[This post is part of a series of reviews from my Winter 2014/15 trip to California]
What can I say about Native Foods? Well, considering the fact that there aren’t many options for healthy eating at restaurants in Palm Springs, we were VERY excited when we enjoyed Native Foods the first time (we ate 3 meals in our week stay there). I wouldn’t say that it’s fine dining, or the finest ambiance, but it’s real food, made fast, and very fresh, served by happy people, featuring LOTS of avocados, which made me very happy!
Usually vegan restaurants cannot accommodate people with nut allergies, but Native Foods was not only willing, but they even provided us with a separate menu that had every allergen marked on it, which is a very good sign, if I might say so. If you know your ingredients, and keep a clean kitchen, you can confidently serve people with all different needs. Although there might be traces, and it’s always a gamble, we were very confident, and they delivered on their promises with a smile.
The menu is large – and there is something for everyone, as long as you are excited and willing to eat a plant-based meal and embrace Native Cheese, Native Chicken and many more “Native” items. I do wish it was all 100% organic, but they certainly use a lot, all while supporting local!
Their salads are HUGE. My mother and sister loved the Mexican Cobb salad so much they had it multiple times. Even the black beans that were plain were great. I thankfully got a few chunks of jicama from their salads, so crisp and palette cleansing! The salads were so big and so fresh that there was often leftovers for the next day. My friend Sandi loved her Ensalada Azteca, chock full of quinoa and mounds of veggies, also including one of my favourite veggies, Jicama with a Mango and lime vinaigrette. My brother loved the nachos (watch out for those jalapenos!) and my friend Ryan enjoyed his Soul Bowl – you can’t believe the mound of dark green kale that was included in this dish!
We don’t eat fried foods at home, and only occasionally when out, but Native “chicken wings” with Buffalo sauce sounded too good to pass up – and ordering them was a real treat and great move! You can order them grilled or crispy (fried) and even my mother, who doesn’t like “mock” anything liked these, as did our friend, Sandi. The spicy Buffalo sauce that they put on the tofu based appetizer hooked us all! My mouth is watering even thinking about them.
I had 3 different things (plus trying everybody else’s dishes each time) in our 3 different meals. First, I had the Crispy Club Sandwich that was served with avocado (of course!), herb crusted native “chicken”, tempeh and many more delicious toppings that came together perfectly and made me very happy – let’s call it amazingness on a multi-grain ciabatta. Not the cleanest of choices, but their dishes are all colourful with lots of fresh ingredients and very enjoyable. The second time I tried an Italian Seitan meatball sub sandwich with marinara sauce, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, pumpkin seed pesto and ranch dressing on a baguette. I thought of chef Doug McNish as I was eating it, as he introduced me to seitan. My third meal was the Scorpion Burger which was blackened tempeh, creamy chipotle sauce, crispy romaine leaves, shredded carrots, avocado and shaved red onion. I am not sure which one of the 3 was my favourite, but they were all things that I would order again.
For those of you who would not want wheat meat, or soy, there are plenty of choices too. They even have great drinks – some lightly sweetened with organic agave or unrefined organic sugar, but most impressively, they had a delicious unsweetened blueberry hibiscus organic tea. For dinner, organic wine and beer – all vegan also, of course. I tried their Oatmeal Cream Pie for dessert and it was just delicious.
This restaurant was always full, and no one seemed bothered waiting in line since they knew what they would be getting – Good value and truly decent fast food! If you go, just ask them to accommodate you and I bet they will with a smile – how nice is that?
Native Foods has many locations across the USA, but have TONS more locations due to open this year, let’s hope one comes to Toronto.