Dining well at Native Foods

By Midge Raymond on

Midge Raymond

Ashland Creek Press co-founder Midge Raymond is the author of the award-winning short story collection FORGETTING ENGLISH and a novel, MY LAST CONTINENT. Learn more at MidgeRaymond.com.

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While in Southern California, we had the opportunity to visit Native Foods Cafe, a small, plant-based restaurant chain with locations in Southern California, Oregon, and Colorado, among others (including Palm Springs, where it was founded), and we hope it becomes a nationwide phenomenon as soon as possible. Because it’s delicious, and so good for both people and the planet.

native foods

The Native Foods goal is “bringing into harmony our passion for fresh food and compassion for animals and the environment.” The dining style is “fast-casual,” meaning you order at the counter, and in addition to its “made-from-scratch, chef-crafted cuisine,” made fresh daily, the cafes also have beer and wine and a fantastic dessert menu.

Despite the healthy sounding aspect of plant based foods, there’s plenty of comfort food on this menu. We skipped over the entree salads and “earth bowls” (though they all looked great) and went straight for the foods it can be a challenge to find vegan versions of…starting with Native Nachos.

nachos

The nachos arrived on a gigantic, overflowing plate, with light, crispy tortilla chips; black beans; a creamy chipotle sauce; two mounds of cashew cheese; and salsa fresca, sprinkled with roasted corn, green onions, cilantro and jalapeño peppers. In a word: fantastic.

The decadent Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger consists of sliced seitan, melted cheddar, caramelized onions, and tofu bacon, along with barbecue sauce and ranch dressing, and is topped with carrots, tomato, and romaine.
bacon cheeseburger

Our favorite was the Chicken, Bacon & Avo Club.

chicken bacon avo

This sandwich, on a multi-grain ciabatta, features crispy, herb-crusted vegan “chicken”; tofu bacon; and avocado; along with romaine, tomato, and carrots slathered with the creamy chipotle sauce. It’s everything a good veg burger should be…rich and filling and delicious, with just enough healthy ingredients to allow you to feel somewhat virtuous. (Choosing a side salad instead of fries would’ve left us feeling far more virtuous…but that was not about to happen.)

We didn’t leave room for dessert, but with offerings like Chocolate Ganache Cupcake, Peanut Butter Parfait, and Oatmeal Creme Pie, we might have to start with dessert next time.

Check out Native Foods’ locations to find the nearest one to you. Even better than its sustainable, cruelty-free, delicious menu, the company also gives back, both nationally and in the communities where the cafes are located; click here to learn more.

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