Capitalizing on the bounty of the many farms and orchards in the area, the small town of Sebastopol offers some of Sonoma County's best vegetarian restaurants . Whether it’s casual or more upscale eating you’re after, there’s something to satisfy every meatless appetite.
The owners of The Slice of Life in downtown Sebastopol (6970 McKinley St., Sebastopol, 707-829-6627) have been crafting vegetarian American, Italian, and Mexican cuisine since 1974. That means recipes contain no animal products except dairy cheeses, and many dishes are fat-free, low-fat, dairy-free, and lactose-free.
Even carnivores will eat up the burgers, presented on organic whole wheat buns, topped with grilled onions and mushrooms, sprouts, dairy-free mayo, and pickles. Inside the bun, you’ll find thick, moist patties fashioned from nuts, seeds, and grains; tempeh, wild rice, and barbecue sauce; sunflower seeds, brown rice, and carrots; or a tasty blend of wheat gluten and soy protein best topped with “fakin’ bacon” and guacamole.
Even the French fries are special here, called “hot airs” since they’re oil-free, fat-free, and guilt-free, offered in regular, sweet potato, or coated in fresh garlic.
A lengthy and ambitious menu offers something for all appetites at the East West Café (128 N. Main St., Sebastopol, 707-829-2822). More mainstream eaters might lean to the friendly and delicious veggie Benedict, bringing a toasted English muffin topped with avocado, tomato, sautéed shiitake mushrooms, poached eggs, and homemade hollandaise alongside country potatoes and salsa.
Yet practiced vegans will zero in on the organic Macro Plate, brimming in braised tofu or grilled tempeh with vegetables, arame seaweed, black beans, brown rice, hummus, and tahini. And by the end of the meal, both will be sharing plates, sipping glasses of organic wine, and planning dessert around chocolate-beet cake.
If you’re in the mood for a chic dine-out, Peter Lowell's (7385 Healdsburg Ave., Sebastopol, 707-829-1077) fills the bill. This sleek, super-stylish café sources its ingredients from Sonoma County, and mostly from Sebastopol-based boutique farmers, ranchers, cheese makers, and foragers.
It’s not a vegetarian restaurant (meat abounds) but dishes change often, and you can sit at the bar or at one of the bistro-style tables and sample the luxurious veggie-centric stars such as carrot-fennel soup dolloped with spiced yogurt, vegan mushroom risotto stocked with roasted king trumpets, leeks and arugula, or housemade pasta tossed with cauliflower, sage brown butter, pine nuts, and pecorino romano.
Other Sebastopol restaurants that offer vegetarian or vegan options include: