this dish was the ranchero sauce which definitely added the only distinguishable flavor on the dish. With this being said I would definitely go back for the cute servers, retro atmosphere and a plethora of vegan options available. Maybe I just had bad luck? Malloreigh will tell you… her sandwich was wonderful.
Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese on Yelp
Taku-Sui with Dengaku Combination Plate for $20.50
The Dengaku consisted of a block of uncooked tofu, round of broiled eggplant and cooked shiitake mushrooms with a ginger miso glaze.
The Dengaku vegetables were wonderfully prepared, but horribly bland without the sauce. The sauce on the other hand was awfully overpowering and tasted as if they has put a spoonful of miso paste on my dish. The dish could have used some more thought, especially for the price charged. To have a completely successful dish, flavour and preparedness of your vegetables must fuse superbly. To fail miserably in one of these areas and decide to still charge $10 for the plate while singeing my taste buds with miso paste slightly offends me. I know I have high standards, but I am paying for my dish and this was only worth about $4.50 at the most.