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VeganMoFo: Where to eat in Monterey, California

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food - or VeganMoFo to you and me. To learn more about VeganMoFo, click here.
For a not inconsiderable chunk of VeganMoFo, I've been away from home - first for work, then for a holiday.

As a result, I've been questing for vegan-friendly food in California, both in San Francisco and then Monterey.

Happily enough, both have stepped up to the proverbial plate and despite its relatively small population, Monterey has ample vegan options - here are a few of them.

First up and worth a mention is the Ambrosia Indian Bistro.

 After witnessing an Anglo-American argument about whether  the US has any decent curry restaurants the day before my visit, and whether the UK's currys are overrated, I approached Ambrosia with a bit of trepidation. Luckily, it managed to emulate both the good and bad bits about England's finest.

Good: poppadums and chutney arrive whether you want them or not. You always want them though.

Bad: well-intentioned if a bit chaotic service.

Good: vegan friendly. In Ambrosia's case, there was a separate vegan menu. The server also asked if we were vegans and made sure we knew what to avoid. Hurrah! Only it does make you wonder what they do to the white rice, but not to the brown rice, to make it not vegan

Bad: Enough oil to make the Exxon Valdez blush.

Good: Lots of veg, well spiced and accompanied with a delicious aloo paratha.

Bad: Enough salt to put the world's slug population on edge. Seriously, more salt than the Dead Sea. I kept troughing away, forking the veggies into my gullet, but the salt was winning and eventually I had to down the fork.  A real shame, because I'd been enjoying it up til then.

Ambrosia India Bistro

565 Abrego Street
Monterey, California 93940-3229
(831) 641-0610

Trader Joe's
If you're from the US, this won't in any way surprise you, but Trader Joe's has all sorts of vegan-friendly items - like these tofu spring rolls to my left here.

While I was out in Monterey I spent a lot of time walking and carrying picnics with me - at which point, Trader Joe's kicked ass.

It kicked ass not only because it had, by and large, a decent selection of readymade picnic options but because the shop trumpeted proudly what was vegan and what wasn't, so you could pick up your picnic without all the usual microscopic label checking.

Trader Joe's
570 Munras Avenue
Monterey, California 93940-3014
(831) 372-2010

Not somewhere we ate while we were in Monterey, but worth mentioning because of the fact the restaurant seemed to be aware that vegans exist and are happy to cater to them. 

Maha, a Lebanese restaurant, has a lunch buffet for $9.95 with a selection of vegan items (so says the promo on the front of the building) as well as a good few mezze items that look vegan but aren't marked so on the menu. Given Maha seems to know what a vegan is, I reckon they'd be able to point out just what is vegan and what just looks that way without too much trouble.

470 Alvarado Street
Monterey, California 93940-2717
(831) 372-8999

Farmers' Market
While I was in Monterey, there was a farmers' market going on in one of the town's main streets, with a few vegan-friendly items on offer.

Yep, there were a huge amount of stalls selling amazing-looking fruit, veg and nuts - the strawberries to the left were a farmers' market purchase - but there were also a couple of meal options.

While we were there, there was a sushi stand with a few veggie, and more than likely vegan (I didn't have a chance to quiz the stall owners), items. Maha also had a stand selling what looked like some vegan scran too.

If you're jonesing for some farmers' market goodness, it's there every Tuesday afternoon come rain or shine, apparently.

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  1. I love seeing all the vegan options available overseas, I'd love to see more separate vegan menus available at restaurants here.


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