Monday, May 5, 2008

Vegan on Catalina Island

Vegan dining on Catalina Island was much harder than I anticipated. You'd think that a hip little California town would be more veg-friendly, as they almost always are. Yet that is not the case when it comes to this island.

I did my research ahead of time to try to find a nice place to eat for our first and only night there. I found Ristorante Villa Portofino
which isn't vegetarian, but I figured since the Chef also works for Vegetarian Times that the place should at least be veg-friendly. Well, I was wrong, as everything we ordered came back with cheese on it, even though we ordered everything without cheese. I'm not sure if that was just the fault of our terrible waiter, or the restaurant itself. The menu item we ordered, the Funghi Portobello, also looked like it should be vegan as well. And did you look at that price? $17.00 for the dish you see below! Hubby and I shared it.

The next day we hung out at the Casino, where all the Scuba diving happens. We stopped at a little beach side burger place to see if they had anything, and surprisingly they had a few veggie items on the menu. Their beans are lard-free and cooked fresh everyday. We ordered a plate of nachos- minus the cheese and sour cream, and a veggie sandwich- minus the mayo. It was all tasty, and satisfying for what it was.

So, if you are planning a trip to Catalina, you can get by as a vegan. There are plenty of pizza places you can order a veggie cheeseless pizza, but there is not much else. I'm sure we'll be going back someday, since hubby is an avid scuba diver, and next time maybe there will be something vegan at the Mediterranean spot we saw on our way out.


CaterGreen! said...

I am planning a weekend getaway to Catalina from LA with my wife. The beans at the burger place sound good... this was in Avalon I presume. Because we are such picky eaters we always bring our own. How did you get there, through the Harbor area or Marina delRey and at what cost?
I am seriously looking at visiting Catalina Because it offers all of our favorite activities, camping, snorkeling, kayaking and hiking... we also love to eat. So thank you for blogging on Vegan on Catalina Island.

bathmate said...

nice posting. very good work. thank you. :)


Scott and Deb Jones said...

Dear Vegan - There is hope...
A new restaurant has opened on Catalina Island called "M" Food & Drink, they just opened this year Feb 2010 and are Vegan & Vegetarian friendly. They have a couple of different items on the menu and also support fresh farm to table concept along with organic when possible. So don't shy away from Catalina, and remember the M Restaurant.

Customer said...

Thanks for your post! I just returned from Catalina and am ready for some yummy HOME-cooked vegan food after 4 days of spaghetti and beans. There are very few veggies on most menus in Catalina, so even if a restaurant is vegan friendly, it's going to be carb heavy and not the typical healthy plant based diet.

The espresso/wine bar near the boat dock makes a soy latte and a Mediterranean appetizer plate with tapenade, hummus and olive oil. Metropole cafe has smoothies and delish vegan sandwiches, soups, etc. They also stock healthy vegan snacks. M restaurant serves upscale veg-friendly cuisine, but you will still need to make some adjustments to the menu. We explicitly said no butter and I am pretty sure the veggies in our pasta were sauteed in butter :(. There was an overall unfamiliarity of what veganism actually is. Most servers brought bread out with butter, etc.
We had a great 'hangover' breakfast at Joes cafe. We ordered vegetarian refried beans, tortillas, avocados, hashbrowns and salsa off the sides menu. Their salsa is really good!
My advice is to bring your own food and stay somewhere with a kitchen. Catalina is a fun place to visit for a few days and you will get by without compromising your vegan diet.