Captain Mauri’s Restaurant. 149 Avenida Del Mar, San Clemente. 949.498.9098. www.captainmauris.com.
Eating a vegan or vegetarian diet is good for you (and good for the planet) though it sometimes doesn’t always taste that way. Without the convenience of ubiquitous meat and dairy offerings, those who abstain from animal and animal products are often left choosing between a frozen something or yet another salad, or alas, the veggie burger.
Captain Mauri’s puts a fresh take on the much maligned meat-free staple with a menu of innovative, fresh burger styles. The Portofino was superb; a grain-based vegan patty was sandwiched in a chewy onion roll with tomato sauce, fennel, basil, onion and avocado. What’s best about it is the balance of sweetness from the avocado and sauce and the acidity of the red onion and tomato. And what brings all these strong elements together is the fennel, which acts as a lifeguard to keep all the flavors in check.
Captain Mauri’s also has plenty of other vegan and vegetarian sandwiches and smoothies, and even sneaks in a few meat dishes for those hold-outs that tag along to lunch. Though if there’s one place to convince them of how good meat-free can taste, Captain Mauri’s is it.