Last weekend, we finally made our way to the very-well praised Gypsy Den Cafe in Santa Ana. It was totally by accident. We were originally traveling down the 55 freeway heading towards Irvine to stop in at Phoney Baloney's for a vegan Elvis, but traffic was a killer. We hadn't moved more than 30 feet in 10 minutes, so we decided to get off the freeway and see what Santa Ana had to offer. We had heard of the Gypsy Den & their Sunday morning vegan brunch before, but hadn't had a reason or opportunity to drive there really. And while on this trip we still missed brunch, they did have several other delicious vegan options available that we were happy to chow down on!
The atmosphere is very hippie eclectic. Colorful glass bottles catching the light, tapestries and patterned scarves covering the windows; the ceilings are high, the tall walls covered with framed art and elaborate rugs. Its adorable, and awesome. Here are some shots of the restaurant:
The mismatched tables & chairs added to the coziness of the place. It was dimly lit, with sun streaming through the upper windows- a wonderful place for a laid-back lunch.On the menu, they clearly point out all of the vegan options; it is SO nice, and way more convenient! We started with an order of the (vegan friendly) roasted red pepper hummus and pita bread. It was so, so good. The hummus was the perfect amount of spicy, the pita the perfect amount of warm and soft.
Alex ordered the (also vegan) mushroom bacon burger: a vegan patty with lettuce, tomato and vegenaise on a grilled wheat bun with bacon, pepper jack cheese, and sauteed mushrooms. It was surprisingly flavorful, and the cheese was seriously convincing. He clearly enjoyed it!
I ordered the chipotle & avocado vegan chicken wrap: soy 'chicken', chipotle cream, salsa, avocado, and spinach in a whole wheat wrap. It was okay. I hate to say that, because I wanted to love it, but I thought it was just average. It felt like they were pushing the soy-meat based meals for vegans, and that frustrates me. I'm a vegan, I usually don't want any meat- even soy, but I figured I'd give it a try. The flavor of the chipotle cream was wonderful, and the spinach was fresh and crisp, but there was just too much soy chicken. I was getting full mouth fulls of just that, and I wasn't really diggin' it. My picky vegan brat rant aside, my roommate, who joined us for lunch, really enjoyed it. As a pretty big meat eater, I was really happy and impressed that he enjoyed it. He liked that the sandwich was aimed at people who probably aren't already strict vegans, and that made sense to me. Not everybody is a vegan blogger, and not everyone can make the transition as easily as others- for that, I'm really pleased that they had the wrap on the menu.
After lunch we checked out the dessert case- it was full of yummy looking goodies, and several were vegan! There was a cookies and cream bar of sorts, and a giant, delicious looking vegan lemon poppyseed cake. We bought a slice, and it was excellent! Totally made up for the wrap.
Next time we head there for lunch though, I'll get what Alex got for sure. His burger was the highlight of the meal: so flavorful! Oh, and more cake...duh! I've heard great things about the brunch, so we'll have to head back soon and give 'em a fair shake at breakfast foods!