Native Foods, I Love You. Please Come Home

Everyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I love Native Foods Cafe. Over the last several years, I’ve written about it frequently (last time at my birthday meal). When they closed the Palm Desert location I was devastated.

Then, in the middle of last season, they up and closed the Palm Springs store! An odd time to do something like that, during the busiest part of the year (I think it is because they are Chicago folks and think everyone hibernates in February.  Not here in the California desert!). When promises to reopen in a few weeks turned into months, vegans and non-vegans alike were concerned that we’d seen the end of our only vegan restaurant in the area.

Unfortunately, this post is not to announce the grand reopening of Native Foods Palm Springs (although according to a NF employee and their facebook page they will reopen in September). I hope to do that in a future post.

Rather, it is to rave about my visit to Native Foods in Costa Mesa! We were in Huntington Beach for the weekend (doing our grandparently thrill duty of taking care of the grandsons so their parents could have a little time together). We’d stopped at the Costa Mesa restaurant before on our way home, so I was excited to do so again. We were not disappointed.


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After we’d trundled off the grandsons to their various Sunday activities (one to a baseball tournament, the other to a birthday party), we were free to head home.  A quick check of the Happy Cow app gave us the directions and soon we were at Native Foods in Costa Mesa.

As you walk in the funny round building with a huge slow moving fan in the center, you order at the island counter. At first, I was planning my all time favorite, the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger (remember, this is all vegan, the cheese is from nuts, the bacon from tempeh, and the burger is seitan), the most awesome vegan sandwich on earth (and perfect for meat eaters, by the way, in it’s meaty, saucy, deliciousness). But then I saw this:

Click on the photo to see the awesome deliciousness that is in the Bistro Steak Sandwich

And I changed my mind.

Alan stuck with his plan and ordered the OK C’burger. We ordered, went to pay and were asked for our Native Foods Rewards Card. I’d almost forgotten, it had been so long! I pulled it out and noticed in my wallet a promotional gift card that one of my trainers had given me months ago. I handed it to the cashier, assuming it had expired. Imagine my surprise when he told us it was worth $20! So, lunch, including a Stone Pale Ale, was $8 (before dessert, of course).

Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger

Bistro Steak Sandwich (with GARLIC fries!)

This is way more food than I usually eat and I was stuffed when I finished (eating ALL of it). But still, I was at a vegan restaurant with the rare opportunity to have a delicious vegan dessert. What do you think I did?

Cheesecake, baby. Luscious and rich, I ate the whole thing. Alan had the Peanut Butter Parfait, which, in it’s little plastic cup wasn’t as photographable (but delicious).

I was stuffed but satisfied. Too bad that Costa Mesa is about a two hour drive from my house. Native Foods, I love you. Please come home!

Have you been to Native Foods? They’re expanding quickly through the country. In addition to So Cal, you can also find a Native Foods Cafe in Chicago, Denver, and Portland, with many more opening in the near future.

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  1. says

    whoo hoo! that food sure looks great! looks like an awesome place to go! ive never been to a native foods or even heard of it, but it sounds totally cool. i love trying out new restaurants and foods that are out of the ordinary from me. im never scared to try anything new!! happy wednesday! spalove!

    • says

      Yeah, west coast when you’re in LA or San Francisco. We go nothin’ here in the desert. Well a few things, but that why I’m whining about Native Foods. And why I’m excited we’re finally getting a Whole Foods!

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see Native Foods open restaurants on the east coast. The new owners are very ambitious and have plans to really be nationwide. Hopefully, mine will open first, though :-).
      Debbie recently posted…Native Foods, I Love You. Please Come HomeMy Profile

  2. says

    I’ll have to check that out next time I am in Huntington beach. Maybe for the Surf City half in 2013~thanks for sharing. SPA love. – Lea

  3. says

    After it comes home to you, I hope that Native Foods keeps expanding. I’ve visited several of their locations in LA and one of their restaurants in Chicago. I think the Costa Mesa location is especially nice, because it’s so breezy and open. Plus, that handmade/local store in the same strip is super cute! (I can’t remember the name of it…)

    They’re the kind of restaurant that I think could do big business all across the country. It changes expectations on what vegan food is all about and both vegans and non-vegans respond to it. I love their comfort food sensibility for an indulgent treat. The Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger is my favorite sandwich anywhere, anytime, but I’d love to try that steak sandwich if it becomes a regular part of the menu.
    Cadry recently posted…Light & Creamy Squash Blossom QuesadillasMy Profile

    • says

      I totally agree with you. I love taking non-vegans there because the food is so good and there are so many “meaty” choices that they feel at home.

      Native Foods actually responded to me when I linked this post on their facebook page and assured me they would reopen in late September/early October. Hurray! Of course, I still won’t have my Palm Desert restaurant, which is so much more convenient, but I will still be happy.

      They have pretty big plans to open throughout the country, and they’ve already made some pretty big moves very quickly. While I’m not real fond of the whole corporate aspect of it all (I guess I’m just a hippy vegan at heart, plus I know and love Tanya the creator of Native Foods, and things are quite different now that she is out of the picture), they have kept the quality of the food, so I’m happy to see them grow.
      Debbie recently posted…Weekly Reader: Words that InspireMy Profile

  4. says

    When she sold her business a few years ago, it was basically because she felt it needed people with a better busuness background to run it and continue to grow. She was required by contract to be the face of Native Foods for a couple years, but felt she was not really wanted or respected. When the contract was up they hired new chefs and Tanya went her own way. She’s doing a lot of work with animal shelters now, especially in the Palm Springs area. It is my hope that whenever she is able (contractually I mean) she will open a new restaurant here. Fingers crossed.
    Debbie recently posted…#Vegan Recipe: Quinoa, Avocado, and Mandarin Orange “Chicken” SaladMy Profile

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