While Alan and I were in Huntington Beach, I decided to try to expand our dining experiences beyond the Bohdi Tree, so I pulled out my phone to check it on my Happy Cow app. Because we’d be stopping on our way home, for lunch, our choice didn’t have to be within walking distance (the traffic along the coast sucks so much that when we’re there, we park the car and figure that if we can’t walk or ride there it just ain’t that important).
While not as prolific as in Los Angeles, Orange County does have a few good vegan restaurants (and I’m determined to eat my way through them all). I considered trying the Loving Hut, a popular vegan chain which has two locations close by, but, their Asian based menu was similar to the Bohdi Tree and I was looking for something different.
I considered Native Foods in Costa Mesa, which would be right on our way home. Yes, we have two in the desert, and I know the menu like the back of my hand, but you all know how much I love them, and it is always fun to check out a different location.
Then I noticed that 118 Degrees had a location on the same street! Owned by Raw Chef Jenny Ross, 118 Degrees serves healthy, organic, vegan food, prepared raw, which basically means that it is not cooked above 118 degrees (hence the name). Do you think that means a whole lot of salad? Well, you would be wrong.
Alan and I had been only once to a raw restaurant (Seed, up in Santa Rosa, which, unfortunately has apparently closed due to the ill health of the owner.). We really enjoyed the flavors and the variety of food served. I have never even tried preparing a raw meal, because it always seemed like a lot of work, but after my second experience at a living food restaurant, I may have to give it a try. It is simply amazing what an imaginative and talented chef can create without cooking! Just look at a couple of items from the 118 Degrees menu:
There are also crepes, burritos, and pizza on this menu! Remember, no cooking involved. And the desserts! I can’t find a listing on their website, but Alan and I watched a number of chocolaty, gooey, delicious looking treats go by on their way to someone’s table.
But I get ahead of myself. Alan and I arrived at 118 Degrees about 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon, and were surprised to find the restaurant almost full. Good sign. We were also surprised to be asked if we had a reservation. For lunch? In Costa Mesa? Fortunately, they were able to seat us, even though we had not even thought of such a thing. The dining room is fairly small, with about 15 tables spread a little too close through the room. We were seated at a small table right in the center after being told that the one table by the window was being held for someone. I guess without that reservation, we could not complain.
The interior was quite nice, with good lighting, attractive art, and plush chairs. The tables were a little too close, as I mentioned above, and Alan, who had years of fine dining experience, noticed that the backs of the brightly colored, comfy chairs showed some wear and dirt (likely from hands pushing and pulling the chairs in and out). The restaurant itself was very clean.
Service was brisk and friendly despite the full dining room, and we were quickly brought menus and water. The lunch menu took some studying because it was varied and extensive. It was also not cheap. Happy Cow had rated it moderate price-wise, but reviews had said it was a little pricey, so at least we were not surprised. The appetizer/small plates ranged from $6-$11, with a cup of soup costing $7. Small salads were $6. It was just lunch, though, so we skipped the appetizers, and took a look at the entrees.
As you can see from the menu above, it was a tough decision because of the variety of delicious sounding dishes. Alan finally settled on the Baja Burrito, and I chose the Mole Enchiladas.
By the way, if you are seeing the word ‘cheese’ and thinking, “I thought she said it was vegan,” you will be relieved to know that their cheese is made out of nuts. I’m not sure how they make their sour cream because 118 Degrees is completely soy-free, but the menu assures us that everything in the restaurant is entirely plant-based.
Alan’s Baja Burrito as huge. Part of that is the perspective of the photo, but it was still pretty big. Although he said it was very good, after tasting my enchiladas, he said he preferred my meal. Because mine were so loaded with avocado, I gave him the slices off the top and he said that made it better (obviously, we’re avo freaks).
We both enjoyed 118 Degrees and will definitely go back. I’d like to work my way through that menu and try some of the desserts that looked so yummy. Because we simply ordered our entrees and drank water with our meal, our check was $24 before tax and tip, which I think is a little high for lunch, but not bad for an occasional treat. The dinner menu is pricier, and by ordering appetizers, soups, salads, or dessert, it could quickly add up. They serve beer and wine.
2981 Bristol, Suite B5
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
They also have a RAWBAR location inside Whole Foods in Tustin:
2847 Park Ave.
Tustin, CA 92782
And, they also have a line of grocery products within some Whole Foods in Southern California, including Surfer Sandwich, Verde Taco, Chipotle Ranch Wrap, Heirloom Squash Samosa, Portobello Tamale, Kale Salad, and Pesto Pizza. More details and the Whole Foods locations are available on their website.