I heard the best one so far, though, only a few weeks ago. "Absolutely!" A chipper voice replied. "We don't even bring gluten in here."
And that's how one celiac and one her adventurous foodie friends ended up dining at Peace Pies down in Ocean Beach, California.
Peace Pies is a gluten free, raw vegan restaurant best known for, as the name would suggest, their pies, cheesecakes and other sweet delights. What many people don't realize, though, is hat Peace Pies also has several restaurant locations that serve a full, savory menu.
My friend Natalie and I chose to frolic to their OB storefront, which is only ten minutes from our college. Tucked in the suburbs and next to a local pub, Peace Pies appears small and out-of-place at first glance. However, stepping inside immediately gives visitors a homey feeling.
A display case houses all of their desserts - which Natalie and I spent an equal amount of time gawking at and drooling over - while a fridge contains pre-made meals for easy grab and go. Even though I'd spent time researching the meals (thank you, Yelp) offered the day before, I still looked at the menu with awe.
Peace Pies offers everything from zucchini lasagna with cashew cheese to veggie pizza on a sunflower crust to nachos covered in walnut meat. After asking the cashier for her favorite meal (and exchanging Instagram names - apparently my feed is "so colorful!"), I decided on the house favorite: a mushroom quesadilla (made with a coconut and bell pepper wrap) with guac and "cheesy" kale chips. Natalie, on the other hand, finally settled on the kelp noodle mushroom stroganoff.
Natalie and I sat in a cute, corner table as we waited for our food. Customers serve themselves water from a water cooler and pick up their own utensils and napkins from a serving tray. Because most of the food is prepared ahead of time (due to the constraints of soaking/dehydrating/etc raw food), we only waited around 10 minutes for our plates. (It didn't hurt that we also visited on a Wednesday at 4, avoiding the usual weekend rush).
When I saw my plate, I first thought: "Wow." Between the orange wrap, bright green guacamole and oozing cashew cheese, my dish exploded with color. My quesadilla was also a decent size, and I ended up splitting it between two meals (though I devoured the chips and guac the first time!).
And the taste? While I love experimenting with vegan recipes, raw vegan food definitely exceeded my comfort zone. So, when I bit into my "meaty" mushroom wrap, I was pleasantly surprised. The mushrooms tastes soft and burst with flavor and were perfectly complemented by the crunchy tomato and onions, fresh spinach and creamy cashew cheese. I worried that I wouldn't like the wrap since I'm not a fan of bell peppers, but I enjoyed the soft, slightly sweet "tortilla."
Because the rich cashew cheese could taste overwhelming without a palate cleanser, I really enjoyed the included guac and kale chips. The guac was obviously freshly made and boasted big chunks of avocado, spices and onion. As for the kale chips, they tasted crunchy, light and I loved the sprinkle of cheesy flavor (nutritional yeast perhaps?).
Natalie equally enjoyed her dish, commenting on the tangy flavor of the cashew cheese and the tender mushrooms distributed throughout. She even forgot that it was raw until I reminded her halfway through - and she was even more impressed!
Our one note of complaint related to the heavy, strong flavor of the cashew cheese. We both wished for a plain salad or raw veggies to accompany the meals and break up the taste - but that could be easily solved by ordering a side. I thought my mushroom quesadilla tasted even better the day after when I ate it with some extra roasted veggies and mixed greens.
It's also worth pointing out that Peace Pies isn't cheap - but the ability to walk on and order anything on the menu without giving the whole celiac spiel is priceless. Before school gets out, I'm already planning my next visit - I have my eye (or stomach?) on a veggie pizza and a slice of pie!
Every restaurant is different and just because a place is celiac safe doesn't mean the food will be tasty! Luckily for this celiac, though, Peace Pies meets my criteria for safety and taste.
Gluten may not enter their restaurant, but I know that I'll become a regular!
*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link party!*
Have you ever tried raw, vegan food? What research do you do before trying a new restaurant? Comment below!