The Vegan Chef Challenge in Sacramento, CA

We’re highlighting 5 plant-based wonders from 50+ restaurants, bars, and pop-ups participating in the 12th annual event

A plate of fried food is topped with a sprig of cilantro

These Smashed Corn Ballers are a plant-based take on hush puppies.

Photo courtesy of @bambivegantacos

Sacramento’s vegan scene is on a remarkable upward trend, with a plant-based gelato spot, donut shop, and taco restaurant all having opened within the past four years. In fact, those three eateries are just the dairy-free icing on the cake that is the River City’s growing enthusiasm for meat-eschewing cuisine.

That excitement might best be seen in this year’s Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge, which is seeing its highest engagement in its 12 years with more than 50 restaurants and pop-ups participating. For the challenge, restaurants are asked to add at least one new vegan option to their menu.

With the event running now through Mon., Oct. 31, we’re highlighting five vegan plates, desserts, and drinks that made our stomach growl.

A glazed pizza with garden veggies

The Home on the Range pie with a BBQ base, garden veggies, and vegan chicken.

Photo courtesy of @buffalopizzandicecream

🌽 Smashed Corn Ballers, Bambi Vegan Tacos
Inspired by hush puppies, this deep-fried finger food is stuffed with a cheesy corn filing and sits on a bed of smoked tomato pepper jam.

🍔 The Hester Mae, 1837 Vegan
A house-made falafel burger layered with a three bean chili, grilled onions, an aioli sauce, and more — all sandwiched between two gluten-free sourdough buns.

🍰 Oreo Cheesecake Slice, Brown Rice Bakery
A vegan dream has come true with this dairy-and-gluten-free treat featuring Oreo cheesecake filling and crust from the BIPOC and queer-owned bakery.

A Google map with pins all over the Sacramento region

Use the event’s map to locate every participating eatery.

🍸 Vegan Bloody Mary, The Golden Bear | 2326 K St
A traditional Bloody Mary isn’t vegan due to the anchovies in the Worcestershire sauce, so this Midtown Pub is striking out against the savory fish with heirloom ingredients from local Farmers’ Markets.

🥞 Kimchi Pancakes, pure soul plant-based eats
Made with a JUST Egg, soy sauce, and green onions, this savory pancake is unlike anything we’ve ever tried — and that’s what caught our eye.

Ready to vote for your favorite new menu item from this year’s battle? Dish it out.

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