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!

Getting Vegan Stuffed at Donovan’s Steak & Chop House in La Jolla, CA (San Diego County)

Yes, I am going to be posting a lot about vegan dining at steak houses. Of course vegans should win gift cards to steak houses. What do you think the meat eating prize hoarders are going to order?  “Wolf down, wolf down / T-bone steak / Wolf down cancer of the prostate.” – Moz.

So, the first time I went there I didn’t eat much. Just asparagus without the butter (as I referenced in an earlier post) and some wine.  It was either the Milagro Farms Sauvignon Blanc (purportedly vegan friendly, Barnivore.com) or the “J” Cuvée 20 (I actually don’t know if it’s vegan friendly.)  I only had a $50 gift card anyway, so it was okay.

So, the second time I went there I had a $100 trade card (different from gift cards in that you have to use them in one shot, but they don’t cover tax or gratuity.)  So this time I prepared in advance.  I made my own tofu sour cream and brought it in with my own Earth Balance.  Whether the employees of Donovan’s minded me doing this I do not know because they say “my pleasure” to all requests.  They also stand at attention by the walls like the servants on Downtown Abbey.

Brought my own Earth Balance to Donovan's!

Brought my own Earth Balance to Donovan’s!

None of the salads on Donovan’s menu are vegan so I just requested my own spinach salad.  Besides spinach it had tomato and Italian vinaigrette (purportedly vegan-friendly.)  It was also supposed to have onion, but someone forgot, but I didn’t mind because raw onion can be a bit much. So, good salad.

I ordered an à la carte baked potato without the butter even though the menu didn’t offer that, you can still do that. When you get your baked potato, the servant has a little caddy with sour cream and chives and of course, I only wanted the chives.  I raved to the servant that my potato was “really good with my tofu sour cream!”

He said, “I’m glad it worked out for you.”

Also got a side of steamed broccoli (nice!) and a glass of Stolpman Syrah (purportedly vegan friendly, Barnivore.com.)  So, after eating all that (along with the hopefully vegan bread and my Earth Balance), I was stuffed and declared to a servant, “Why would anyone order meat in addition to all that filling food?!”  (At a nearby table, a woman had sent her steak back to the kitchen for more cooking because it was too bloody, ewwww!)

But I had also ordered raspberry sorbet.  Before bringing dessert the servants use a little wiper to scrape crumbs off the table.  Anyway, the sorbet was delicious, but I was stuffed and saved the rest in a container provided by Donovan’s, which kept me in desserts for two more days. YUM!!!

They have two other locations: downtown in the Gaslamp and one in Phoenix. So, vegans, win those steakhouse gift cards, trade cards, and gift certificates! You will be saving lives!

Taking the Dawg to Crush in Solana Beach, CA (San Diego County)

I really have to win more gift cards to restaurants that allow dogs because my dawg thinks she’s invited to every place that I go, even though she’s not.  Luckily, Crush (Italian cuisine) permits customers to bring dogs to their patio, so that’s where I went for a nice lunch.

I had to tie Willamina to the table.

I had to tie Willamina to the table.

Crush’s menu needs improvement on vegan-friendliness, but I had prepared in advance with a “Create Your Own Salad” paper.  But unfortunately, they weren’t doing that anymore, although they could still do it (make the salad I created.)  The server, Becky, said they they just didn’t have the manzanilla olives or toasted pine nuts.  But my delicious salad did have pine nuts buried within.  I gave my dawg two pieces of matchstick apple, but she only ate one.

A passerby holding a leash and looking.

A passerby holding a leash and looking.

I also ordered a side of angel hair pasta with pomodoro sauce (aka “red sauce.”)  The server said it was vegan, although the pasta was manufactured in a facility that also uses animal ingredients.  I made sure to say “no cheese” just in case they were tempted to toss cheese on.  Quite delicious.  They should try adding more traditionally vegan pasta dishes to the menu.  For example, if they had kalamata olives, they could make whore’s pasta alla puttanesca.  I do believe whores perpetuate sexism, so why don’t they just stick to making pasta and quit their day job (or should I say, their graveyard shift?)

Oh yeah, I also got a Crush & Smash cocktail made with Wild Turkey 81 bourbon (vegan friendly, based on a company e-mail published at Barnivore.com), apricot liqueur, lemon, and mint. Delicious.

At Crush you get the bill in a Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew book.  I noticed customers signed The Mystery of Cabin Island, so I added “Go Vegan” and “Viva Morrissey.”  Yes, I am that awesome.  Soon I will have to take Morrissey to a restaurant and feature him on this blog.  I do believe that this blog is the best place for an artist of Morrissey’s caliber to promote his album.

So anyway, now you know where you can get a lovely vegan Italian lunch without leaving your dog behind to cry. (Ironically, the woman in the photo below was crying.)

some plants and a woman from Prospect Mortgage

Some plants in front of the patio at Crush and an employee from a nearby business.