Seaside Buffet – Miramar (City of San Diego)

Double East Tofu, veggies, rice, fruit

OMG. I knew if I ever vegan-towned Seaside Buffet it would be super-scary because I’ve seen their ads. Awhile back I even attempted to bust their balls because an ad said they had “shark fin soup” and I was like, “OMG, that’s totes illegal!” So, I made some calls and sent out e-mails. Received no response, but it was taken off the subsequent ad and replaced with “sea snails,” and I was like, “OMG, that’s not much of an improvement. Ewwwww!!!!!!!!”

Then one day I won a gift certificate from Money Mailer that was about to expire, so I was like, “Do or die!”

The restaurant is in a building that used to be an Acapulco restaurant (Miramar is more Asian, less Mexican.) I talked to an Asian employee who seemed knowledgeable. She said the Double East Tofu was vegan, but not the lo mein. I hope she was right about the tofu because I’m a tofu-lover. She also said the banana was fried in vegetable oil rather than butter.

I got a plum wine (hopefully vegan; I saw no brand name) that was sweeter than Kool-Aid. At the salad bar I found lettuce greens, olives, edamame, grape tomatoes, pickles, and fruit. Vinegar and oil and other condiments I found in a crate at its own island.  I kept my eyes peeled for vegan stuff and also found plain linguini, some raw veggies (bamboo shoots and julienned zucchini ), white rice, and fries.

Fruit and Salad

As for the scary stuff, they had lots, including “Imitation Shark Fin Soup” and “Shark Fin Potato Salad.” Ewwww! I saw a pregnant Asian lady walk by with a crispy dead fish on top of her food and I said, “Ewwwww!!!” I saw gross people eating shellfish too and was like, “Ewwwww!!!”

If you have the balls to win a gift certificate you should go here and try to find some vegan stuff!

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Vegan Birthday Freebies

One of my fave vegan birthday freebies is the Vegan Red Velvet Cupcake from Sprinkles

Since I recently claimed a bunch of vegan food freebies (and a couple non-food) through apps and rewards accounts of various chain restaurants, I figured it’s time to update the post about vegan birthday food freebies.  This kind of information should probably be updated once a year.

Keep track of what rewards programs you have joined and be sure to check your accounts before your birthday because not all of the companies will send you a reminder e-mail (perhaps some of them want to see if you are paying attention.)  Also, they all give you different amounts of time to claim your freebie (from a few days to an entire month or more.)

A Red Robin in Escondido, CA.

Also, keep in mind that some of these rewards programs also offer sign-up freebies, but they may only be available during certain limited promotional times.  They may also change their birthday freebie offers.

Also, some of these accounts can be managed online so you don’t always have to use a smartphone.  (A couple years ago, I won an LG G4 in a sweepstakes and when it died from the boot-loop issue, I purchased an iPhone 7 for half out-of-pocket using a $350 Apple gift card I had won awhile back.  However, I’ve seen programs offering free smartphones to those on welfare and I’ve seen lots of bargain offers on Heavenly Steals.)

My 54 cent lunch from Native Foods.

If you want to join any of the rewards programs listed below, be sure to use my referral codes or links if available because vegan solidarity is cool. (Oh, and thanks to the awesome people who have used my referral codes already!)

Native Foods Rewards$10 birthday freebie!  That means you can get a vegan lunch for only $.54 out of pocket (that’s what I did anyway.)  Great one!

Veggie Grill: $5 freebie.  An awesome discount on something vegan! I thought I had taken photos of the summertime dinner with grilled corn, but they must have not saved or something.

Pizza Rev: Freebie vegan pizza for using Rev Rewards! After you redeem in the app., you have four (4) hours to use it (even though the app tells you to wait until you’re in the restaurant before clicking redeem, you have time to click early.) You can write down the code and hand it to the cashier or scan the QR Code. The “Craft Your Own Pizza Signature Thin” is an $8.99 value.  Referral code: JILLBALL226

Freebie vegan pizza from PizzaRev.

Sprinkles Perks: Claimed the awesome vegan red velvet birthday cupcake again. Love it! I think I saw Han on 2 Broke Girls eating one.  Use my referral link.

Red Robin: When you join the Red Robin Royalty program, you get a freebie vegan Royalty Birthday Burger. They give you a whole month to redeem it and you only need your phone number. A $9.79 value.  Locate the “Garden Burger” entry on the menu and look for the disclaimer saying you can get a vegan Boca patty instead.  However, they should also add a disclaimer saying you can get genuine mustard because their Dijon sauce is actually non-vegan mayo. So, why not simplify things and just make a straight up vegan burger entry?  Better yet, make the entire menu vegan!  However, the nice thing is that you can get a side of steamed broccoli instead of fries. (Stay #FlatAbs, baby.)

Firestone Subs:  Got a freebie medium (hopefully) vegan-version veggie sub through Firehouse Rewards.  You activate the freebie in the app and then simply enter your phone number on the credit card machine at the register.  To get 300 bonus points use my referral code: aqe9h.  However, I basically trusted other web sites as to how to make your sub vegan and haven’t read the documents on the web page yet.  Will do soon.

Hey, look at the Veggie Grill in La Jolla!

Which Wich: A free Vibe Wich Birthday sub through Vibe Club Rewards.  Expires about eight (8) days after your birthday.  Since I last reviewed Which Wich, they changed the menu on the paper bags a little bit. Now the vegan options are “The Avocado” and “Black Bean Patty” and they made some changes under “Style.”  They did away with “Hotwich/Coldwich,” added a “Spinach Wrap,” and changed “Bowlwich” to “Salad.” I originally signed up for Vibe Club Rewards for a sweepstakes and didn’t even realize I’d be getting the free sign-up drink and birthday Vibe Wich.

Robeks: Got a small vegan smoothie by rejecting the sherbet and they didn’t charge me anything.  The smoothie chef said it was just more difficult to blend without the dairy.  (However, their ads now state: “MAKE ANY SMOOTHIE DAIRY FREE.”  They also have “Superfood Smoothies” labelled “Dairy Free.”) She gave me a little extra smoothie too.  Yum!  You can use your phone number; you don’t have to scan a code.  They give you about fifteen (15) days to claim your free small birthday smoothie (or apply the dollar amount to another menu item.) $4.99 value.

Birthday smoothie from Robeks made dairy-free.

Starbucks: Got an iced almond milk latte for free. Barista said it came with three (3) shots and that I could get more and I was like, “No three (3) is plenty.”

He was like, “Are you sure?” LOL.  The freebie offer expires the day after your birthday.

Vegan birthday freebie from Starbucks

Bruegger’s Bagels eClub: Free bagel.  Choose a vegan one and reject the cream cheese until they have vegan.  I actually never claimed my birthday bagel, but they e-mail you a coupon and you have about eight (8) days to redeem it. (They close at 3pm.)  I’ve tried their vegan bagels when they gave out freebies for National Bagel Day.

NoodlesREWARDS, Noodles & Company World Kitchen: Update from previous post about birthday freebie. I don’t think they’re giving out free Japanese Pan Noodles for your birthday now, but then again I didn’t check the app.  They e-mailed me a coupon for a Signature Rice Crispy, which I presumed to be not vegan.  But wouldn’t it be awesome if they made it vegan?

However, I did get a $3 sign-up reward, which was good for two (2) weeks. You can use it to get a FREE side order of tofu (non-GMO!) or $3 off Japanese Pan Noodles. You can scan the QR code at the register or write down the number you get when you “redeem” and hand it to the cashier.  After you “redeem” you have four (4) hours to use it.  My Invite Code for NoodlesREWARDS: JillBallar1336

Blaze Rewards: I forgot to claim my free agua fresca even though I walked right by the place because it’s by Native Foods! LOL. (As you know, my phone had died and I was not on the ball with all the apps I previously had.)  The offer expires about twelve (12) days after your birthday.  However, I did claim the agua fresca when it was a sign up freebie and it’s great!

Beverages from Blaze Pizza

Sign up for the Blaze Pizza app and use my referral code: 7u9mt.  You’ll get a free agua fresca just for signing up and another for your birthday. Blaze Pizza says to “make sure you keep an eye on the Rewards section.” I’ve actually never ordered food at Blaze Pizza, but apparently vegans are going for it.

Auntie Anne’s: I forgot to claim my freebie pretzel even though I was in the right place at the right time (just like with Blaze Pizza.)  I planned to go to the one in Escondido (San Diego County) without realizing it had closed down, but I was actually at the Fairlane Dr. shopping plaza in Allen Park, MI where I could have picked it up. Oh well! They also give out a freebie on National Pretzel Day. You just pick one of the few vegan flavors and ask them to bake it without butter. Why use butter anyway? That’s not #FlatAbs, baby! #DairyIsScary anyway.

Jamba Insider Rewards: I checked my account the day after my birthday and didn’t see my free small vegan all-fruit™ smoothie, which made me figure that the offer expires on your birthday.  But then the FAQ says: “The Birthday Offer expires in 30 days.”  I contacted Spendgo to ask about it and Jordan added the birthday smoothie to my account, which I still have to claim!

Pomegranate Paradise™ Smoothie from Jamba Juice when they offered a $3 off coupon (still have time to claim my free birthday smoothie!)

My Cicis: I didn’t claim my birthday freebie (Adult Buffet or large 1-Topping Pizza to go) because the San Diego location closed down! LOL.  Check under “Offers” through the webpage or app if you want to find the offer yourself. It expires about seven (7) days after your birthday.  Here’s my referral code: JillBalla15

However, I did try the Adult Buffet a long time ago when it was offered as a sign-up freebie.  They actually had vegan French dressing, pizza dough, red pizza sauce, and you could ask a chef to make a cheese-free pizza.  The manager had a laminated chart that could tell you what was vegan or not.  The red pasta sauce was not vegan though, so I put french dressing on pasta. LOL!  Other webpages like Vegan Food Lover have done research on what options are vegan.

Penn Station East Coast Subs: I don’t know if they offer a birthday freebie, but I thought I’d throw this one in because I claimed my sign up freebie (6” vegan-version veggie sub) in the same time frame that I claimed birthday freebies. However, I got it when I was in Woodhaven, MI. The sub would have been good had I not got mustard and teriyaki sauce together. LOL. Use my referral code: 9ej39

La Columbe Pure Black: This wasn’t actually a birthday freebie, but rather a freebie coupon that was redeemable the same days I claimed birthday freebies, so I just wanted to throw it in to say: Isn’t it cool when you find the one vegan variety freebie (the others had dairy) just by walking straight up to it in the Whole Foods? More vegans should claim food freebies (when convenient.)  I prepared it later with Cashew Dream and home-made coconut whipped cream.

La Colombe in an El Jimador cup

Grab the Gold: $15 off coupon for an online order if you’re on their e-mail list. These are so good. They’ve been known to give out free samples (now you have to pay for shipping, though; go to their web page and wait for a pop-up) and have Instagram contests (I won a cool prize pack!)

iTan: One free sun, spray, or spa session (when you’re on their e-mail list.) Mystic Tan is cruelty free. Don’t know about vegan.

Finish Line: $10 if you’re in the Winner’s Circle Reward Program. I forgot to use my reward this time, but in the past I got shoe insoles. LOL.

Sephora Beauty Insider: Tymber picked up freebie vegan cruelty-free Tarte cosmetics for her birthday from Sephora.  Funny thing, I’ve had a Sephora Beauty Insider account for years and never even thought to check it for a birthday freebie!

Tymber’s birthday gift from Sephora. (Photo from Tymber.)

Pei Wei – My Wei Rewards: I just signed up so I could tell you about it, but I haven’t tested the Rewards program yet (just gift certificates and coupons.)  The Pei Wei menu has a leaf symbol designating entries that can be made “Vegetarian Upon Request” (so make sure you actually “request” because the sauce could be not veg.)  But if you say you want it vegan they say, “We say ‘vegetarian,’ not ‘vegan.’”  Their allergen document says the fortune cookies have an egg allergen. Bummer.

But anyway, after I signed up for My Wei Rewards, I entered my birthday online (the app didn’t ask for it.) Your birthday offer will be a freebie drink or edamame small plate.  Your sign-up offer is a freebie drink (I haven’t claimed mine yet and it purportedly doesn’t show up in your account until you make a transaction. “New member enrollment bonus points will post to your account with your first transaction.”)

Papa Johns – Papa Rewards: Apparently I had an account, but didn’t realize it. (I wasn’t getting e-mail from it, but must have made an account when using free pizza codes in the past.) Thus, if I had checked my account online, I may have seen a Birthday Reward of 10 Bonus Points, which can hypothetically get one free vegan Original Breadsticks with Pizza Sauce for dipping. Maybe I will test it next year. Who knows.  If you have an account, look under “Profile” to see if your birthday is in there.  The good news is that when I recently redeemed free pizza codes (from a sweepstakes), I could get extra pizza sauce at no extra charge. (Don’t forget to check “No Cheese” because #DairyIsRape.)

A Papa Johns in San Diego

You can search for more vegan freebies applicable to your locale by doing research.  Check the webpage of a nearby chain restaurant and see what kind of rewards program they have.  Or search for other posts on “birthday freebies” and try to determine which ones have something vegan.  If you find a good vegan one, comment about it so other vegans can score food freebies! (If your comment doesn’t go through, it probably means that WordPress thinks your computer is a robot. That’s what it thinks of my laptop!)

 

Osteria Panevino and Greystone

Willamina visiting Panevino.

Osteria Panevino is a Tuscan restaurant in the Gaslamp of downtown San Diego (on 5th Ave. between F & G Streets.)  They participate in Restaurant Week and give out gift certificates on the radio.  I visited for lunch three times spread out over a long stretch of time and brought my dog each time (and a human once.)

At first they didn’t have anything labelled “vegan” on their menu, but they had a “vegetarian” section if I remember correctly.  I got the gluten-free veggie pasta (“no cheese, no butter”) my first two visits.  Their pasta is great and house-made. Ironically, I saw the same couple having lunch both times (they totally weren’t vegan.)

McFadden’s is across the street from Osteria Panevino

Eventually they changed their menu and took that pasta dish right off the menu. But now they have a “VF” (vegan friendly) omelette on the menu (under the “Breakfast” section), which I would have tried, but they were out of tofu that day.  However, the good news is that you can order the pasta with marinara sauce even though the menu says “Fettuccine Alfredo Spaghetti.”  They seem to only bring out bread if you ask, but I guess it all depends.

I also got bottomless mimosas each time and they’re strong.  The carafe they bring you could be large or small, so be prepared.

Greystone

Greystone steakhouse is their nearby sister restaurant and I got a similar veggie pasta dish as I did at Osteria Panevino, which was a modification of their shrimp pasta. (Ewwww!) (I’m proud to say I’ve never eaten shrimp in my life!)  They had musicians playing downstairs and dining upstairs.  I haven’t been there in ages.  They should go vegan!

Downstairs at Greystone

You know, I respect the freegans and all, but I prefer to dine for free in fancy restaurants than eating out of garbage cans like George Costanza. How about you?

Paipa’s Buffet – Sycuan Casino (El Cajon)

An employee at Paipa's Buffet said they had nothing vegan.

An employee at Paipa’s Buffet said they had nothing vegan.

Years ago (when Sycuan Casino was promoting its remodel), I called Paipa’s Buffet to ask if they had anything vegan.  The woman who answered the phone said, “No.”

I thought, “That’s funny. That means they don’t even have lettuce at the salad bar! Weird!”  Turns out she was full of it because I visited (after winning a gift certificate on the radio) and found lots of plant based food to choose from.  Salad bar, veggies, hummus, tacos, burgers.

Yes, I ate two plates of food and still have flat abs.

Yes, I ate two plates of food and still have flat abs.

They have black bean veggie burgers.  The waiter said the veggie burger was “vegan,” but the guy behind the counter just said “veggie,” so I don’t have conclusive information on its vegan-friendliness.  The bun, however, appeared to be not vegan because it had a yellow tinge, which suggested egg yolk or butter (you’d think the waiter would say specifically if the bun was vegan.)  But you can get a lettuce wrap instead.  I liked adding grilled pineapple, tomato, and pickle spears.

Even better was the vegan taco I made with black beans, guacamole, salsa, and lettuce.  Although, it would be better if the taco shell was Non-GMO Project Verified.

Next time I'll add the beans first, then the guacamole, then the salsa, then the lettuce.

Next time I’ll add the beans first, then the guacamole, then the salsa, then the lettuce.

Paipa’s Buffet could be more helpful by labeling questionable stuff vegan, such as the pita bread or the veggie spring rolls (and the burger and bun, of course.)

I couldn’t get anyone to answer any questions about the desserts, so I had to just presume that nothing was vegan except the cherries jubilee (although, I also presumed that it contained high fructose corn syrup.)

Welp, there’s my review of Paipa’s Buffet at Sycuan Casino.  Don’t forget I also reviewed Wachena and Sycuan Café Grill (now called Red Tail Grill.)

Small amount of cherries jubilee with chopped nuts.

Small amount of cherries jubilee with chopped nuts.

Which Vegan Wich

Great news. Which Wich takes away the guesswork and just tells you right on its own web page which options are vegan.

Which Wich

Which Wich

I visited five (5) times to get a free 7” Wich each time (radio prize.)  I took one for the team and ate white bread, which is “poison” according to commentator Dave, but my gift certificates didn’t say I could get a Lettucewich or a Bowlwich.  As you probably have noticed, the wheat breads at these types of establishments don’t tend to be vegan because they contain honey, and if that honey contains the herbicide glyphosate, then it could be “poison” as well.

What you do is walk in and grab a paper bag that says “Vegetarian” and a red Sharpee (bring hand sanitizer!)  Then you select the options based on your knowledge of which ones are vegan-friendly.  You also select “Hotwich” or “Coldwich.”

You could eat outside next to idling vehicles. Pollution is so appetizing.

You could eat outside next to idling vehicles. Pollution is so appetizing.

I tried two (2) different basic vegan Wiches: a light and delish Tomato & Avocado style one and a heartier and spicier Black Bean Patty one.  (I eventually figured out that the latter is better as Hotwich.)  Their other vegan Wich is Hummus, but you can add hummus anyway at no extra charge.  However, there is an extra charge for avocado (unless you choose the Tomato & Avocado Wich.)

Wedgie @ Which Wich (I see this fashion faux pas everywhere and I hate it!)

Wedgie @ Which Wich (I see this fashion faux pas everywhere and I hate it!)

Here’s my tip: don’t select too many spicy options because once I got jalapenos even though I didn’t select them.  So, basically assume your Wich will be spicier than you expect it to be.  Also, bring your own plastic fork!

For more sub reviews, see my post on Subway and Jersey Mike’s.

Two Restaurants at Sycuan (El Cajon, CA, San Diego County)

Distinguish between Sycuan Casino and Sycuan Resort, which are not on the same property, but in the same vicinity.

Sycuan Golf & Tennis Resort

I prefer to spend time at resorts over casinos.  They are more relaxing and the air is better.  I won the opportunity to stay overnight and check out their restaurant, Sycuan Café Grill (AKA Red Tail Grill, the name on the web page.)  I did lunch before checking in and the only other party in the restaurant at the time was a group of golfer dudes who talked a lot of their memories of exploiting and killing innocent animals.  Creepy.

animal exploiters at Sycuan Cafe Grill

Old timers at Sycuan Cafe Grill talked out loud about exploiting and killing animals. (And I said out loud multiple times, “Meat is Murder.”)

Even though the menu doesn’t mention anything vegan, you can easily order vegan-friendly.  I ordered a vegan-version Margherita Pizza flatbread, salad, and angel hair pasta with veggies (dish created especially for me.)  No, I’m not a fatty!  I saved a bunch and ate the rest for dinner.  Yum!

sycuan cafe & grill flatbread

Vegan-version  Margherita Pizza flatbread at Sycuan Cafe Grill, plus a whisky-sour with Jameson

salad from Sycuan cafe & grill

Yummy vegan-version salad from Sycuan Cafe Grill (with two dressings because I couldn’t decide.)

angel hair with veggies Sycuan Cafe Grill

Angel hair pasta with veggies purportedly created especially for me at Sycuan Cafe Grill. (Then I drank a club soda.)

Sycuan Casino

bear decorations at Sycuan casino

Cute decorations in the hallway between the parking garage and Sycuan Casino (the security guard told me not to take photos inside the casino or of the people.)

Wachena

I won a certificate that permitted me to choose which restaurant I wanted to dine at (in Sycuan Casino.)  I chose Wachena because their menu has tofu.  Yay!  Luckily they have an entrée called Tofu & Mixed Vegetables.  The waiter didn’t really have much knowledge and couldn’t say if it was vegan or not, but let’s hope so:

 

Tofu & Mixed Vegetables

Fried tofu with snow peas, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and onions in a light garlic sauce. 9.00

 

tofu & mixed vegetables Wachena

Tofu & Mixed Vegetables at Wachena after I dumped some rice on the top (of course, I rejected the mushrooms.)

They also had a nice fall salad with acorn squash that I ordered without the cheese.

fall salad with acorn sqash at Wachena

Vegan-version fall salad with acorn squash from Wachena.

If there is a longer wait to sit in the non-smoking section, I recommend you wait.  I sat in the smoking section to avoid a wait and the air was too polluted.  I should have worn a mask as is done in Beijing (and also in Sycuan casino.) (I would have photographed the people wearing face masks, but a security guard asked me not to take any photos of the people or inside the casino.)

 

 

Pizza e Birra Nice to Vegan Town (San Diego, CA)

Linguine marinara (vegan) and Willamina "Bundle Bear" B.

Linguine marinara (vegan) and Willamina “Bundle Bear” B.

Great news about Pizza e Birra, an Italian restaurant in the Middletown community of the City of San Diego: you can easily vegan-town a pizza, pasta, and house salad.  They don’t add an egg wash to their pizza crust like at the Tavern + Bowl, which is nice.

They also have lovely patios where you can bring your dog.  I liked that their house salad included butternut squash, a favorite amongst both humans and canines.  The potato and eggplant toppings (delicious plant based foods) on the vegetarian pizza (vegan version) quite impressed me.

House salad (vegan version) includes roasted butternut squash.

House salad (vegan version) includes roasted butternut squash.

The server, Raffaele, was super friendly and helpful, but he should try writing down people’s orders instead of memorizing (he did make a few errors.)  The female server was friendly, but oddly gung ho about grabbing not only plates, but napkins!

Their prices are quite reasonable too, which is pretty cool when you consider how expensive a vegan pizza is at a restaurant like Z Pizza.  I usually don’t refer to prices in these reviews because I’m using gift cards and gift certificates that I won, but in this case I didn’t win a gift certificate. No, I purchased a $30 voucher for $0 out of pocket ($15 in promo codes.)  That’s another way to vegan-town: purchasing local deal vouchers using promo codes (see the “about” page for more information.)  In this case, ReaderCity was nice enough to give out $5 promo codes as runner-up prizes that I saved until I bought the Pizza e Birra voucher. Glad I did even if I don’t particularly care for this cramped part of town.

Don’t park in the Regal Beagle parking lot.  Not only is it the wrong lot, but some douche-hole motorist dinged my car!  If you know what motorist parked a white vehicle there on September 13, 2015 in the 5 and 6 pm hours then let me know!

Pizza e Birra is decent and they can get even better by putting the word “vegan” on their menu, particularly for a dessert!