Trying to eat healthier when you're on vacation, often dining out every night, is no easy feat. Veggies burgers are boring. Salads, well, you can just make them yourself. Why pay someone for a salad?
It's no wonder that vegetarians get heckled. In the wrong hands, meat-free meals can be entirely . . . mediocre.
But they don't have to be! For a modern, plant-based meal that's infinitely more inspired than whatever grilled eggplant options you're used to ordering, treat yourself to brunch, lunch or dinner at Mesa Verde restaurant in Santa Barbara.
This Mesa Verde brunch dish features grilled flatbread with a fried egg and jackfruit chorizo — Photo courtesy of Joe Hafner
This vegan- and vegetarian-friendly eatery in the beautiful Mesa neighborhood is a hidden gem. Chef Greg Arnold sources local produce to craft tantalizing dishes that are almost too beautiful to eat.
Although the menu changes with what's in season, let's take a peek at some Mesa Verde masterpieces for the winter and spring months:
Served on Saturday and Sunday only, brunch is a hearty affair at Mesa Verde.
Order a savory picadillo empanada with black beans, chimichurri, cashew cheese, harissa and grilled asparagus. Or try a BLTA the vegan way, made with tempeh bacon and tahini.
Served Monday through Friday, lunch at Mesa Verde is a nice mix of tacos, sandwiches and more.
A standout is their pulled mushroom sandwich, stacked high with arugula, apple, caramelized onions and turnip pickles. People also rave about the fresh, warm baklava made with pomegranate molasses and covered in vanilla ice cream.
For dinner every night of the week, you can order any combination of shared plates, salads and mains. Prepare to indulge in flatbread pizza, purple potato burgers and comforting risottos.
If you're looking for something to share, we recommend the cochinita pibil portabello tacos with grilled shisito peppers, onion, cilantro, pickled carrot greens and more.
In addition to hearty entrees (You won't go away hungry, we promise.), Mesa Verde also serves homemade desserts and housemade juices and herbal tonics. Try Artemis' Brew with raspberry leaf if you're feeling worn down, or Kali's Chai for a fragrant, caffeinated pick-me-up.
In summation: If you really like vegetables, you'll really like Mesa Verde. And if you don't really like vegetables, we'd be willing to bet you'll also really like Mesa Verde.
This restaurant is great for gluten-free diners, vegans and vegetarians, of course, but even committed meat-etarians love coming here for the occasional, guilt-free meal.
Mesa Verde is open every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can also stop by for dinner Sunday through Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. or on Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m.