Ten vegan junk food dishes you should be noshing on this summer
LOVING HUT: CRISPY TENDERS AND SWEET POTATO FRIES
I've always been jealous of fish and chips offerings at pubs. There's something so self-indulgent, so existential about ordering a meal made up of two equally fried parts. Those who sit idly by while others dig in often feel compelled to silently judge, perhaps out of pure jealousy. And the aroma is usually enough to get me salivating. Loving Hut's Crispy Tenders and Sweet Potato Fries appetizer ($6.45) is likely the least healthy item on the menu there, hence why I love it. The dish, while billed as an app, is absolutely enough to fill you up. It's made up of equal parts salty and sweet (thanks to the switcheroo with sweet potato) and it comes with crunchy-crispy fried soy protein nuggets, fries, and a tart barbecue dipping sauce, as all good meals should.
Loving Hut Westfield, 845 Market, SF. www.lovinghut.us.
PEPPLES DONUTS: SALTED CARAMEL
With flavors like Matcha Green Tea, Philz Coffee, and Chili Mango, along with the standard old fashioned and chocolate sprinkled, it's hard to turn down any donut Pepples has to offer — the likes of which can be found at its Donut Farm storefront in Oakland, a stand in the Ferry Building, and coffee shops and specialty stores throughout the Bay. The vegan, organic donuts are all delicious and moist, almost more cake-like than a traditional donut, and just the right size to avoid overdoing it. Plus, they look really cute, like cartoonish version of the standard, in perfect little round treats with candy-colored coating. The standout among these has to be the salted caramel ($3), so decadent, so sugary and salty. The purplish blueberry option is extra tasty as well, but there's something exceptional about that rarefied salted caramel — it even impressed hard-won non-veg Guardian staffers.
Various locations in SF and Oakl.. Pepples Donut Farm, 6037 San Pablo, Oakl. www.pepplesdonuts.com.
SATURN CAFÉ: DIABLO BURGER
Saturn has long been a staple of late-night college grubbing in Santa Cruz, so when it opened up in Berkeley a few years back, veggie and vegan stoners came crawling out of the woodwork. The menu offers everything from taquitos to milkshakes (all of which can be made vegan), but your best bet is the Diablo Burger ($10.50). It's the spicy housemade Saturn veggie burger topped with fresh jalapenos, spicy chipotle, grilled onions, and traditional accoutrements — remember to ask for it sans cheese. You won't miss it, since the insanely spicy kick from those other ingredients is cooled with fresh lettuce and tomato. Plus, it comes with Saturn's tasty, "award-winning" fries, thin cut or thick steak style.
2175 Allston, Berk. (510) 845-8505.saturncafe.com/berkeley.
SOULEY VEGAN: SOUTHERN FRIED SMOTHERED TOFU
Imagine two sizable hunks of crispy Southern-fried tofu nearly engulfing the (indoor) plate or (outdoor) basket they're placed in ($10). Now picture those deep-fried tofu pieces smothered in savory vegan gravy and onions. Visualize yourself sitting outside across the way on the sunny deck at Beer Revolution, pounding local lagers and biting into the succulent crusted tofu coated in sauce. It's a rather pretty picture for a summer afternoon, isn't it?
301 Broadway, Oakl.. (510) 922-1615. www.souleyvegan.com.
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