When I signed up for a conference in Newport Beach, I didn’t know much about the town other than the fact that it was the setting of Arrested Development. Then, I found out there is a Native Foods there. Then, I found out it was right across the street from the hotel hosting the conference. Then, I found out it was under a ten minute walk from the hotel to the restaurant! I had never had the opportunity to eat there, but could tell from their menu that it was the type of place I would like.
I ate there all four days of the conference, and I was really excited to post about it. Then, my phone was stolen, along with the photos of my meals. Sad face!
I’m going to tell you about the dishes I tried there anyway, because they were all so good! Luckily, it seems like I can borrow other photos from the internet.
I first went for a late lunch on the day I arrived, after flying west across the country. I wasn’t feeling my best and although everything sounded delicious, I knew that something on the healthier side would hit the spot. I went with the Sesame Kale Macro Bowl – Grilled Native Tempeh atop steamed kale, brown rice, creamy ginger sesame sauce, tangy sauerkraut, gomasio and toasted sesame seeds. Green onion garnish and crunchy cucumber seaweed salad on the side. I’m a sucker for sauerkraut, and my only complaint was that I could’ve used about triple the amount they gave me.
I also got an Oatmeal Creme Pie to take back to my room. It was less authentically Little Debbie-esque than the one I had in Austin, but still very good. The cookies were thick and a little crumbly, and the filling was like whipped cream.
Next, I tried their Classic Deli Reuben – thinly-sliced, deli-style Native Reuben Seitan piled high on grilled marble rye. Topped with homemade sauerkraut, Native Horseradish Cheese and a slather of Russian dressing. Told you I’m a sucker for sauerkraut. I’ve had many variations on a vegan Reuben from many different restaurants, and never met one I didn’t like.
The seitan really is pink! And, like this photo, I also ordered a side of potato salad, which was very tasty and not too heavy, with plenty of fresh dill.
For an early dinner Friday evening, I went with what I really wanted: the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger and sweet potato fries. Thinly sliced Native Original Seitan, melted cheddar, caramelized onions, and crispy Native Bacon on a bun slathered with BBQ sauce and ranch dressing, romaine, carrots, onions, and tomato. Topped with crunchy battered dill pickle chips. This beast of a sandwich really was piled up that high, and was difficult to put together. It didn’t really taste like a “burger” since the meaty part was seitan, but it was still really amazing. Every bite had a different texture and flavor; the warm, melty cheese, the crunchy, smoky bacon, the cool dressing, spicy BBQ sauce and crunchy veggies. And I adored the fried pickle chips.
Despite making it through that massive sandwich, I had room for dessert. The Strawberry Shortcake Parfait is vanilla cake layered with almond creme and fresh sliced organic strawberries. I like a biscuity texture for shortcakes, so the cake didn’t quite hit the spot for me, but the almond creme was kind of mind blowingly delicious. It was smooth and fluffy and the delicate almond flavor played nicely with the vanilla and strawberry.
For my last meal there I had to try one of the entree salads, namely the popular Ensalada Azteca – fresh avocado, cucumber, and jicama salsa atop quinoa, romaine, and an award-winning mango lime vinaigrette. Topped with currants, toasted pumpkin seeds, and cilantro. It was a massive salad, definitely enough for a full meal. There were lots of great contrasting flavors and textures going on. And yes, it did come with a big mango slice and a whole sprig of cilantro like this picture!
I really love their approach at Native Foods. They make everything in house, including the buns, cheeses, seitan and sauces, and you can tell that a lot of care is put into each plate. If there was a location near me I would make an attempt at trying every menu item!