Native Foods Cafe – Eat Here NOW!Jul 03 2012 by
While my family and I don’t eat out often, when we do, we usually have only a few select things to choose from. So you can only imagine our EXTREME excitement when we come across restaurants like Shojin and now Native Foods Cafe.
Before I get to talking about the AMAZING food let’s chat about the outstanding service, casual atmosphere and family friendly environment that makes this the perfect spot for lunch or dinner. As soon as you walk in you’re greeted by their super friendly staff who is ready to answer any of your questions. Amazingly enough, although Native Foods Cafe is entirely a vegan restaurant, only 20% of their customers are vegan. They are happy to explain any aspect of their menu and posted around the restaurant are explanations of their ‘meats’ for those that are unfamiliar with such things as seitan or tempeh. The atmosphere itself is super casual. You order at the front counter and your food is brought out to your table by a member of their staff. While I would NEVER consider such amazing food as ‘fast food’, our order was brought out extremely quick and we only waited a minute or two before being served. You don’t have a traditional waiter or waitress but the entire staff will come by every so often and check that everything is alright and you have everything you need. Drinks are self serve – they have a super yummy selection of Lavender Lemonade, Watermelon Fresca and Native Ice Tea that are on tap and available for refills as you need them. They also have a selection of chai, hot teas, coffee and organic beer and wine available. I think our favorite was the boxed water. You can read on the carton about the advantage of drinking water from boxed cartons.
While the atmosphere may be casual – the food is not at all. Everything on the menu was personally created by chef Tanya Petrovna. The combination of flavors and textures would have you think you’re eating at a fine dining restaurant. Everything single item is made fresh, from scratch every single day – it’s a difference you can clearly taste in their foods.
If I can only eat one thing again for the rest of my life it would hands down be the Super Italian Meatball Sub. UNBELIEVABLE! I can’t even put into words how delicious this sandwich was. I could not stuff it in my mouth fast enough. It was so good that I made my family get back in the car the very next day and drive 45 miles just so I could eat another one. Yes, it is really that good!
While the meatball sub was by far my favorite dish, they had some other really wonderful food that we tried as well. My husband was a big fan of the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger and the Chicken Run Ranch Burger.
I believe his exact words were “Best. Sandwich. Ever!”. In fact he said that he had never had such a delicious sandwich.
One of my favorite sandwiches pre-plant based diet was a reuben sandwich. Boy oh boy was I excited when I saw it on the menu at Native Foods Cafe. Of course I had to try it and I’m so glad I did! Quite possibly the best reuben I’ve ever tasted. I feel like I keep saying this over and over but the foods at Native Foods is just so unbelievable. I wish everyone that ever thought that a plant based diet was boring, plain tasting or just plain yucky could eat the food here – even the biggest meat eater would be impressed!
If sandwiches aren’t your thing no need to worry – how about a pizza or a Native Earth Bowl. I tried the Greek Gyro Bowl and my new goal is to recreate the hummus that they serve on top. It was so creamy and delicious and was very similar to sour cream.
We also tried one of their most popular appetizers – Nuevo Native Nachos. I would show you the after shot but it was literally just an empty plate. The nachos are topped with Native Cheese and in her current cookbook, chef Tanya shares her recipe with everyone – I’m so making it this week! I should also mention that we tried all of these dishes over the course of 3 visits. I did repeat and have the meatball sub twice but only cause it’s so freaking yummy!
As a mother I work very hard to make sure my kids eat food that is not only yummy but is good for them as well. One of my most favorite things about Native Foods are their kids meal. Instead of the normal side of fries or limp carrot sticks or even canned fruit, their kids meals are served with vegetables – FRESH, RAW vegetables. My kids both order the Native Chicken Nuggets and while they both gave the nuggets 2 big thumbs up they also enjoyed the brown rice and veggies.
In fact Keegan found out that she loves raw beets (even I don’t like raw beets and I love all veggies!). She actually scarfed down all of hers and ended up stealing the ones off Caleb’s plate.
Now before you start thinking that this is just another review of a restaurant located only in southern California think again!!!! That’s right, Native Foods Cafe has 13 locations and is currently working on expanding to include 27 locations! Right now they are located in:
- Aliso Viejo, CA (this is the location that we visited)
- Newport Beach, CA
- Palm Springs, CA
- Santa Monica, CA
- Tustin, CA
- Costa Mesa, CA
- Los Angeles, CA (Westwood)
- Culver City, CA
- Boulder, CO
- Chicago, IL (Lakeview)
- Chicago, IL (Loop)
- Chicago, IL (Wicker Park)
- Portland, OR (Tigard)
If you have the opportunity to visit any of the Native Foods locations I highly recommend you give them a try. You’ll love their fresh, local organic foods and super friendly customer service. And if you’re not like us and don’t totally pig out on dinner or lunch then you might have room for some of their homemade cupcakes, cheesecakes and other desserts. They are not only 100% plant based (totally dairy free) but free of refined sugars as well.
If you do happen to be in the southern California area and are heading to Native Foods Cafe – I call shotgun!