BBQ Jackelope Sandwich – Native Foods Cafe

nativefoodsbbqI eat more vegan/vegetarian cuisine than your average person for whom it is not a lifestyle. I think a lot of it is pretty tasty stuff, but given that I also consume a fair amount of meat I tend to be less impressed with it than my vegan or vegetarian associates. Much as I malign bacon around here, faux bacon is a sad, sorry copy of the real thing. That’s likely to be true no matter how tasty faux bacon is, and in my estimation that’s too bad. I’ve had more than a few things that probably would have been more enjoyable if I didn’t have an unfair comparison to make.

Which brings us to Native Foods, who, for this particular item, steer clear of the issue. Elsewhere on the menu it gets a bit problematic, but this here just lets jackfruit be jackfruit, and I’ll be darned if I wasn’t seriously impressed. The jackfruit has a real body to it, a good chew, and smothered in a smoky sauce and paired with an Asian slaw it makes for a fine sandwich. There’s some filling creep, but nothing beyond what you’d expect from the style, and the bun is soft enough that you can press down enough to keep most of it together. There aren’t many faux-meat sandwiches that are unqualified successes, but I’m very glad to have found one.

Portobello and Sausage Burger – Native Foods Cafe, Gayle Ave, Los Angeles, CA

portobello and sausageI’m not certain how much of my audience I’m going to be addressing here, but I feel this is something worth saying all the same: Go eat some meat-free sandwiches. Eat ones with fake meat, eat ones that are just straight-up vegetables, eat ones with cheese and ones that are proudly vegan. It’s an entirely world of sandwiches, one that you miss out on if your primary conception of a sandwich is the meat/greens/cheese archetype.

In this case it’s a grilled portobello mushroom, house-made seitan sausage, caramelized onions, pomodoro, roasted garlic, pumpkin seed pesto and mayonnaise. That’s a symphony of flavor, and while I will be the first to admit that seitan isn’t actually that close to actual sausage, that doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty. In fact, it was quite tasty here, and given the strong base that is a well-cooked portobello, this was another delightful sandwich. (Mushrooms, as we know, are very close to being the perfect food, and as such you can do a lot worse than to start a sandwich from such a base.)

I’ve had some really good vegan food and some pretty bad vegan food, but the key thing is that it has never been boring. It’s always worth having, and I suggest to you that you seek out your local meat-free scene and see what they have to offer.