Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Célestin’s is Back!

Normally, my weekly blog article gets posted on Sunday night, but I'm so excited about this one I can't wait! The very first restaurant I wrote about for my Sacramento Vegan blog was Célestin’s
Island Eats and Cajun Cuisine. Célestin’s had always been a favorite of mine, and I appreciated them all the more after I went vegan in 2002 because they offered clearly-marked vegan options on their menu. Sadly, less than a month after I wrote that blog post, Célestin’s closed, and I've been missing the restaurant, and their amazing vegetarian gumbo, ever since. 

Now, six-and-a-half years later, Phoebe and Patrick Célestin have come out of retirement to open a new iteration of their fabulous restaurant in the McKinley Park neighborhood. They opened their doors today, and I didn't waste any time getting over there.

Once again, their vegan items are clearly marked on the menu, although all I really cared about was getting myself a bowl of the vegetarian gumbo. It did not disappoint! Chunks of butternut squash, cremini mushrooms, bell peppers, and zucchini shared the bowl with rice and a broth that had a nice little kick to it. I was sure I'd end up taking some of it home, but I didn't stop eating until I'd finished every bite.

Almost as exciting to me as the gumbo was the return of Célestin’s fresh limeade. I travel to Colombia often, and I try to drink my fill of limonada natural while I'm there because I know there is no fresh limeade to be had at Sacramento restaurants. Now I know I can have it whenever I like at Célestin’s.

The new restaurant is tiny, so tables have been placed very close together, and ordering is done at the counter rather than at the table. Some of the Haitian art that hung in Célestin’s previous location adorns the walls in the new space, and Phoebe and Patrick Célestin are there to make sure the new Celestin's lives up to everyone's fond memories of the old Celestin's. The place was packed today, a testament to how much people in Sacramento have missed this restaurant.

Celestin's is located at 3610 McKinley Boulevard, and their phone number is 916-258-4060. Their website address is https://www.celestinsgumbo.com, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/greatgumbo/. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mod Pizza

Last month, someone asked on my Sacramento Vegan Facebook page where the best vegan pizza in Sacramento could be found. As you can imagine, people had lots of opinions on the subject! Buffalo Pizza, Pizza Bell, the Federalist, and some of the chain pizza parlors all made the list. There was one chain restaurant that two people mentioned, and I was surprised I hadn't heard of it before. Mod Pizza moved into Howe Bout Arden recently, so I drove over for lunch a few days ago to give it a try.

Mod Pizza follows the Pieology and Blaze Pizza assembly line model, where you have all the ingredients displayed in front of you and you tell the person waiting on you what you want on your pizza. Their dough is vegan, and they have three vegan sauces -- red, BBQ, and garlic rub. Next you choose your toppings; mine were mushrooms, black olives, Greek olive mix, and artichokes. Finally, you can have them add the vegan cheese, which they keep in a separate container, away from all the other cheeses. It only takes a few minutes to bake it, so I was chowing down on my delicious pizza in no time.

Even better than the pizza, though, were the cinnamon strips I had for dessert! Basically, they top a small pizza crust with a cinnamon sugar mixture and bake it. They have three dipping sauce choices, but only the strawberry sauce is vegan. That was fine with me -- it was great!

I don't usually mention the drinks I have, since they're not that interesting, but I have to recommend the house-made Marion blackberry lemonade they were serving over by the fountain drinks. Honestly, I'd go back just for the cinnamon strips and the blackberry lemonade. Thanks to the local vegans who recommended this restaurant!

Mod Pizza is located at the corner of Howe and Arden at 2100 Arden Way, and their phone number is 916-515-9834. Their website address is https://modpizza.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MODPizza/?ref=br_rs. The restaurant is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. In addition to the Sacramento restaurant, other local Mod Pizza locations are in Rocklin and West Sacramento, with the website indicating that a Rancho Cordova restaurant is coming soon.

Monday, March 5, 2018


A few days ago, I braved pouring rain and blustery winds to check out the newest ice cream shop offering vegan options in Sacramento. It's not ice cream weather yet, but when a fellow vegan sent me information about Icicles, I had to check it out.

Icicles is a Northern California chain that just opened a Sacramento location on Howe Avenue. They create frozen dessert rolls by pouring liquid onto an ice cold pan and forming it into a rectangle, which can then be cut into pieces and rolled up. They offer three vegan flavors that are fruit-based: raspberry, strawberry lemonade, and mango.

I asked for a combination of the three, which I thought would result in a dish containing three different types of rolls. Instead, they mixed the three flavors together before pouring it onto the frozen pan. Fortunately, the flavors tasted great mixed together. After the rolls were made and placed in the dish, I moved on to the topping station, where I asked for strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberry syrup. It was a delicious dessert, and I'm sure it will be even more popular when the hot weather returns.

One caveat: the man who made my dessert did a great job of scraping the residue of the previous ice cream roll off the pan, but the disclaimer you see in the ingredient list of many packaged foods probably applies here -- the fruit roll-ups are made on the same equipment as the ice cream, so there may be trace amounts of non-vegan ingredients in your dessert.

Icicles is located at 1431 Howe Avenue, and their phone number is 916-582-5410. Their website address is http://iciclescreamroll.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/icicles.sacramento/. Icicles is open daily from noon to 10:00 p.m.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Pho Fresh

I'm actually kind of embarrassed to write about Pho Fresh in Rancho Cordova, as I'm sure I'm probably the only vegan in the Greater Sacramento area who had never been to this incredibly vegan-friendly restaurant until a few days ago. But since my friend Melissa and I went to dinner there Wednesday night and I was actually able to experience it first-hand, I wanted to tell you all about it.

Pho Fresh is not a vegan restaurant, but they offer an entire vegan menu, complete with appetizers, rice paper rolls, salads, banh mi sandwiches, soups, rice plates, noodle plates, and dessert. My biggest problem, of course, was trying to figure out which items I most wanted to try.

I'm a sucker for fried tofu, so I decided to start with one of the stir-fried tofu appetizers (yes, they have more than one!) The tofu is dipped in batter and then fried, and there are three different flavors to choose from. I went for the sweet & spicy one, and couldn't believe the huge pile of fried tofu that was placed in front of me. It was wonderful!

For my entrée, the only question was whether I wanted a rice dish or a noodle dish. It felt like a noodle night, so I ordered the kung pao garden noodles, consisting of thick rice noodles, tofu, peanuts, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Again, the portion size was quite large, so I had some great leftovers for a couple of days after this meal.

I think I could probably go to Pho Fresh every night for a month and eat a different vegan dish every single time, the choices are so numerous. If you're one of the rare few who haven't been there yet, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Pho Fresh is located at 10673 Coloma Road in Rancho Cordova, and their phone number is 916-706-2523. They don't appear to have a website, but their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/phofresh2u/. The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Monday, January 22, 2018

Cafe on L at Sutter Medical Center

Could the great-looking bowl of vegetable and tofu pho in the picture above really be hospital food? Why, yes, it really is! Sutter Medical Center recently opened a new café in the basement of their Anderson Lucchetti Women's & Children's Center, and at least some of the food they're serving is a serious upgrade from the hospital cafeteria food most of us have experienced in the past.

The real game-changer is that the hospital has contracted with Star Ginger restaurant to offer delicious Asian food options using local, seasonal produce. The pho is made-to-order -- all you have to do is choose your broth (vegetable, of course) and whichever other ingredients you want included. The Star Ginger station also offers a vegan Thai tofu salad. 

The café also has a good-sized salad bar. There's Mexican food, pizza, and burgers too, but I didn't notice anything of particular interest to vegans at those stations. Next to the café is a Peet's coffee counter. I didn't see any of the wonderful vegan pastries usually offered at Peet's, although the man working the counter seemed to think that one of their cookies was vegan.

Café on L is open to the public, although if you're really in the mood for food from Star Ginger, you'll probably just go to the actual Star Ginger restaurant a couple blocks away. If you're visiting someone at the Sutter Medical Center, though, the Café on L is definitely worth checking out. I asked if it was possible for a patient to call down and order something to be brought up, and the answer was no. If you're a patient, you'll just need to find an accommodating friend to buy it for you and take it to your hospital room.

Café on L is located at 2825 Capitol Avenue and it's open to the public. To get there, you enter the Anderson Lucchetti Women's & Children's Center and take elevator N to the basement. There doesn't seem to be a phone number, website, or Facebook page for the café at this point. They are open daily from 6:30 a.m. to midnight, although food choices may be limited after 7:00 p.m.