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Vegan at Disneyland – Hungry Bear Restaurant

I have posted about Disneyland before and will continue to update as I try different vegan options in both Disneyland and California Adventure.  Click here to see all posts about Disneyland.  Eventually, I plan to put together my own comprehensive list.

My sister and I were looking for a new vegan place to try on our recent trip to Disneyland, so we consulted the impressive 23-page Vegan Cowgirl guide to vegan options at Disneyland.  It’s dated 2013, so the information is pretty current.

We went over to the Hungry Bear Restaurant (located near Splash Mountain and the Winnie the Pooh ride) to try the Fried Green Tomato sandwich.

Hungry Bear Restaurant, Disneyland | A Vegan in Progress

It’s cornmeal crusted fried green tomatoes, layered with heirloom tomatoes and jicama-mango slaw and served on a multigrain roll.  Just make sure to order it without sauce or cheese.  Unfortunately, even though I said the exceptions twice, she didn’t get that I didn’t want cheese, so I had to wait for them to re-make the sandwich.

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich - Hungry Bear Restaurant, Disneyland | A Vegan in Progress

It was worth the wait, though because this sandwich was tasty!  I loved the fried green tomatoes (never had those before!) and the batter was a little bit salty, which went so well with the rest of the sandwich.  I was worried that without sauce or cheese the sandwich might be dry, but it was actually really moist because of the tomatoes.  It tasted really fresh and was filling without being heavy.  The fries were fine, especially with some barbeque sauce.

Bonus points for being less expensive than the Vegan Gumbo at Royal Street Veranda and the Tofu Rice Bowl at Lucky Fortune Cookery in California Adventure.  There’s also a cute little area to sit and eat, with a view of the Mark Twain riverboat as it goes by.  It’s never all that crowded on this end of the park, whereas finding a place to eat your gumbo can be a nightmare in New Orleans Square.  I will definitely be ordering this one again, particularly on warm days since it’s not too heavy.

Native Foods, Palm Springs

The day after Christmas this year, Eric and I went to Palm Springs for a few days to stay at a timeshare that my bosses have.  They said they know that I have been working really hard and they appreciated it.  They almost never come in anymore… I run the office and email them everything.  I know it’s really important for them to have someone they trust in the office and for me, it’s important to have bosses who appreciate me.

Before going, I hadn’t done any research into places I could eat.  The timeshare complex that we stayed at had a kitchen in each apartment along with a barbeque, so we planned to cook for ourselves a lot of the time.  One night, he barbequed and I put some vegan frozen burger patties wrapped in foil on the grill.  I topped the “chicken” patty with sriracha, guacamole, and a slice of tomato for a supremely yummy burger.

One day, we decided to go dutch for lunch, thinking that we could each get something at different nearby restaurants (we often do that when we find ourselves hungry in food courts and such), so I googled vegan restaurants in the area.  To my surprise, Native Foods popped up and was less than 2 miles from where we were staying.

Native Foods, like Veggie Grill, is a popular, pretty inexpensive vegan restaurant.  I’ve heard about it since I went vegan, but never had the chance to try it.  They have a few locations that aren’t too far away from where we live (about 25 minutes), but I’m not really one to fight the 405 freeway for some quick dinner.  So, I was thrilled to get a chance to try it while in Palm Springs!  I later found out that this was their original location, tucked away in a courtyard of shops and restaurants.

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The line was a little long when I walked in, but that’s okay because having a full menu to choose from makes it tough to decide!  I was torn between the Scorpion Burger, the Mambo Italiano Wrap, and the Twister Wrap, but I decided on the Scorpion Burger because it was the daily special and came with a free side.  I chose fries as my free side. I also ordered the Sicilian Caponata Crostini.  Then I signed up for their rewards program and got a free drink.  There were a few house-made cold drinks: Lavender Lemonade, Watermelon Fresca, and Iced Tea.  I went with the Lavender Lemonade, which was delicious and refreshing.

Native Foods, Palm Springs - Sicilian Caponata Crostini | A Vegan in Progress

The Sicilian Caponata Crostini is a starter, described as, “savory roasted eggplant, tomatoes, caramelized onions and red peppers in a balsamic reduction with fresh basil, capers and currants on garlic crostini.  It was a great start to the meal.  Although, at $6.95, it was more than $1 per piece, so I wouldn’t likely order them again.

Native Foods, Palm Springs - Scorpion Burger | A Vegan in Progress

The Scorpion Burger is described as, “our original Native Tempeh burger! Homemade blackened Tempeh, chipotle sauce, romaine, carrots, avocado and onions.”  The Tempeh was very good blackened, but in comparison to store bought tempeh (which I am most used to), the tempeh seemed to be made of much smaller pieces of soybeans.  This wasn’t good or bad, just something I noticed.  I liked the mound of carrots and avocado on top.  The chipotle sauce was great.  The only thing I didn’t like was the fries.  They were cooked fine, but I hate shoestring fries.

Native Foods, Palm Springs - Scorpion Burger | A Vegan in Progress

My first visit to Native Foods was great.  The staff was very friendly and helpful and the restaurant was cute.  I really loved how their menu described each of the Native Meats and their Native Cheese (made with cashews and sunflower seeds) so that, if you’re unfamiliar with things like tempeh or seitan or even how a vegan cheese is made, you get a little description of each.  The weather in Palm Springs was perfect, so it was nice that they had a lot of outdoor seating.  My only complaint was that I waited 30 minutes to get my food, while people seated around me who had ordered after me were being served.  I was really impatient and hungry by the time they finally brought me my dish.  This is the only reason we didn’t go back to Native Foods one more time before leaving town – I didn’t want to wait.  I’m sure I will be back, though, to other locations.  There’s still a lot of potentially delicious items on their menu waiting for me to try them!

The Vegan Joint, Woodland Hills

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** I should start by saying that I live in the Southwest part of the San Fernando Valley in Southern California.  All of the vegan restaurants I have mentioned so far have been within an hour away.

I have driven right past The Vegan Joint in Woodland Hills thousands of times.  It is really close to my home and in the same parking lot as No Udder Desserts, a yummy vegan bakery.  Eric and I checked out the reviews on yelp and they seemed pretty favorable, so we decided to try it out.  They have a pretty varied menu, so it took us a long time to decide!  Eventually, we settled on each trying two things.  He ordered the Orange Crispy Tofu and an order of garlic fries.  I got the Garlic “Chicken” Burger and “Chicken” Nachos.

The Orange Crispy Tofu tasted a lot like traditional orange chicken from a Chinese food place (as I remember it), but with sort of an egg-like texture to the tofu.  I can see why tofu is used as a replacement for egg so often!

The Vegan Joint - Orange Crispy Tofu | A Vegan in Progress

Orange Crispy Tofu

The garlic fries were perfect!  So often when you order garlic fries you just get regular fries with a dollop of garlic and a drizzle of oil on top, but these tasted well seasoned all the way around.

The Vegan Joint - Garlic fries | A Vegan in Progress

Garlic fries

I ordered two soy chicken items because I am obsessed with it now, thanks to Hana Grill.  The Garlic “Chicken” Burger came with a garlic and cilantro sauce that was very tasty, along with lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, pickles, onions, and tomato.  The patty was really great and the sauce went very well with it.  I also got my own order of fries with it, so we were swimming in excess food!

The Vegan Joint - Garlic "Chicken" Burger | A Vegan in Progress

Garlic “Chicken” Burger

The “Chicken” Nachos were very fresh tasting, with what seemed like house-made taco chips.  The toppings were grilled soy chicken, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, black beans, serano chili, and fresh salsa.  It was supposed to come with soy cheese as well, but I didn’t see any, so perhaps they were out.  I also got a side of guacamole.  I would order them again.  The leftovers even held up well for the next day, once I separated the chips from the toppings.

The Vegan Joint - "Chicken" Nachos | A Vegan in Progress

“Chicken” Nachos

It was only about $24 for all of that yummy food, so we will definitely return.  I’m looking forward to trying more of what they offer!  Next time we may order online and pick it up to go, because it was a rather small place.

UPDATE:  DO NOT try ordering over the phone. I had a very unpleasant experience with a man who had so heavy an accent that we could not understand each other.  He insisted that I had ordered something that I did not and said that it had already been made, insinuating that I should just take it.  I eventually got what I had ordered, but it was very frustrating.

Click here to see all posts about The Vegan Joint.