How did this vegan foodie not know about the organic, non-GMO and most especially “secret vegan menu” at Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill (www.sharkys.com)? Previously not on the radar, this cool, fast and casual restaurant, which is quickly expanding beyond its 21 California locations (coming soon to Portland), is now buzzworthy for my fine palate as well as all Vegan Pros who love highly nutritional food at a good price.
On a fact-finding mission with Sharky’s CEO Steve Paperno and COO David Goldstein – along with a farmer from the very organic Deardorff Family Farms – I discovered why this vegan-friendly restaurant chain attracts those who are seeking clean eating and drinking. Paperno says his “lifestyle franchise brand” has the purpose of “inspiring change and creating paths to a healthier, more sustainable world.” Now, I’m not sure if Sharky’s will change the world, but the educational visit did blow my mind and taste buds). Of course, for us vegans, the non-GMO tofu bowls, burritos and salads were the most inspiring part of the meal. And though not all of Sharky’s ingredients are organic, these are: pinto beans, black beans, brown rice, white rice, quinoa, greens, kale, black beans, spinach and romaine lettuce.
Sharkys Quinoa SaladFor vegans, Sharky’s delivers its no-GMO tofu in bowl, burrito and taco forms. There’s also a perfectly-balanced “superfood” quinoa salad for vegans with organic red and white quinoa, organic baby spinach, cabbage, green onions, jicama, cucumber, sweet peppers, cilantro, toasted flax and chia seeds all tossed in an avocado vinaigrette.
And then there’s the “secret vegan menu.” Created with the help of an LA food blogger who would eat weekly at Sharky’s and bend the menu to her plant-based ways, these three items bring even more nutrition to the plate. I tried the “AJ burrito” (also available in a bowl), which featured organic brown rice, organic black beans and steamed broccoli. When this healthful dish was set in front of me, I thought perhaps it would be bland. I was wrong. Even without adding any of Sharky’s signature avocado sauce or smoky salsa, the “secret” burrito was creamy, flavorful and satisfying.
Don’t miss Sharky’s freshly-squeezed lemonades and teas as well as absolutely delicious sangrias and craft microbrews such as watermelon basil and hibiscus-and-ginger infused green tea.