Ten years ago, when you wanted a veggie burger for dinner, you could probably find a restaurant serving a patty made with mashed beans, rice, and mushrooms. There was no menu item listing plant based chicken or cold cuts.
Today, a growing number of companies are offering alternative proteins made from peas, soybeans and other ingredients, designed to really imitate real meat, and restaurants are taking note, with more plant-based versions of dishes traditionally focused on meat. Vegan pepperoni, cold cuts or tuna? It is over there.
Here is a list of quick and casual restaurants in Los Angeles and Orange counties serving alternative protein. (Since veggie and vegan burgers are readily available at most restaurants, we’ve omitted them from this list.)
Veggie Grill Tuna Fondant
In late 2020, the Santa Monica-based vegan restaurant chain began offering a plant-based “tuna” fondant made from Good Catch tuna. (The protein is actually a blend of peas, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, field beans, and white beans.) Good Catch received over $ 30 million from General Mills and many other companies in 2020, and celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Lance Bass and Shailene Woodley have also invested. For the melted tuna, the alternative protein is mixed with diced onion, capers, celery and fresh dill, topped with a piece of melted vegan American cheese and topped with pickles and tomatoes on bread. of grilled rye. Tuna is more rigid and is eaten more like a chicken salad, with meat flakes. There was a tuna aftertaste (probably seaweed oil or seaweed powder added to the protein mix), and with all the usual tuna melt ingredients present, this is a passable version. classic.
Pizza Planteroni of the Little Caesar
The vegan pepperoni at Little Caesar’s is purely there for the aesthetic. Made with Field Roast pepperoni, the rounds are crumbly and similar in texture to Play-Doh that was left out a bit too long. Pepperoni is a combination of wheat gluten, pea protein, and potato protein. Cayenne, paprika, and fennel were also among the ingredients, but they were difficult to detect. The dominant seasoning was salt – as in, the pepperoni was very salty. There will be no Pinocchio miracle, even if you repeat over and over “I eat real pepperoni pizza” in your head.
Breakfast Sandwich Beyond Dunkin ‘Donuts
Some locations in the donut chain offer a breakfast sandwich made with Beyond Sausage, from Beyond Meat. Like its cousin Beyond Beef, the sausage is made with pea protein. And the herbal version of a pressed and shaped sausage tastes pretty much like a pressed and shaped sausage. To keep your sandwich entirely vegan, be sure to ask for vegan bread (like English muffin) and steer clear of American cheese and egg.
California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Pizza “Don’t Call Me Chicken”
CPK’s Plant-Based BBQ Chicken Pizza is the restaurant’s signature pizza, but with slightly chewy plant-based chicken replaced by the real one. The company launched the “BBQ Don’t Call Me Chicken” pizza in October 2020, using Worthington Foods’ Don’t Call Me Chicken product, which is primarily made from wheat and soy. It smells like the original pizza, with a sweet barbecue sauce and smoky gouda. If you’re planning to cut down on your meat intake but haven’t fully pulled the vegan trigger, this pizza is for you.
The unreal Ruben of Mrs. Goldfarb of Mendocino Farms
It may seem impossible to replicate the experience of a dizzying deli sandwich stacked with thinly sliced meat, but the Plant-Based Reuben at Mendocino Farms comes close enough. The key is corned beef, made by Ms. Goldfarb’s Los Angeles-based company, Unreal Deli. It is a mixture “rich in wheat proteins”, beets, tomatoes and chickpeas flavored with soy sauce, maple syrup and cider vinegar. According to the company, a high protein content of wheat is the “high protein part of the wheat grain”. The “meat” is soft, supple and salty. What the corned beef flavored sandwich lacks, it makes up for in Reuben accessories, with a good apple and celeriac salad, Thousand Island dressing, sweet pickles and melted cheese on rye bread. To make it vegan, ask for the herbal smoked provolone in place of the havarti.
Chronic Tacos Beyond Chronic Fried Beef
This chain’s Beyond Beef tacos, which hails from Newport Beach, uses the most chameleon of what I like to call fake meats: Beyond Beef. It’s made by Beyond Meat, one of the two alternative protein giants (the other is Impossible Foods), widely available in stores. Beyond Beef is made with pea protein, rice protein, potato starch and dried yeast with a host of other ingredients added for texture and color. At Chronic Tacos, you can use the alternative protein in any of the restaurant’s make-your-own dishes, but I would recommend the Chronic Fries. The fries are good and lean that remain crisp. They are served with a few scoops of Beyond Beef, divided into small pieces that look like ground beef. If there is any seasoning in the meat, it was lost to me. After adding rice and beans, chopped onion, cilantro, and tangy salsa, the meat – like so many alternative protein products – is there for the idea of meat more than anything.
Blaze Vegan Chorizo Pizza
This is another build-your-own pizza chain, where it’s possible to create an all-vegan pizza with vegan cheese and the restaurant’s vegan chorizo. Unsatisfied with what was on the market, Blaze co-founder and culinary director Brad Kent decided to develop his own version. The non-GMO soy protein chorizo has a good amount of spice with a paprika and onion punch, and it crumbles like the real thing. (You can add plant-based cheese and chorizo to any pizza.)
Monty’s Good Burger Charlie’s Chickɘn Sandwich
The craze for the fried chicken sandwich has spread to plant territory. Monty’s Good Burger now offers a sandwich that mimics the fast food classic, simply dressed in vegan mayonnaise and pickles on a bun. The restaurant has developed its own seitan (wheat gluten) chicken product, for a texture similar to chicken breast. It is breaded and fried with a sufficiently thick and crispy coating. Just about anything dipped and fried in this batter would taste great, and chicken is no exception.
Dog Haus Beyond Sausage Brat and Beyond Sausage Italian
The Dog Haus chain’s Beyond Sausage Brat, made by Beyond Meat, was thick like a bratwurst and smelled like hot dog, but the meat was smooth without any strong flavor. The Italian had a bit more bite, with indistinguishable soft and grainy bits that I imagine were meant to mimic the marbling of a minced sausage. It was not at all hot, but there was a slight tingling of heat. If you put enough condiments on either sausage, you’ll feel like you’re eating a hot dog. It should be noted that the restaurant’s signature sweet buns are not vegan, but you can order your dog on a French roll (vegan) or in a lettuce wrap.
Picadillo with tocaya pea protein
More than any other plant-based meat product, the pea protein used in Tocaya’s picadillo most closely resembled the flavor and texture of ground beef. Maybe it was the fact that the pieces were loose and small like a sloppy joe topping or the “beef” was well seasoned like taco meat. After a few bites, I was convinced it was real meat. The restaurant has developed its own recipe, based on protein from peas, carrots, zucchini and potatoes. (You can add the picadillo to any restaurant dish.) If you’re looking to boost your veggie intake, try one of the bowls with cauliflower rice. Yes, cauliflower rice.
The tender chicks of Fresh Brothers
My 5-year-old godson, whose diet consists almost exclusively of all forms of fried poultry, endorsed the Fresh Brothers tender chickens. I can’t think of a better endorsement. The restaurant chain uses Gardein Chick’n made from fortified wheat flour and soy protein isolate. The fillets are baked instead of deep fried, with a “seven grain” crust. They look like tender, but they’re not exactly crispy. Think of a giant chicken nugget in a sealed container after a long drive. But that’s nothing that a quick dip in the air fryer won’t solve.