I recently paid the San Francisco Bay Area a long overdue visit, and as you might expect my primary activity while there was eating. In this next series of posts I’ll share with you some of the awesome stuff I got to try. There were so many new and as of yet undiscovered (to me) vegan options to enjoy since my last trip north, I could barely fit all the stuff I wanted to try into my few days there. Not easily deterred, my friend and I were determined to fit as many meals into five days as possible.
Barely off the plane in Oakland and into my host’s snazzy convertible, he quickly whisked me away for my first meal in town. Now, where we went was definitely not on my list of places to go, and frankly, is not the sort of place I’d usually think of or want to eat at. He assured me however that not only would I get a delicious meal where we were headed, but that I’d also really enjoy the scenic location. Ok, I’m good for whatever and I’ll trust a 20 year vegan to show me where to find yummy food while in his own hood. (yeah 20 years- he’s a superhero!)
Where did he take me? Chevys Fresh Mex. Chevys is part of a mega-franchise that also owns El Torito and Acapulco, some of the more popular “casual dining Mexican restaurants” across the country. Walking into Chevys is like walking into Disneyland meets a cantina meets a sports bar. At first I didn’t get where he was coming from telling me this place was scenic, but that all changed when we were taken to our seat on the outside deck, and suddenly I realized we were perched right above the water! I didn’t even know we were near the beach but here I was, magically transported to the water’s edge on a beautiful pier just before sunset. This location truly was lovely and I could see why my friend knew I would like it. This was the Emeryville location by the way, but you’ll find Chevys all over the country. The nearest one down here in L.A. is in Burbank, which for those of you who are geographically impaired, is not near any bodies of water- and therefore probably nowhere near as cool as this one.
To start things off right I had the ginormous green margarita shown up at the top. After drinking that whole thing down during the course of dinner, I have no recollection of exactly what type of margarita it actually was… they’ve got a giant drinks menu filled with fancy Tequilas that those of you who care about that sort of thing will probably find impressive. Me… I just told my friend I wanted something fruity and that’s what I ended up with. And it was good.
[Update: It was a Midori Melon Margarita]
We were served the ubiquitous chips & salsa, and their spicy roasted salsa was quite good. Along with that we also ordered the guacamole, which is prepared fresh tableside right before your very eyes. Be sure to tell your server that you want it vegan so that they don’t put sour cream in it.
Something about being so attentively catered to, along with the fresh ingredients of course, made this guacamole extra delicious. That, and our waiter was also totally cute and having fun serving us because he said had a roommate who is vegan and he seemed to want to impress us with his knowledge on the topic. Cool, we felt taken care of and in good hands.
I let my friend do the ordering. I can’t find exactly what we had on their condensed online menu, but this is basically a vegetarian fajita combo platter that comes with an epic amount of gorgeous food. The rice and beans are vegetarian.
You get a giant serving of fresh grilled mixed vegetables, spanish rice, black beans, even more guacamole, and a tasty sweet corn tamalito… this was basically a dallop of mashed up sweet tamale and it was really, really good.
This all comes served with their fresh tortillas which are flipped and baked on site by a machine they’ve named El Machino. How authentic! Not really, but you can watch it through a big window and you can’t say they don’t try hard here to entertain. I’ve received conflicting reports as to if these tortillas are vegan or not. One source said they are made with whey, another said they are vegan, so unfortunately I can’t tell you for sure. If that’s a concern, opt out on the tortillas (which do not contain lard). I’m in touch with company and will update this as soon as I get some verification either way.
[Update November 5th: Nope, the tortillas are not vegan. I've confirmed this with their management, as well as the fact that the beans and rice are vegan. So, if you're vegan- don't eat the tortillas and have at it with the rice & beans.]
While this certainly wasn’t the best Mexican food I’ve ever had, it was quite good and managed to surpass my expectations. Maybe not authentic but definitely fresh (and delicious) as promised.
I can’t vouch for the local version of Chevys in Burbank because I haven’t been there but the one in Emeryville was quite nice and the setting is genuinely lovely. While this isn’t necessarily going to be your first choice for a top-notch vegan meal, it’s good to know there are options available should you find yourself there. If you’re in the area check it out the next time you want a meal with a view or just feel like kicking back with some handmade guacamole and a bigass green margarita.
Chevys Fresh Mex
1890 Powell Street
Emeryville, CA 94608
or locally at:
701 N. San Fernando Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91502
[Update: Wow, this post hasn't even been up 24 hours and strangers are already coming here to give me shit about it. Yay! Look folks, I haven't claimed that Chevys is the mecca of vegan food, I've merely singled out one dish that's your best meat-free & dairy-free option at this place. If you're not comfortable eating at restaurants that aren't exclusively vegan than just don't eat there! In the meantime I'll continue to let you know about vegan options at omnivore restaurants whenever I feel they are worth sharing. Have you had any good experiences at Chevys with vegan or vegetarian meals? Bad experiences? Please tell us about them in the comments, but kindly keep the insults and rude remarks to yourselves, they will just be deleted.]Related Posts:
- Fresh tomato salsa over steamed potatoes
- Vegan Food in the East Bay
- Organic Tempeh Tacos
- Another raw food adventure at Leaf Cuisine