There was a time when being a vegetarian, vegan, or pescatarian meant eating boiled potatoes and lifeless iceberg lettuce, or supping on bland fish that looked more like a kitchen sponge than a bold culinary endeavor.
Those days are gone, with a number of daring restaurants elevating the ordinary veggie into an extraordinary meal to remember. Vegetarians and vegans, if food is your passion, celebrate it at the desert’s best eateries.
Native Foods Café has taken the vegan food movement and infused it with contemporary cool. Refresh your tastebuds with a cooling watermelon fresca or lavender lemonade. Stay slim, trim, and healthy with a portobello and sausage burger, prepared with juicy grilled portobellos, homemade Native sausage seitan, caramelized onions, pomodoro, sweet roasted garlic, creamy pumpkin seed pesto and mayo.
1775 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
A substantial portion of the menu at Peppers Thai Cuisine in Palm Springs is devoted to vegetarian palates. Feast on basil and chili tofu, which is pan-fried with basil leaves, chili, onions, bell peppers, and bamboo shoots. Or dine on the red curry with vegetables, which is cooked in a flavorful, mild sauce with just the right amount of spice.
396 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
Make your first date at The Cafe at Shields a delicious one. Date farmers Floyd and Bess Shields founded the Coachella Valley eatery, located on the grounds of Shields Date Garden, in the 1920s. The Cafe at Shields serves a number of diverse choices for vegetarians seeking a balanced meal of proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Satisfy your hunger with the Santa Fe omelet. It’s prepared with cilantro, onions, and jalapeño, topped with tortilla strips, avocado, and red salsa. For European flair, try the Ratatouille omelet, prepared with three eggs, zucchini, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, red bell peppers, eggplant, basil, and feta cheese.
80225 Hwy. 111, Indio.
Lick your fingers and smack your lips while sampling any number of the crisp and inviting salads at Jake’s Palm Springs. Jake’s discerning clientele loves stopping by this Uptown staple for a quick bite to eat during any season. Credit the Asian fusion flavor profiles created by head chef Mario Curci, who joined the restaurant in 2009. Take in the sights and sounds while dining on the patio, or gather around an intimate table near the fountain. Dine on the Southwest salad loaded with avocado, black beans, roasted corn, yellow peppers, chopped romaine, pico de gallo, and sour cream with a spicy lime vinaigrette and tortilla strips. It’s a game-changer.
664 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
Tucked away in the plaza at Sunrise Center is Monsoon Indian Cuisine. Chomp your way through Malai Kofta — vegetable dumplings cooked with mild spices, almond and cashew-nut gravy. The Palek Paneer is also a quaint favorite consisting of cheese cooked with fresh spinach and aromatic peas.
555 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs.
The Tropicale Restaurant and Coral Seas Lounge is a stylish place to enjoy a veggie-only diet. Melt as each morsel of the Thai Rice Noodle, Green Papaya & Crispy Squid Salad passes your lips. For a fun deviation in your diet, munch on the crispy onion ring tower. Next, indulge in happy hour, which takes place from 4-7 p.m.
330 E. Amado Rd., Palm Springs.
Your tastebuds are begging for diverse flavors. Give your mouth what it wants at Pho 533. Order vegetarian egg rolls vermicelli, which is served over rice noodle angel-hair pasta, Asian greens, and with dipping sauce. Succumb to temptation, while making healthy choices.
1775 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Ste. #625, Palm Springs.
Try healthy and delicious salads at Jake’s.