So you enjoy a blood-dripping burger in one hand and a dog slathered in mustard in the other. You tend to grill long, juicy sausages and marinated chicken breasts on your Weber in the back yard on a summer day. Maybe you’re partial to that caked meat loaf your grandmother used to make, covered in gravy and placed ever so delicately next to your mashed potatoes. If this is you, there is a reasonable assumption that you’ll ask yourself, “Why would I ever eat at a vegan restaurant like Native Foods?”
I’m going to make another reasonable assumption and say that because you’re reading this, you’ve found yourself looking for a vegan restaurant to try, but maybe you’re too scared to ask your bros. There are plenty of reasons, however, to take the dive and try eating vegan: You’re searching for a healthier diet; you’re newfound love of bunnies and chickens has you hating the meat industry; or maybe your vegan girlfriend is begging you to find some place to eat and there’s no way you’ll get away with that Korean BBQ place again. Whatever the reason, let me tell you the three reasons why you must try Native Foods.
1) Native Foods Is Good Food. My entire life, I have been a huge fan of all different kinds of meat, cheese, desserts, vegetables, fruits. You name it, I tend to enjoy it. Because of my schmorgesborg of food-related interests, I am 100 percent of the time willing to try something new. Good food is good food, be it a juicy beef patty or a fruit salad.
After saying all that, Native Foods has made more than an impression on my palate. It blew me away with how delicious and fresh everything was. My main course (the portobello and sausage burger) included a large medley of ingredients, meaning that my mouth was filled with a cacophony of flavors. Visually, the food is prepared with great care. My eyes could not believe it when my appetizer, a huge plate of nachos covered in vegan-cheese, guacamole, and black beans, came out from the kitchen. At first, it looked too good to be true. Had someone finally realized how to make vegan nachos taste like the artery-stopping ones I was used to? When I finally dug into them, fingers first of course, they tasted just like the cheese covered tortilla chips I would get at that sleazy Mexican hole-in-the-wall downtown…you know the one I’m talking about. The one with the bugs. Yeah, that one.
Well, at Native Foods, there were certainly no bugs. The restaurant itself was kept extremely clean, and their decor was festive and exciting. The restaurant is a pay-first sort of deal where you pick out your food, pay at the cashier, and then they cook it fresh and bring it to your table. The time it took for the food to come out after I placed the order was pretty short, so if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like long waits, then you will definitely enjoy it here.
I guess the biggest question you’re asking right about now is this, “Sure it tastes great, but does it taste like non-vegan food? Will I be satisfied with a vegan burger?” My truthful answer is yes and no. Yes, the nachos tasted just as good as any other nachos, but if you really like the taste of cheese, you won’t get it. My portobello sausage burger did have some similar spices to what is put into sausage, but if you’re looking for an actual sausage, again, you won’t get it. These foods are very, very close to the actual tastes of meat, however, and if you keep an open mind and are willing to try something new, I highly highly doubt that you will be disappointed. Native Foods is finger-lickin good.
2) Choices Are Catered Toward the Non-vegan. The main thing I think most non-vegans will enjoy about this place is the pure number of selections that, to be quite honest, don’t seem like items that would be on a vegan menu. Sure, Native Foods has the quinoa bowl or kale salad (if you’re not from California, you might not even know what these things are; I had no idea until about a year ago, but then again, maybe I’m just not in the loop), but the menu is filled with different kinds of burgers and sandwiches, sloppy appetizers like nachos and chili cheese fries, and even a slew of completely vegan desserts that will have you wondering how they could ever make it without butter. If I haven’t whetted your appetite so far, then maybe you might like their daily specials, one for each day of the week, that include a free side. These sides are comprised of an assortment of salads and fries (the sweet potato fries are pretty amazing).
Okay, so if you’re still not convinced, then listen up: they have a sizable assortment of beers, fellas. That’s right. Cold, out of the bottle and even served in ice-chilled glasses. At the Native Foods I visited, their selection was primarily Indian Pale Ales, so if you’re not into them (and by God don’t call yourself a beer connoisseur if you’re not!) then feel free to grab a vegan, naturally brewed Root Beer and sit at the kiddy table — that being said this place is actually great for children! They also have several styles of wine for you classier patrons that would be perfect for a date.
3) Health Factor. Native Foods is not only tasty delicious, it is healthy for you. Sure, all those vegan “cheeses,” “meats,” and “creams” are full of fat, but their lack of cholesterol makes them 10 times healthier for your heart than even the leanest burger from the butcher. Did I feel full after consuming my entire meal? Yes. But as I was stuffing my mouth with nachos and sweet, savory mushroom/sausage burgers, I had the added bonus of knowing that my heart would not suffer from them.
One thing that for the past 50 years has been a ridiculous obsession is dieting. Pills for this and that, specific ways to eat (like a grapefruit a day and your fat will go away), and excessive exercise routines are all ways that people try to increase their health. I’m no exception. It always feels great when you slip off a few pounds. Why not do it a healthy, easy way and just have a vegan meal every now and then? Native Foods is an excellent place to start.
So, if you’re just curious, in need of a healthier meal, or being dragged in chains, you should definitely check out Native Foods. They have locations in California, Oregon, Colorado, and Illinois.
Recommendations: Nuevo Native Nachos, Scorpion Burger, Twister Wrap, Portobello Sausage Burger, Sweet Potato Fries, Carrot Cream Cheese Cupcakes