On my quest to find a new car I ended up in Newport Beach (my birthplace!). After a long hot drive down from Ventura in a car with no AC, I was in need of some hydration and sustenance. My dear friend Stephanie who joined me on my journey, searched HappyCow.net for close by veg-friendly restaurants in the area. We decided to check out Avanti Cafe only a few short blocks away and settled in for a unique dinning experience.

We were surprised to discover this quaint little place, nestled in a typical strip mall surrounded by corporate chains and more pavement than I would reccomend for human health. The menu offered some tasty sounding options; many of them vegan or could easily be veganized (I love that word). After downing some water and ordering a refreshing glass of Pinot Grigio we decided on the spring greens salad with poached pears and carmelized walnuts. It was nice to find a non-dairy version of this salad without having to ask the server to take away half the toppings and the dressing. The pears were tender and sweet, the nuts were flavorful and crunchy, the greens were fresh and the dressing was perfectly tangy.

pizza_picWe also ordered the shiitake mushroom-  arugula-sweet potato pizza. I was a little disappointed that the pizza had a shiitake mushroom “sauce” and not actual mushrooms on it, but the unique shape and the delicious pairing of the sweet potato and spicy, slightly bitter arugula was a hit. Topped with warm roasted nuts it was definitely the most creative pizza I’ve had. The beautiful ceramic plates added an artistic touch. We had a yummy raw chocolate mousse for dessert that was rich and not overly sweet. All in all it was a fun experience, I got a new car and enjoyed a delicious celebratory meal with my friend. Next time I’m down in Newport I will definitely check out Avanti again.

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