Diners have no beef with these vegan options
By Greg Sabin
Jamie Cavanaugh, owner of Pure Soul Plant Based Eats, doesn’t mind if you aren’t vegan. “I care what I eat,” she says. “I don’t want to eat meat or dairy, but I don’t mind if the diners at my restaurant are vegans or vegetarians or just taking a meal off from their usual diet.”
She adds, “I just want to serve good food.” And she does.
Cavanaugh opened the small eatery in East Sacramento during the fateful month of March 2020. Taking over a corner storefront previously occupied by The Wienery, Pure Soul battled shutdowns, lockdowns and slowdowns its first two years. Today it’s positioned to be busier than ever.
What sets the restaurant apart is a playful attitude toward food and the ridiculously awesome, face-blasting flavor. This stuff is off-the-charts yummy.
I speak as a lifelong meat eater. I have never entertained a vegan or vegetarian diet, and reflexively wrinkle my nose when anyone suggests a vegan restaurant as a dining option. I’m a meat snob. But eating at Pure Soul feels like no sacrifice.
This is plant-based comfort food. This is large-portioned, down-home, deep-fried delights. The burgers are as big as my head and have meat-eaters telling Cavanaugh they are the best burgers ever. The tater tots topped with queso, guacamole, pico and jalapenos are a giant, guilty pile of deliciousness.
The tacos, filled with spiced jackfruit, are on par with the best taco trucks in town. The jackfruit mimics beef and pork in texture and you can’t tell you are eating vegan. Pure Soul’s house-made salsas are a thing to behold. Spicy, tangy, earthy, they raise the profile of every bite.
Cavanaugh’s business partner, Erica Montgomery, brings more soul to Pure Soul’s menu with her scratch-made vegan soul-food recipes. “Auntie’s” potato salad, candied yams, and red beans and rice are all nice. But the collard greens deserve special praise. They are some of the tastiest greens in the West, meat-free or not.
The small space doesn’t lend itself to slow indulgent eating. There aren’t too many seats inside or out. Pure Soul is a grab-and-go place, informal and casual.
Another thing that sets Pure Soul apart are the clever names for many dishes. “Jackfruit & Diane” is the moniker for a pulled “pork” sandwich made with jackfruit and crispy onions smothered in house barbecue sauce. “Sweet Home Avocado” is a veggie sandwich. “Baby Got Bacon” is a burger served with your choice of veggie meat patty, Beyond or Impossible.
Pure Soul is one of several local vegan restaurants recently opened. Local chain Burger Patch just started their latest rendition in Land Park. West Coast chain Plant Power Fast Food opened an outpost last year at R and 11th streets. Both rely on a streamlined but tasty burger, fries and shake model.
A successful vegan option is Vegan Deadly Sins, a vegan Chinese-American restaurant. Serving only takeout, the kitchen turns out Chinese restaurant standards such as egg rolls, hot and sour soup, fried rice and General Tso’s chicken, without meat. The flavors are spot on.
Whether you live a vegan lifestyle or are looking to shrink your meat intake, explore the options. Our vegan scene, especially Pure Soul Plant Based Eats, sets a high bar.
Pure Soul Plant Based Eats is at 715 56th St.; puresoulpbeats.com; (916) 476-5705.
Greg Sabin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @insidesacramento.