road trip: san francisco, part 2

Like many whirlwind affairs, it began with coffee. A simple house coffee served in a shapely glass mug. Maybe it was the lighting, but I was a goner from the start. Herbivore was to be mine, at least for the weekend.

Herbivore popped up every which way I was searching for vegan food in San Francisco. Seeing as it couldn’t possibly be the only vegan food in the city I went ahead and fell for the hype. Well, good call on my part, ’cause this place is amazing. It’s all vegan, all the time, and they’ve got an enormous menu.

I’d planned to meet an old friend here Saturday afternoon, so that morning Tom and I gave this place a test run with breakfast. (As with the dinner photos, please excuse the crappy quality; low lighting and the ol’ travel pocket camera are staunch opponents of food porn.)

Tom got the corn cakes, which came with guacamole, salsa, sour cream, a ton of black beans, and potatoes. And he finished it, down to the last bean. He was just as pleased with the soul music being piped at us. Some restaurants we avoid simply because of the music. Not an issue here.

I thought I’d keep it light and ordered a few sides: tempeh, potatoes, and blueberry cornbread. Oops. Six strips of tempeh, a huge helping of super-fab spicy potatoes, and two giant pieces of blueberry cornbread! I managed the tempeh and most of the potatoes. Almost all of the cornbread got boxed for snacking later.

Luckily, in San Francisco it doesn’t take long to walk off a meal. A couple of miles of up and down and up and up and “Are you kidding me, there’s more?” up and you’re ready for dessert. So my friend (not vegetarian at all but still pointed out her leather-looking jacket was an animal-friendly imposter) and I grabbed a table out back and got our a-la-mode on. I got the German chocolate cake and she went with the rhubarb pie. They were delightful, and were left to our table for something like two hours, not being harassed, and were even told we “could stay forever.” But it got cold.

Later that night we met up with one of Tom’s old friends and his ladyfriend. Where to go, where to go…how about Herbivore? We started off with a bottle of wine for the grown-ups and a gingery fruity drink for me (it’s vodka, lime, ginger juice, and your choice of mango, papaya, pear, or pineapple—I got the pineapple). We all had a pretty tough time narrowing down our choices. Seriously, check out the menu and you’ll understand. In the end, here’s what we ended up with (and were all pleased with, if I might add).

Red curry: Char-broiled vegetables, tofu, potatoes and cilantro over rice.

Ravioli: Vegetable-filled ravioli in a sea of pesto. And garlic bread (for soppin’ up the pesto you can’t manage to eat with the ravioli).

Mac and cheese: With broccoli and red pepper, in a nutritional-yeast–based sauce.

Curry-coconut udon: Where’s the udon? She wasn’t feeling like udon and went with rice instead. Atop the rice are roasted vegetables, cilantro, and shredded coconut.

So that was day one at Herbivore. The next day we were just going to walk over to Golden Gate Park and wing it for lunch…but we were drawn back in. And I was finally called on it. Our waitress asked, “Weren’t you here yesterday?” “Yes, three times, as a matter of fact.” As if they’d complain. I dropped a bunch of cash and brought three locals (possibly repeat customers themselves) in. It was still a bit chilly out so we scored a table by the window to still be able to soak up some sun.

Tom got the burrito: beans, brown rice, guacamole, vegan sour cream, jalapenos, and salsa in a whole wheat tortilla. You can add tofu, seitan, tempeh, soy protein, vegetables, or fakey chicken. He went with the tempeh and was a very happy boy.

I had a fakey chicken sandwich. The soy chicken is in little chunks, topped with tomato, onion, pickle, and lettuce on French bread. No garlic-lemon sauce for me, but if you like that sort of thing I bet it’s fantastic. The salad that seems to come with everything is very lightly dressed and is topped with beets, which I love, as luck would have it. I’d never had cold beets before and I’m mighty glad to have been introduced to them.

And just so you don’t think I’m alone in my insti-love of this place, check out what I found on the restroom door: 


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