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 Post subject: Santa Barbara/Solvang
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:07 pm 
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Location: Maryland/DC area
So my parents want to do a mini road trip as we introduce my non-Californian husband to various attractions. We didn't really want to travel far and I haven't been to Santa Barbara since I was a teenager so I said why not. Looking at some restaurant menus in Solvang, there do seem to be some options some places.

Any recommendations in terms of food? Any recommendations in terms of things to do?

Also, do you have any recommendations in the LA area that would be convenient as we travel north (from the San Diego area) up the 5, 405 and then 101? I'm guessing we'll cut to the 405 in Irvine as opposed to going through downtown LA on the 5 but that may also be an option.

I should also say that my mom is vegetarian/mostly vegan but my stepdad is kind of wary of vegan food other than vegetables. Like he wouldn't eat tofu or seitan but might be ok with a vegetable based dish otherwise. So meat eater friendly recommendations would be a plus. Ethnic food ok too.

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 Post subject: Re: Santa Barbara/Solvang
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:06 am 
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If you stop in Ventura on your way to Santa Barbara, there is a vegan restaurant called Mary's Secret Garden. I haven't been in awhile, but it's pretty good: http://maryssecretgarden.com/#

In Ventura there is also Nature's Grill, which is exactly the same as the Natural Cafe in Santa Barbara: http://www.naturesgrillventura.com/ http://www.thenaturalcafe.com/ They have quite a few vegan options. The Good Karma burger is my favorite. Their nachos are awesome, too.


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 Post subject: Re: Santa Barbara/Solvang
PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:15 pm 
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I live in Santa Barbara. I do not personally recommend Mary's Secret Garden. With the caveat that I haven't been there in some time, when I was there I found the food bland, the portion sizes small and overpriced. I don't spend a lot of time in Solvang, but I definitely have some restaurant recommendations for Santa Barbara itself, not necessarily in order of preference:

Pizza Guru: http://www.pizzaguru.com/ omni and vegan pizza options with an amazing crust and Daiya cheese. Don't forget to order a side of vegan ranch to dip your crust in.

Saigon In and Out: http://saigon-restaurants.com/ Vietnamese with an omni menu and a vegetarian menu. Several locations. I do not recommend the faux shrimp or fish, I found them nasty and rubbery. I do recommend anything with the soy chicken, soy beef or tofu. The Pho is great, I love the charbroiled lemongrass soy chicken and the golden rolls (fried spring rolls, wrapper is eggless to my knowledge) which are served with cilantro, mint and lettuce leaves that you wrap them up in and then dip in a vinegary sauce.

Empress Palacee: http://www.empresspalace.net/ nice Chinese place. Any beef dish or chicken dish can be done with soy counterparts. I love the soy generals chicken and the dry sauteed string beans. Also, not on the menu but can be made if you ask: spicy salt tofu. DELICIOUS if you like spicy food. A word of warning though, they have a live lobster tank which sometimes has lobster in it and sometimes does not. If this is too disturbing too you you may want to avoid the restaurant. You can request to be seated away from it, but I would understand if this would still be too upsetting.

Your Place Thai : http://www.yelp.com/biz/your-place-rest ... ta-barbara Thai restaurant with Tofu options. Ask for no fish sauce. We eat here a lot and the food ranges from not bad to really good, depending on the night. Kind of greasy, but still generally delicious. I love the spicy eggplant tofu with basil, any of the curries, and the spicy mint noodles.

When you do a search for vegetarian Santa Barbara restaurants you will likely come up with Spiritland Bistro, the Sojurner and the Natural Cafe. Natural Cafe is standard hippie food, and really not bad. However, it is simple food that I could easily make at home with options like hummus and pita, a couple of veggie burgers, daily soups, a variety of salads, etc. Meat and veggie options. I do not recommend Spiritland Bistro because I feel it is vastly overpriced and the food when I have eaten there has been bland versions of ethnic dishes like Thai curries with tofu, etc. that would be far better and cheaper if you just go to a Thai restaurant. Sojurner is another classic California hippie place whose popularity escapes me because I find the food to be exceptionally bland and boring.


As far as Places on the way to Santa Barbara from San Diego, Mister and I loved Vinh Loi Tofu in Reseda, and it's very convenient to the freeway, right near where the 405 and the 101 meet. We stopped there for lunch on our way from LA back to Santa Barbara. It's all vegan, and the menu is amazing. The owner makes all of his own tofu and mock meats. http://www.vinhloitofu.com/index.htm

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