Sonoma County, historically known for its great dairy and egg production with large scale producers like Strauss Creamery and Clover Dairy, is also home to some incredible vegan restaurants.
Lydia’s Organics, located in the Sunflower Center in North Petaluma, features a wide array of organic, vegan, raw, and gluten-free items with a home-cooked charm. Located on the ground-floor of a large office building, their eclectic space feels like a play space for adults, with large hand-drums, a hammock-swing, a reading nook, and board games. A small stage features local artists for poetry readings and musical performances, and all around the room are small tables selling hand-crafted jewelry and clean-burning candles, as well as racks of ethically sourced cotton and hemp clothing.
As for the food, you can taste that it is made of love, and Lydia herself is frequently there to talk to regulars or new customers and recommend dishes. They serve everything from fresh juices and smoothies to vegan burgers, gluten-free pizzas, raw curries, and buckwheat crepes. If you find yourself unable to pick between the many flavors and textures offered by the menu, the way to go is to order the cooked and raw sampler, which offers a little bit of many favored items from the menu, including their “ocean-friendly” nori roll, “kreemy” pizza, green soup, blini pizza, the hot soup of the day, kale salad, and roasted roots, all for an affordable $14. A few favored staples are the Latin Lover’s pizza, with chili sauce, pico de gallo, red onions, fresh avocado and cashew “cheez,” as well as the coconut curry, raw or cooked, and the Purple Goddess Salad with purple cabbage, carrots, beets, kale, dulse seaweed, Kalamata olives and fresh parsley with an olive oil apple cider vinaigrette. Finish off the meal with any of their home made gluten-free pastries or homemade chocolate truffles. Be sure to also stock up on granola or any of their juices to-go to bring home. If you’re a fan, you can also find Lydia’s products at most Whole Foods Markets across the bay area.
Lydia’s Organic operating hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Further north, Gaia’s Garden in Santa Rosa offers an inexpensive vegetarian buffet with different daily offerings of thai and indian curries, as well as western dishes of pastas, or lasagna. Most items are vegan and gluten-free. A flavorful toppings bar features different hot sauces, vegan “baco” bits, peanut. Always offered are salads and steamed veggies, curry, rice, indian Dhal, spiced yellow split-pea soup. The dinner buffet offers multiple entrée items and vegan chocolate-chip cookies.
Operating Hours: Monday-Sunday 11:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sebastopol also offers a multitude of ethnic and gourmet restaurants, many vegan and vegetarian friendly. One favorite among locals is Slice of Life, specializing in pizza but offering a wide array of foods, including breakfast all-day. A few favorites are the nut burger, as well as the veggie Rueben, and their pizzas offer your choice of crust including spelt, or brown rice flour as gluten alternatives. Along with an array of western or American dishes, they also offer Mexican and Italian dishes.
Operating Hours: T-F 11:00 a..m. – 9:00 p.m., Weekends: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Closed Mondays