Bethany Clough

Chain restaurants are suddenly serving vegan. Here are some meatless options in the Fresno area

Vegans have gone mainstream.

The plant-based diet and movement may have taken a little longer to take hold in Fresno, but it is definitely here.

The proof?

In January, hundreds waited in long lines in downtown Fresno for Southern Fried Vegan, a traveling pop-up seller of vegan comfort food.

Vegan ice cream and vegan cheese are showing up on menus in the Fresno area.

Nationwide, chain restaurants are jumping in on the action, with big names offering burgers that look and taste like meat. Many chain fast food restaurants are adding vegan options as they partner with big producers of fake meat, like The Beyond Burger, Impossible Foods and Gardein.

On Thursday, Aug. 8, Burger King will unveil its much hyped Impossible WHOPPER at restaurants nationwide, including the Fresno area.

The plant-based burger comes with mayonnaise, so it would need to be ordered without mayo to be vegan. The flame-grilled patty also comes with tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup and pickles.

You don’t have to be vegan to eat these dishes, of course. Some of the burgers still come with cheese or mayonnaise, which suggests the restaurants are trying to appeal to meat eaters who want to cut back on the meat or cholesterol in their diet. Or perhaps they’re aiming at people looking to shrink their impact on the environment.

Plenty of places to eat have offered vegan options here for years, of course, including locally owned ones. But as the movement to cut out not just meat, but also cheese and other dairy products grows, we figured we’d create a list of places that carry substitutes for meat and dairy.

A note: This is not a comprehensive list of vegan options in Fresno. With so many places to eat in town we’ll never be able to keep track of them all. We decided to focus on restaurants offering meat or dairy substitutes. If you’re wondering if a restaurant carries a vegan dish, it’s always best to call ahead. And if you’re a vegan concerned about food being prepared on the same surfaces or in the same oil as meat, ask the restaurants about that too.

Blaze Pizza offers a vegan cheese on its pizza. Its traditional and gluten-free doughs are also vegan.

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Pizza like this one at Blaze Pizza can be ordered with a vegan cheese. Blaze Pizza

Bocca Taqueria in Fresno’s Tower District offers soy chorizo in many of its dishes, along with meatless tacos.

Burger King is testing a plant-based version of its Whopper in 59 restaurants in the St. Louis area. The company plans to roll it out to roll it out to every location by the end of the year. It claims the vegan patty is as juicy and meat-like as the real thing, but with zero cholesterol. It comes with mayonnaise, so vegans will have to modify it, but the bun is vegan.

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Carl’s Jr. has made its Beyond Famous Star burger a regular part of its menu. It has a Beyond Meat patty, made from peas, beans and rice protein. Carl's Jr.

Carl’s Jr. has made its Beyond Famous Star burger a regular part of its menu. It has a Beyond Meat patty, made from peas, beans and rice protein. Beets give it a reddish color and it tastes like meat, at least compared to other fake meat products. It comes with mayonnaise and cheese, though it can be ordered without. Note that Carl’s Jr. says its burgers are assembled in kitchens that also prepare meat, so it is not certified vegan.

Casa de Tamales, the restaurant and mobile food vendor, sells several types of tamales that are vegan. Even the dessert tamales, like the triple chocolate cake and the sweet corn tamale, can be made vegan.

Chicago’s Pizza locations in the area sell vegan crust and have a vegan cheese option.

Chronic Tacos, with locations in Fresno and Clovis, began carrying Beyond Meat products at all its restaurants this month. Beyond Beef Crumbles can be added to tacos, burritos, nachos and other items.

Chipotle has offered vegan options for years, including its sofritas (shredded spiced tofu). Its online ordering now lets you select a vegan or vegetarian bowl.

CREAM (an acronym for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me) is an ice cream sandwich shop that offers three kinds of vegan cookies (including one called “fudging awesome”) and vegan soy ice cream, usually in blueberry and mint chocolate chip flavors.

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This vegan ice cream at Creamistry is made with a coconut base, cookie butter also has strawberries and Cap’n Crunch cereal

Creamistry, the Clovis shop that freezes ice cream while you wait, has two vegan ice cream bases made from cashews or coconut. Vegan flavors added to the bases include all its coffee and tea flavors, cookie butter, banana, strawberry and Cap’n Crunch, along with fruit and nut toppings.

The Curry Pizza Co. has a separate vegan menu. It includes pizza with vegan cheese, sauces and toppings like meatless sausage. Also vegan: “chicken” wings made from soy, vegan breadsticks and garlic bread made with vegan cheese, and loaded curry waffle fries.

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Del Taco restaurants are offering tacos made with Beyond Meat in Los Angeles and San Diego. They are expected to begin offering the vegan tacos this spring or summer in the central San Joaquin Valley. Chronic Tacos

Del Taco restaurants are offering vegan Beyond Tacos made with Beyond Meat in the Fresno-Clovis area. Customers can choose from the regular Beyond taco and the Beyond avocado taco.

Deli Delicious is testing a vegan wrap (and a black bean veggie sandwich) at several locations: the Tower District, Fig Garden Village, Bullard and Blackstone avenues and Sanger. If the test is a success, the items will be rolled out to other locations in May.

HoP PK, the gastropub and beer spot in downtown Fresno, offers several vegan meals. You can get tacos made with fried cauliflower, for example. There’s also an Impossible PK burger made with vegan cheese and “special sauce” on a vegan bun. The restaurant also just launched a W.T.F (wow, that’s fire) version of the burger that comes with a spicy vegan sauce, vegan pepperjack cheese and grilled serrano peppers.

Ike’s Love & Sandwiches has seven sandwiches that can be made vegan (note the “can be” and make sure you ask for the vegan version). They include a meatless meatball sandwich, a BLT made with veggie bacon and the roadrunner, made with vegan fried chicken.

JABIN Ice Cream Roll has a vegan option that is similar to a sorbet, made with sugar, water and seasonal fruit. Ask for details.

La Jacka Mobile Taco Truck has a vegan menu and uses jackfruit, a large, sweet tree fruit, as a meat replacement. It’s used in tacos, burritos, quesadillas and nachos. The truck also makes its own vegan cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, beans and rice. Follow it on Facebook to see where it will be.

Libelula, or Lula’s at the Crest in downtown Fresno, has a menu that could change, but you can find options like a vegan eel made from shitake mushrooms.

Little Peking Restaurant at Cedar and Nees avenues in northeast Fresno offers meat substitutes and vegetarian and vegan options. Not everything on its green vegetarian menu is vegan, though, so your safest bet here is to have a conversation with the workers to make sure there’s no egg or other animal products in your food.

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Panaderia Cafe Oaxaca carries vegan Mexican pastries, like this concha. Panaderia Cafe Oaxaca

Love Cafe in Oakhurst is a vegan restaurant serving breakfast and lunch. Its menu includes burgers made with Beyond Meat patties, mac ‘n cheese, BLTs and other sandwiches, all of it made with meat substitutes.

The Loving Hut is a vegan and vegetarian restaurant in central Fresno offering various types of vegan protein in its dishes.

The Mad Duck brewery and restaurant has added the Impossible Burger to its menu. It’s a mushroom and Swiss burger that can be made vegan by skipping the cheese. It includes mushrooms sauteed in white wine, lettuce, tomato and onion.

Panaderia Cafe Oaxaca is a Mexican bakery at Clovis and Barstow avenues that has a shelf of vegan options. They usually include conchas and other pastries, along with cake slices. Sometimes there’s vegan coffee cake, brownies, donuts and cupcakes.

Pieology Pizzeria offers Daiya vegan mozzarella on its pizza.

Plant Slayer is a vegan pop-up vendor that is working on opening a food truck. It sells comfort food like burgers, fried chicken, chili-cheese fries and Philly cheesesteak. You can get this food at the Earth Day event on Saturday, April 20, and at monthly pop-ups at Tower District Records. Follow @plantxslayer on Instagram to get more info about events.

Quesadilla Gorilla began offering Soyrizo (chorizo meat made from soy) last month at its two locations.

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Janna Melkonian, owner of Rappit Up. Janna Melkonian Special to the Bee

Rappit Up is a local meal prepper. Owner Janna Melkonian sells her mostly vegan meals at places like Rio Acai Bowls, Collect Coffee, Kuppa Joy (the Clovis location) and ABC Christian Books and Health Foods near Willow and Gettysburg avenues. Melkonian also is starting to supply gyms Fitness Social and Uncaged X Fitness.

Raw Fresno’s menu is all vegan. The downtown restaurant and food truck sells a “no pigs in blanket” made with Beyond Meat sausage, cashew cheese, sauerkraut and beans, all wrapped in a collard green. Beyond Meat patties can be used on flat breads and wraps, too. There are plenty of other vegan options that aren’t meat substitutes on the menu. Check out Raw Fresno’s Facebook or website to see where it will be.

Rocket Dog Gourmet Brats & Brew offers vegan soy dogs that can be substituted for sausages. Its sourdough bread and baguettes are also vegan.

Subway is testing the Beyond meatball marinara sub in Fresno and Visalia. It’s one of five markets nationwide testing the sandwich.

Tree of Life (which recently moved to a new location near Blackstone and Herndon avenues) has several vegan options, including potato tacos, green goddess vegetarian wrap, vegan breakfast scramble, vegan chocolate cake and some soups.

Yard House offers several dishes with meat substitute Gardein, and a vegan burger served with vegan mozzarella. The restaurant also recently added The Beyond Burger to all its menus, featuring the fire-grilled patty, vegan mozzarella, onions, tomato, arugula and crushed avocado.

Bethany Clough covers restaurants and retail for The Fresno Bee. A reporter for 20 years, she now works to answer readers’ questions about business openings, closings and other business news. She has a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and her last name is pronounced Cluff.
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