Margarita at Chevys Fresh Mex 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]

Chips and Salsa at Chevys Fresh Mex

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.

Tableside guacamole at Chevys Fresh MexTableside guacamole at Chevys Fresh Mex

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.

Guacamole at Chevys Fresh Mex

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.

Grilled vegetables Fresh Mex

Grilled vegetables Fresh Mex

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.

Sweet Corn Tamalito at Chevys Fresh Mex

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.]

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17 Responses to “Bay Area Vegan: Chevys Fresh Mex”
  1. there is nothing better in this life than tableside guac!

  2. meghan says:

    My Chevy’s experience was completely different. There was sour cream in the guacamole. Our “vegetarian” burritos had chunks of meat in them. We basically ate only chips and salsa and both had tummy aches afterwards from who knows what we ate in the part of our meal we actually consumed which we were ‘assured’ was vegetarian.

  3. Trevor Abee says:

    Why would you eat food that you have heard contains whey, and then post about it on a vegan blog? If you have conflicting reports on that, but decided to eat it anyways, who knows what was in the rest of your food.

  4. FoodEater says:

    Meghan: That sucks! There was definitely no sour cream in the guacamole as we watched him make it ourselves. Maybe it normally comes that way but we told our waiter everything needed to be vegan, and we explained “no cheese, no meat, no animal broth, no sour cream, no butter, no egg” and it was not a problem. I can’t speak for the burritos, as you can see our meal was a plate of fresh vegetables.

    Trevor: Why shouldn’t I post it about it on my blog? This blog is journal of what I eat, and it’s honest. I didn’t know about the possible whey at the time I ate there and am currently in touch with the restaurant to verify the ingredients. This blog is about the truth, not about hiding the facts. Yeah, who knows what was in the rest of my food… that’s a risk I take every time I eat at a restaurant. The vegetables are grilled in oil. The beans and rice are vegetarian, the tortillas might not be 100% vegan. End of story. Now people know what they can eat at this place, and what to avoid if they choose to. Not sure why that’s an issue for you. This blog is not written exclusively for 5th level vegans, it’s written for normal people who appreciate knowing what options are available at restaurants, and not all of my readers are vegan. If the possibility of non-vegan ingredients in restaurant food is a risk you’re not willing to accept, don’t eat there, but please don’t tell me what I can or can’t write about on my own website.

  5. I used to eat at Chevy’s once in a while when I worked in Encino, CA. I love their chips and salsa. The vegetables in that fajita are so beautiful! What a perfect vegan meal!

  6. FoodEater says:

    JoLynn: Thanks for letting me know you had a postitive experiene at Chevy’s. Looks like we’re two for two now :)

  7. never been, not thinking about going either.

    looks “Mexican-esque” but not Mexican.

    thanks for posting about this though nonetheless :)

  8. jennifer says:

    great post! i used to eat at chevy’s quite often when i lived in the bay area. i remember loving the tableside guac and chips! and that little corn-cake thingy, so good! good to know about the vegan options! thanks :)

  9. kcmo says:

    Interesting!! Don’t try the same thing at Chevy’s in San Francisco, though–vomit is not vegan!

  10. FoodEater says:

    kcmo: Well if you wanna get technical, it would be vegan if it was vomited by a vegan.

  11. Vegan Veteran says:

    Awesome review, nice work. I think it’s important to know which non-vegetarian restaurants offer vegan options, because these are the kinds of places that most people eat at (all cities don’t usually have the luxury of tons of vegan spots like LA & SF do), and this kind of info makes it much easier for people to go vegan wherever they live. It’s also good to know where you can go with your flesh eating friends & family and still get a descent vegan meal. I thought your review was very well written and I informative… people can take this knowledge and do as they choose with it or not. I can’t wait to read your reviews of the actual veggie restaurants you ate at too.

  12. miss alix says:

    i agree with vegan veteran above. it’s easy nice to know what’s tasty at a vegan restaurant but it’s extremely helpful to know what’s vegan in an omni restaurant. anytime i’m going buy something that i’m not sure about, i look to the internet for advice about whether or not it’s vegan since servers don’t always know. i’m glad someone is out there finding these things out and doing the research.

  13. chow vegan says:

    I haven’t been to a Chevys in ages. But as other people have mentioned, it’s always good to know what’s available at a mainstream restaurant when eating out with other people who aren’t into vegan food. I love reading about your adventures and reviews. :-)

  14. kcmo says:

    Hahaha, I disagree. Vomit *isn’t* technically vegan, since the food is mixed with (animal) gastric juices. It’s awesome that you called me on it, though, because I had the same debate in my head before I posted! I even deleted the word ‘technically’ on second thought.

  15. FoodEater says:

    Vegan Veteran & miss alix: I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    kcmo: As far as I’m concerned, veganism is in reference to the non-human animal kingdom. Just like human mother’s milk is vegan for a human baby, human vomit would also be vegan. Just sayin’.

  16. chevys fresh mex is a cool location

  17. FoodEater says:

    Update: 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.