Native Foods Cafe - Tustin
Self-deception. That was the theme of a recent Saturday morning I had. First, it was Up In The Air, the excellent film with George Clooney who's self-deceiving mission is to believe that he needs no one and nothing. Then, for lunch we ate at Native Foods Cafe, a restaurant within steps of the AMC at The District, which allowed us, for an hour, to really believe that we did not need to eat meat.
(SPOILER ALERT) And like Clooney was for the first half of the movie, we were content to live in the delusion. But unlike him, our story had a happy ending.
We destroyed our nachos like as if it came from Alerto's itself (our go-to joint for the king of all faux-Mexican dishes). And if we were blindfolded eating it, we'd tell you it was just nachos. Nothing about the main components really deviates from what's already part of, say, a carne asada nacho. This was real pico de gallo, real guacamole, real corn, real black beans and real tortilla chips. Though I figure they'd use lardless tortilla chips, it crunched and shattered in shards just the same.
The only innovative component was the sour cream, which wasn't dairy-based, but made out of something that cannily approximated it. My tongue told me it tasted like a cross between creamy bean dip and hummus. And subbing for meat, there were light-brownish, textured curdled pieces of a substance that almost fooled us into thinking that we were chewing of the flesh of a creature that once walked, flew or crawled.
Same thing the margherita pizza, which I have to conclude is the work of an alchemist. How does one get a milkless cheese to melt? I have no idea. And neither do my friends. We just agreed this wasn't just a good vegan pizza, but a good pizza. The crust crackled. The pesto bit. The marinara, respectful.
Chicken wings, tube-like spears of soy protein masquerading as fingers rather than wings, were battered well and was still more chicken-like than McDonald's McNuggets.
About the only thing I didn't dig was the watermelon agua fresca, which had a grassy flavor that distracted from its sweetness. It was as if the whole green rind was included in the blender.
So yes, we deceived our carnivorous selves into not eating meat and were happy for it, not to mention full. The combo of Native Foods and Up In The Air, I dare to say, was even more fulfilling than a burger and Avatar.
2453 Park Ave
Tustin, CA 92782
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