My boy Tom and I have big travel stuff going on this week—poor thing is off to Australia for work while I’m headed to Chicago for Riot Fest—so we begrudgingly headed out to the mall to pick up a bunch of last-minute bits. Surprise! A new Native Foods had popped up so we felt downright obliged to check it out.
Truth be told, usually when I get the Native Foods newsletter announcing their specials, I’m not really compelled to try them, but this one struck me. It’s an herb-crusted fakey chicken with tofu bacon and avocado. I got it with a side salad and some watermelon.
I liked it! A lot! The sandwich looked a little small, but A, I think I’m used to the giant Veggie Grill sandwiches, and B, I still had to get a to-go box for my salad, so apparently, it’s a pretty decent portion. Each player in the sandwich, from the bun to the veggies, held its own, and I didn’t miss the sauce I told ’em to hold. Tom got the same sandwich but with the sauce and fries instead of a salad, and he thought it was great. If there were a vote as to whether or not to add it to the menu—and I know there’s not—then that’s two votes for!
It’s super hard to not mention Veggie Grill in a Native Foods post, and I sort of feel bad about that, but I can’t help it. They’re very different in my mind, and I love different aspects of each. Veggie Grill is fun, maybe more of a guilty pleasure. The food is huge and I tend to get onion rings and I always eat more than I should there. Native Foods has a more from-scratch feel, even if that’s not true. (And it might be.)
One thing I can totally applaud both for is being vegan fast-casual aimed at regular ol’ American folk. They open restaurants in the suburbs, at malls, in business districts. And it works. People fill the tables. There’s no way everyone in there is vegan, but there they are, dudes in suits, seniors, kids, teenage girls, all eating vegan one meal at a time. That’s pretty OK in my book.