Morro Bay! Such a quaint & sleepy little beach town on California’s Central Coast. It had been ages since I’d been there (I think, still can’t quite remember if I made a visit here during my college days while at USCB) & when Erin invited me up to her Mom’s new vacation home in Cayucos for the weekend, I couldn’t say no.
Erin is one of my oldest friends, & by oldest I mean we go way back high school days. She’s been living in Australia for the past 6 years, & is in the States until early August. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get some quality time in with her, as I hadn’t seen her in 2 years. She’s been zipping around Cali with Clem, a brilliant Australian journalist (& the brains behind Stoned Cats, amongst various other clever projects), who is out here on a work visa & has been living in L.A.
Clem is fabulous &, like me, eats a 99.99% vegan diet, so I took it upon myself to map out some vegan-friendly eateries to keep us well nourished. I simply googled “vegan Morro Bay” & to my surprise I was directed to Shine Cafe – a vegan restaurant that features fresh, local, organic, plant based food. Score! Next door to the cafe is Sunshine Health Foods which, since 1973, been keeping MB stocked with natural & organic grocery products, organic produce, bulk foods, nutritional supplements & natural body care. How cool is that?
As there isn’t much else by way of vegan food in the area, we planned to do a lot of cooking at the house. Here we were able to stock up on chia seeds, Daiya cheese, coconut milk, kombucha, veggie dogs, etc. Double score!
After feasting our eyes on all the goods at the store, it was time to fill our bellies with a delicious vegan feast at Shine Cafe.
Shine’s menu consists of breakfast items, smoothies, soup, salads, sandwiches, wraps, & tacos. In their words:
The Shine Cafe is proud to offer fresh cuisine that stimulates the palate & revitalizes the body. It is our guarantee that each meal is well balanced & consciously prepared to support a healthy lifestyle. When you dine at Shine Cafe you can be assured you are eating high quality food made with the freshest seasonal produce avaialbr. In fact, much of our produce is grown locally!
Shine Cafe, you speak my language. What a hidden little gem in this tiny beach community. After a 6 hour drive up the coast my tummy was a rumblin’. There were so many delicious options to choose from. We decided we’d be making tacos for dinner & I’d eaten a small veggie sandwich on the road, so I went with a nice big fresh salad. Besides, I eat a big salad for lunch everyday, so I might as well stick with my program.
Clem & I both ordered this glorious “Tempeh Salad” topped with a big scoop of seasoned tempeh, fresh organic veggies, & avocado with your choice of dressing. The bowl was filled to the brim with fresh & crisp lettuce, purple cabbage, tomato, shredded carrot, thinly sliced cucumber, sunflower sprouts, & creamy avocado. I ordered mine with a side of ”Spicy Chipotle” dressing which gave this simple salad a zesty kick. The seasoned tempeh was wonderful & prepared in a way I’d never experienced. I was expecting cubes or strips of tempeh, but this was finely ground & remnisent of my very favorite raw walnut taco meat. It was tender & flavorfully seasoned. I’m very inspired to through some tempeh into the food processor & experiement.
Erin ordered the beauties below…
Talk about presentation! Rice paper spring rolls filled with fresh veggies, avocado, & seasoned tempeh. Served with Sesame Ginger Dressing.These raw spring rolls were filled with an almost identical line up as the salad that Clem & I enjoyed. There were nothing but oohs & aahs from Erin’s corner of the table so I am certain she enjoyed them, especially since there weren’t any leftovers for me to pick at.
Erin’s sister Britney, also vegan & fabulous, tracked us down & ordered some tacos, & fabulous ones at that…
Just listen to this description – seasoned house tempeh & quinoa, spring mix, fresh veggies, avocado & sesame seeds on a soft wheat & corn blend tortilla. Served with house salsa & Creamy Cilantro Dressing. I promise you there were “tacos” under that mountain of vibrant vegetables & according to Britt they were “soooo good.” As you can see, Shine Cafe certainly doesn’t skimp on the portions & prices are reasonable (that massive taco plate was 8 bucks!) considering the produce is organic. The place is small & clean with indoor or patio seating. The service is friendly & efficient. If I lived in Morro Bay, I think I’d eat here daily & it is definitely a place I would recommend. My friend Derek commented on my Instagram photo that he “loves, loves, loves their Tempeh Reuben” – a must try next time for sure.
In fact there was a brief next time, a few mornings later when we stopped for “superfood smoothies” (I ordered the “Pina Maca-lada” with maca, pineapple, coconut, banana, almond milk & added chia seeds). While waiting for our smoothies, I saw D’s recommended “Tempeh Reuben”come out (WOW!), & watched the dreadlocked chef flip vegan buckwheat pancakes the size of flying saucers. Like I said, great portions, great prices, great place. I’ll certainly put this on my radar for the future.