Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Avanti Cafe in Costa Mesa

Over the weekend, fiancé and I took a mini-trip to Orange County. While we were there, we decided to check out a vegetarian restaurant called Avanti Cafe. I'm so glad we did! Avanti offers tons of vegan options that are absolutely delicious. As explained on their website, "Avanti Cafe features flavorfully dynamic food - handcrafted and lovingly prepared from fresh, local and mostly organic produce and food products." Avanti Cafe was founded in 2004 by chefs Tanya Fuqua and Mark Cleveland. They offer lunch and dinner, as well as weekend brunch.

Chefs Fuqua & Cleveland, photo: Avanti Cafe

Fiancé and I went there for dinner, and the tiny cafe was almost full with diners. The atmosphere was charming, with dim lights and candles on each table. I decided to start off with the Avanti Margarita Maxima, which had a perfect balance of salty and sweet flavors. The citrus flavors were fresh and tart, and the glass was rimmed with a nice mixture of salt and seeds. Apologies for the less-than-stellar pictures, we didn't bring the camera with us; it was iPhone pics or bust.

Avanti Margarita Maxima, $6.25

The fiancé ordered the Bakin' BBQ sandwich, which featured avocado, tempeh "bakin'," and tomato confit, with a side of some ridiculously delicious fries. He added the Avanti nut cheez, as well, and ordered the tempeh on the side. The sauce on the sandwich was somewhat sweet, and tasted great with the baby greens and avocado. It was served on two thick slices of a really yummy 10+ grain bread that was lightly toasted. The flavors were so good together, and like nothing I'd ever tasted. It was so good.

Bakin' BBQ Sandwich, with tempeh on the side, $9

I decided to go with one of the tempting pizza options. Almost all of them came with the option to order them vegan with the nut cheez, so it was really hard to choose. I wound up picking the Shiitake Artichoke Pesto pizza with garnet yams, garlic & shallot greens, olives, nuts, and nut cheez. While yams on a pizza may sound a little odd, this combination was absolutely heavenly. The pesto was salty and flavorful, the yams were soft and sweet, the olives added a briny punch of flavor, and the nuts added crunch. Also, the nut cheez was absolutely delightful, and it paired perfectly with the pesto. Seriously, yum. It was huge, to boot, and I left completely stuffed.

Shiitake Artichoke Pesto pizza, $10

The Avanti website also features a bunch of their recipes, as well as some products for sale. So much fun! Next time you're in Newport Beach or Costa Mesa, be sure to stop by and enjoy some of their delicious offerings. I know we'll be stopping by again!

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