Ahhh, December. The Thanksgiving feast is behind us and the holiday excess is underway. To mitigate complete overindulgence, make your way to the newly opened Native Foods Cafe in Glendale’s City Set complex. The fast-casual vegan restaurant (don’t stop reading) is a California import that makes eating plant-based meals easy.

Not convinced? Think True Food Kitchen meets Modmarket and consider the butternut polenta bites: pesto-baked polenta topped with roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, and toasted pumpkin seeds in balsamic over arugula. The menu lays out a lengthy list of burgers (made of seitan), curry and Moroccan bowls, a bounty of salads, and dairy-free, cholesterol-free, and refined sugar–free desserts.

My favorite dish to date is the Caribbean jerk kale salad, pictured. The bowl arrives piled with kale tossed with crispy, jerk-seasoned tempeh, avocado, mango, red peppers, onion, and shredded coconut. Depending on how hungry you are, the portion can easily be split. My one gripe: The salad comes heavily dressed. Ask for the dressing on the side, and swap the creamy jalapeno-cilantro for the more simple balsamic.

With dishes such as nachos, gyros, and peanut butter parfaits, it’s still possible to overdo it at Native Foods. Vegan doesn’t inherently mean low-calorie, but choose carefully and you’ll leave fueled and ready to tackle the holiday madness.

Bonus: The kid’s menu is a winner, in particular the Native chicken nuggets (made of soy, wheat, and pea protein), which come with brown rice, fresh veggies, and “ranch” dressing.

680 S. Colorado Blvd., 303-758-3440

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.