Life on the Veg: Taco Verde at Raw

Anyone that has been grocery shopping will know that one of the worst moves to make is to tour the isles on an empty stomach. Unless you've brought your mother along to help you "just say no," chances are you'll end up with a cart full of crap you didn't come for.

I almost suffered this same fate the other day at the Whole Foods located in the District at Tustin Legacy, but thankfully after one round of circling the seemingly endless progression of food-to-go kiosks I ended up at Raw instead of at the bakery stuffing a whole vegan apple pie into my jowls.

Raw Bar
Raw Bar
Grace Le

Opened just early January of this year, Raw is a joint venture by Jenny Ross of Costa Mesa's 118 Degrees and Whole Foods Market to make the healthy lifestyle and art of raw cooking more obtainable.

Read on for more details on the new vegetarian eatery.

Offering everything from kombucha floats to the well known living lasagna, Raw is more of a satellite 118 Degrees than a brand new entity. The differences lie in the smaller list of seasonal offerings, portability and the fact that you don't have to tip. The concept is almost identical to that of Out the Door, a to-go branch of the famous Vietnamese Fusion restaurant, the Slanted Door, located in San Francisco's Ferry Building.

Verde Taco
Verde Taco
Grace Le
Interested in only a quick pick-me-up, I grabbed the verde taco. at $5.50, it's the cheapest option on the entree menu which caps off at $13.

The verde taco is composed of a Napa cabbage leaf topped with spinach, diced cucumbers, carrots, corn, and pumpkin seed cheese. The overall effect is kind of like a hand-held salad, rather than a taco, but you can see where they're going with that association.

The texture is fresh and crisp. The cucumbers are slightly seasoned and previously warmed so they have more of a zucchini presence than you would expect. Raw kernels of white corn sweetens the whole dish and can be slightly overwhelming if you're expecting something really savory (which is implied by the word "taco").

Unfortunately the pumpkin seed cheese is, well, more seedy than cheesy. It has the distinct nutty richness and flavor of pumpkin seeds without the creaminess expected from dairy. When you top everything off with the salsa rojo, which has a mild flavor with a hint of smokey Chipotle seasoning, you feel like you're eating a conveniently constructed Southwestern salad.

The verde taco is a pleasant snack, but definitely not the main attraction of Raw. It is, however, quite effective at quelling the grocery shopping mania induced by an empty stomach and won't leave you with the sticky shame of having eaten a whole pie.

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