Dandelion Vegetarian Cafe
An affordable vegan alternative in downtown San Jose
By Elisa Camahort
I'M ALWAYS saying I long for more vegan restaurants in the South Bay and on the peninsula. And for vegan restaurants that aren't based on Chinese cuisine with faux meat. Not to dis my faves of that genre, Garden Fresh in Mountain View and Merit Vegetarian in Sunnyvale, but how about something like Greens, Herbivore, Millennium or Chaya Japanese—all wonderful options when in San Francisco—how about a little diversity?
Well, there's a new vegan restaurant in town, and while it doesn't satisfy that longing of mine for something significantly different, it is a worthy addition to my personal list of go-to spots.
Dandelion Vegetarian Cafe in downtown San Jose may be tiny, but it has a simple, whimsical interior and intriguing menu. Its most notable quality, though, is how amazingly affordably priced it is. You could spend under $10 and not only have dinner that night but a full lunch or dinner for the next day.
With more of a Vietnamese bent than Chinese, you can get familiar appetizer favorites like drumsticks (three pieces for $2.95) and pot stickers (four pieces for $3.50) and also a variety of noodle bowls and rice plates.
I got the drumsticks, and they were succulent without being too greasy. I also got what I can only say is an unusual entree: spaghetti with "beef" chunk tomato sauce and veggie steak ($5.90). Spaghetti and tomato sauce at a place like Dandelion was a bit unexpected, as was the steak cutlet on the side (which seemed more like a faux ham slice than "steak"). While I liked the "steak," the next time I won't order spaghetti. I think it's better left to an Italian restaurant.
Meanwhile, my dining companion got a noodle bowl, attractively priced at under $6 and clearly more in Dandelion's sweet spot. Steaming, savory broth, fresh vegetables, earthy mushrooms, strips of bean curd. A meal in a bowl—maybe two or three meals!
My favorite part of the meal was actually dessert. I ordered a rice pudding made with black rice in a pool of a white "creamy" sauce called Pulut Hitaum ($3.90). Rice pudding is one of those favorites I gave up when I made the transition from vegetarian to vegan, so now I know where to go when I get the craving!
With an extensive menu of low-priced, generously portioned selections, stop by Dandelion for a quick lunch or dinner in the SJSU area.
Dandelion Vegetarian Cafe
Address: 322 E. Santa Clara St, San Jose
Hours: 10am–9pm Mon–Fri, 1–9pm Sat–Sun
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