Eating healthy has become quite the trend nationwide but particularly in California. Orange County has catered to this lifestyle change by providing vegetarian and subsequently, healthier menu items at local restaurants. Whether these eateries chose to go all-out vegetarian or just provide a large vegan-friendly portion of their menus, choices for vegetarian dining are plentiful. This is an all-inclusive list of the best meatless options throughout the area.
259 E 17th St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Avanti Cafe, a gourmet vegetarian restaurant located in a strip mall in Costa Mesa, is known for its Mediterranean-inspired dishes made from local, organic and seasonal ingredients. The cafe offers a variety of wines and microbrews to wash it all down. Among its specialties are the handmade pizzas featuring tofu, organic mozzarella, basil and cold-pressed olive oil from Greece or Italy. However, the corn-and-cheddar macaroni dish should not go overlooked. The Cafe is open for breakfast with a menu featuring organic eggs, cranberry-walnut breads and vegetables. The lunch menu includes tacos, pizza and salads all made with organic vegetables, nuts and fresh herbs. Dinner includes decadent dishes such as feta cheese and polenta bites as a starter and a stacked portobello mushroom as a larger serving. Come any time of the day to get your vegetarian fix of mouth-watering cuisine.
238 Thalia St
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
The Stand is considered to be a glorified step above your common food truck. It is located in a tiny red building on Thalia Street with “window-only” service, and a few benches in its outdoor wooden patio. Despite the size, locals have been coming here for healthy, non-dairy smoothies, tamales, burritos, sandwiches and pita pockets – all of which beans, vegetables and avocados are the main ingredients. The food is 100% vegan including the salsa and sauces. The menu features gluten-free foods, nothing too spicy and no garlic or onions on any dish. Close to the main beach in Laguna Beach, The Stand lets sand dwellers get their food to go for a picnic with a view.
Bodhi Tree Vegetarian Cafe
501 Main St
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Bodhi Tree Vegetarian Cafe prides itself on having been in business for over 20 years, which is said to be a result of the “special ingredients and secret recipes” passed down through three generations of cooks. All of the entrees are vegan from the delicious pho to the crispy chicken filet sandwich made from soy. All menu options are low in calorie count with no MSG. The menu runs from appetizers with four “eggless eggrolls” for $5 to sesame tofu salad at $9.95. Entrees feature gluten or soy chicken at the reasonable price of $8.95, which can be combined with choices from a large assortment including bamboo shoot stir-fry, spicy lemon grass and mushroom delight.
Native Foods Cafe
26705 Aliso Creek Road
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
Native Foods Cafe has a handful of locations scattered throughout the western region and Orange County is lucky to be the host of one. Its entire menu is non-dairy, including the ‘mayonnaise.’ The homemade tortilla chips covered in black beans, native chipotle crema, native cheese, guacamole and topped with corn and jalapeños is an excellent starter option and reasonably priced at $7.95. Grilled skewers made from native seitan and tofu and marinated in Tandoori spices come topped with mango-apple chutney for an exciting combination of tastes, making your meal all but bland. Customers have a large menu to choose from, and when added to Chef Tanya’s travel-inspired specials, it makes it difficult to decide just one option. This lady knows her food, having authored two cookbooks and been featured on the Food Network. Stop by and treat yourself to a few of her creations.
Zinc Cafe & Market
350 Ocean Ave
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Zinc Cafe & Market is a great place to get a quick bite in Laguna Beach. One of the major attractions of this Laguna Beach cafe is its dog-friendly patio, which is a hangout for early risers taking their pooches out for a walk and grabbing a “cafe au lait” or a healthy breakfast of muffins, scones and eggs. At the Cafe, which serves only breakfast and lunch, diners order at the counter and wait at their table until called up. The lunch menu features healthy salads, sandwiches and pizza, all reasonably priced from $6.95 for a salad and $10.95 for the entrees, which include vegetarian sliders, stuffed peppers, vegetable lasagna and potato enchiladas. The soup and salad plate is a great way to please those taste buds without the inclusion of meat.
Mona Graham is a freelance writer, who has been writing for Examiner.com since 2011 as an Anaheim city guide and Santa Ana New Zealand Travel. Mona has lived in Orange County since 1958 and knows all the different cities and towns that make up the area. Her hobbies are travelling, writing and photography. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.