Z: Reuben loves to refer to Fatty's & Co. as stealth vegetarian. It fits. Nowhere on their outdoor sign or on their unique booklet-style menu is the word "vegetarian" mentioned. In a small, unobtrusive corner of the menu the word "vegan" appears with a short listing of substitutes they gladly offer in place of dairy items.
R: Quaint and full of character, the place, on the corner of Colorado and Vincent Street, has the definitive look of an auto repair garage turned restaurant. When I asked about former tenants at this location, sure enough, turns out it was once an auto repair garage.
Z: At 7 o'clock on a Saturday night several diners were seated outside along the front and side of the building under the protective black awnings. The building, a 1930's construction, had black tiles along the bottom two or three feet of the outside and a garage door that slides up and curves over just under the high ceiling to bring in plenty of light.
R: We took a menu from the counter along the back and sat at one of the beautiful cherry wood finished tables and chairs to peruse the offerings. I ordered The Zeppelin, Zel chose The Mystic Pita. The menu included brie cheese for mine and feta cheese for Zel's, but we were told it was no problem to order them without dairy products.
Z: They're certainly vegan savvy, yet stealth as can be. While our vegan meal was being prepared, we watched other plates traveling across the room via serving attendant and noted they were attractively presented and wholesome looking. Their daily special of Broccoli Quiche looked at least three inches thick and came with a salad that was piled equally high. A tall glass of bright pink Cherry Rickey looked quite inviting as the waiter carried it to patrons outside.
R: Service was fast and efficient. Our dinners arrived, and we wasted no time digging right in. Our usual practice of sharing couldn't have been easier. Both our sandwiches were cut in half. The Zeppelin is an indulgent treat for those who love mushrooms. Portabella and white mushrooms are chopped and sautéed with sun dried tomatoes, red onions, herbs, and garlic in olive oil, then generously heaped on a baguette smothered with tapenade. Alongside the sandwich was a heaping salad of baby greens, toasted crushed peanuts, pecans, and blanched almonds tossed in a dressing so flavorful I could have made a meal of.the salad.
Z: We quickly recognized that Fatty's does not do anything in ordinary fashion. With the first bite of The Zeppelin my teeth sank into a crisply toasted baguette that delightfully complimented the warm mushroom medley. Even the way the sandwich was cut in half was extraordinary--lengthwise on an angle.
R: Flavoring is certainly their specialty. The mushrooms were so deliciously seasoned that I was almost sorry I gave my other half to Zel. Well, almost. Her meal was equally toothsome. The Mystic Pita is a cold sandwich consisting of an entire whole wheat pita cut in half and brimming with chopped artichoke hearts, black olives, sweet Maui onions, roasted red and yellow peppers, and fresh tomatoes mixed with a spicy marinade. Resting between the two sandwich halves was an orange slice topped with a parsley sprig. This was hearty eating with special touches that bring a simple meal into the soul-satisfying range!
Z: This informal café that opened a little over one year ago has plenty going for it. In addition to enjoying the tasty offerings, you can purchase a gigantic variety of unique magazines and even a few newspapers displayed on the floor to ceiling magazine rack along the wall of used brick.
R: You can even buy Fatty's special coffee by the pound as well as their homemade granola served as one of their breakfast items. We noticed a few tables where customers were sipping coffee while reading the paper.
Z: Some of their breakfast offerings include Fresh Fruit, Hot Oatmeal, and Bagel Melt along with Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, Mocha, Hot Chocolate, and a variety of Hot and Iced Regular and Herbal Teas.
R: For lunch or dinner, salad lovers can enjoy Fatty's Salad, Far East Noodle Salad, The Capresse, Egg Salad, or Hummus. Familiar comfort foods like Pizza, great Sandwiches, Special Hot Soup of the Day, the Daily Special Entree, and a deli case of tempting desserts are on hand for downright serious eating.
Z: Every Friday and Saturday night Sushi Specials are posted on a sandwich board outside. That evening there were two featured varieties: the Vincent Street Roll with avocado, asparagus, and cucumber, and the Fatty's Roll with mango, tofu, Japanese radish, red bell pepper, and black sesame seeds on the outside.
R: We were truly tempted and almost ordered the Fatty's Roll but decided we would save it for next time.
Z: Owners Aude Charles and Kim Dingle have created a quaint funky atmosphere with their flair for antique décor. An antique brass scale perched on the countertop holds a pound of Fatty's coffee. Off to the side a mahogany sideboard provides the coffee and tea klatch with a place to rest a cup while stirring in add-in's like sugar, soy milk, cream, or honey,
R: We peeked behind the sideboard wall to find a hidden nook with a long period-style couch, two upholstered chairs with wooden arms, a lamp that many will recognize as grandma's, and a long coffee table. It's the perfect little corner for sipping a cup while chatting with friends.
Z: Because Fatty's does not advertise its exclusive vegetarian focus, 90% of their customers are non-vegetarians who come in to enjoy a relaxed cup of coffee and a tasty meal at very reasonable prices. Some have not even been aware that the restaurant serves only vegetarian foods. Co-owner Aude Charles told us that one of their regular customers asked what day they were going to have a chicken special.
Fatty's & Co.
Reviewed October 2002