Explore Davis Plant-Based Eating Options This Winter
The local Davis restaurant landscape has changed since the pandemic and many restaurants that used to have several vegan options have reduced them. However, there are still plenty of great restaurants with vegan offerings or 100% vegan business models.
Needless to say, eating lower on the food chain can greatly reduce your daily contribution to carbon emissions.
For vegan holiday meal ideas, download TVC+Vegan+Holiday+Cookbook.
Restaurants to explore
The newest locations on the scene to get a plant-based meal include Musette, Burger Patch, and Pizza & Pints.
Musette serves delicious “bowl” style meals prepared with a variety of fresh, nutrition-packed ingredients and a minimum amount of fat. They are take-out only, prices are very reasonable, and one $12 bowl can last two meals.
Three Ladies Cafe has smoothies, bowls, soups and other dishes that are well marked, made from nutritious ingredients with minimal sugar and salt added.
Zim Cuisine does catering and pop-ups but none are scheduled at the moment. Vegans options include bean curry stew, mustard greens, garlic beans, and marinated tofu stew. Website features meat options front and center, so be prepared.
Burger Patch is on the other end of the nutrition spectrum and serves delicious fast food burgers, fries, mac & cheese, and fabulous shakes (one topped with fried chocolate chip cookies)!
Yeti Restaurant is under new ownership but the owners have retained the large number of menu items which are either plant-based or can be easily made so. Their Nepalese food menu is well-marked.
Guads Tacos & Beer is a new addition by a family that owns several other restaurants in town. The menu is very limited (see page 2) but tastes great and is a fast option with outdoor seating. Note that they do not supply dairy-free cheese or sour cream, so although we love the idea of the soy chorizo quesadilla, it does not hold together well without cheese. The burritos and tostada are lovely options. Order with “no dairy”.
Preethi serves Indian and Southern Indian food with many options. It is helpful to ask them what is easy to customize, but typically everything on the Southern Indian section of the menu is plant-based except one chutney.
Bones Craft Kitchen is a new farm-to-table restaurant on D Street, with a vegan mushroom taco, springrolls, and cheesesteak, and Impossible burger.
Peet’s Coffee during the pandemic added two plant-based breakfasts that are high protein and easy to grab and go. They use some of the products listed below.
Products to explore
The last five years have brought us many new products that are easy to find through major supermarket chains, the Davis Food Coop, and Grocery Outlet. In the past two years their popularity has also allowed a significant reduction in prices for these products.
Ground beef substitutes: Impossible and Beyond Burger. These products can be purchased in burger patties and ground beef, which can be used exactly as their meat counterparts. The products are also used in prepared and frozen meals. These products have zero cholesterol, but be aware that they do have fat and calories comparable to meat. These products are available in some local restaurants as substitutes. You can try out a terrific fast food burger at Burger Patch (in Davis Commons).
JUST Egg. JUST Egg is a liquid, ready-to-use egg product. It is great for a scramble, omelet, quiche, and substitute in baking. Be aware that this product takes longer to “fix” and takes longer than a chicken egg to finish cooking in a pan. (In baking, you don’t need to worry about that.)
Mayonnaise/aioli. Our very favorite aioli is Wildwood. Follow Your Heart veganaise comes in several flavors. JUST Mayo, Spectrum, Primal Kitchen, Earth Balance, and Hellmann’s.
Cream cheese. There are a number of brands of cream cheese, including those with added flavors, like chives or sundried tomatoes. Brands you can find locally include: Violife, Kite Hill, Daiya, Tofutti, Kite Hill, Follow Your Heart.
Sour cream. There are also a number of sour cream substitutes which generally have lower fat and cholesterol than those made from cow’s milk. They work well in a baked potato or as a party dip. If you are going to add to a sauce, it may take some experimentation with milk sources used. As to flavor, we recommend trying several to see what you like the best. In our house we actually enjoy using soy or almond milk plain, or unsweetened yogurt! (For yogurts, make sure to purchase “unsweetened.”) Sour cream brands include: Tofutti Better than Sour Cream, Wildbrine Creamery, Follow Your Heart, Kite Hill, Miyokos, Forager, WayFare, and Good Karma.
Cheese. Cheeses have also improved a lot in recent years. There is a large number of soft, spreadable cheeses, with Miyoko’s brand in the lead. If you are looking for hard cheese, our #1 favorite for flavor is Violife blocks and slices (especially the mature cheddar and feta). Field Roast and Follow Your Heart flavors are very good, as well. There are many shreds, including at Trader Joes and 365/Whole Foods. Most of them need to be cooked at a very high heat to actually melt and the flavors can be hit or miss. So, they work well in mac and cheese, but are not great on a pizza.
For parmesan blocks, we highly recommend Violife brand which tastes great, shreds easily, and melts instantly. For parmesan shreds/flakes, use Follow Your Heart or Go Veggie. These mix well, but do not melt fast, so are not great as a topping, say on top of your oven baked lasagna.
We encourage experimentation! The bottom line is that these are made of different plant sources. Coconut melts very fast but is higher fat and very little nutritional value. Nut-cheeses each have different properties but give you a little more protein for the calories.
Recipe sites to explore
Here are some of our favorite recipe treasure troves. Click on any to see the photos and you will be inspired instantly to try something new!
New York Times Cooking app — costs $2/month and is easily searchable by “vegan”, the recipes have a range of difficulty for every home cook’s skill level.
Those Vegan Chefs – two former Davis residents, various levels of difficulty, some really creative ideas and tricks of the trade to share and there are terrific videos to follow. We learn a new skill with every video.
Minimalist Baker – recipes are interesting, fun, easy to follow, and especially baked goods reliably turn out excellent if you follow the recipes exactly.
Plant Based on a Budget – affordable, delicious, minimal number of ingredients.
Post Punk Kitchen – Isa Chandra’s fabulous funky foodie site.
Simple Veganista – a range of simple meals and desserts.
Starter seitan recipes
Seitan is a vegan meat replacement which is also known as vital wheat protein, textured wheat protein, wheat gluten, and vital wheat gluten. Wheat gluten has been a popular protein source in China for thousands of years thanks to its realistic meaty texture. It is very high protein. Make a large batch, it freezes well. It is fast to prepare the dough, but the cooking takes 1-2 hours so you need to plan ahead.
Visit our Plant-Based Eating page for more resources!
Anya McCann is head vegan for COOL Cuisine, a working group of the Cool Davis Coalition and a Cool Davis partner, the force behind the 2019 Burger Battle, and fills many other roles, both volunteer and professional, with valor in our community.
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