On the Road: Vegan Dining in Temecula and Encinitas

As I mentioned in my Weekly Training Recap post, our drive to the coast was quite an experience. Under normal circumstances, when Alan and I drive to the San Diego area, we take the “scenic” route, which takes us through the Santa Rosa mountains, then heads down into Temecula where we jump on the freeway for the rest of the drive. This weekend, though, because of the strange, cold, and rainy weather, we took a not-so-scenic route, which heads west on the freeway, then takes us through Hemet (which sometimes smells like the dairy capital of California), continuing to Temecula, where we follow the rest of the route above.

As soon as we left La Quinta at about 12:30 on Friday, we ran into some weather. The wind was cold and gusting out of the west as we drove on the freeway. The wind also brought in some showers, and I felt bad for the cyclists planning to ride in the Tour de Palm Springs the following day. As it turns out, the riding weather was not too bad, but very cold, but it must have given out-of-towners a scare as they drove into town on Friday night.

We arrived in the Banning and Beaumont area about an hour outside of the desert. Although the elevation is around 2,500 feet, Banning and Beaumont generally have comfortable weather, just slightly cooler than my desert heat. So we were surprised to see snow on the ground as we drove through the towns. It was even falling lightly as we drove (though my cousin in Canada laughs that we call that little bit of white fluff “snow”).

vegan dining

As we continued on through Hemet, the light snow turned to heavy rain along with a little hail. It was really kind of strange. It would pour for several minutes, then stop completely, then pour, then stop. And so on. We decided to stop in Temecula for lunch.

We do that frequently now on our drives to San Diego because we recently discovered Earth Bistro. While not a completely vegetarian or vegan restaurant, they specialize in whole, organic food, and have vegan options clearly marked on their menu. And their servers “get it,” which makes ordering so much easier.

Earth Bistro

Alan likes the “create your burger” option. He starts with a vegan patty and a whole wheat bun and adds a variety of goodies, including red onion and avocado. I usually order the Portobello burger, but the last time I was there I tried the Flatbread with Dippers appetizer. It was so good, but it was too big, so I brought home the leftovers. I came home from work the next day, mouth watering thinking about my flatbreads, took them out of the fridge, when Alan called me to help him do something (I can’t remember what). When I came back, my dogs were sitting there with guilty but satisfied looks, my flatbreads had disappeared, and I was sad. So that was a long story to tell you that I ordered the Flatbreads with Dippers for my lunch.

vegan dining earth bistro

Amazingly, after driving in wind, rain, hail, and snow, we finally arrived in Encinitas in time for a beautiful sunset.  We made a quick stop at Moonlight Beach to enjoy the sunset, then headed over to check into our hotel.

Vegan dining

I was really excited about going to dinner because Native Foods has finally opened in Encinitas. I have written many times about Native Foods, I’ve celebrated there, enjoyed the grand re-opening of the Palm Springs location, mourned the loss of the Palm Desert site, visited other So Cal locations. The opening in Encinitas was delayed several times, but they finally opened at the end of January. I was so in!

As the only vegan restaurant in Encinitas, I suspected they would be busy, and I was right. It is quite large, about three or four times as big as the Palm Springs location. As in all Native Food, you order at the counter, then they deliver your food to your table. The problem was that all the tables were full, so people who had ordered were waiting around to snag a table as soon as someone else finished. Alan and I quickly made a decision to take our food back to the hotel.

vegan dining Native Foods

vegan dining Native Foods

I realize my tendency to stay with the program and order my two or three favorites all the time (that would be the Gyro Bowl, Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger, and my new fave, the Bistro Steak Sandwich. So, just to keep it fresh and exciting, I ordered the Native Reuben. Even before I gave up meat I had never eaten a Reuben sandwich. Corned beef? Nope! Sauerkraut? Definitely nope. But, the Native Foods fans on Facebook have been whining about this sandwich when the took it off the menu singing the praises of the Native Reuben for so long, I decided to give it a try.

vegan dining Native Foods

It was…good. I guess there was a reason I never ate a Reuben when I was eating meat. Don’t get me wrong. It was fresh and tasty, the marble rye was yummy, the sauce was very good. If you like a Reuben, you’ll love this cruelty free version.

Alan had the Baja Blackened Tacos, but he was too fast and the picture came out all blurry. He liked them, but says that his old favorite, Tijuana Tacos, were better. We also had dessert. Cranberry Orange Cake and Homemade Apple Pie. Both were excellent.

vegan dining Native Foods

vegan dining Native Foods

Saturday morning after our run, Alan and I showered, checked out, and headed out to accomplish our primary mission for the weekend, picking up my Aunt’s ashes in Chula Vista. We needed some fuel to go forward, though. I had eaten a bagel from the continental breakfast at the hotel, so I wasn’t super hungry. I thought a smoothie sounded pretty good, so we headed to the Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar, which not only has a wide variety of smoothies, also has many vegan options on their menu. When I read that their smoothies contained only fruit and fruit juice, I thought that we needed just a little more calories and protein.

I’ve been to the Lotus Cafe many times, but this was the first time that I realized that they had tofu scrambles! I guess we usually come for lunch. Anyway, Alan and I each ordered a smoothie and decided to share a tofu scramble burrito.

vegan dining Native Foods

vegan dining Native Foods

This was one of the best dishes I’ve had from the Lotus Cafe. Of course, I love a tofu scramble under any conditions, but this one was well seasoned, spicy, and hot. And the smoothie was really good too.

From breakfast, Alan and I went on to take care of business, then stopped at my son’s house for a visit with Samuel. Best part of the weekend!

vegan dining

When we finally headed toward home on Saturday afternoon, we found that the weather had changed substantially. No more rain or snow, very little wind. It was still pretty cold, so I was happy that I did not do the Tour de Palm Springs ride. At least no one out get blown off their bikes. Still beautiful, no longer dangerous.

Vegan dining

I kind of feel bad talking about cold weather when so many of you had to live through a blizzard last weekend. I hope that everyone is safe, dry and warm. Were you able to get any fun into your weekend?

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