Last we week, Marcus, Luca and I traveled to the Big Island for the first time, and we spent a few days on the Kona side of the island. We both had been to Hawaii, but it was our first time on the Big Island and our first time traveling to Hawaii with baby Luca (and my incredibly generous mother-in-law who helped babysit). Since the Big Island is huge, we didn’t get to go to all the vegan hot spots that I had scoped out on Yelp, but sharing a few of our favorites from the Kona side:
1.Pure Green Kona International Farmer’s Market – a MUST! Sundays 9-2 with amazing local fare — fruits, veggies, meals, sweets, kona coffee, artisanal gifts and more! My favorite were these amazing sweets made with carob and macadamia nuts; we also tried some delicious spring rolls, and stocked up on affordable macadamia nuts and kona coffee to bring home. There was live music too. Overall great vibes and delicious food!
2.Herbivore – This quirky, tiny vegan restaurant isn’t in the most picturesque location. In fact, it’s right in the middle of a parking lot. BUT they do have a creative vegan menu, a fun step stool up to the extra tall counter where you order, and we tried a good taro burger (which we took to go to eat on the beach — not just any beach – Kua Bay which is stunningly beautiful!).
3.Kaya’s cafe – A sweet, hippie-esque artsy cafe with delicious kona lattes and every kind of alternative milk you might want. Lots of vegan options too w/ sandwiches, sweets and more.
4.The Coffee Shack – a heads up that their menu is decidedly NOT vegan friendly, but they do have amazing views so you can just go get a coffee and some fruit and enjoy the sweeping views of the island from their incredible location.
5.Island Naturals Market & Deli – I was told this was THE health food market on the island, and it did not dissapoint. While a bit pricey (like all supermarkets in Hawaii) and I thought the salad bar was only okay, overall this is a great stock up spot for all your vegan staples and treats alike. We got some great lillikoi (passionfruit) cake too, one of the many vegan desserts they had.
And it goes without saying that tropical fruits should be a mainstay for any vegan (or anyone!) traveling to Hawaii. Whether at farmers markets, side of the road stands or regular supermarkets, the bananas, papayas, avocados, lychee and other tropical fruit are all delicious!
Lastly, a few places I wanted to try (per Yelp) but didn’t make it to on this trip (too far from where I was staying in Captain Cook) are here.
Other tips: Organic farmstay: We stayed on this organic mango farm in Captain Cook w/ a cedar hot tub surrounded by lush plants, and a great layout for a family (plus they have a pack ‘n play and it’s pretty baby-proofed for anyone traveling with little ones).
Kua Bay also called Manini’owali- Simply stunning beach – favorite on the island that we saw (and one of the few we went to that actually has sand as many are more rocky). It’s not too far from the Kona airport so if you are flying into or out of Kona, you can (and should!) easily swing by.
Hope to do some more travel soon – next up San Miguel de Allende, Mexico in March for a dear friend’s wedding. Any vegan tips for San Miguel? Would love to hear them! Mahalo :).
My husband and I have always loved staying on farms, meeting farmers, enjoying a slower pace and savoring farm fresh food. We’ve camped at the amazing Full Belly Farm annual Hoes Down, stayed on an incredible family owned Alpaca farm / Airbnb in Paso Robles and most recently had the pleasure of staying at the beautiful and secluded Morning Song Farms near Temecula wine country. This was our first mini roadtrip since the birth of our son Luca so we were looking for something not too far from LA, baby friendly and very relaxing. Morning Song turned out to far surpass all our expectations. It is such a special tucked away gem with a few very private cottages scattered about a stunning organic farm replete with the most abundant avocado, mulberry, orange, macadamia nut, kumquat trees, the cutest alpacas as well as mini goats and chickens. We stayed in the Romantic Mountain House which was such a charming cottage with expansive nature views and a magical private hot tub and beautiful outdoor mosaic table (the mosaic art is all done by the farmer Donna) enveloped under an olive tree — the perfect spot to enjoy a peaceful morning coffee, family meal, read a book or relish in the sunset views. The stay also includes a generous breakfast basket with farm fresh eggs from their chickens (being vegan I didn’t eat these but my husband very much enjoyed them), delicious coffee, juicy oranges and tangerines from their trees and more. They also do a CSA program and leave a menu if you want to order additional items – we ordered some avocados and macadmia nuts and I’m glad we did because they were both delicious.
We went for two days and while there are so many day trip options (Encinitas, Escondido, etc.), we decided to go to the unassuming nearby town of Fallbrook, a short 20 minute drive from the farm and the avocado capital of the world (!!!!!). We had a delicious brunch at the very charming and yummy Fallbrook coffee co., and then ventured on two beautiful garden walks– one at the very manicured and stately gardens of the Garden Estates and one in the very funky artsy botanical gardens of Myrtle Farm Creek. If you only have time for one, I would recommend the latter if you are looking for a more unique experience, but both were very beautiful. The next day we only did a very quick stop in Temecula and thanks to Yelp found the fabulous Press Espresso cafe, which is hands down one of the most beautifully designed cafes I’ve ever seen and the macadamia nut latte was simply perfect. On this trip we didn’t go wine tasting (I’m breastfeeding so not drinking at the moment), but on a future trip we’ll be sure to check out some of the nearby vineyards. There is even a low key winery called Roadrunner on a farm that is walking distance from Morning Song that we’ll be sure to check out next time.
A week ago, my husband and I were blessed to spend a week and half traveling in Portugal. We stayed in Lisbon, Sintra, Porto and Algarve (about 2 days in each), and along the way we tried a few vegetarian restaurants. At most Portuguese restaurants that aren’t specifically vegetarian/ vegan, there aren’t that many veggie options, but usually options will include soups (they surprisingly have vegan soups almost everywhere), bread and olive oil / olives, and for vegetarians, there will also be batatas bravas and cheeses. On this trip, I flexed to vegetarian as I sometimes do, but will specify options that are vegan friendly.
Vegan Soups and Fresh OJ everywhere
Most places will have a ‘sopa do dia’ and amazingly they are almost all vegan – generally vegetable based purees – and they are pretty filling and delicious. My favorite soups were the pumpkin soup from The Garden in Lagos – a pretty, outdoor garden setting in the charming town of Lagos in the South (though my husband who eats meat thought the food was mediocre)- and the squash soup at Esencia in Porto – a beautiful, very highly ranked vegetarian restaurant (more on this restaurant below).
I also quickly learned that Portugal grows incredibly juicy oranges and there is fresh squeezed OJ at most cafes, bakeries and restaurants. Or you can also grab some oranges (from the fruit market next to the Time Out market in Lisbon, from stands on the side of the road in the South, or at any market) and squeeze your own.
Lisbon: Natural Terra, Time Out Market and Batata heaven at Alto do Bairro
My friend Kerry, who spent a few months in Lisbon, said that a vegetarian must was Natural Terra, and we weren’t let down. We went for lunch where there is an all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet (w/ vegan options, although vegan options were mostly salads and fruit). The food was plentiful and the quaint, tucked away garden setting was lovely, and it was very reasonable for ~10 Euros each. I especially enjoyed the salads, soup, fruit, iced herbal drinks and the garden setting. They had a delicious sounding vegan berry crumble dessert, but alas I was too full to try it this time. Only a few blocks away, there was another similar concept with a veggie buffet and garden called Jardim Dos Sentidos. While we didn’t get to try it, it has even better reviews on TripAdvisor so could be worth checking out.
In Lisbon, we also had amazing batatas at Alto do Bairro, a very little hole-in-the-wall that made this magical dipping sauce (pretty sure it’s vegetarian and not vegan b/c it had an aioli-like taste). Everything else was just okay, but it’s worth stopping by for the yummy potatoes and magic sauce.
This past weekend my hubby and I went on a quick jaunt to Encinitas for the inaugural half marathon and in gearing up for the race, we fueled up with so much delicious vegan food. For those who will be in the Encinitas area looking for vegan meals and treats, here are a few of my favorites:
- EVE (#1 favorite)!: Eve is a beautiful, peaceful all vegan spot with comfy couches, goddess artwork, a gorgeous vertical succulent garden, and it even has a large and beautiful yoga studio in the back. They do lots of healthy options and from reading Yelp reviews it sounded like the Buddha bowls were the way to go, and boy was that an amazing choice. We had the ‘Legendary Hero’, which seems so simple to make w/ rice, brussels sprouts, kale, carrots, and beets but the magic was in the tahini sauce! The tahini sauce and the way the veggies were perfectly cooked made this bowl incredibly tasty, and next time I’m in Encinitas I definitely plan to return. They also have an ample library and it is a cozy spot to read, write, or do some work.
- PeacePies: This raw vegan spot (believe the only fully raw vegan spot in Encinitas) has a nice outdoor patio w/ a vibrant mural backdrop. I’ve been there twice now for desserts and the first time I got doughnuts, which weren’t that great, but this time I returned for the Cosmic Coconut pie, which was creamy coconut deliciousness. Raw vegan is not for everyone, but if you tend to like raw vegan like me, would recommend you try it. They also have lots of savory options like nori wrap, ‘farawfel’ and more.
- SucculentCafé (Carlsbad): This is a café – not a vegan joint – but it is oh so beautiful and inspiring with creative succulent creations everywhere and the entire large space is surrounded by succulents. It’s got great little nooks and benches to hang out in the sun and the soy chai latte is the perfect mix of spicy and sweet. This spot is a gem, especially for succulent lovers!
- UnionKitchen & Tap: This is more of a classic very lively brewery, and by no means specifically vegan (in fact believe they are known for burgers), but the sweet potato fries are amazing.
- LePapagayo: Didn’t get to try this one yet but the menu looked great and there was very lively music on Sat. night. The line was too long w/out a reservation so next time we’re in town we’ll be sure to make a ressie and try out this romantic, hopping spot.