Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vegan Dinning in & around the Inland Empire, California (Riverside, San Bernardino, Upland, Rancho, etc.) Part One

Vegetarian & Vegan food have gone hand in hand with punk and hardcore from just about the beginnings of both; in the spirit of that and in the spirit of being vegan for the last 8 years (vegetarian for 5 years before that), there will be some semi-regular appearances of posts that briefly highlight 2-3 places around my part of the world that are either exclusively veggie/vegan, or friendly to those diets. First up is a classic from the Inland Empire:

Baker's was founded in San Bernardino, Ca. in the 1950's, continually expanding throughout the Inland region into the current millennium. Offering both burgers & fries along with mexican-american style (burritos & tacos), hence the "America's First Twin Kitchen" moniker.

In the mid-90's as locations were built near and in Loma Linda, CA. which is predominately inhabited by Seventh Day Adventists, a vegetarian menu was crafted. While it offers mostly typical fare- boca burger, fries, tostada, and some different burrito options; one of the things that sets them apart is that they had the burger before it was the hip thing to do, and that they use a fake taco meat which allows them to really add to their burritos/tacos and even chili fries. MOST things on the veggie menu can be made vegan by excluding cheese, sour cream, and/or guacamole. The serving sizes are good, the food good (on the better end of fast food), and the price okay (for the serving size, options, and quality, its what you can expect). Baker's are scattered among the Inland Empire, mostly in Riverside & San Bernardino; with the furthest outliers being Yucaipa & Calimesa in the east and Ontario in the west.

Locations with the Veggie Menu: http://www.bakersdrivethru.com/vegetarian/veglocations.htm
Veggie Menu: http://www.bakersdrivethru.com/vegetarian/vegitems.htm

Oasis is a Vegetarian cafe in Riverside, Ca. Located off the 91 freeway (very near the 91/15 interchange). Connected to La Sierra Market & across the street from La Sierra University, Oasis is 100% vegetarian (as is the market it is attached to), and has many vegan options that are noted on the menu. They provide a fairly simple and straight forward menu with equal parts american, mexican, along with some south american & mediterranean styled dishes. Prices are fair, with the fake meats and veggies usually prepped daily. The "steak" used for the steak burger, carnitas, and tamales is made from scratch, while they also offer out of the can options for many worthington farms fake meats (hot dogs, chili, etc).

A nice perk to Oasis is the ability to order a nice lunch (I prefer it most for lunch) and then do some shopping while your food is prepared. The store is a bit more pricey on some of the mainstream vegan essentials such as veganese, dayia, & seitan. The flipside to that is that they offer more than a lot of other stores in the immediate area (such as the Riverside Clarks location), including a very good frozen & canned fake meat section and wonderful dried fake meat aisle that makes use of their access to many vendors and ability to bag their own dried meats in bulk. Oasis has outdoor seating (the cafe is attached outside to the store) as well as an indoor section where you could actually pause shopping, eat lunch, and resume your shopping.

Another one on the simple and to the point side, with some definite bonus points for options. The Carnitas, Steak Burger, and Hummus Sandwich are personal faves. The tamales are nice, especially if you havent had them styled in platain leaves.

Oasis on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OasisVegetarianCafe

Next time we'll really get into it with some of our more vegan specified treats like Cheezy Pizza & Bright Star.

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