To the uninitiated, eating a plant-based diet can sound like a chore. Sure, the food may be good for your health and good for the planet, but is it just plain good? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” at OleriCultura, where wholesome ingredients are inventively prepared and beautifully presented in delectable vegan dishes that are already drawing crowds to this relatively new spot in the Grossmont Center food court.
“We call this Mexican-rooted California cuisine, and it is 100-percent plant based,” says (Sergio Garcia Manriquez or Vanessa Corrales), co-owner of OleriCultura. “The term ‘olericulture’ refers to the process of growing vegetables for food, and we are fortunate to work with some terrific farms here in San Diego County that harvest everything from heirloom beans to chayote, a hearty member of the squash family. All of our recipes allow these ingredients to shine and capture the incredible flavors that are a hallmark of well-made vegan food.”
OleriCultura draws customers in with its clean, modern, and light-filled space in the Grossmont Center food court. Friendly wait staff and a streamlined counter layout make it simple for people to customize the centerpiece of the menu, vegan bowls.
Start with the legume—OleriCultura uses the tepary bean, a super bean that’s high in protein, iron, calcium, and fiber compared to other beans. Next, choose a grain mix, either wild rice and amaranth pilaf cooked in a tomato and achiote broth, or quinoa and brown rice pilaf in a cilantro and parsley broth. The beans and grains are then topped with a guisado, a braised, stew-like mix of veggies. OleriCultura offers different types each day, among them Funghi Ranchero (mushrooms, peppers, and truffled rice gravy), Veggie Lentil Pipan (charred vegetable mix and four-seed salsa verde sauce), and Frijoles Machos (plantains, kale, and spiced beans). Add on any toppings you desire for an interplay of textures and flavors—cabbage and nopal slaw, fried onions, hemp seeds, or, for a cheese-like flavor, nutritional yeast—then add a sauce or two for a finishing touch. You can’t go wrong with any of them: the tasty Guacasalsa, the creamy Sunflower & Cashew Crema, or the house specialty Habanero Beet Sauce, which is vibrant in both flavor and its pink-tinged color. Bowls can also come with a serving of crunchy tortilla chips, which pair wonderfully with the beet sauce. Everything is prepared fresh daily and tastes home cooked because it is prepared with loving care.
You definitely won’t miss the meat—these bowls are as filling as they are tasty. The generous servings are sure to leave your stomach satisfied. If you can, though, make sure to save room for dessert. Fresh vegan pan dulce is sold here, courtesy of Corrales’s Split Bakehouse, another Grossmont Center patron. The pastries and baked goods are tantalizing: Classics, such as the Mexican sweet bread concha and the palmier cookie called oreja, can be found in the display cases. You can also pick up fresh campechanas (flaky, fruit-filled pastries), donas arcoiris (rainbow-colored doughnuts), and sprinkle cookies. Like the vegan bowls, the pan dulce items are appealing to both the eyes and the palate. Corrales also curates OleriCultura’s beverage selection. Chose from limonade (lemonade) in various flavors and aqua de platano (also known as banana water).
OleriCultura may be one of the newer Grossmont Center tenants, but attendees of the Center’s vegan First Friday Night Market are well acquainted with the eatery because it has been a popular vendor at the monthly event. Fans were thrilled that OleriCultura decided to set up a permanent location at Grossmont Center, so they could enjoy the from-scratch cooking on a regular basis. OleriCultura fills a unique niche not just in the Center’s dining options, but also in the East County restaurant scene. It is said that the best food is simply prepared, using only the best ingredients, and that is the guiding principle behind OleriCultura. You know exactly what is in your food—as well as what is not in it. OleriCultura refrains from using additives and chemicals typically found in processed food. The staff is committed to providing an enriching dining experience with customer service that is both personable and knowledgeable—they can talk expertly about the dishes and ingredients, ensuring customers are happy with their meals.
Come experience OleriCultura and see why people are raving about this exciting new destination for vegan food. When you sample the dishes here, you will understand that adhering to a plant-based diet is not a chore at all—it is a delicious delight!