With more and more folks striving for healthier eating and lifestyles, it’s not surprising that many vegan restaurants have appeared in the last few years, particularly in waistline-minded SoCal. New to San Diego is Veggie Grill, with a just-opened location in the heart of Carlsbad.
Veggie Grill boasts a cheery atmosphere with American favorites made completely vegan. Although a completely vegan restaurant may seem daunting to most omnivores, the flavors and textures of the food at Veggie Grill will make a meal that is not flawed by the absence of meat. The restaurant design is casual, with counter service. It is a perfect place for a family meal or meet up with friends.
The first order of the meal was to try the all-natural fountain drinks offered by Veggie Grill. Traditional sodas are not offered, in keeping with the health conscious theme. Instead, Veggie Grill offers a variety of cane sugar-sweetened teas and lemonades. I chose the strawberry lemonade, which turned out to be a wonderful treat! I love strawberry lemonade, and couldn’t get enough of this one. My husband combined half tea, half regular lemonade to create a refreshing Arnold Palmer, perfect for a hot afternoon.
Veggie Grill also offers menus to accommodate many food preferences and allergies. They have published both online and in the stores a complete list of foods that do not contain nuts, gluten, or soy. It’s infinitely nice for those with special diets to be able to enjoy food so easily.
The first dish that we tried was the buffalo wing appetizer. Veggie Grill uses a replacement chicken soy product, made especially for them. The texture was actually very good! If I didn’t know that I wasn’t eating chicken, I would definitely say that these were chicken strips, battered, fried, and spiced with a zesty buffalo sauce.
Soon afterwards, we were treated to some of their most popular dishes: the Portobello mushroom burger with seasoned fries, the Harvest bowl, the Quinoa Power Salad, and Thai Chickin salad. Tearing myself away from the delicious wings, I first tried the Harvest Bowl, which was a mixture of soy-based “sausage” with an apple flavor, carrots, broccoli, and quinoa, all mixed with a light miso gravy. Talk about a high protein meal! This bowl will definitely leave you full and satisfied. The flavor was slightly sweet, like eating a bowl of autumn.
The Quinoa Power salad was up next. A healthy eater’s dream, this bowl featured quinoa, kale, fresh avocado, tomatoes, and a light vinegar dressing. This salad was also very filling and an energy boost.
The Portobello burger was topped with sautéed onions, tomatoes, olive oil, and served with a clove of garlic on a fresh bun. The “burger” was served with seasoned, crispy fries, and would make a great alternative to the traditional lunch burger.
Our final taste was the Thai chickin salad. Made with the same soy chicken replacement, the texture of this salad was no different than a traditional grilled chicken salad. Topped with mandarin oranges and fried wontons, this salad was a refreshing end to our meal.