With a menu that boasts of Native Chicken, Spicy Meatball Pizza, and cheesecake, Santa Monica’s Native Foods Cafe doesn’t sound like an all-vegan casual restaurant. But after reading about it online, I had to try it out. Two friends from out of town wanted to meet up for dinner, so I suggested the cafe, giving them fair warning.
“They have burgers, tacos, pizza, etc. BUT it’s all vegan, so uh, if you and your friend want real meat, I’ll look up a different place,” I texted my friend.
“Wait, but this sounds awesome. I’m vegetarian anyway. Let’s do it,” was the response.
I remember talking to this friend about vegetarianism, but I had no idea he had actually embraced it since I had last seen him.
Entering Native Foods Cafe, the only indicators that this was a vegan restaurant were the cute, and sometimes sassy, slogans on employees’ shirts. A standout? “Eat sunshine.”
I wanted to try everything on the menu, but I settled on the Rockin’ Moroccan Bowl, a quinoa dish with grilled veggies and Native Chicken, their original chicken-flavored mixture of soy, wheat, and pea protein. My friends both ordered the Portobello and Sausage Burger.
“We didn’t ruin our streak,” one of the boys commented to the other through a bite of his burger.
“Absolutely not,” my other friend responded.
“What streak?” I asked.
“Well, since we got off the plane, we’ve had amazing food.”
Of course, I had to sample the native desserts, especially after having so many “eh” vegan baking experiences recently. I am a passionate chocolate lover, so I ordered their chocolate cupcake. I even generously shared a bite with each of my friends.
As an added bonus, an employee came by and offered us samples of their carrot cake cupcake. Every bite melted in my mouth, giving us all a sweet finish to a satisfying meal.
For a complete list of Native Foods Cafe, sprawling across California and the U.S., visit their site.