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interiorSometimes, taking a chance really pays off, and Thomas Hill Organics was definitely the most delightful and surprising find of our trip. A very nondescript storefront, it was unfortunately too easy to walk right past it. After our olive oil tasting at We Olive, we walked along Spring Street hoping to find something interesting for lunch. Finding nothing but cafes, grilles and touristy shops, we gave up and walked back to our car on Park Street.

But something caught my eye… a sidewalk chalkboard promising an organic meal. The only problem was we couldn’t tell if the place was open or closed. There was a sign on the door that said “open” and there was another board outside giving the hours, but it just seemed too dark, and looking through the window there literally was no one in sight.

1313 PARK STREET, PASO ROBLES, CA

1313 PARK STREET, PASO ROBLES, CA

The door was unlocked, so we walked in. No one kicked us out, so we stayed! It’s a great little space, with a bar and a few sofas for sitting, but obviously not the place where food is served. The hostess showed us to the patio out back. The patio is in a nice quiet little niche between buildings, with an entrance to We Olive next door, and the kitchen across the way. When the door swung open, I was able to see beautiful rows of vegetables on hotel trays waiting patiently to be added to some lucky person’s meal. Clean and organized, a great sign!

From their website:

We believe in the significance of organic, regionally-produced food, working with local purveyors for our poultry, fish and grass-fed beef, lamb and exotic meats. Nearby farmers provide all fruits and vegetables, which are always straight-from-the-earth fresh, and our breads are crafted by local bakers who are celebrated artisans of their trade.

menuFriand, not a vegan, is very concerned with the food that he puts into his body, so this description above satisfies his requirements. I personally love that all the produce comes from local growers, and the breads hardly travel to get there. In the end, it’s a good business model to patronize, vegan or not.

Our server, Ellie, was not surprised at all when I said, “I’m vegan…” because she didn’t even let me finish. No need to explain! Ellie stopped me right there and said the black lentil tacos were vegan (as-is) and the veggie burger could be vegan as well, but the avocado soup unfortunately had yogurt in it. Too bad because it sounded really good.

While we waited for our lunch to arrive, we splurged and ordered a glass of the Laetitia Winery Brut Rose. 24 hours earlier, we had stopped at the Laetitia Vineyard and Tasting Room on PCH, only because we often buy their Estate wines at Whole Foods. Name recognition went a long way for us, and we ended up buying a bottle of their Single Vineyard La Coupelle Pinot Noir after our impromptu wine tasting.

tacosOne comment by our pourer that stuck with us was that Laetitia is known for its sparkling wines, so seeing the Brut Rose on the THO menu meant we just had to try it. I’m not usually a big fan of sparkling rose, but a little bubbly at lunch while on vacation is the way to go. Friand got a kick out of me ordering a half glass, my attempt at acting slightly civilized at 11am, and then asking for a refill. Who was I kidding?

My black lentil tacos arrived and I was astounded at their artistry. I felt like Austin Powers snapping a million photos before I even started eating. “Work it baby, yeah!”

A fresh take on an old favorite, a carrot puree sits on a warm white corn tortilla, with perfectly al dente black lentils, candied jalepeños, coconut cream, cashews, cilantro and watermelon. I love watermelon used in place of (or with) tomatoes.

tacos2These little beauties are probably my favorite taco to date. The only trouble with them was deciding if I should eat them with a fork or fold them and eat with my hands. With three on the plate, I could experiment, and came to the conclusion that as long as they make it into my face, either method works!

If there had been 6 of these on my plate, I would have eaten them all (with another glass of bubbly). And a veggie burger. We didn’t have much hope of returning on this particular trip, but made note that we will definitely be back in the future. Paso Robles is about 25 minutes inland between Morro Bay and Cambria, not exactly the most convenient side trip, but it was a beautiful drive and definitely well worth it. If you find yourself anywhere near Paso Robles, you won’t be disappointed to hit up the neighbors We Olive and THO.

With one vegan item (tacos), a purely vegetarian option (avocado soup), a veggie burger that can be made vegan (remove the aioli), and a mission to use local organic ingredients, Thomas Hill Organics is a no-brainer for 5 Sprouts.

5veganThomas Hill Organics 1313 Park St., Paso Robles, CA

 

 

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