Wednesday, March 24, 2010


One of the great things about California is that there is a restaurant for every ethnicity, taste, creed, variety and style. From Thai to Ethiopian to French to Vegan to Raw to greasy Diner. You can find it all here. Every craze, fad, tradition and culture is represented. Now, not every one will be a favorite and today was one of those for me.

I'm saying up front that this restaurant is not one I would choose on a regular basis. Instead it was chosen by my friend, who is on a strange diet and can only eat like three things. I respect her dietary needs and we went. With that build up, where did we go, Rutabagorz.

Rutaz, as it is affectionately named, bills itself as a healthy alternative. It is mostly a vegetarian restaurant. Lots of sprouts, vegetables and dishes made with bean curd, soy proteins and sweet potatoes. However, I was surprised to note that most things are drenched in melted cheese, but I guess if you're not eating meat or anything fried, melted cheese is necessary for protein and to get it all down.

Now to say something good, the passion fruit ice tea is delicious. It is smooth with hints of fruit that do not overwhelm.

Rutaz is turning 40 this year so every month the three restaurants will be featuring a dip special for only .40. At the Fullerton location, where I was today, it was the black bean hummus. I must say it was AWESOME. I could eat a gallon of that, so good. They also have really amazing pastries and cookies. When you walk in, it's the first thing you see, a giant case of them taunting you and begging to be eaten. Each one is made on site, and you can taste the difference. The restaurant opened serving only homemade soups and cheesecakes in 1970. It was also among the first to capitalize on the coffee trend and serve espressos in a casual environment that wouldn't kick ya out.

I remember the coffee drinks being delicious, from college. Some are even of the alcohol variety and with those delicious pastries, how can you go wrong? You can't.

I had not been to Rutaz since the early 90s and I probably won't add it into heavy rotation. But if you're in for the healthy variety, want a variety of vegetarian cuisine, I highly recommend it. Their salads are ENORMOUS. They are practically served in a giant mixing bowl.

I think I would have been happier if I had gone with the bbq chicken salad instead of the enchiladas verdes. I don't know why I ordered them. There was hint o' chicken and LOTS of cheese. My friend had a highly customized salad of some variety that you couldn't replicate if you tried. But the great thing about Rutaz is that they will do it for you, occasionally with a small up charge.

There are three Orange County locations: Fullerton, Orange and Tustin. Each one is housed in a reconstituted, historic building. No new construction for Rutabagorz (a twist on the vegetable Rutabega). They believe in using what is already here and want you to feel good about what you eat.

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