Nourishing Eats | Orange County, CA

Since I'm a self-proclaimed foodie and have been exploring the cafés and restaurants in Orange County this past year, I've had a few people ask my husband and I where to go indulge - especially if they want healthy options - when they come visit.

So I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the delicious spots I've enjoyed who also carry plant-based options 🌱

Below I've complied five places to indulge while out in Orange County. I've also added some notable mentions because I really could have gone on ... and on 😬.

Here's the key:

P - Popular

HF - Husband’s favorite

MF - My favorite

Mendocino Farms (HF)

Multiple Locations throughout the OC area (Newport, Irvine, Tustin)

Mendocino Farms is simply the best. I really don’t know what other word or phrase to use to describe them, lol.

But here's why - their story is like many other businesses - family owned, husband and wife created it using locally sourced and humanely treated meats and ingredients. All of that is great but it’s the taste and customer service that really separates them from any other “sandwich” place.

Think of them as the “Chick-fil-a” of the sandwich industry and even that statement may be disrespectful to what they do. Their menu is very versatile; catering to both meat and vegan lovers. They also hold high standards when it comes to making sure not to cross contaminate if you have a gluten allergy. All you have to do is inform them.

Oh, no breakfast here. That’s the only thing they don’t do. For now, at least.

What We Order: Vegan BBQ Picnic Sandwich and Vegan Goddess Sandwich (both with gluten-free bread) for entree, spicy potato salad or healthiest side salad ever for our sides.

Price ($$-$$$): The quality and freshness of their ingredients are worth the tab.

Vibe Organic Kitchen & Juice (vegan):

1000 Bristol St N Newport Beach, CA 92660

(949) 478-4118

Vibe is a real cool, new and trendy establishment and they try their best to cater to all sensitivities. Again, you just have to let them know.

The entire menu is gluten, soy and dairy-free. Now, their menu does state:

“If you have any serious food or beverage allergies, particularly to nuts and seeds, we recommend you do not dine with us as we cannot guarantee against any cross-contamination in our kitchen.”

However, it doesn't hurt to ask and you have to love and appreciate that kind of honesty, right?

Their menu is a bit smaller than the other restaurants on this list but it does not lack in quality.

They serve more breakfast and lunch dishes due to specializing in juices, smoothies, burgers and bowls but who doesn't have breakfast or a a sandwich for dinner?

What We Order: Hummus Platter or Jackfruit Tacos for appetizer, Fiesta (spicy🔥) or Roots Bowl, Classic Burger or Acai Bowl for entrees and cookie/muffin for dessert.

Price ($$-$$$): Again, you’re paying for health and convinces but it's so worth it.

True Food Kitchen (MF)

451 Newport Center Drive Newport Beach, California 92660

(949) 644-2400

True Food Kitchen is special to me. There's something about the feeling when you walk through the doors, you automatically begin to feel like you're in good hands and health.

They're very transparent. It’s the openness of the interior, you can see all of the fresh ingredients and the amazing chefs working in the open kitchen.

True Food has a plenty of choices on their menu and everything is straight forward in the description. From appetizers to entrees, there is something on the menu for everyone ... vegetarians, vegans, carnivores and kids.

Most importantly, their service is outstanding and they will do everything in their power to make sure you're taken care of and enjoy the experience. You deserve it!

What We Order: Charred Cauliflower for appetizer, Ancient Grains Bowl/Teriyaki Quinoa, Heirloom Tomato Pizza, or inside Out Quinoa Burger for entrees and Chia Seed Pudding or vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Price ($$): Very comparable to other not-so-healthy surrounding restaurants

Seabirds Kitchen (vegan)

The LAB 2930 Bristol St.Costa Mesa, CA 92626

(714) 549-2584

Seabirds has a beautiful laid back hippy-ish/outdoorsy atmosphere and they have wooden tables and benches surrounding by trees and shrubs outside. Who wouldn't fall in love with that.

Their menu is short and sweet so you won’t have to spend too much time deciphering. I despise huge menus - it puts way to much pressure on a girl. They serve lunch and dinner everyday and they do brunch on the weekends.

They do have a lot of Mexican-inspired dishes but I'm not sure if they have a speciality.

What We Order: We have had almost everything on the menu except their salads. Simple. Oh, and I get their scones, pop tart or carrot cake ... 😋

Price ($$): I don’t feel the price was too bad and you get some hearty dishes.

Cafe Gratitude (vegan/P)

1617 Westcliff Drive Newport Beach, CA 92660

(949) 386-8100

Everything in Cafe Gratitude's kitchen is organic, non-dairy, made from scratch and delicious.

They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and the entrees will fill you up but be careful if you have a coconut allergy. The majority of their items contain coconut in some form.

Aside from their juices and smoothies, they have some amazing tonics and elixirs.

What We Order: We've had almost every wrap/bowl, Buckwheat pancakes or burrito for breakfast, Immortal tonic and a cinnamon roll or banana nut bread for dessert.

It's really going to come down to what you’re craving on that particular day.

Price ($$$): I will admit, it can be a bit pricey but the entrees are filling and, as usual, you're getting what you pay for.

NOTABLE MENTIONS

Sensitive Sweets - (gluten, soy, dairy, nut and egg free) baked goods + mixes

Hug Life - (vegan) ice cream

Freesoul Café - vegan cafe (slim gluten-free options)

That's it! If you're not from the OC, I hope this list has given you some great options! If you are from here and you have some great places not listed, I'd love to hear/try what you recommend!

Enjoy!

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Cassie Brown

Clinical Nutritionist

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