The good, the bland, the vegan

Illustration by KYLE SHINE

When a restaurant with mostly meat and cheese-slathered dishes introduces a separate vegan menu, that’s celebration-worthy. Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant at 6049 Madison Avenue in Carmichael introduced one recently, following the suggestion of one of its vegan servers. Garcia’s is a national chain, but this eatery is the only one in California. The offerings are essentially the regular menu items minus the meat, cheese and chicken-stock-cooked rice, which is a recipe for unbalanced dishes, flavorwise, and unsatiated diners. The taco salad, for instance, was a $14 fried tortilla bowl of lettuce with only a smattering of beans, diced tomato and black olives—and completely missing the guacamole the menu promised. The $12 taco plate was also bland, with a side of black beans that cried for seasoning, and, bizarrely, steamed cauliflower and carrots. Garcia’s vegan menu is a step in the right direction, but won’t attract repeat customers if they don’t liven up the flavor and live up to the price tag.