Homestyle cooking. Homey hospitality. Delicious vegan food.
That's what you're treated to at Julia's vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Monterey, California. It's technically in the neighboring city of Pacific Grove, but if Monterey is your destination and you're in search of vegan food, this place is a must on your checklist.
When we first approached the place, we saw the sign that said "CASH ONLY", and immediately turned around. So be sure to hit up an ATM before you go. We ended up going to the Safeway next door where I was charged a service fee of more than $3 just to withdraw money.
When we finally made it in, we saw that the place was packed. First off, it's a really tiny restaurant with a total of about 7 to 8 tables. There was one table available next to the window, and the only server there that night (not sure if he was the owner/co-owner) kindly gave us the table even though there was a reservation for it an hour or so later. The fact that he accommodated us with no reservation as busy as it was that night speaks volumes about the friendly service you can expect there.
No snootiness, no exasperation--just a warm welcome. This more than made up for the slow service, which I was completely fine with considering he was the only server that whole night. I felt really bad for him, but as busy as he was, he still maintained a genuinely warm and friendly demeanor.
I was really craving pizza that night, but since they didn't have vegan cheese, I decided to go with their Yellow Coconut Curry with brown rice, roasted vegetables, pumpkin seeds, and ... wait for it ... fresh pears and apples. I've had many curries in my lifetime, but I never thought to put fruit in it, and after that first bite, my mind was blown. My tastebuds were singing, and I slipped into nirvana. The sweetness and texture of the pears and apples balanced the savoriness of the roasted vegetables and pumpkin seeds. The last time I ate something that good was when I ate at Localita & the Badasserie in downtown Los Angeles.
I normally save room for dessert, but the curry was so good I couldn't put the fork down. I didn't quite finish it though--otherwise they would have had to roll me out of the restaurant--so I had leftovers for the next day, which tasted just as good even after heating it up in a microwave.
I knew I would regret it if I didn't try their gluten-free chocolate brownie, so my boyfriend and I both ordered it to-go. If we ate it there, we could've had it with soy ice cream. It may be the reason it seemed to lack a little punch of flavor. It did come with a vegan coconut-caramel sauce, which had just the right amount of sweetness. I could've done without the dried cherries since I'm not a big fan of it, but the brownie satisfied my chocolate craving.
Although the dessert wasn't as memorable or as mind-blowing as the curry, my boyfriend and I agreed that Julia's restaurant was one of the top highlights of our brief Monterey trip--next to the 17-mile scenic drive in Pebble Beach, and the many seals and sea lions we got to see up close while we walked along the dock.