While Julia’s Vegetarian Restaurant has been open since 2011, its irregular hours of operation and all but uninspiring ambiance have kept the vegetarian spot off of the radar of many Monterey culinary aficionados. That is, until Julia’s got a much-needed makeover.
This year, Julia’s Vegetarian Restaurant experienced a change of hands. Five months ago, Anthony Gerbino took full control of the joint, assuming the role of both chef and hands-on operator. Now, Julia’s is open for dinner seven days a week and is open for brunch on the weekends.
On Monday through Thursday, the vegetarian restaurant showcases four local musicians. On any given evening, the 25-seat room is nearly full, the music of local guitarists and the like reverberating off of the now-warm and newly upgraded interior. The wooden floors are brand new and paired with soothing tones of blue and green, with antique accents such as a vintage wine hutch and an assortment of musical instruments displayed on the wall.
And perhaps the most rustic element of all at Julia’s is the menu, which features local and seasonal vegetarian eats, prepared by Gerbino and his prep cook, Manprem Kaur. Kaur is also in charge of harvesting the produce and eggs from Gerbino’s five-acre farm in Watsonville.
The dinner menu offers a hearty spread, with a plethora of options even meat eaters would enjoy. The restaurant’s garden burger, a housemade patty made with oats, rice, flax, carrots, and onions, is topped with caramelized carrots, lettuce, tomato, and a vegan red pepper aioli. According to Monterey County Weekly’s resident food critic Mark C. Anderson, even the most carnivorous of souls can appreciate this vegetarian burger.
Although the writer was self-admittedly “disinterested” in vegetarian fare, likely sharing similar sentiments with the average American who eats 4.3 burgers a month, he found the burger to be “tender yet firm, with plenty of sweet and flavor.”