Reviews written by Lola
Registered on Aug 11 04
Charmone is my favorite vegan shoe company! I've ordered several pairs of shoes from them and they're the best shoes in my closet. The designs are so whimsical and unique that a lot of my non-vegan friends have been asking me where I bought them.
The shoes themselves are very well-made. The faux leather is extremely soft and comfortable (no blisters!). I even received a personal e-mail from one of the company founders thanking me for my first purchase and offering sizing suggestions before they finalized my order.
Temptation vegan ice cream is the only soy ice cream I have found that doesn't have a bad aftertaste. I'm so glad that it is starting to crop up on the East Coast (at Whole Foods stores). Losing Chicago Soy Dairy products was one of the saddest parts about moving out of Chicago. My favorite flavor is Peach Cobbler, but they're all pretty good.
For the record, if you can get your hands on Chicago soydairy soy milk (which is considerably harder to find), it is one of the few soy milks that I have found that is creamy enough to make a good foam on coffee drinks.
Endless.com has a wonderful selection of trendy-looking "accidentally vegan" shoes, many of which are made with fabrics other than imitation leather. It's laudable that a non-vegetarian company has decided to list vegetarian shoes separately. Another perk: the shipping is free!
I love the idea of Evolution and I would certainly feed it to a dog (if I had one) since dogs are omnivores. However, as my vet always says, cats are obligate carnivores. I decided to challenge this idea by raising my cat on Evolution vegan cat food. From the time that she was 8 weeks old until she was about 3 years old I fed her nothing but vegan food, but I ultimately decided that it would be best to start feeding her a meat-based diet. When my cat was eating Evolution, she really didn't seem to enjoy eating and would just barely eat enough to survive. She was only 5 lbs at the time that I started feeding her meat, which is very underweight for an adult-sized cat (she weighs a healthy 8.5 lbs now). In addition, she was developing all sorts of urinary tract problems, which apparently are common in female cats raised on a vegetarian diet.
I feel very guilty feeding my cat meat, since it does conflict with my personal ethics. However, I make an effort only to buy meat from animals that she could kill in nature (small fish) and I don't buy anything that contains animal byproducts or meat from factory-farmed animals. It's not an ideal situation, but the only alternatives would be to give away my cat (at which point someone else would probably start feeding her factory-farmed animal byproducts) or force her to suffer from unnecessary health problems.
I love matt & nat's wallets and purses. Cruelty-free fashion at its best!
I love the vegan section of the Natural Candy Store website. The people who run the site are very careful to check the ingredients of everything that they sell. All of the vegan items are actually labeled "vegan," so there isn't any guesswork. It makes shopping for people with dietary restrictions (vegan and otherwise) very straightforward.
As far as the products go, Natural Candy Store has done an wonderful job of culling some of the best vegan products that are available in the US. The salted caramels (from Allison's Gourmet) are made with coconut milk and they're divine - I managed to eat an entire bag of them in a single day. I'm also a big fan of the Twilight candy bars.
Nutrilicious is based in Chicago, but they sell donuts on their website and through Whole Foods, Pangea and other vendors. The donuts are great if you can get them fresh, but I've found that sometimes they sit on the shelves at Whole Foods too long and are stale at the time of purchase. I prefer to order mine directly online. The pumpkin spice donut holes are my favorite flavor - they're perfect for autumn.
Once upon a time, I lived in Chicago and primarily used Pangea to order vegan food for my cat (a difficult commodity to find, even in a large city). Now that I live in rural New Hampshire, I don't know what I would do without Pangea. I end up placing an order almost every month and I have had nothing but positive experiences. My orders always come two days after I place them, even though I don't pay for expedited shipping. I have never received anything that I didn't order, nor have I ever failed to receive something that I did order (at least, not without receiving an e-mail notification and having the cost of the item deducted from my credit card first).
I especially recommend Pangea to anyone who, like me, lives 2 hours from the nearest Whole Foods. You don't know what you're missing out on until you check out this website!
UFood Grill is probably the best choice for a vegan visiting terminal B. There are some sandwiches on the menu that can easily be made vegan, but my favorite is the teriyaki tofu bowl. UFood Grill also has smoothies on the menu, some of which are dairy-free (I like the mango smoothie). It's a great place to stop for a quick healthy meal before catching a flight.
Zona Mexicana is located in the "Southwest" terminal foodcourt (terminals A/B) at BWI Airport. The food isn't amazing, but one nice thing for vegans is that the "vegetable and bean" tacos contain a number of roasted vegetables: zucchini, corn, bell peppers and onions, which makes them a little more exciting than a standard bean/lettuce/tomato taco. If you order a "vegetable and bean" taco from Zona Mexicana, make sure to specify "no cheese" if you're vegan.
If you're in the BWI airport, this is probably the best option for a reliable vegan meal.
I love flying into the Columbus airport because I know that I can always get a vegan cookie or a smoothie from Cup O' Joe. The cookies are made by a local vegan bakery and are outstanding. They come in a number of flavors, including snickerdoodle, chocolate chip and oatmeal walnut. Cup O' Joe is located in the shopping area BEFORE you go through security. If you want a coffee drink made with soy milk after going through security, Starbucks is your best option.
The "vegetarian" burrito consists of black beans, rice, lettuce, grilled peppers, onions and cheese. I ordered mine without cheese to make it vegan. The flavor was pretty bland, but the grilled veggies prevented the meal from being too disappointing. All in all, Blue Burrito Grille is a decent vegan airport option, but I wouldn't have eaten there if I wasn't stuck in an airport during lunchtime.
Harry Caray's is my favorite restaurant at the Chicago Midway airport. It is the only place that serves remotely interesting vegan meals.
The vegan options that I've seen include spaghetti (with either the marinara sauce or topped with garlic and oil), bruschetta, mixed green salad, Tuscan salad (contains mixed greens, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, bermuda onions, garbanzo beans, cucumbers and fresh mozzarella with Balsamic vinaigrette - just ask them to hold the mozzarella if you're vegan).
I usually get the garlic and oil spaghetti or the Tuscan salad. Both are really tasty and filling. Harry Caray's is a great place to eat if you have at least 45 minutes to kill before boarding your plane. If you have 30 minutes or less, they can still accommodate you but you have to eat at the bar and can only order a salad or sandwich.
The only vegan meal option at the Oak Street Beach Cafe is a PB&J sandwich, which is somewhere in the $3-$4 range and comes from the fridge case (so the bread is usually slightly stale). The soft pretzels also aren't very exciting. They're pretty flavorless and tend to be dry. On the plus side, the Oak Street Beach Cafe is the only place in Midway Airport that doesn't have to custom make vegan options to order, so it's probably the best place to grab a meal if you're short on time.
In all honesty, I only eat here when I don't have enough time to eat at Harry Caray's. If at all possible, try to make your way over there instead.
I decided to eat at Milltown Grille after I realized that it was probably the only place in the Manchester airport with vegan food offerings. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by my meal. I decided to order three of the "snack" dishes, and all of them turned out to be really good.
The falafel had a nice texture and came with a delicious tahini sauce. It wasn't as spicy as I tend to like my falafel, but it always wasn't bland and greasy like most falafel that I've eaten while living in New Hampshire. The summer rolls had fresh mint leaves and cilantro on the inside and came with a ginger-flavored dipping sauce. My favorite "snack," however, was the Italian flabread, which I ordered without the mozzarella cheese (so it ended up being warm flatbread covered with tomato chunks, drizzled with balsamic vinegar).
There are also a couple of vegan martinis at Milltown Grille. I'm not normally one to drink liquor right before flying, but I couldn't resist ordering a caramel apple martini, which came with a cinnamon sugared rim. The bill ended up being higher than I generally like to spend on lunch (almost $20) but I was so glad to have a decent lunch before my 6-hour plane flight that I didn't mind splurging a little.
The food at Asian Place is decent. While there are a few restaurants at the Zurich Airport Renaissance Hotel, Asian Place is probably the most suitable for vegans. The menu does not explicitly name any vegan items, but all of the curry dishes and stir fry dishes are made to order and can be done without animal products (just ask your waiter - mine seemed very willing to accommodate my dietary needs). In addition, there are vegetable spring rolls which do not contain any egg.
On Saturday nights, there is an all-you-can-eat sushi bar with some vegetable sushi options. However, the cost (79 Swiss francs) is the same regardless of what you eat, so it probably isn't worthwhile for vegetarians and vegans to consider this option.
The reason that I feel the need to post an entry for Starbucks is because it is the ONLY coffee shop in the Zurich airport that makes coffee drinks with soy milk. However, Starbucks is located in the main terminal BEFORE you go through passport control. You are allowed to bring coffee through passport control. However, once you go through, the Zurich Airport makes it very difficult to exit. So, if you are vegan, you should keep in mind that, before crossing through passport control, this is your only opportunity to procure coffee mit sojamilch (with soy milk).
As the only restaurant in Grand Canyon, AZ with any vegan options (the other restaurants are a McDonalds, a Wendy's and a steakhouse), I spent quite a bit of time here. They are more than willing to make their pizzas vegan (no cheese - just sauce and veggies), and have a number of fried vegetable dishes (fried mushrooms, zucchini, ...). They also have a salad bar.
A friend of mine was ordering a box of cupcakes from Braxton's Boxes and offered to pick up a few vegan cupcakes for me. There is a 12 cupcake minimum order, but the website made it sound like it is possible to mix-and-match flavors. However, it turns out that the vegan cupcakes cannot be combined in an order with the other cupcakes. The person over the phone explained to us that the vegan cupcakes must be ordered in a full batch. However, in spite of the fact that I was willing to order an entire batch of cupcakes, Braxton's Boxes wasn't willing to give me a choice in the flavor (right now, they only make chocolate vegan cupcakes). I would understand if they only made one vegan flavor per day and allowed customers to order a selection of vegan and non-vegan cupcakes, but when they're custom-making a batch of cupcakes for a single customer, I think that they should offer more choices!
Cafe Gratitude is a solid option for vegan visiting Berkeley. The prices are a bit incongruous - a regular-sized shake is $10, while most of the entrees range between $10-$14 - but if you can get over the bizarre pricing scheme, it averages out to a reasonable meal in the end.
Cafe Gratitude is somewhat famous for its hokey ambience. Diners are given a "question of the day" to ponder (ex. "What is something that you are proud of?") and all of the tables come with meditation cards. All of the dishes have names that start with "I Am" followed by an adjective or adverb, except for the Mexican-themed dishes which have names that start with "Yo soy" (followed by a Spanish adjective or adverb). If you can get past the embarrassment of saying "I Am Beautiful" and having your server repeat back to you "You Are Beautiful," then you will reap the benefits of a delicious and healthy meal. However, there is a nontrivial percentage of people who find the whole experience to be humiliating beyond belief - if you think that this might be you, I'd recommend avoiding Cafe Gratitude.
For those who have been to other Cafe Gratitude locations, this one is on the larger end. There is a small grocery area in the front, which features a fridge with carry-out options as well as a few shelves of raw ingredients to use in your own (un)cooking. After several visits, I've found that the key lime pie and orange creamsicle shake are my favorite dishes at Cafe Gratitude.
I was pretty excited to try an all-vegan Japanese restaurant. After years of watching my friends order deep-fried sushi, I was happy to have the opportunity to have my own fish-free version. While the deep-fried sushi was good, nothing else seemed to be too different from the vegetarian options at a standard Japanese restaurant. I appreciated the fact that I didn't have to scrutinize the menu very carefully, but I would have been more impressed with Cha-Ya if they had offered unique vegetarian takes on traditional Japanese dishes. The only real thing that sets Cha-Ya apart from other Japanese restaurants, in my mind, is the fact that they have vegan desserts.
Chick-O-Pea's is a good option for a quick meal. There are several vegan options, including the Red Sea Tofu (available in a wrap or as a burger), Trinidad Chana Dal Wrap, African Spicy Soup, Chick-O-Peas Soup and various falafel sandwiches. Chick-O-Pea's offers french fries with many different types of sauces, including wasabi, pesto, jerk, and garlic. Best of all, Chick-O-Pea's has vegan baklava available for dessert!
The cuisine is far better than your average fast food - the lavash bread is homemade, the french fries are crispy without being overly greasy... My one complaint is that the portions are a bit small for the price.
A few other facts worth mentioning:
-All of the vegan options and dishes that contain wheat are clearly labeled.
-The coin-operated bathrooms are extremely clean (you don't have to actually pay to use them - the server will be more than happy to give you a bathroom "token" if you just ask).
-Chick-O-Pea's offers free wi-fi access, as well as both indoor and outdoor seating.
Cinnaholic is simply ingenious. Where else can you get a warm, gooey cinnamon roll with your choice of over 30 different toppings and icing flavors (let alone vegan versions of all of these things)? The toppings range from logical "next steps" for the inventive cinnamon roll fan (nuts, marshmallows) to whimsical creations that only a child would come up with (cookie dough chunks, brownie bits, gingerbread cookie crumble,...).
Surprisingly, Cinnaholic isn't a figment of my imagination. The store is conveniently located 2 blocks away from the Downtown Berkeley BART station. Best of all, Cinnaholic has a frequent buyer program - after purchasing 10 of their decadent creations, the 11th is on the house. I tried my hardest to fill up an entire card during a week-long visit to Berkeley, but ultimately didn't have the stamina to eat 11 cinnamon rolls in 7 days (they're pretty filling, especially if cookie dough is one of the toppings).
Encuentro Cafe and Wine Bar is one of the best vegetarian restaurants that I have ever visited. The food is simply phenomenal - I can't think of any other way to describe it. The dishes are not as pretentious-sounding as some of the dishes served at other local vegetarian fine dining establishments (ahem Ubuntu and Millennium!), but they're just as thoughtfully prepared.
The meals at Encuentro are served tapas-style. My partner and I each selected 2-3 dishes, so that we would have a chance to try a variety of the menu options. We started out with the herb and orange marinated olives. I'm not normally a huge olive fan (my partner chose this dish), but the marinade was flavorful enough for me to forget about this fact. Next, we received a plate of grilled stone fruit bruschetta, which came topped with wine jelly and macadamia nut cheese. The sweet flavor of the stone fruit was well-paired with the salty taste of the cheese.
Next, we shared the Little Gem Salad, which was an innovative spin on classic caesar. The dressing was an orange-rosemary caesar dressing and the lettuce was topped with crispy tempeh strips. At this point, our waitress brought us our two hot entrees: the empanadas, which came filled with seitan, golden raisin picadillo pique sauce and cilantro (topped with cashew crema), and the socca of the day, which was filled with mushrooms. I didn't try the mushroom socca (mushrooms are probably my least favorite food) but the empanadas were everything that I had hoped for - savory little dumplings with a slight hint of sweetness from the raisins.
For dessert, we decided to split a vegan cheese platter and a slice of lemon coconut cake. The cake was moist and the lemon icing was creamy and tart. My one and only complaint is that I think that the cake was made from whole wheat flour, so the texture was a little denser than most. The vegan cheese platter came with three vegan "cheeses": smoked pecan, macadamia nut and cashew and pumpkin seed. They were served with prune jam, grain mustard and walnut "honey" (actually agave nectar), as well as a generous helping of toasted bread.
When all was said and done, our meal came to just under $100 (including drinks). I was impressed that we were able to get such a fine dinner at a reasonable price. Even though the restaurant was a bit out of our way (we were staying in Berkeley), it was very easy to get here via the BART. I highly recommend this place to anyone who is visiting the Bay area!
Fellini is a family-friendly Italian restaurant with an amazing selection of vegan options. Roughly half of the menu is either vegan or can be made vegan by substituting tofu for meat or soy mozzarella for dairy cheese.
We had a tough time choosing between so many delicious-sounding Italian dishes, but we ultimately settled on a plate of saffron risotto and a Smiling Cow pizza (a vegan "meatlover's" pizza, complete with soy bacon, sausage and pepperoni). Both dishes were quite good. The risotto was filled with English peas, red peppers and candied squash. The dairy-free cream sauce tasted just like the real thing. The soy cheese on the pizza was nicely melted (I suspect that it was Follow-Your-Heart or Teese, but probably not Daiya). The faux sausage was delicious but I wasn't a huge fan of the faux pepperoni. In the future, I would order this pizza with just the sausage. For dessert, we had a choice between vegan chocolate ganache cake and fruit-flavored sorbetto. We decided to try the ganache cake, which was moist but a little too rich for my taste.
Fellini gets major points for their waitstaff, who were very sensitive to our dietary restrictions. Our bread came with a plate of vegan dipping sauce (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and herbs) instead of butter. Our coffee was served with a tiny pitcher of soy creamer. Our waitress even brought us Parma! (a vegan parmesan substitute) to put on our pizza.
Flacos is a tiny all-vegan Mexican joint. While it is a fair distance from downtown Berkeley, a short ride on the BART will get you within 2 blocks of the restaurant (get off at the Ashby station). The drinks are surprisingly expensive relative to the price of the meal ($3 for a medium-sized glass). Only two beverages were available on the day that I visited - strawberry juice and horchata. Both were amazingly good, but they were small enough that I found myself needing a second beverage after my spicy meal. As for the food, there were 4 options to choose from: a platter (which consisted of rice, beans and either a tamale or two taquitos), a taquito, a tamale and a soy/gluten-free option. The tamale was incredible - carefully spiced and shredded "chicken", packed in a cornmeal blanket with olives, capers and other veggies, drizzled with a spicy avocado sauce. Overall, I think that Flacos is a great option for vegans craving authentic-tasting Mexican food.
I wouldn't recommend this place to anyone who isn't on a meal plan at Berkeley. That said, the vegan options can be surprisingly good.
For breakfast, there are always vegan muffins or scones. The scones are actually some of the best vegan scones that I've ever tasted. On certain days of the week, vegan pancakes are available as well.
For lunch/dinner, the vegan options vary from amazing to virtually nonexistent. There is almost always a vegan dessert, such as chocolate cake or tofu cheesecake, but there is not always a reasonable vegan entree (I don't count a plate of rice and boiled corn as "reasonable").
I've heard that the meal options are somewhat different during the academic year (ex. more options are available, pricing structure is different), so I can only really speak for the summer meal options. Regardless, if you are staying in the Berkeley dorms and looking for vegan baked goods, it is worth checking this place out.
Gelateria Naia usually features 4 flavors of soy gelato, as well as 10-12 flavors of dairy-free, fruit-based sorbetto. The flavors are color-coded based on whether they contain a dairy, soy or water base. My favorite soy flavors (so far) are the peanut butter chocolate chip and the cookies and cream. The fruit flavors include the standard strawberry, raspberry and lemon, as well as some more exotic options like cantaloupe, honey dew, watermelon and banana.
Green Papaya is a cute all-vegan Thai restaurant that is located with 1 block of the downtown Berkeley BART station. The extensive menu features a number of unusual dishes, such as the fried taro (which consists of taro root, red beans and rice, wrapped in a sheet of bean curd, served with palm sugar sauce and ground peanuts). I'm a huge fan of the pineapple curry gluten, which comes with some of the best red curry sauce that I've ever tasted (admittedly, I have never been to Thailand). The prices are reasonable and the service is incredibly quick.
My only complaint about Green Papaya is that the waiter who took our order seemed to have a difficult time understanding us, which resulted in a mix-up with our appetizer. However, he was very apologetic when we explained the situation and the correct appetizer was delivered to us within 5 minutes.
Herbivore is probably my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Berkeley. The dishes are reliably good (my favorites are the soy chicken shawarma wrap and the cheesesteak sandwich) and the service is friendly and fast. Herbivore is one of the few places in the area that offers vegan brunch and it is not to be missed! The fruit-filled crepes are reason alone to visit Herbivore on a weekend. The fact that Herbivore also features a full bar with vegan versions of classic drinks (Soy White Russians, anyone?) doesn't hurt either.
Maoz is a decent place to grab a quick meal. The menu lists several different options, but most of them consist of falafel on a pita with fries (regular or sweet potato) and your choice of veggie "toppings" for the sandwich. Roughly half of the "toppings" are vegan (and clearly labeled as such). The fridge case has a good selection of fruit juices and natural sodas, as well as vegan coconut milk rice pudding. The rice pudding was definitely the highlight of my meal.
I had high hopes that Millennium would be the first all-vegan truly upscale restaurant that I have visited. While it didn't live up to those expectations, it still served one of the best vegan meals I have eaten in a restaurant. Sure, I was disappointed that we were assigned to one waiter, rather than having a team of waiters to announce each dish and serve it to everyone at our table at exactly the same instant. On the other hand, I was also happy that the meal was $70/person rather than $300.
I'm surprised at the number of negative reviews. I think a lot of the other reviewers are being unfair in their criticism of Millennium. It's not trying to be Charlie Trotter's (as evidenced by the prices and the a la carte ordering), so I don't think it's worth criticizing Millennium for not upholding the same standards. The food at Millennium is substantially better than any of the other restaurants that I tried in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I fail to understand why the average rating is so much lower.
That said, the only negative experience that I had at Millennium is that I didn't like one of the entrees. The pecan-crusted tempeh was sliced pretty thickly and didn't absorb as much of the flavor of the apricot sauce that I would have liked. However, the corn pudding that accompanied the tempeh was delicious so the dish wasn't a total disappointment!
My appetizers were both very well-executed. The summer melon salad was crisp and, at times, both sweet and tangy. The black bean torte tasted like caramelized onions with a hint of lime and had a wonderful texture.
Millennium has a great selection of drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. I tried a rosemary and fig-infused gin-and-tonic (made with high quality tonic water) and a decadent coconut and strawberry elixir.
The desserts were the best part of my meal. I couldn't decide which one to order, so I ended up ordering two: a trio of sorbets and a plate of miniature cookies and truffles. The sorbet flavors of the evening were sage, white apricot cardamom, and peach liquor. The white apricot cardamom was my favorite - a perfect blend of aromatic spices and fresh fruit. The plate of cookies and truffles consisted of two buttery-tasting cookies, a brownie, a dried cranberry chocolate chip "blondie," and two truffles: a "milk" chocolate truffle filled with peanut butter and a rich dark chocolate truffle.
Overall, I had a very pleasant dining experience. I found it refreshing that Millennium has gilded, Old World decor rather than the hipster vibe that most vegetarian restaurants seem to have.
I was pleasantly surprised with Platanos. When a friend of mine suggested eating at this El Salvadorean restaurant, I was nervous about finding vegan-friendly food. Fortunately, Platanos had several items that were labeled "vegan" on the menu and our server was very helpful in telling us which additional items could be made vegan. I had a delicious lunch consisting of fried plantains, a black bean papusa and the Ensalada Tropical (papaya, mangos, coconut, cashews and romaine lettuce with cilantro dressing), topped off with a cool, refreshing glass of horchata. The cost was very reasonable and the service was quick. I would definitely eat here again.
Fenix 5-4 is a wonderful option for a quick sandwich in downtown Whittier. I ordered the Vegetarian Chipotle Chicken Sandwich "to go" and it was ready within 10 minutes. The sandwich itself was pretty basic - it tasted like it was made with Gardein chicken and chipotle-infused Veganaise. Still, for the price and the convenience, it was a very reasonable option. I would upgrade my rating from "good" to "great" if Fenix 5-4 had more options for vegan desserts. Right now, the main choice is Alternative Baking Company cookies.
Although I would have liked to have seen a few more veg options on the menu, I was quite impressed with the quality of the offerings. The agave glazed vegan mock duck was superb. It came in a bed of roasted fennel and brandied cherries. The organic mesclun greens salad with lemon thyme vinaigrette was also fabulous. The real winner was the (completely vegan!) almond milk creme brulee.
In addition to having quality vegan food, the Inn of the Seventh Ray has a stunningly beautiful ambiance. It makes for a very enchanting date.
Native foods is by far the best vegan "fast foods" restaurant I've been to. The service is quick and the servers are very friendly and helpful. I would highly recommend the Chicken Run Ranch Burger and the Peanut Butter Parfait. The best part is that Native Foods sells a cookbook which contains most of the recipes that are made in the restaurant, so you can try some of them on your own.
Real Foods Daily makes completely vegan food with no added sugar and "little or no fat." Conveniently located a short walk from Santa Monica Pier, Real Foods Daily seemed to attract a mix of tourists and locals. The seating area is limited, so I would recommend getting there early.
The food itself is quite good. I was very impressed with the sesame noodle appetizer (cold soba noodles with vegetables and peanut sauce). The seasonal entree, an African stew served over couscous with corn croquettes, was a perfect blend of spices and savory vegetables. The Salisbury seitan was sort of run-of-the-mill seitan with gravy and mashed potatoes, but the Cesar salad that came with it was a delicious find.
One caveat: because Real Foods Daily does not add any sugar to the food that is served, the desserts are not very sweet.
I stumbled upon True Food Kitchen while visiting the Santa Monica Place Mall and was delighted to find several clearly-marked vegan options on the menu. I started by ordering the Red Moon elixir, which was a refreshing blend of blood orange puree, yuzu, agave and soda water.
For my entree, I had "Andy's Favorite TLT," which was a vegan version of a BLT made with tempeh bacon. The tempeh was extremely crispy, which I found to be a bit jarring at first, but after a while I became convinced that the chefs at True Food Kitchen have it right. Aside from this one experience, the best vegan BLTs that I have tasted have consisted of thin, floppy strips of smoky-flavored tempeh, served with lettuce and slices of ripe, juicy tomatoes on toasted bread. The BLT at True Food Kitchen had a whole extra layer of texture, provided by the crispy tempeh, that I have heretofore been missing.
I was especially impressed with the dessert menu, which was about 50% vegan. I decided to order the Apple Crisp, which was served warm with a scoop of dairy-free maple ice cream. The other vegan options were a dairy-free organic chocolate pudding and a pomegranate yuzu sorbet. The waiter also informed me that they usually have a few other flavors of vegan ice cream and sorbet, which are available by the scoop.
I don't normally give 5 star ratings to "fast food"-type restaurants, but Veggie Grill is really pretty exceptional. I stopped at the El Segundo location of Veggie Grill on my way to the Los Angeles International Airport. First, it should be noted that this location is only 3 miles from the airport and the drive is a straight shot down Sepulveda Blvd. It took me less than 10 minutes to get to the airport terminal from the restaurant. Better still, the service at Veggie Grill is incredibly fast. Within 7 minutes, I had one meal sitting on a plate in front of me and a second meal neatly packaged and ready to bring with me on the plane (and no, there weren't any issues with carrying my food through the airport security). The restaurant was very clean and spacious and the servers were extremely helpful and friendly. Veggie Grill also had an excellent selection of beverages, including several flavors of freshly brewed iced tea and homemade strawberry lemonade.
While I was sitting at Veggie Grill, I tried the Santa Fe chicken sandwich with a side of mac-n-cheese. The Santa Fe chicken sandwich is the most popular item on the menu, and I could immediately understand why. The sandwich comes with a plump, juicy faux chicken patty that has been breaded and seasoned, topped with veggies and southwestern vegan mayo, and served on a perfectly toasted bun. The mac-n-cheese was made with quinoa pasta and sprinkled with gluten-free breadcrumbs. I have to admit that I'm usually wary of dishes that satisfy multiple dietary restrictions (eg. gluten-free and vegan) but I was pleasantly surprised by Veggie Grill's mac-n-cheese. Those who are looking for a vegan replica of Kraft Easy Mac might be a bit disappointed, as it didn't taste exactly like the mac-n-cheese that I remember from my childhood. That said, if you're just aiming for a warm, creamy casserole that also happens to be rich in protein, Veggie Grill's mac-n-cheese definitely hits the spot.
When I explained that I was interested in buying a second meal to eat on an airplane, the server who took my order immediately started giving me advice on which dishes "travel" best (eg. the salads). She also offered to pack sandwich ingredients separately (in order to prevent the bun from getting soggy). I decided to take her advice and order the Thai chicken salad and a chocolate chip cookie. The Thai chicken salad consisted of faux chicken strips, quinoa, roasted corn, mandarin oranges, lettuce, cilantro and wontons, served with a small container of "spicy Thai dressing" (note: I have very low tolerance for spicy foods and I did not find this dressing to be very spicy). The chocolate chip cookie was a large, moist, freshly-baked cookie. My only complaint is that the chocolate chip cookies all seem to contain walnuts.
Overall, I can't recommend this place enough. If you're en route to LAX and have an extra 30 minutes to spare, you need to make a detour to The Veggie Grill!
Ubuntu may be a brilliant vegetarian restaurant, but the vegan food is a huge disappointment. I wouldn't mind the pretentious aura and astronomical prices if the chef put any effort whatsoever into accommodating vegan customers. However, it was quite depressing to look at a menu filled with lacto-ovo vegetarian options and realize that only 6 of them were either vegan or able to be adapted for vegans, especially when our server recommended that we choose at least 4-5 dishes to share between the two of us (the menu is tapas-style).
The fact that Ubuntu does not prepare its menu with vegans in mind was abundantly clear throughout the meal. First off, our server brought us butter with our bread, even though we informed him that we are both vegan. Secondly, the chef's amuse bouche consisted of a slice of peach topped with cilantro. We quickly discovered that the non-vegan patrons at the table next to ours had the same amusee bouche with yogurt sauce drizzled on top. Without the sauce, our dish felt a little flat.
This seemed to be the running theme throughout the meal - every dish that was "adaptable for vegans" was adapted by simply leaving out ingredients. Without the truffled pecorino, the Sardinian flatbread was just a crispy cracker topped with spicy greens and carrot soil (yes, there were small clumps of soil on our salad that were there for flavor). The dish wasn't bad, but I had a hard time swallowing the $18 price tag when the most expensive ingredients seemed to have been left out. The same was true for most of our other dishes: they consisted of innovative pairings of vegetables and grains with different herbs and sauces, but the taste was fairly one-dimensional without the dairy. The dishes were good, but they certainly didn't "wow" us. The one exception was the cantaloupe gazpacho, which was intended to be vegan in the first place.
After glancing at a dessert menu that was filled with innovative dishes such as "slow strawberries and torn brioche with basil, served with verbenna-long pepper ice cream and lime curd," I felt too depressed to order the one vegan option - a blueberry sorbet served with chamomile tapioca. As if to further rub in the notion that veganism requires a great deal of sacrifice, our waiter brought us a plate of roasted rhubarb with our check. We watched enviously as the table next to ours received their rhubarb drizzled with white chocolate sauce.
Perhaps the worst part about the evening was that after I shelled out over $100 for our dessert-free, alcohol-free meal (there weren't any cocktails on the menu and neither of us were in the mood for wine, having just come from the Napa vineyards), my date and I were both still hungry. Needless to say, I won't be visiting Ubuntu again unless they make some serious changes.
According to the menu on the website, there are a number of interesting, clearly-labeled vegan options at Cafe Brioche: truffled french fries; a mixed field greens salad; a squash bowl stuffed with French green lentils, leeks, carrots and sun-dried tomatoes; and puff pastry purses filled with swiss chard, butternut squash, mushrooms and pinenuts in a sage cream. I was so excited to try this place out that I made reservations there for my special last-night-in-Palo-Alto dinner with a vegan friend.
However, when we showed up at the restaurant, there wasn't a vegan item to be found. Apparently, Cafe Brioche recently changed the menu and decided to get rid of ALL of its wonderful vegan options. I asked the waiter if it would still be possible for me to get a vegan meal, pointing out that I had been misled by the menu that is currently posted on the website. This didn't seem like an unreasonable request to me, as many similarly-priced restaurants have chefs that would be more than happy to whip up something vegan. The restaurant only had one other table with customers, so it's not like the kitchen was busy.
Unfortunately, the waiter didn't even consult with the chef. He just told me that it would not be possible to accommodate our dietary needs and then showed us to the door! No one from the restaurant even offered an apology for having misleading information on the website. Instead, the waiter left me feeling like I was at fault for being vegan.
I wish that we had ordered a few drinks, so that we could have walked out on a sizable check. Places this awful shouldn't be allowed to stay in business.
I think that Calafia Cafe has changed a little since this entry was added. First off, the vegan items weren't marked on the menu (but could be pretty easily figured out, with some help from our server). Secondly, there were no vegan sticky buns for dessert. In fact, there weren't any vegan desserts as far as I could tell.
Aside from those minor disappointments, I had a pretty good meal. I ordered the tofu lentil loaf, which came with two delicious sides: herb mashed potatoes and spicy green beans. The lentil loaf was very savory and moist. My only complaint is that the serving was way too large for me to finish it. I wish that they sold half portions at a lower price (at $14, the lentil loaf is one of the most expensive items on the menu).
My friend ordered the vegan pizza, which was covered with mashed lemony garbanzo beans instead of cheese. I thought the concept was a bit strange, but he seemed to really like it. We split the vegetable spring rolls for our appetizer, which were filled with fragrant Thai basil (among other things). Overall, it was a solid meal in a nice setting with extremely attentive waiters. If there had been a vegan dessert on the menu, I would have given Calafia Cafe a rating of "great."
The Creekside Inn isn't a 5-star hotel and it isn't in downtown Palo Alto (it's sort of on the edge between Mountain View and Palo Alto) but it's a great option for a vegan traveler on a tight budget. The room service menu includes a hummus platter, a portobello sandwich, and a tofu veggie stir fry. The rooms are large and have cruelty-free, animal product-free bath products. There is a free shuttle service from the hotel to downtown Palo Alto or downtown Mountain View. The hotel employees are really nice. One of them even drove the shuttle to pick me up from downtown Palo Alto when he realized that the usual shuttle driver was running behind schedule! I would definitely stay at the Creekside Inn again.
Fraiche has only one flavor of soy frozen yogurt (plain) but there are many delicious vegan toppings to choose from: fruits, nuts, maple syrup, dark chocolate shavings... I ended up ordering mine with dark chocolate shavings and it was delicious! The soy frozen yogurt was very smooth and creamy and the server was quite generous with the toppings.
The only slightly off-putting part about Fraiche is that they have a bunch of signs around the store that talk about all of the health benefits of eating (dairy) yogurt. As a vegan, I tend to disagree with some of the claims.
I decided to try L'Amour after seeing a large sign in the window advertising non-dairy frozen yogurt. When I got inside, however, I didn't see any flavors that were marked "non-dairy." An employee explained to me that the flavors rotate often and that some of the mixes call for dairy and others don't. This seemed perfectly plausible, but I was a little annoyed that NONE of the 10 flavors were dairy-free. Furthermore, when I asked him what non-dairy flavors they tend to sell, he had no idea. I'm not sure whether this branch of L'Amour has never sold a non-dairy flavor or whether the employee was not very observant.
I walked for two hours to get to this place (no joke), but it was totally worth it. The food was satisfying, the prices were reasonable and the service was excellent. Even though Loving Hut isn't a full-service restaurant (you order your meal at the counter and someone brings it to your table), my server was very attentive and brought me take-home containers when she suspected that I was finished with eating.
As for the food, I was quite impressed with the variety and quality of vegan options. In addition to dishes that are influenced by many cultures, Loving Hut also has a number of vegan baked goods and chocolates available in the bakery counter.
For my appetizer, I decided to try the "crumbed sensation." The menu described this as "specially seasoned yam flour crescents, cooked crispy & served with our own vegan tartar sauce." In reality, the "crescents" are shaped and flavored and colored exactly like fried shrimp. If you take the crispy breading off, you will see that the outside is dyed pink and that the flavor and texture very closely resemble that of shrimp. For this reason, I wasn't a huge fan of the dish (I just couldn't get over the fact that I really felt like I was eating seafood).
My entree, the pesto "chicken" sandwich, was perfectly executed. It contained just the right amount of pesto - enough to be delicious without leaving grease spots on my plate. The sandwich comes with a side salad or soup. There are usually 2 flavors of soup and 2-3 salads to choose from. I decided to try the carrot salad, which consisted of shredded carrots, pineapples, raisins and celery, covered in a tangy sauce. The dish was cold and very refreshing for a hot summer day.
My dessert of vegan caramel flan was by far the best part of the meal. I can't even describe how wonderful it was. The flan was gone before I had a chance to think about it. I also saw soy ice cream, bubble tea and vegan chocolate chip cookies on the menu. I ended up breaking down and getting a Thai iced tea bubble tea for a second dessert. I probably would have tried the other desserts if I hadn't been completely full at that point.
In short, if you're in a town that has a Loving Hut, you have to try it out! I really hope that Loving Hut continues to expand its franchise across the country.
Michael's Gelato and Cafe has a large assortment of gelato and sorbetto, including some unusual flavors. I decided to try mojito and watermelon. The mojito was very refreshing, but not quite as good without the alcohol. The watermelon sorbetto was wonderful. I found myself wishing that I had ordered the largest size cup filled with just watermelon.
I don't normally comment on service in reviews, but the owner of Michael's really stood out as a warm, friendly, sincere person. Even though his gelato is a bit on the expensive side, I felt good about supporting his business.
Sprout makes some of the best salads that I have ever tasted. There are tons of toppings to choose from, most of which are vegan. For $5.99, you can design your own half-portion salad with a "greens" base of your choice (spinach, arugula, gourmet mix etc.), plus any six "standard" toppings of your choice (these include many fruits, nuts, seeds, veggies, grains etc.). For $0.50 to $1.00 extra, you can add a "premium" topping (caramelized shallots, for example).
The half-portion salad is HUGE and comes with a slice of fresh whole wheat bread. I can't even imagine ordering the full-portion version.
My favorite salad that I have designed at Sprout consists of: gourmet mix with orzo pasta, tortilla crisps, mango, black beans, sweet corn and chili-lime dressing. Yum!
One caveat: Furikake is a Japanese seasoning that often contains fish, so the furikake-crusted tofu (on the "premium" toppings list) is probably not vegetarian. However, there is plain tofu on the "standard" toppings list that is vegetarian.
I tried to eat here but found that the restaurant was closed at 6 PM on a Saturday night. I found a note saying that it was closed for most of the month of August for "vacation." When I got home, I checked Ananda Fuara's website and saw that it had been noted there as well. I think it's pretty poor business practice to close your restaurant for almost a month but at least they warned their customers. I guess the lesson is that it's a good idea to check the website before eating here.
Burma SuperStar is, hands down, the best Burmese restaurant that I've ever been to. There was a two-hour wait the first time that I tried to eat at Burma SuperStar. The waiting area is tiny, so most of those people were standing outside in the cold. I thought that those people were crazy, but after eating at Burma SuperStar I understood why it has such a following. (Note: If you're looking for less of a wait, try the Berkeley location - it doesn't seem to be nearly as crowded. Unfortunately, Burma SuperStar DOES NOT take reservations.)
The vegan options at Burma SuperStar are fantastic. My two favorite dishes are the Tea Leaf Salad and Coconut Rice. The Tea Leaf Salad is a strange combination of nuts, seeds, vegetables and pickled tea leaves. It might not sound all that appetizing, but it's one of the tastiest salads that I've ever had. The coconut rice is thick and creamy with a strong coconut milk flavor. Most people order it as a side dish to eat with one of the entrees, but it's so flavorful that it stands quite well on its own.
Cafe Gratitude has a wonderful selection of raw desserts. The smoothies and shakes are a bit overpriced ($9 for 16 oz., $7.50 for 8 oz.) but the "I Am Beautiful" creamsicle shake was worth every penny. I was also a huge fan of the raw key lime pie. The crust was a little unexpected - ground up nuts instead of a traditional graham cracker crust - but the key lime filling was spot on. I wished I could have ordered more of the desserts. They all looked so delicious!
If you eat at Cafe Gratitude, you will probably end up feeling embarrassed when the waitress makes you say "I Am Beautiful" rather than "I would like a creamsicle smoothie" and you might also shy away from answering the "philosophical question of the day." However, putting up with some oddness is a small price to pay for extraordinary raw vegan food!
I ended up eating here on the 4th of July, mainly because every other vegan-friendly restaurant in San Francisco turned out to be closed for the holiday. The exterior of the restaurant looks a bit run down, so I was hesitant to eat here. However, I was pretty satisfied with the quality of the food. My faux lemon chicken had a nice texture and came with a delicious lemon sesame sauce and plenty of rice. The strawberry cheese cake wasn't the best vegan cheese cake that I have ever had, but it was far from being the worst. The service was quick, in spite of the fact that the restaurant was fairly full, and the prices were reasonable.
Overall, I would say that Golden Era is a good place to keep in mind if you are a vegetarian/vegan tourist staying in Union Square. There aren't many other veg-friendly restaurants in the area and this one is within a few blocks of most of the hotels and the Powell Street BART station. At the same time, I wouldn't go out of my way to eat here. There are better vegan-friendly restaurants in the Mission and better Chinese restaurants in Chinatown.
In any other city, I would give Golden Era a rating of "great," but there are so many great vegan-friendly restaurants in San Francisco that, comparatively, I would say that this place is "good."
Gracias Madre makes the best vegan Mexican cuisine that I've ever tasted. It's the perfect restaurant for the Mission, which is known for its Mexican heritage as well as the new vegetarian hipster vibe. For my meal, I ordered the horchata, quesadillas de Calabaza and caramel flan. The horchata was smooth and refreshing, with a sweet cinnamon flavor. The quesadillas de Calabaza were the most interesting quesadillas that I have ever seen - pureed butternut squash and caramelized onion folded into a tortilla with cashew nut cheese, served with pumpkin seed salsa. The caramel flan was one of the best vegan renditions of caramel flan that I have seen. It had the perfect texture and there wasn't any detectable "soy" aftertaste.
I desperately wish that Mexican restaurants on the East Coast would take a lesson from Gracias Madre and start to offer more innovative vegan options. Gracias Madre has proven that it's possible!
Herbivore is pretty much your generic vegetarian restaurant: modern decor, tattooed waiters, the same vegan versions of American food and vaguely Asian dishes that appear on the menus of many a similar restaurant. The difference is that Herbivore does it better than most. I had two meals at Herbivore (breakfast and dinner) and both times I found the waitstaff to be attentive and the food to be better than average.
For dinner, I ordered a pasta dish that came with lots of veggies and was served in a vegan lemon cream sauce. The pasta was decent enough, but I felt like I could have made something similar myself.* For dessert, I ordered a vegan doughnut (which wasn't very good) and a bowl of decadent chocolate coconut Maggie Mudd ice cream (which was VERY good).
For breakfast, I couldn't decide between two menu items, so I ended up ordering both. The corn cakes were delicious southwest-style pancakes made from cornmeal, filled with pieces of corn, bell peppers, onions etc. They were served with vegan sour cream, guacamole, salsa and black beans. My second entree was even better - three vegan dessert crepes, filled with blueberries and baked bananas, drizzled with a coconut milk sauce. I managed to inhale both entrees, something that I don't normally do.
After these two experiences, I would say that if you have a choice between eating at Herbivore for dinner or for breakfast, definitely go for breakfast. The dishes are much more exciting.
*Note: A friend of mine told me that I just ordered the wrong dinner entree. According to him, the "soy chicken shwarma is the only entree worth ordering." Ok, that's probably a bit of an exaggeration, but coming from someone who has eaten there dozens of times, it's probably not a bad idea to try the soy chicken shwarma.
The House of Nanking makes the best vegan Chinese food I have ever eaten. Instead of offering a panoply of fried mock meats, the House of Nanking makes a variety of flavorful vegetable and tofu dishes. I went with two other people and we just asked the waitress for "vegan for 3" and she brought us 5 wonderful vegan courses:
1) bok choy and red onions, sauteed in a black pepper sauce
2) the best scallion pancakes that I have ever tasted, served with plum sauce
3) fried eggplant, served with white rice
4) tofu stir-fry, served in tortilla shells
5) a plate with many different types of cooked mushrooms and garlic
If your waiter or waitress doesn't know what you mean when you ask for "vegan for three," ask to speak with the owner - his name is Peter and he's very aware of vegan dietary restrictions. He has arranged 5-course vegan meals for friends of mine a number of times and they have always turned out well.
If you do decide to eat here, keep in mind that there is always a line outside. When we arrived, the line went almost to the end of the block, but we managed to wait only 25 minutes before we were seated. Once you do get inside, the service at House of Nanking is very quick.
Humphry Slocombe has some of the most interesting ice cream and sorbet flavors that I have ever seen: salted licorice, McEvoy olive oil, peanut butter curry, hibiscus beet...
There are usually a few vegan sorbet flavors, which the employees are happy to point out. For $5, I got a trio of sorbets: Valrhona fudgesicle, peach liquor, and another flavor that was some sort of fruit-cola blend that was out of this world! The Valrhona fudgesicle was so creamy, it was hard to believe that it didn't contain any dairy. The flavor reminded me of rich, gooey brownie batter.
One thing to bear in mind is that some of the ice cream flavors contain meat. In particular, Humphry Slocombe makes foie gras ice cream, so if you're someone who boycotts restaurants that serve foie gras, you may not want to eat here.
I was pretty disappointed with this place. I had high hopes that Little Otsu would have a decent selection of vegan leather products. I knew that they stopped selling shoes, but I was hoping to walk away with a new belt or wallet. However, I didn't see a single vegan leather belt in the whole store and the only vegan wallets that they had were made from recycled materials (which is cool, but doesn't make for a sturdy, long-lasting wallet). If you're looking for stationary, Little Otsu is worth checking out. Otherwise, I don't think it has much to offer.
Maggie Mudd makes incredible vegan coconut-based ice cream. The apple pie flavor is my favorite so far. It has small pieces of apple and chunks of pie crust mixed into cinnamon-flavored ice cream - yum! There are many shakes and ice cream sundaes on the menu that can be made vegan. In addition, Maggie Mudd makes very nice vegan custom ice cream cakes for $25.
This is probably the best Indian restaurant that I have ever visited. Having never been to India, I can't comment much on authenticity, but I will say that the vegetarian options are much more interesting than you find at most Indian restaurants in the US: mango mushrooms, Bombay soya nuggets, eggplant tamarind... New Delhi also has a page of more "standard" vegetarian dishes on the menu, like channa masala and navrattan curry.
Another perk is the palatial decor - tall, arched ceilings supported by ornamented columns. The walls are adorned with poetry, paintings and traditional costumes, with plaques explaining their historical significance. The prices are fairly high: $15 for an entree, and rice is NOT included (you can purchase a bowl of rice for an extra $4). However, I found the cost to be reasonable for a delicious meal and fascinating history lesson.
This is one of the most vegan-friendly burrito joints I have ever visited. Not only does Papalote have a marinated tofu option, but they actually have a vegan "soyrizo" burrito! Best of all, all of the beans are vegan (none of them are fried in lard, as is the case with many "authentic" Mexican places). My only complaint is that they don't have vegan sour cream or soy cheese. If they had those options, I would give them a rating of "excellent."
I ate here with a group of non-vegan friends and was thrilled that I was able to order my own vegan deep dish pizza. I wasn't sure how well Daiya was going to fare in a deep dish, but it worked surprisingly well. The cheese wasn't as thick as it would have been in a "normal" deep dish pizza, so I was glad that I got a couple of toppings (pineapples and basil) to add to the filling.
I never expected to be able to devour an entire deep dish pizza by myself, but it was so delicious that I couldn't help myself! If only Patxi's would make more of their sauces vegan (I was a little disappointed that my only choice was marinara), I would give them a rating of "excellent."
I was excited when I heard that there was a vegan donut stand at the Farmer's Market. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw so many delicious-sounding flavors: sea-salt caramel, vanilla cookie, chocolate coconut... I decided to try the sea-salt caramel donut and the apple fritter. The sea-salt caramel donut was fairly predictable: cake donut with gooey caramel frosting, sprinkled sporadically with salt. It was fresh and moist but didn't really stand out in my mind. The apple fritter, on the other hand, was incredible. Unlike the donuts, which are all cake donuts, the apple fritter is made with yeast and cooked in a deep-fryer. The dough had that yummy yeasty beignet flavor. The apple filling oozed out slowly as I bit in. The glaze left its sweet residue on my fingers (which I couldn't resist licking). In short, it was perfection. I only wish that more of the Pepples donuts would be of the fried variety (as opposed to the boring cake variety that most vegan donut companies seem to make).
This place is awesome! The bulk section has cruelty-free soaps and shampoos. There is a sizable raw foods section with a large selection of desserts. The bakery section has so many different types of vegan baked goods from local companies that it took me 20 minutes to decide on a few to take home. I ended up going with the gingerbread sandwich cookies (chewy square-shaped gingersnaps with sugary vanilla icing between them) and the dark chocolate-dipped shortbread. Both were incredible!
I was also really impressed with the selection of vegan cheese. They have Sheese, Dr. Cow's Treenut Cheese, Cheezly, Teese, Follow Your Heart, Tofutti... I wish that a place like this existed in my hometown! I would never need to shop anywhere else. If only all grocery stores could be this cool.
This is a great little spot for vegans. The hammer and sickle symbol is a little cliche, but the coffee is first rate and there is a large selection of vegan baked goods. A friend of mine warned me to stay away from the vegan donuts but recommended the vegan bundt cake, which was fantastic. It was moist and had a wonderful vanilla almond flavor.
I went to the Hurricane Bar with some friends, in part because I had heard that the Mai Tais were the best in San Francisco, but mostly out of curiosity about the decor. I had heard that it was pretty Rainforest Cafe-esque, with tiki god statues, a miniature lake and fake monsoons every 30 minutes. The decor was as expected, but one thing that did surprise me was that the menu was very vegan-friendly (unlike the Rainforest Cafe). There was a mixed greens salad, with Asian pear and sesame soy dressing; garlic and macadamia nut flatbread; and a marinated tofu and shimeji mushroom stir-fry dish. I had already eaten dinner at this point, but I tried a piece of my friend's garlic and macadamia nut flatbread and it had a nice lemon-y taste.
I highly recommend this restaurant to vegetarian/vegan parents looking for a fun place to take their kids.
Weird Fish is a tiny cafe with a large selection of vegan options. There are two vegan fish-and-chips options: breaded seitan and breaded tofu. The breaded seitan came with tartar sauce and a generous portion of "chips" (or, as we Americans call them, fries). The seitan was crispy and fortunately didn't taste anything like fish. I enjoyed my meal with a glass of ginger lemonade, which was tangy and refreshing. My favorite part of the meal, however, was the "buffalo girls" appetizer: thick strips of seitan, breaded and deep fried and covered with buffalo sauce, served with vegan ranch dressing.
The meal was so filling and the servings were so large that I wasn't able to finish half of my entree. I was a little disappointed to learn that there are no take-away containers, which meant that my leftovers were wasted. Other than that, I was very happy with my meal at Weird Fish.
Hip Vegan Cafe is a cute, mostly-outdoor cafe that is located a few blocks east of downtown Ojai. For those who prefer air conditioning, Hip has a few indoor tables as well. The ambience is very relaxed. When I visited on a Sunday afternoon, there was a small band playing guitar and singing acoustic versions of popular songs; some patrons sang along, while others sat with their dogs at the outdoor tables.
The menu at Hip Vegan Cafe features a variety of salads and sandwiches, as well as a few Mexican dishes. I decided to try the (vegan) quiche-of-the-day, which was made with tofu and stuffed with African yams. I expected the quiche to be sweet, but it was actually a bit spicy. I also ordered an iced chai float, which came with a scoop of coconut milk ice cream. The chai was also on the spicier side, but I felt that it complemented the smooth coconut flavor perfectly.
I ate at ION tonight and had a pretty enjoyable experience. The waitress reassured me that the entire menu is vegan except that in some of the dishes you have a choice of adding dairy cheese or (vegan) raw nut cheese. I also noticed that the chai description lists honey and milk as ingredients (I'm not sure if you can leave out the honey and substitute soy milk - all of the coffee drinks advertised that they could be made with soy or dairy milk). All of the desserts were vegan, and there was quite an impressive selection. I didn't see any tuna on the menu, so I suspect that ION might have done away with non-vegetarian items (or perhaps they only appear on the lunch menu).
As for my own meal, I decided to try the chocolate peanut butter smoothie and the spinach potato pierogies (both vegan). The chocolate peanut butter smoothie was thick and creamy. The only downside was that the peanut butter flavor dominated over the chocolate (I would have preferred more of a 50-50 split).
The pierogies were outstanding. Each dumpling was filled with spinach and potato and served with tofu sour cream and apple butter. The pierogies were served with a side of brown rice mixed with bell peppers and sauteed garlic greens. I normally don't like greens but these were delicious!
For dessert, I decided to try the velvet cake - chocolate layer cake with vegan cream cheese icing. I wasn't quite as happy with my cake as I was with my entree, mostly because the icing had a bit of a soy aftertaste. However, I was really happy to see such a large variety of vegan desserts (I counted about 5 different types of cake, plus some fruit tarts and chocolate mousse). I think I might have just made a bad decision when faced with so many dessert choices.
Lastly, I have to say, the service at ION was probably the best that I've ever seen at a sit-down vegetarian restaurant. I arrived at 9 PM on a Saturday night and by 9:35 I had my credit card receipt in one hand and a small bag containing a slice of vegan cake in the other. My waitress was very helpful - she gave me good recommendations on what to choose from the menu and she even found an electrical outlet to charge my cell phone (I ate at ION en route to New Hampshire after a long drive up the East Coast and my phone had died). I'm sorry to hear that some of the other reviewers below didn't have equally wonderful experiences with their servers.
Three times I have gone out of my way to try to eat at Ahimsa, and three times I have been met with a closed restaurant. The first time that I tried to eat there, I discovered that the hours that were posted on their website were not the same as the hours posted on the restaurant sign. The second time, I hit some traffic in my 4 hour drive from New Hampshire and arrived at Ahimsa 5 minutes before it was supposed to close for lunch. I was told to come back at dinner time, but I didn't have that kind of flexibility in my schedule.
Most recently, I planned a road trip from New York to New Hampshire around eating dinner at Ahimsa, only to discover that the restaurant was closed for all of Labor Day Weekend. If this had been mentioned on the website, I would have eaten dinner at one of wonderful vegan restaurants in New York City before driving back. I realize that Labor Day is a national holiday, but I don't think it's reasonable for Ahimsa to expect its customers to infer that the restaurant will be closed on the Saturday before Labor Day as well!
As far as I'm concerned, I'm done with trying to eat here. I don't care how good the food is. It's just not worth the effort.
I used to really like this place when I was vegetarian (but not vegan). I recently went back for the first time in 10 years and was disappointed to see that there was almost nothing that I could eat. Well, ok, there were things that I could eat, but who really wants to go to a vegetarian restaurant just to eat a salad or veggies on a pita?
There are a number of menu items that are labeled "vegan optional" but this does not mean that they'll put soy cheddar on your sandwich instead of real cheddar - it just means that they'll leave off the cheese. I was so irritated when I found this out that I just left the restaurant without ordering anything, so my rating of "terrible" has nothing to do with how the vegan food actually tastes (I wouldn't know), it simply expresses my frustration that this well-known vegetarian restaurant doesn't have any worthwhile vegan options.
Lalibela has pretty standard Ethiopian fare. The shiro was a little spicier than I am used to and the injera wasn't quite as sour, but otherwise the food was identical to the food that I have eaten at other Ethiopian restaurants.
I liked the fact that Lalibela used the word "vegan" to describe the vegetarian options (which are the same at all Ethiopian restaurants and are almost always vegan, but most restaurants just write "vegetarian"). I went on a Saturday night and there was a live music performance by a jazz pianist, which was also a nice touch.
The sushi at Miya's is very innovative. Unlike other sushi restaurants, which tend to have the same unexciting options for vegetarians (cucumber roll, avocado roll, inari sushi), Miya's creates interesting flavors by taking combinations of fruits, nuts, vegetables and sauces. The results might be offensive to anyone looking for an authentic sushi restaurant, but I don't care about these sorts of things - I was just happy to have a good number choices for once! I also liked the fact that Miya's uses a combination of different grains (millet, quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, oat groats and koshikari rice) in their sushi, which gives it a richer texture.
My favorite sushi rolls were the Japafrican Queen Roll (which was basically Ethiopian food wrapped in injera, cut into the shape of sushi - I had them leave off the goat cheese, since I'm vegan) and the Kiss The Smiling Piggie (which contained sweet potato, mango chutney and pine nuts). The sake infusion cocktails sounded like a good idea, but in reality I found them to be a bit disappointing. I ordered a cocktail made from watermelon juice and chili pepper-infused sake and found that the chili pepper flavor overpowered the watermelon flavor. Next time, I will probably stick with getting one of my standard glasses of chilled sake, rather than going for a cocktail.
I had a vegan double chocolate cupcake and a soy chai at Willoughby's. The soy chai wasn't anything special, but I was pretty excited to find a vegan cupcake at a pretty standard-looking coffee shop in downtown New Haven. The cupcake itself was nice and moist, although I found it to be a bit on the dense side. At the same time, I really liked the consistency of the chocolate frosting - it was smooth and creamy without being overly "buttery" (I hate it when vegan frostings taste like whipped Earth Balance, so Willoughby's gets points for avoiding that common pitfall).
I would give Willoughby's an extra star if they had a few more vegan desserts to choose from. It might have just been the particular day that I was visiting, but my only options seemed to be the double chocolate cupcake or Alternative Baking Company cookies. Still, I applaud Willoughby's for stocking vegan desserts in the first place. I wish that more coffee shops would follow their lead.
I had a great meal here when I was in Cannes. It was one of the few places that had a clearly-marked vegetarian meal on the menu. Les 3 Portes was also one of the few places that served a vegetarian meal other than Italian-inspired pasta and pizza. The food is quite pricey, but the prices are pretty much on par with the other fine restaurants in Cannes.
The Vegetarian Tajine was superb. The waiter brought me a large pot of it (more than I could finish) along with a separate bowl of semolina to eat it with.
The sorbets were also quite good. I would recommend the Willamine and Pear over the Vodka and Lemon sorbet, but that's just a matter of preference.
I do not know much about this restaurant. It was recommended to me by a friend, but I never made it there while I was in Cannes.
My friend said that it was "one of the few vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Cannes." I actually found quite a bit of vegan food just by wandering among the sidewalk cafes, but if a bona fide vegetarian restaurant is what you're after, I would recommend trying this place (and then leaving a review on Vegguide.org).
Due to the fact that La Zucca Magica makes 1 5-course meal a day, I don't think that there is much here for vegans. You might want to ask ahead of time whether it would be possible for something vegan to be prepared. The last time I ate here was years ago (before going vegan) so it's difficult for me to gauge what they would have done if I had required a vegan meal. I seem to remember things being very dairy-intsenive, though. Also, I'm not sure if they use rennet-free cheese. Not much English is spoken. That said, the food is exquisite.
The meal that I ate at Ria's Bluebird was by far the best meal that I ate while I was in Georgia. I was thrilled with the number of vegan options on the menu. I decided to order the country-fried tempeh, which was delicious. If you are vegan, you can ask to substitute toast for the buttermilk biscuits that are served with the country-fried tempeh. Ria's has a weird "no substitutions" policy, but they were willing to make one in this case. Our waiter was really nice in general. He brought me a paper cup so that I could take the rest of my sweet tea home and he even offered to top it off for me (in spite of the fact that I had already finished half of it)!
At first, I was really excited when I found out that the Corner Cafe had a whole menu of interesting vegetarian sandwiches. Then I got to the restaurant and discovered that there was a note at the bottom of the page saying that most of the sandwiches cannot be made vegan. The only sandwich that could be made vegan without leaving out most of the ingredients was the black bean burger. Luckily for me, the special of the day was a delicious vegetarian chili, which came with generous portions of cheese-free focaccia bread.
In spite of my disappointment that most of the sandwiches can't be made vegan, I still have to applaud Corner Cafe for being one of the only restaurants in the Carrollton area with a very vegetarian-friendly menu. Hopefully, they'll develop some interesting sandwiches that don't rely so heavily on cream cheese and pesto!
The best food that I had in Carrollton was at Little Hawaiian. There are only two vegan options (the vegetarian platter and the tofu noodle bowl) but my server was more than happy to add Hawaiian teriyaki sauce to my tofu noodle bowl, which made it really yummy. The bread that came out before the meal was incredible - soft and fresh, served with herb-infused olive oil. The service was also very impressive. Our waiter bent over backwards to accommodate a bunch of weird requests and even offered to put our food on separate checks (in spite of the fact that there were 10 of us at the table!).
At first, I was a little hesitant to eat here because of the "stoner" vibe. However, the menu has a lot of great vegetarian options, so it's definitely worth visiting if you're in the area.
In addition to being able to build your own pizza or calzone (using a variety of interesting toppings), there is a vegetarian tortilla soup, a hummus platter, soft pretzels (the dough is vegan, but some of the toppings contain dairy), a grilled tempeh sub, a teriyaki tofu sub, an avocado and provolone sub and a "capri" sandwich.
I was thrilled to find a grilled tempeh sandwich after not eating protein for my first three days in Carrollton. The menu mentions specifically that the tempeh sandwich can be made vegan but I talked to an employee and it turns out that the tofu sandwich can also be made vegan pretty easily. The soft pretzels are vegan if you get them without any butter or parmesan (you can ask for marinara to dip them in).
The food isn't gourmet but it's definitely palatable. The portions at Mellow Mushroom are generous and the prices are very reasonable.
This place is a great find in a very un-vegetarian-friendly country. Although it is a bit tough to figure out which items on the menu are vegan (the restaurant was actually founded by an American in the 1980΄s, but the waiters speak broken English), vegan options do exist here, unlike 99% of the other restaurants in Athens. The cuisine consists of vegetarian versions of national Greek dishes, including a soy substitute in dishes that ordinarily contain beef or mutton. The restaurant is very clean and it is air conditioned (another big advantage). It also has separate smoking and non-smoking sections, which seems to be a lot less common in Greece than it is in the United States. Best of all, they squeeze their own fresh fruit juice and have organic sodas and wines. It is located in Plaka, which is a huge tourist area, filled with outdoor markets that line the trail up to the ancient acropolis and Parthenon. Eden is a godsend for any vegetarian or vegan travelling in Greece.
The only vegan options here are the juices, granola bars, fruit cups and bags of mixed nuts. None of the smoothies are vegan (they all contain Skyr, which is a type of Icelandic yogurt). If you are vegetarian, you will find a few additional items here (cheese sandwiches, cups of yogurt and the aforementioned fruit smoothies).
Personally, I would recommend eating as little as possible while inside the Blue Lagoon. Instead, save up an appetite for Lava Restaurant.
Lava has three vegetarian dishes: vegetable risotto, a fresh summer salad (with tomatoes, asparagus and honey-glazed lemon fruits) and a tofu "cake" with mashed sweet potatoes served over a bed of salad. The salad that accompanies the tofu "cake" comes out topped with feta, but you can ask to leave that out. Otherwise, the dish is dairy-free.
I was surprised (and very pleased) to find such wonderful vegetarian options at a restaurant that otherwise serves Icelandic specialties (which tend to be the opposite of vegetarian). My tofu cake dish was remarkably good and I found the ambiance of Lava to be stunningly beautiful. In spite of the fairly high price (my tofu cake dish was approximately $18 USD) I think that Lava is by far the most worthwhile option for vegetarians and vegans visiting Blue Lagoon.
Austur India Fjelagid is probably the most upscale Indian restaurant I have ever visited. The prices are high (2500 ISK for a vegetarian entree, which is nearly $23). However, the decor is nice (sleek and modern) and there is an abundance of cocktails and fine wines available. The food options are somewhat different than the usual fare that one finds at an Indian restaurant (at least, in the US). There was no channa masala or saag paneer or biryani anywhere on the menu. Instead, I tried sweet coconut rice, meloni subji (mixed vegetables with cashew nuts and various spices) and a green chili elixir.
For those looking for extremely spicy Indian cuisine, Austur India Fjelagid is probably not the best choice. The dishes were very flavorful but I think the green chili elixir was the only spicy part of the entire meal. That didn't bother me, however.
The sorbet and gelato selection at Hagkaup (located on the first floor of the Kringlan Shopping Center) is better. However, BooztBar is the only place I've found in Iceland that sells soy smoothies, so I thought it was worth mentioning. The soy smoothie is made with mango and banana, although they may be able to make other flavors (I didn't ask). It wasn't the best smoothie that I've ever tasted but it wasn't bad either.
Cafe Garðurinn serves the best vegan meals that I have eaten in Iceland so far. Every day, they have a different soup and main dish available. For 1300 ISK (about $11.50 in USD) you get 1/2 of a large tureen of soup, 2 slices of homemade bread (served with red pepper hummus) and a main dish. You can get a full portion for 2100 ISK, although I found the "half" portion to be perfectly adequate.
On the day that I went, the soup of the day was a Caribbean coconut red pepper soup and the main dish was spinach pie (served with cooked cabbage and sweet potatoes). Both were exquisite.
One caveat for vegans: Because the soup and main dish vary from day to day, sometimes one or the other may not be vegan. That said, the servers are very knowledgeable about the ingredients and, worst-case scenario, there are two other vegetarian restaurants within 1 block of Cafe Garðurinn.
Graenn Kostur is nearly impossible to find if you just go by the address listed. The entrance is not on Skólavörðustígur, so you have to turn down Bergstadas and go behind Skólavörðustígur 10 (if it looks like you're walking into a parking lot, you're probably in the right place).
Once you find Graenn Kostur, it's a really nice little restaurant. The isn't much space, but the owners somehow managed to fit many tables inside. There are always a couple of specials available, which are displayed nicely on plates at the ordering counter. The decor is pretty hip and the restaurant appeared to be quite popular. The service is very fast and my server was very helpful - she even offered me a sample when I couldn't make up my mind!
I ended up eating a delicious sweet potato and chickpea stew, poured over brown rice, served with a tofu cake, homemade wheat-free bread and a side salad. The whole meal was very inexpensive - approximately 1400 ISK ($12.40 in USD) for my dinner and an organic ginger ale.
One caveat for vegans: Some of the dishes are made with soy cheese, and I think that the soy cheese may contain casein. I have no real basis for this claim, other than the fact that the soy cheese looked a little too stringy to be casein-free. That said, even if you choose to steer clear of the soy cheese dishes, there are still some others to choose from.
Most of the vegetarian restaurants in Reykjavik close early, so I decided to try Italia Restaurant (which is open until 11:30 on week nights). I was pleasantly surprised by the food and the service. There weren't many vegan-sounding items on the menu, but the staff was happy to prepare the penne al arrabiata sans-bacon or the pasta di Napoli using egg-free noodles. The rosemary flatbread was vegan without having to make any special requests.
Vegetarians have even more choices, including the ravioli con funghi and a vegetable risotto dish (not to mention various pizzas).
Note for vegans: the pasta dishes automatically come with cheese-covered Italian bread, so make sure to request that the cheese be left off. The Italian bread (without the cheese) is delicious, homemade and dairy-free!
Kaffi Hljomalind is one of the most vegan-friendly places in Reykjavik. In addition to the soya lattes and soya chocolate that you might find at other coffee shops, Kaffi Hljomalind has a number of vegan baked goods and entrees. There are vegan burritos (made with many different types of cooked and raw veggies), lentil pate sandwiches, date muffins, almond cakes, and banana cakes. In addition, the soup of the day is often vegan and the lasagna is sometimes made vegan (you have to ask - it's always vegetarian).
If you order the lunch special, you get a large bowl of soup, homemade bread (served with dairy-free margarine) and a glass of homemade ginger ale. It's very tasty and the prices are quite reasonable. I highly recommend ordering either the soya chocolate or the almond cake for dessert.
Everyone should note that the kitchen at Laugar Cafe usually closes at least an hour before the Cafe closes. I showed up at 4:50 on a Sunday afternoon hoping to get an early dinner. After a few minutes of waiting, the waitress appeared and brought food to another table, then approached our table and told us that it was now 5 PM and that the kitchen was closed. According to the clock on the wall, it was not quite 5. Furthermore, there was no sign posted in the restaurant saying that food stopped being served after 5 PM.
On the bright side, the prices for food appeared to be very reasonable (about 1300 ISK for a veggie burger or vegetarian noodle dish). There are many more vegetarian options on the menu in the restaurant than are listed on the website. There is a very large selection of cocktails made with fresh fruit juices (I ordered a drink that was made with mango juice, coconut rum and cinnamon syrup - yum!). The drinks are expensive (about 1500 ISK each) but that's pretty typical of alcohol in Iceland, so I can't complain about this place in particular.
There are many vegetarian options at the Madur Lifandi cafe. However, the vegan options at the cafe are hit or miss. There is always a salad bar with lots of interesting salad choices. As for the main entrees, sometimes there is a special of the day that happens to be vegan, but most of the vegetarian entrees seemed heavily dependent on dairy.
Outside of the cafe, Madur Lifandi is a wonderful health food store. There are many fake meat choices in the freezer section and there is a good selection of soy dairy products (including individual servings of soy ice cream!). The soy ice cream, called VegaIce, is the creamiest soy ice cream that I have ever tasted! It only comes in three flavors (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry) but it is well worth trying.
My rating of "good" reflects an average of "fair" for the cafe with "great" for the health food store.
I had dinner at A Naestu Grosum on Tuesday, which apparently is raw food night. The dinner was decent, although I think I would have preferred something cooked (Iceland isn't exactly known for having an abundance of fresh vegetables). I decided to order the dinner special, which was a (cooked) lentil/eggplant "moussaka", served with three raw salads.
The server was very knowledgeable about veganism and even prepared homemade soy whipped cream to put on my dessert. The only vegan dessert at A Naestu Grosum that I have seen is the barley cake, but raw desserts are said to make an appearance from time to time.
Unlike the other restaurant on Laugavegur, this cafe seems to have a set menu. All of the dishes are vegetarian, and there are even a few that can be made vegan. Only one of the desserts is vegan (the barley cake), but many of the other desserts are milk-free (they do contain egg whites, however).
Note: A Naestu Grosum is NOT in the food court (like the other restaurants in the Kringlan Mall) so you have to look for it.
There is nothing particularly exciting about Serrano. It is similar to Chipotle, Qdoba and other US burrito chains. The idea is that you choose each of the ingredients that goes into your burrito, and there are enough flavorful options available to keep even vegans happy (2 different types of salsa, corn, lard-free beans, guacamole, seasoned rice, fried onions/peppers, many types of fresh veggies). The prices were fairly high by US standards. My meat-free, dairy-free burrito was around 800 ISK (approx. $7 USD), although I think this was largely due to the fact that they didn't have a different price structure for vegetarian menu items.
Yggdrasill is a fairly small health food store in downtown Reykjavik. It carries a number of soy products (soy yogurt, soy milk, soy ice cream) as well as frozen veggie burgers and tofu. It's the only place in Reykjavik where I have seen soy ice cream for sale. Yggdrasill not only sells soy ice cream, it even has individual servings of soy ice cream available in tiny cups (perfect for travelers!).
The menu at 1492 is somewhat limited if you are a vegan. If you are looking for Spanish-style tapas and want a large selection of animal product-free options, I would recommend Cafe Ba-Ba Reeba! instead. That said, the ambiance is what makes 1492 really stand out. Unlike many other tapas restaurants in Chicago, which tend to be popular with families, 1492 seem to attract the late-20s-to-early-30s crowd. With its small rooms and tasteful decor, it's the perfect spot for an intimate gathering. The waitstaff is very friendly and bring the food at an appropriate pace.
If you can get past the eerily realistic taste of the mock meats (or at least they seemed realistic to this girl who has been vegetarian for most of her life) this place is a real find. The Almond Un-chicken is crunchy and satisfying. The ladyfinger appetizer is one of the best vegan dishes that I have ever tasted. Alice΄s is pretty far north of the city, but it is definitely worth the trip!
Amitabul is one of the only completely vegan restaurants in Chicago, yet when most people think of vegan dining in Chicago their mind immediately jumps to the Chicago Diner, which still serves dairy and the Soul Vegetarian, which, until recently, made many of its menu items with honey. Amitabul does not use any animal products in its cooking AND the food is amazingly good. The dumplings and Korean pancakes make great appetizerss. Although many of the stir-fry dishes are not authentic Korean cuisine, I found the apple curry to be inventive and interesting. I really enjoyed their dessert selection, particularly the red bean rice cake, which is gummy, sweet, and gelatin-free. The man who owns (and is head chef of) the restaurant, Dave, was our server and he was incredibly nice and gave great service. Amitabul has even been frequented by the Dali Lama, after whom the "Hello Dolly and Dave" dish is named.
The vegan baked goods at Atomix are pretty decent (and very reasonably-priced, compared with other vegan baked goods in Chicago). The brownies are moist and delicious (and sometimes Atomix has mocha brownies, which are amazingly good). The cookies come in a variety of interesting flavors, such as "mint chocolate chip."
The Barnes and Noble cafe recently started carrying refrigerated Soul Veg dishes. I don't think that they have a microwave so it probably only makes sense to buy it there if you have access to a microwave elsewhere (for hot Soul Veg carryout, try the Grounds of Being in the basement of Swift Hall/Div School).
Bart Mart used to have a large selection of vegan options, including amazing vegan donuts and homemade vegan cookies, gelatin-free gummi bears and Tofurkey Jerky. However, the most recent time that I visited, I was pretty disappointed with their selection of vegan junk food. I think the large variation in variety and quality of vegan food at Bart Mart is largely dependent on student feedback and, of course, sales of these products.
As weird as it may sound, Bartlett Dining Commons is one of the better places in Hyde Park to get a vegan meal, even if you're not affiliated with the University of Chicago. Food is served a la carte at different "stations" and many items are made to order (so they're easy to adjust, according to your dietary restrictions). The Dining Commons itself does not feel like a dining hall (probably because it used to be a gymnasium), so eating there won't feel incredibly awkward if you're an outsider. That said, I recommend that you check your table before sitting down to make sure that it doesn't have a name plaque (unless you want to enjoy your meal with a group of students who live in the corresponding dorm).
The Harvest Station is completely vegetarian and always has a number of vegan options. Sometimes, the Harvest station even has vegan cookies, brownies and/or cake slices.
The other station that is definitely worth visiting is the Kosher Deli. The people working at the Kosher deli can make things like vegan grilled cheese sandwiches (using Tofutti deli slices) and bagels with Tofutti cream cheese.
There is also a fridge with sushi (including inari and vegetable sushi - both vegan), and a few other stations have dishes that can be made vegan (ex. the East/West stir-fry station). The ice cream freezer often has sorbet and there are always "juice" boxes of chocolate and vanilla soy milk in one of the beverage coolers.
If you are looking for amazing vegan catering, ask the chef at Bite Cafe. He did an amazing spread of stuffed chiles rellenos served with homemade tofu sour cream and a bunch of Southwest-style salads (the jicama apple salad was my favorite!) for a University of Chicago Vegan Society event. He only takes cash (no personal checks and no credit card) but the food was definitely worth the extra hassle. It was the most carefully-prepared, best-tasting catered food that I've ordered in Chicago (and I've catered events from all of the major vegetarian restaurants in Chicago).
This place is amazing. It's one of the few places in Chicago where vegans can get desserts that don't taste "vegan." Make sure to show up on a Saturday to sample their vegan quiche. It's the best quiche that I've ever had. The fruit tarts are also fantastic. They usually make them with some sort of cream, but often they have a few jam-filled ones in the back that are 100% vegan. The lavendar lemonade is another one of my favorite Bleeding Heart specialties.
As for the other desserts, here is how I would rate them:
Tofu Chocolate Mousse Cake - I was not the biggest fan of this, namely because I don't like my desserts to taste like tofu. In fact, I think this might have been the only item that I have ever bought something from the Bleeding Heart Bakery that I didn't like.
Brownies - I like the ginger brownies, although they tend to be somewhat brittle. I have never tried the banana nut.
Cookies - The chocolate chip cookies are amazing. The ginger cookies are also quite good. My favorite cookies are the Earl Gray Tea cookies - they have actual flecks of Earl Gray Tea in them.
Blueberry Buckle - These little cakes remind me somewhat of muffins. They're excellent breakfast food.
Flavored vegan marshmellows - These range, depending on the flavor that you choose. I am a big fan of the vanilla bean marshmellows .
Fruit candies - these are gummy and sweet and they really taste like fresh fruit.
For a small store, Bonne Sante really has a really impressive selection. They have more flavors of Chicago Soydairy than any of the Wholefoods stores that I have visited in Chicago and they also have a really good selection of (vegan!) soy cheese. The carryout food that they sell at the refrigerated case at the front of the store is really great also. They usually have tofu "chicken" wings, taco salad, seitan sloppy joes, vegan pizza wraps, seitan ruben sandwiches and some macrobiotic meals.
I was pretty impressed with Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!'s selection of sangria. There are a fair number of vegan choices, although there definitely could be more. My favorite dishes were the gazpacho and the almond sorbet (which was superb). The portions are huge (for tapas) and the prices are very reasonable. This place is a great compromise for vegans with omnivorous friends.
I visited Cafe 53 shortly after it opened, mainly because several of my friends had heard that the cafe would sell vegan baked goods from the Bleeding Heart Bakery. To be fair, Cafe 53 had an impressively large selection of vegan items, especially for Hyde Park. There were brownies, blueberry buckles, gingerbread cookies and several other desserts labeled "vegan" sitting prominently in the display case. However, either the Bleeding Heart Bakery has gone seriously downhill since I moved out of Chicago in 2007 or Cafe 53 is pedaling Bleeding Heart's day-old baked goods. Either way, I was disappointed with the stale, dry, dense items that I wound up leaving with. The peanut butter brownie was sufficiently bad that I threw it out after taking a single bite.
I decided to visit Cafe 53 a few days later to check out the gelato selection, which was also somewhat disappointing. All of the unique-sounding flavors (ex. chai) contained dairy, while the vegan sorbetto flavors were pretty unimaginative (the two options were lemon and "forrest berries"). Worse still, the sorbetto wasn't smooth and creamy as Italian sorbet is supposed to be. Instead, it had the icy texture that is more commonly found in American sorbet.
I'm hoping that Cafe 53 was just working out the kinks of opening a new business. It fills a niche that is sorely needed in Hyde Park, and has the potential to be a wonderful option for the sizable vegan population at the University of Chicago.
This place is decent for vegetarians but pretty bad for vegans. I'm pretty sure that the only vegan options on the menu were a really bland plate of beans and rice and a hummus/veggie appetizer. The bruschetta was sometimes vegan (just olive oil and veggies on bread), but at least once it came out of the kitchen covered in parmesan cheese, so I stopped ordering it. Actually, I pretty much stopped eating here at that point. There are many other "UofC hangouts" in Hyde Park that have much better food options for vegans.
The hummus here is the best hummus that I have ever tasted. Seriously, I am writing this review from an internet cafe in Greece and the hummus here just isn΄t as good as Cedars΄. Other good options at Cedars include the Beryani, Falafel and Foul, although beware the Falafel sandwich because they often try to put Jerusalem Salad on it, which isn΄t vegan.
Charlie Trotter's made me a truly exceptional graduation dinner. The entire staff was very knowledgeable and accommodating of my vegan dietary concerns. They even brought me three different types of olive oil to enjoy with my bread (instead of butter, which was brought to the rest of my party).
Although the items on the "vegetable tasting menu" were not inherently vegan, each item was suitably altered to meet my needs. I was able to enjoy my dinner without having to feel different from the rest of my table. Some of the more memorable dishes included a tapioca "caviar" with a foamed green tea sauce and a chocolate peanut butter gelato in a Thai grass broth garnished with pine nuts.
The best part was that, after eating dinner, Mrs. Trotter gave us a tour of the kitchen and let us watch while the chefs prepared some of the food.
I wasn't the only person who was awestruck by our dinner experience. My non-vegetarian relatives kept insisting that their vegetable tastings were among the best food that they had ever eaten.
The Chicago Diner has a wide variation in the quality of their food. At first glance, the menu is a bit overwhelming, since it is rare that a vegan stumbles across a restaurant with such an extensive menu of foods that can be made vegan. However, after eating there no fewer than 50 times, I have a better sense of which items are worth ordering. The milkshakes at the Chicago Diner are AMAZING. I get one every time that I go. The macaroni and cheese is pretty good, as are the quesadillas, Philly cheesesteak sandwich and lentil loaf. I am a huge fan of the french onion miso soup, which often shows up on their list of specials, as well as the lasagna, red pepper ravioli and Argentinian empanadas. In general I am not a fan of the cakes, although the cookies and cakes that they make for special occasions (Easter, Valentine¨s Day etc.) are quite good.
Note: I wrote the above review about a year ago. The Chicago Diner has changed their menu considerably since then. There is much more emphasis on raw foods options, but some of my old favorites (the lentil loaf, Argentinian empanadas and red pepper ravioli) are no longer there.
Cousin's Turkish Dining is probably the most vegan-friendly Turkish restaurant I have ever been to. The restaurant owner/chef is a raw foodist and the staff seems very knowledgeable about the dishes that can be made vegan. I once came here with a Vegan Meetup group and the chef went out of his way to make a number of special dishes just for us!
I was disappointed to learn that the Dragonlady Lounge has cut back its vegan buffet. It used to take place every Thursday night from 6-9 PM, but now it happens roughly once per month. The buffet does not follow a predictable schedule, so you have to call in order to find out when the next one will take place.
The vegan buffet was the best feature of Dragonlady Lounge. The decor is a bit run-down and the regular menu is not very authentic (what kind of Korean restaurant/bar brags about the quality of its veggie burgers?), so I wouldn't bother going there on a night when the buffet isn't taking place.
Earwax has a couple of good seitan sandwiches and tofu burritos. They are happy to leave out ingredients or make substitutions in order to make one of the vegetarian options vegan (although be forewarned that if you get the Tuscan seitan sandwich made vegan, they end up leaving out a lot of the delicious-sounding condiments and sometimes they don't have soy cheese so they just make it without).
The best part about Earwax is the cake. Thick, moist slices of delicious vegan cake. The service can be slow at times (particularly on weekends) but I usually just amuse myself by looking around the room at the bizarre circus decor while I wait. Also, Earwax has a video rental area in the basement that has a pretty nice selection of foreign films.
I've had a much better experience with the Eternity Juice Bar than with Soul Veg. The service is quick, the sandwiches are tasty and you can get the same amazing vegan desserts that are sold next door at Soul Veg. In addition, there are usually some difficult-to-find vegan groceries in the fridge case, so you can stock up on soy products while waiting for your sandwich or smoothie.
Ex Libris is almost impossible to find unless you're familiar with the Regenstein Library. The fridge cases usually have pita, hummus, falafel, some vegetarian Thai curry dishes and soups. The companies that supply food to Ex Libris are pretty good about labeling ingredients, so it's usually easy to figure out whether or not a dish is vegan.
The key to having an enjoyable experience at FoodLife is in what you order. If you get the bottomless bowl of creamless tomato soup, you'll find that your $5 are stretched very far (last time I went, I had four bowls of the stuff). Also, the drinks are unlimited free refills (including the exotic iced teas). In short, if you're not under a time constraint and can take advantage of the refills then this place isn't a bad deal. The creamless tomato soup is the best I've had anywhere.
I ended up eating here a couple of times when my family was in town. Grand Lux Cafe is owned by The Cheesecake Factory, so the food is similar in price/quality, although the ambience is MUCH nicer (particularly if you can get a table with a view of Michigan Avenue). Vegan options exist but are not particularly exciting. I ended up getting a tofu stir fry dish once and pasta with marinara sauce another time. Neither were particularly memorable, but my family seemed happy that I was willing to eat there with them.
Initially, I had very high hopes for Green Zebra. In my mind it would fill the high-end vegetarian restaurant void in Chicago (with the possible exception of Karyn's) and I thought that perhaps it would even help to promote vegetarian dishes as an alternative to the filet mignon culture that pervades much of this city.
Unfortunately I was wrong. Instead of attracting people who are concerned with animal welfare, Green Zebra seems to have become a hip hangout of 20-something yuppies.
For a "haute cuisine vegetarian restaurant," I am surprised by the dearth of vegan items on the menu. Although almost any dish can be made vegan, most of the vegetarian dishes are so reliant on the cheese and creme ingredients for flavor that it isn't really worth ordering them vegan-ized. While I understand the business sense of offering a few organic meat options in order to appeal to a wider audience, I resent the fact that Green Zebra does so AND still manages to call itself a vegetarian restaurant.
That said, Green Zebra does have something to offer for those who have the cash. The trio of salads is exquisite, even after leaving the parmesan cheese off of one of the salads. The sweet potato dumplings are vegan without any modifications and have a delicious hint of floral aroma. The best item on the menu is by far the ginger cake with banana soy ice cream. Although it's the only vegan dessert on the menu, it's also the only item that I felt was fully worth the $7 that I paid for it.
Note: I wrote the above review about 3 and a half years ago. My opinion of Green Zebra has since changed considerably (as reflected in the current rating). Everything that I mentioned above is still true (Green Zebra continues to have limited vegan options and to be overrun by yuppies).
However, I have come to the conclusion that the vegan food at Green Zebra is considerably better than you would find at any other "vegetarian" restaurant in Chicago. The food is innovative and, most importantly, never tries to imitate "normal" food by replacing it with soy products. The emphasis is on the wonderful flavors of the vegetables and fruits, which are cooked in unusual combinations and served with delicious sauces. For this reason, Green Zebra is a great place to take non-vegan friends and family.
One new food recommendation: even if you normally love a good cocktail, I would recommend trying the soda "tasting" instead: the waiter brings 3 or 4 exotic-tasting carbonated beverages in small cups (my favorite is the pink peppercorn thyme soda). It's fun to enjoy a tasting menu of drinks with a tapas-style meal.
There is a surprising amount of vegan-friendly food here. The portions are large (none of the people that I was with could finish our meals) and inexpensive (always a plus). The service was fast and the outdoor area was a nice place to sit and eat. I highly recommend Handlebar to anyone looking for a quick meal in the Wicker Park area.
Irazu is one of the most vegetarian/vegan-friendly Latin American restaurants in Chicago. There is only one option that is labeled "vegan" on the menu, but they can make some of the vegetarian options without dairy (ex. potato tacos served with guacamole, beans, rice and salad). I really like the fruit smoothies (which can also be made without milk - just ask). The service can be slow and Irazu doesn't accept credit cards, but the restaurant is owned by a husband-wife team and a lot of times their children are the members of the waitstaff.
The gelato is amazing. The various vegan flavors that I've seen are the following:
They usually have between 2 and 5 vegan flavors. The staff is very helpful. Istria even sell tubs of gelato for catering events. The best part is that the gelato is very inexpensive and they give huge portions. Occasionally flavors taste freezer-burnt. This problem tends to exist less in the summer (when gelato is more popular and doesn't sit in the freezer for more than a day or two).
I love the new location of Joy Yee's Noodles. The seating area is much larger and the overall appearance of the restaurant is greatly improved. The bubble tea is the main reason to go to Joy Yee's (over 100 flavors, many of which can be made vegan, made from fresh fruit instead of those gross powder mixes).
Unfortunately, there still aren't many interesting vegan meal options. I ended up ordering the Japanese Tofu and some sort of spicy string bean dish, which were both pretty good. The thing to keep in mind is that the string beans are considered an entree (as are many of the vegetable dishes), so I ended up getting a huge bowl filled with nothing but flavored string beans for $8. For this reason, I think that Joy Yee's is probably best enjoyed if you go with a group of friends and share all of the dishes.
Kamehachi is a great place to go with a large group for a celebration. If you call ahead of time you can request a private room, which have shoji screen doors. There are a number of menu items that can easily be made vegan, including the soba dishes, vegetable sushi, edamame, and tofu appetizers. There is also a large selection of sake, including some types that I haven't seen anywhere else.
I've been to Karyn's Cooked many times since it opened and a few things have changed since I wrote my original review in 2005.
First, the desserts have gotten a lot worse. The cakes used to be incredible, so I didn't mind paying the hefty $7 price for a huge slice of the best vegan cake in town. Over the past few years, some of the recipes have changed and many of the cakes are now dry and dense. However, bread pudding has made its way onto the dessert menu and it's phenomenal. I'm not normally a bread pudding person but Karyn's bread pudding is drizzled in warm, sweet coconut milk and cinnamon... I've never met a person, vegan or non-vegan, who wasn't in love with the bread pudding after eating it.
The food on the main menu has stayed the same over the years. Most of it is pretty bland. The brunch menu, on the other hand, keeps evolving and it's much more impressive. I went for brunch once last year and had amazing cherry blintzes served with soy sour cream. A few weeks ago, I returned and was pleasantly surprised by the coconut milk-battered french toast (which tasted a bit like the bread pudding) and potato pancakes served with apple sauce and dill aoli sauce.
If I could give Karyn's separate ratings based on dinner versus brunch, I would say that the dinner is "fair" and the brunch is "great."
Original Review (2005):
Karyn's Cooked has a unique combination of qualities from some of the best vegan restaurants in Chicago. It has a sleek decor like Green Zebra, prices that fall somewhere between the Chicago Diner and Soul Veg, elixirs and other health items commonly found at Karyn's and some of the Soul Veg classics. The menu includes items like mac and cheese, sloppy jo, "ribs," vegan pizza, smoothies and key lime pie. All of the food that I had while I was there was very good. The service was fast and friendly. As far as I know, this is the first vegan-friendly restaurant to open up in the heart of downtown Chicago.
Karyn's is, in some sense, an ideal "date" restaurant in Chicago. It is upscale enough that it looks impressive to take someone there, but the prices are fairly reasonable for what you're getting - ravioli made from delicately sliced vegetables pressed together and filled with a macademia nut "cheese," served with sun dried tomato sauce, for example. The ambience is California chic. There is even a "cafe" section of the restaurant that sells "To Go" items such as Karyn's delicious nut cheeses and raw sour "cream" (the cheese at Karyn's is particularly notable).
I go back and forth in my opinion about Karyn's Raw. Up until now, I had rated it "great," because I think that the food is pretty impressive. However, the last few times that I have eaten at Karyn's, I have found myself wanting a second dinner afterwards (because raw foods don't tend to be very filling). It can be frustrating to shell out $20 or $30 for dinner at Karyn's only to find that I'm hungry an hour later. Also, I've found that Karyn's is not a great place for bringing friends. Most of the people that I have taken to Karyn's have subsequently told me that the food was "weird" and a few even complained that the raw food made them feel sick afterwards.
Kopi Cafe would be a nice place to sit with a friend and drink a cup of coffee and eat some vegan baked goods. It's not a great studying location, however. The tables are full-service, and my waitress seemed eager to get other people seated once I was finished with my vegan chocolate chip cookie and soy chai. The ambience was nice, though, and I think my visit would have been a lot more pleasant if I had come with a friend for lunch rather than trying to get work done.
The vegan food on the Lake Side Cafe menu is not particularly exciting (all of the tasty-sounding fake chicken dishes contain egg whites), but sometimes there is a really incredible vegan special. When I lived in Chicago, I joined the Lake Side Cafe e-mail list so that I could stay informed about the weekly specials. My favorite (by far) was a vegan lavender fennel "cream" soup. The desserts are hit-or-miss but the juices and smoothies are pretty good.
I'm fairly annoyed with Leona's for telling me twice that their soy cheese was now casein-free and then telling me the last time that I went that there is casein in it. At the same time, they make a fantastic grilled veggie wrap that is vegan.
I think that the other reviewers are being a little harsh. Yes, it's bad that Leona's doesn't seem to know what the verdict on their soy cheese is, but at least they're trying to have soy cheese and at least they have a few vegan options that are clearly labeled on their menus as vegan (notice that the menu doesn't say ANYWHERE that they have soy cheese). They're still pretty far ahead most Italian restaurants in Chicago.
I've been told that the veggie burger at the Med is vegan, which is one of the best veggie burgers that I've had. Their strawberry lemonade is also fabulous. I agree that there's nothing too exciting about the Medici except for the fact that it's somewhat of an institution at the University of Chicago. There are better places to eat in Hyde Park, but the Medici isn't half bad.
When I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian, I used to love going to Mellow Yellow. They have crepes stuffed with lingonberry jam which are really fantastic. After going vegan, I found Mellow Yellow to be pretty disappointing. The only interesting option for vegans was the vegan chili. Sure, you can leave the cheese off of a vegetarian sandwich but then it's just a pile of vegetables on bread (same goes for the fajita).
In summary, Mellow Yellow is very vegetarian-friendly (it even advertises itself as such) but not particularly good for vegans.
I ate here once and I can testify to the vegan-ness of the menu if you alert them ahead of time. I called about an hour before my reservation (which, by their standards, is pretty late) to let them know that I am vegan and when I arrived they were able to tell me exactly what on the menu was (and wasn't) vegan. They even knew which of their breads had honey in them and were able to advise me on those as well. I was extremely please with my dinner (which consisted of a melon soup, a grilled vegetable medley and a trio of sorbet for dessert) and I was impressed with the chef's and waiters' knowledge of vegan cuisine. Although mk is a bit pricey, I would definitely go there again for a special occasion.
The Nile has the best falafel in Hyde Park (in my humble opinion). Another great vegan dish at The Nile is the Mojadara Vegetables, which consists of rice, lentils and caramelized onions cooked in a wonderful seasoning. You can find food from The Nile at all of the student-run coffee shops at the University of Chicago if you don't feel like walking down 55th street.
The restaurant itself is pretty small but the food is inexpensive and they take credit cards (unlike the student-run coffee shops at the UofC). I used to get carryout from The Nile all the time when I lived in Hyde Park.
I've generally found the Noodles staff to be pretty accommodating if you ask them not to cook a dish with fish oil. I find that most of their dishes can be made vegan if you get them to leave out the meat. Noodles has very fast service, large portions and reasonable prices. It's a great place to grab a quick meal on a college student's budget.
Open Produce is an extremely vegan-friendly produce market in Hyde Park. There is an excellent selection of vegan prepared foods (boxed lunches from Soul Vegetarian and other local restaurants), desserts (vegan brownies and individually-wrapped Tofutti Cuties), as well as "staples" like Daiya cheese and Earth Balance margarine. Best of all, Open Produce is open until 2 AM every night, making it "the latest place to buy fresh produce in Hyde Park."
Open Produce is run by two recent computer science graduates of the University of Chicago (one of whom is vegan), who keep up-to-date information about their products and graphs of their sales trends on their website. They're also very receptive to suggestions of vegan products that they could stock.
As many of the other reviewers have commented, Opera is a great place to go on a date (or with non-vegan family members). While many of the dishes at Opera are quite expensive, the vegan dishes tend to be very reasonably-priced. The decor is stunning and the bar makes really good drinks. I am a huge fan of the vegetable rice noodle stir fry. The desserts tend to vary (they used to have really good homemade sorbet but recently the vegan dessert has been a mango panna cotta that I am a little less enthused about). Still, I have to give major points to Opera for having a separate vegan menu. It's a pretty rare occurrence in Chicago.
I thought that this place was pretty good for a major pan-Asian chain. The waiters seemed pretty knowledgeable about veganism and was able to answer all of my questions. It's a great place to go with non-vegetarian friends because it has something for everyone.
I went to Pegasus a number of years ago with a large group of friends. I was the only vegan at the table, so I pulled my waiter aside and asked him which items could be made vegan. He ended up recommending that I order a bunch of appetizers, one of which was the dolmades (which he assured me that they could make without meat). The dolmades came out meatless, as promised, but were covered in an egg-lemon sauce (and I didn't find out that there was egg in the sauce until after I ate most of them!). I think I just got unlucky with a waiter who wasn't very knowledgeable about veganism. Nevertheless, I haven't gone back there since.
There aren't a lot of vegan options at Penang Malaysian, but the dishes that are vegan are really good. The mango tofu is incredible - chunks of tofu and mango in a delicious sauce served in a carved out mango shell. Penang also has a number of bubble tea flavors, some of which can be made vegan. The menu at Penang is fairly different from the other restaurants in the Chinatown area so going there is a nice change.
This place rocks. The waitstaff are really friendly and will remember you if you come often enough (one waitress even guesses what my order will be whenever I come in and she is usually right). The ambience is very eclectic, with tables decorated with Monopoly, Scrabble and other game pieces (although my favorite table is painted in a hypnotic spiral and actually spins). The cakes are amazing. The strawberry cake has actually pieces of strawberries mixed in with the batter. The milkshakes are made with Chicago Soydairy soymilk and soy ice cream, and come in exciting flavors like chai and wild berry. Pick Me Up is probably most known for its vegan french toast, although the tofu cheese pizza is also a notable entree. It's a great place to hang out (or type on your laptop) late at night when everything else is closed.
There are a couple of decent vegan (or easily-made-vegan) menu items at Pizza Capri.
The Viva Capellini is just angel hair pasta, tossed with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and basil. The dish is normally vegan, although Pizza Capri has occasionally been known to add grated parmesan to the delivery orders, so you should definitely mention if you don't want cheese.
The mixed baby greens salad is delicious and can easily be made vegan if you tell them to leave out the gorgonzola. Even without the cheese, the salad still contains gourmet lettuce, spinach, roasted pecans, granny smith apples and raspberry vinaigrette.
In my experience, Pizza Capri is one of the more professional eating establishments in Hyde Park. The owner does things like providing free samples when there is a long wait or giving a free bottle of wine as a "thank-you' gift for using their catering services. There are definitely other restaurants nearby that have more vegan options, but if you're looking for a good restaurant with reliable service should check this place out.
The Vegetarian Combo Meal is massive. The two side vegetables that you get are enough food for a meal on their own, and that's not counting the flatbread, samosa and basmati rice. Another surprise: the sweet potato dish, which is covered by a cinnamon sauce (which I would ordinarily think wouldn't be vegan) is dairy-free. This place is a serious bargain and the people who work there are very understanding of vegan concerns.
This place has the best Ethiopian food in Chicago, by far. The staff is very friendly and they're even careful to separate vegan and non-vegan food if you ask them (normally Ethiopian food is all served on one large piece of injera bread, so there is an unfortunate tendency for meat and vegetable dishes to run together).
While this place looks like it would be expensive (and trust me, it is if you order the main entrees or the flavored vodka shots), it is easy to get a reasonably-priced meal here if you just order the side ¨taste¨ dishes. Many of the ¨taste¨ dishes are vegan and range between $3-5. Very reasonable if you order a few and split them with friends.
A few years ago, I wrote a very zealous review of Soul Veg (see below). However, after numerous steep price increases (with no real improvement in their mediocre-at-best service) I felt inclined to post another review. Soul Vegetarian fills a nice void in the South Side vegetarian community. There aren't many vegetarian restaurants down here and Soul Veg seems to have found catering opportunities at local grocery stores and on the University of Chicago campus.
That said, their food quality is highly variable and often makes me sick (probably because it is incredibly greasy). For example, on any given day the macaroni and cheese can be spicy or contain loads of nutritional yeast or be fairly bland and swimming in grease. It's difficult to tell just by looking at it. On many occasions, I have purchased Soul Veg food only to be sorely disappointed and subsequently end up throwing it away. Desserts are the only really consistent item from Soul Veg. I have, by and large, stopped going to Soul Veg but, when I do, I usually just go for the dessert these days.
What can I say, I go to Soul Veg every Tuesday with the University of Chicago Vegan Society and I΄m still not sick of it. In fact, the weeks that I don΄t make it with the other U of C vegans, I end up going by myself either on Monday or Wednesday. The food here is amazing, the prices are unbeatable and the people are really really nice (and will start to know you by name if you eat here often enough). Heck, they even gave me free orange soy ice cream on my birthday. Where else can you get that?
Swift recently started carrying Soul Veg carryout food. They have 4 different dinner platters (one has BBQ tofu, mac & cheese with greens; another has chickpeas, rice and greens; another has vegan lasagna with greens; the fourth has beans and gravy over rice with seitan and greens). Swift also carries BBQ roast sandwiches, carrot salad and dill tofu salad (all from Soul Veg).
In addition to Soul Veg food, Swift carries tons of Middle Eastern platters from Cedars and The Nile, as well as some vegan Thai platters and some vegan Indian platters from Rajun Cajun.
Third World Cafe is currently the ONLY all-vegetarian establishment in Hyde Park. It has a great atmosphere (comfortable surroundings, lots of students and professors working on their laptops etc.) without being overly hip or pretentious.
The Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich sans provolone is amazing. It consists of a mustard-hummus spread and veggies on grilled french bread, which is made fresh to order (all of Third World's sandwiches are). The Vegetarian Chili is vegan, as is the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. Third World will also use soy milk instead of dairy milk in their coffee drinks for $0.40 extra.
Upupi Palace is probably my favorite Indian restaurant in Chicago. There are tons of menu options that are vegan or can easily be made vegan. This place is especially worth checking out if you have never been to a South Indian restaurant - the menu is quite different from most Indian restaurants that you find in the US. You won't find channa masala or naan on the menu, but you will find a large selection of dosai (crepes filled with various vegetables) and curry dishes. My favorite menu item is the masala dosai, a huge crispy "crepe" made from lentils, filled with potatoes and onions, and served with various sauces.
Unfortunately, the restaurant does not label vegan dishes on the menu, but I have always found the waiters at Udupi Palace to be very helpful in this regard. On thing to keep in mind is that parking on Devon Street can be nearly impossible at times, so leave yourself plenty of time to look for a parking space (or take the CTA).
I agree with the other reviewers. Uncommon Ground makes great soy chai, but the vegan dinner options are disappointing. The first (and last) time that I went there, I asked my waitress which items on the menu could be made vegan and she started telling me about this "really great" salad. I wasn't thrilled about the prospect of eating a salad for dinner, but I decided to order it anyway. I stayed for the musical performance, which was enjoyable, but my good mood quickly disappeared when I received my bill: $20 for salad and soy chai.
This place is just what Hyde Park needs - quick vegan food, with delivery available. The only down side is that, since they're still getting set up, some of the employees aren't entirely clear on which items are and aren't vegan (I had to ask the manager) and the service can be pretty slow (the guy who was making my sandwich was in training and took a while to make my order).
I really love the vegan sandwiches at Veggies to Go. They have all sorts of sauces and condiments, most of which are vegan. There's a large range of soy meats and delicious vegetables to go on the sandwiches. The smoothies are also quite good (made with delicious vanilla soy ice cream, they come in many different fruit flavors).
Veggies to Go has vegan desserts from Soul Vegetarian, so you can usually find things like caramel cake, chocolate cake, lemon cake, coconut cake, coconut cream pie, sweet potato pie, lemon cream pie, oatmeal cookies and walnut brownies on hand.
The food at Blind Faith isn't terribly exciting for vegans. They used to have a lemon seitan dish that I loved, but they took it off the menu and ever since then I haven't found an entree that I have been entirely happy with.
The desserts are another matter, however. Blind Faith makes some of the best vegan cake that I have ever had. There is a chocolate peanut butter cake which is absolutely phenomenal - layers of chocolate cake with peanut butter filling and a chocolate fudge ganache on top, with fluffy chocolate frosting to decorate. My experiences with the cookies and other vegan desserts have been mixed.
I had a very nice lunch at La Zagara. There are two components to the restaurant - you can either order at the counter for take-out or you can request to be seated in the indoor-outdoor seating area.
I was surprised to find that La Zagara had a number of dairy-free sandwich and pizza options. The vegetarian pizza comes with fresh tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. The vegetable sandwich comes with a variety of cooked and fresh vegetables. I was particularly happy with the almond milk, which was sweet and had a strong almond aftertaste. The fruit granitas were also excellent.
Unlike many restaurants on the Amalfi Coast that serve predominantly seafood, Ristorante La Pergola has a large number of vegetarian pasta dishes and a few unusual vegetarian options (like fried risotto balls). For vegans, there is a cheese-free pizza on the menu, as well as penne alla arrabbiata, spaghetti with sauteed tomatoes and basil and some vegetable dishes. For dessert, vegans can enjoy a wide range of sorbetto flavors (my favorite is melone, which tastes like cantaloupe).
I was really happy with my meal at La Pergola. The service was good, the food was delicious and the ambiance was beautiful. We were able to sit just a few feet away from the ocean and watch the sunset while we ate.
The almond milk at Bar Due Pini is incredible. It is very refreshing and sweet. The vegetable soup contains a number of beans and vegetables and is very filling. Bar Due Pini is a nice place for lunch if you're taking a tour of Anacapri. It has a nice view of the town and is located right next to the chair lift.
I have to admit, I wasn't thrilled with Da Gemma. The only vegan options were bruschetta (which was literally a pizza crust, brushed with olive oil, topped with tomato slices and basil on top) and pasta with marinara sauce. Still, my dinner at Da Gemma was one of the better vegan meals that I had in the town of Capri. Unlike most of the other restaurants in Capri, Da Gemma made a very flavorful tomato sauce. Also, while the bruschetta was a bit unusual, it was nice to have an appetizer available to me.
In short, I'm giving Da Gemma a rating of 2 not because the food quality was low, but mostly because there aren't many options for vegans. Vegetarians will find more to choose from (ex. pizza and baked ziti).
There aren't many vegan options at Tridente Ristorante, but the food that is available is by far the best that I have eaten on Capri. The arugula and tomato salad was fresh and was served with very high quality aged balsamic vinegar - so thick and sweet that it could more accurately be called a syrup! The gnocchi was tender and had a sweet basil aroma. My non-vegan parents loved the lemon risotto and the ravioli (both of which are vegetarian).
Tridente is located on a cliff overlooking the Grotta Azzura, so the view from our table was quite impressive. Overall, I highly recommend this place if you're in Anacapri and looking for an elegant meal.
AOI is a great place to grab a quick bite to eat. It is located near the JR Kyoto line, which makes it ideal for passengers arriving from (or departing to) Tokyo. One of the more interesting menu items for vegans is the namafu, which is basically a traditional Japanese variety of seitan. It has a slightly chewy texture and comes in a delicious sake-flavored sauce. I purchased two orders of namafu (the portion sizes are very small by American standards) along with a bowl of rice and it made a tasty and inexpensive lunch.
Because there is no English signage (everything is written in kanji), AOI can be a bit difficult to find. I would recommend looking at the photos on the website before attempting to find this place.
Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo was the highlight of my trip to Kyoto. The service was impeccable, the rooms were very comfortable and the food was outstanding. The grounds feature a beautiful Japanese garden with a koi pond as well as mini-onsen (spas) for men and women to use separately. The guest rooms are traditional, with tatami mats and futon mattresses that are laid out each night. All guest rooms come with private bathrooms, so if the thought of using a communal bath makes you cringe, you can make use of an en-suite modern shower instead.
Yachiyo guests are offered the opportunity to purchase dinner and breakfast with their stay. The dinner is a bit on the expensive side, but it was well worth the money. We were treated to a unique cultural experience in a traditional Japanese dining room, where we sat cross-legged around a low table. We were encouraged to don yukata robes (provided by the ryokan) while partaking of an exquisite nine-course feast. The breakfast that we ate the next morning was similarly decadent. Both meals consisted of an array of sushi, rice, tofu, tempura, pickled vegetables and soup, along with several unique dishes that I had not encountered elsewhere. Everything was made with the freshest ingredients and artfully presented.
Unlike many of the other ryokan in the area, Yachiyo is extremely accommodating towards guests with dietary restrictions and food allergies. Both at the time of our reservation and at the time of our check in, we were given checklists with ingredients where we could indicate the ones that we do not eat. The list included items like dairy, eggs, meat, fish, bonito flakes, wheat and soy. We went with the vegan option, but it was nice to know that guests with wheat and soy allergies could be accommodated as well!
This place has surprisingly little for vegans. There are ABC cookies and a small number of meat and dairy substitutes, as well as tofu, soy milk and almond milk. There is a large selection of vitamins, herbs and cruelty-free shampoos. The Cafe had a hummus wrap, but everything else was filled with dairy and/or meat.
Cafe This Way somehow manages to be both trendy and family-friendly. The food offerings and the decor are more typical of a hip spot for 20-somethings but I noticed that there were a number of families with young children in the restaurant and no one seemed to mind (the waitress even brought them children's menus and plastic cups to drink from).
The portions at Cafe This Way are very generous and there are a large number of vegetarian options on the menu. I was particularly impressed with the vegan caviar, which was salty and had an eerily realistic texture. It came mixed with marinated mushrooms and served over a bed of seaweed salad. My cashew-encrusted tofu was also very good. I was a little disappointed with the lack of vegan dessert options, but the three melon-infused vodka made a nice after dinner apertif.
Addendum: The brunch options aren't nearly as exciting for vegans. The tofu scramble has no flavor on its own, so you have to choose your toppings carefully. The veggie sausage and veggie bacon are sadly not vegan (they have egg whites in them).
I was really excited to see a sign in the window of CJ's advertising "non-dairy soy ice cream." It turns out that they usually have two flavors of homemade soy ice cream available. On the day that I went, I saw maple walnut and vanilla raspberry. In addition, they had many interesting flavors of sorbet. My maple walnut ice cream was smooth and creamy and it didn't have any soy aftertaste! I would give this place a rating of "excellent" if they had a few more vegan flavors...
I decided to stay here on a trip to Bar Harbor and was very happy with my decision. The rooms were beautifully-decorated and the location couldn't have been better. I was literally right on the main shopping/restaurant street at the corner of the town square.
At first, I was a little concerned about my breakfast prospects. Unlike many B&Bs, the Ivy Manor Inn doesn't have a proprietress who does the cooking according to guests' requests. Instead, the Ivy Manor Inn has a very highly rated French restaurant on the first floor, called Michelle's Fine Dining, that provides a breakfast menu. The menu has many vegetarian choices, including crepes, french toast, pancakes, waffles, pastries, fruit salad, muffins etc.
Vegans can order the Oatmeal Brulee, which is a cup of oatmeal, sprinkled with white sugar and then torched with a creme brulee torch (to give it a crackly burnt sugar top) and topped with fresh berries. There is also a fruit cup available. While there aren't a large number of vegan options, I was perfectly happy with the ones that were available.
Jeannie's offers several vegan breakfast options, including tofu scramble and vegan oatmeal walnut pancakes. I was a bit hesitant to order the pancakes at first (the oatmeal walnut part sounded a bit too healthy for my taste and I was worried that the texture would be off), but I was pleasantly surprised when they arrived. The oatmeal and walnuts are ground into the flour, giving the pancakes a slight oatmeal/walnut flavor. The pancakes were still fluffy and light, in spite of having these extra ingredients.
Jeannie's also deserves bonus points for having extremely fast service. Within 30 minutes of arriving at the restaurant, we had ordered, received and eaten our food. It's no wonder that this place is so popular!
I tried to eat lunch at Mama DiMatteo's but discovered that it is only open for dinner. I saw tofu ravioli advertised on a local brochure, but when I checked the menu posted outside of the restaurant I didn't see it listed. I asked a man who emerged from the closed restaurant (presumably the owner) about the tofu ravioli and he said that it's a seasonal item. Hopefully it will still be there next time I'm in Bar Harbor...
After eating at Reel Pizza Cinerama, I had to ask myself why this brilliant combination of "movie theater" and "pizza parlor" doesn't exist elsewhere.
The pizza at Reel Pizza Cinerama isn't the best vegan pizza that I have ever tasted, but it's not half bad. There are many delicious toppings and sauces to choose from, including tofu and soy cheese. The crusts are a little thin and the cheese (sadly) doesn't melt completely but if you order the right combination of toppings it works pretty well.
The theater itself has a number of free pizza add-ons in the back, including nutritional yeast. The seats are actually old sofas and the food is served on TV trays, so it's a really comfortable, fun way to eat dinner while watching a movie.
Tamarind is one of the more vegan-friendly places in Bar Harbor. They have several vegan sandwiches on the menu at the lunch counter, including a tofu and sundried tomato sandwich and a vegan Philly cheesesteak sandwich. The vegan cheesesteak is a little strange (it's just Tofurkey) but the faux cheese was really tasty. In addition to selling made-to-order sandwiches, Tamarind has a fridge case with a variety of vegan cheeses (including tofu feta), single serving packages of soy tapioca pudding and other vegan delicacies. It's a great place to pick up supplies for a picnic in Acadia!
Silly's has a separate vegan menu and it's full of greasy, fattening, delicious vegan options. There are around 30 flavors of milkshakes that you can mix and match, many of which can be made vegan (nonvegans can have an entire slice of key lime pie blended into a milk shake!). There are also a number of dishes that can be topped with vegan cheese and deep fried.
Case in point: my favorite entree is the "tofu in a dinghy," which consists of rice noodles and fried tofu, smothered in thai peanut ginger sauce and soy mozzarella, rolled into a tortilla and then deep-fried. I'm also a huge fan of the "vegan decadence" (foccaccia bread, covered in basil spread, topped with garlic, roasted red peppers and kalmata olives).
There are usually a few vegan desserts available. I've been meaning to try the vegan fried plantains, but I have never been able to eat a dessert after stuffing myself with milkshakes and so many deep fried foods.
It's definitely possible to eat something healthy at Silly's (a friend of mine likes to order the veggie burger and there are a few hummus and veggie dishes on the menu) but why bother?
Akbar is hands down my favorite Indian restaurant in Baltimore. Parking is sometimes difficult, which is the only reason that I don't go there more often. There are tons of good vegetarian menu options, many of which can be made vegan. The ambience is a little more upscale than other Indian restaurants in Baltimore, so it's a nice place to go for a celebration or on a date.
Atwater's is like a slightly more upscale version of Panera. The menu changes daily, and the Atwater's staff is good about updating the website every day and labeling the vegan soups. The daily specials vary across locations (and I think that the Towson location tends to cater a little more to vegans than the other two locations) so it's definitely worth looking at the menu online first before driving anywhere. The vegetarian sandwiches don't tend to be vegan but the sandwiches often have enough interesting ingredients that they're still tasty after the chefs leave off the cheese.
Brick Oven Pizza is (as far as I know) the only pizza place in Baltimore that makes casein-free soy cheese pizza. In addition, they will make garlic bread with olive oil instead of butter upon request. Both options are really tasty. Brick Oven Pizza is definitely worth checking out if you're in Fells Point.
Brunie's Bakery quite possibly makes the best vegan desserts that I have ever tasted (and that is saying a lot, since I've been vegan for a number of years and I'm obsessed with desserts). Tamara, the baker, can make about 60 different flavors of cakes, pies and tarts, plus she bakes brownies, cookies, donuts, caramel apples... so many delicious types of desserts that it's hard to choose between them.
I ended up ordering a key lime coconut cake to bring to my family's Christmas party and it was a huge hit. The cake was comprised of 3 layers of the softest vegan cake I have ever eaten, filled with key lime curd and topped with rich coconut frosting and shredded coconut. Even my grandmother, who normally doesn't care for vegan desserts, admitted that she couldn't really taste the difference between this cake and a "normal" cake.
Some other desserts from Brunie's Bakery that I have tried include snickerdoodle cookies, chocolate peanut butter mousse cupcakes and lemon curd cupcakes. The snickerdoodles were moist and chewy without being overly dense. The cupcakes were on the smaller side but each had a huge dollop of icing on top and contained some sort of delicious filling. In short, all of the desserts were really outstanding. I desperately hope that Brunie's Bakery gets a storefront someday.
I think Metromix Baltimore says it best: "Hon serves sandwiches and lighter fare with a strong dose of Charm City love." The restaurant embraces the kitschy decor often seen in John Waters films about Baltimore. The name comes from the stereotype that all waitresses in Baltimore call their customers "hon" (somewhat true, depending on where you eat). The vegan food isn't spectacular, but Cafe Hon is worth experiencing once, if for no reason other than to appreciate Baltimore's distinctive culture.
Charm City Cupcakes usually stocks about 3 vegan flavors from Ruby's Vegan Cupcakes. The flavors rotate, so it is difficult to predict what will be available. The vegan cupcakes are very moist, but the icing is a bit on the grainy side. On the days that I visited, Charm City Cupcakes had the following vegan varieties: chocolate raspberry, apple, chocolate peanut butter and carrot cake. If you're looking for specific flavors, you may want to contact Ruby's Vegan Cupcakes directly.
The Daily Grind is a great place to study/read but it isn't the greatest place for vegans to eat. The only vegan option on the breakfast menu is a bagel (which can be ordered with jam, peanut butter or hummus). As for lunches, sometimes you get lucky and there is a good dairy-free soup, but the regular menu has only two vegan sandwiches: peanut butter and banana (ask them to hold the honey if you don't eat honey) and a veggie hummus wrap. Neither are particularly exciting, but then again there aren't that many places in Baltimore with vegan sandwiches so it's still a step in the right direction.
Dukem is one of Baltimore's few Ethiopian restaurants and the word on the street is that it's the most authentic. It's a welcome addition for vegans due to the fact that all of its veg items are clearly labeled and completely vegan (they don't use dairy in anything). Our waitress was really nice and offered us extra injera to take home with our leftover vegetables.
That said, the restaurant itself is very small and made me feel a little claustrophobic (we were seated so close to the tables next to us that my friend and I were having a hard time not giggling at the conversations that we were inadvertently overhearing). Also, it's located in a part of town where parking is hard to come by.
Emily's Cafe & Desserts is almost impossible to find - it is located inside of an old house in a residential neighborhood in Baltimore - but the food is definitely worth the search. The menu consists of sandwiches, salads and vegan macaroni and cheese, plus a wide selection of delicious desserts. Starting next week, Emily's will also serve hot entrees.
While Emily's is better known for its desserts, the sandwiches are also a force to be reckoned with. The pesto chicken sandwich consists of chicken-style seitan, served with a vegan pesto mayonnaise on toasted flatbread. It's warm and savory, although the portions are a little small. I recommend ordering it with a side of macaroni and cheese, which tastes a little like a vegan version of Kraft Easy Mac. The citrus rib salad is also quite good.
A visit to Emily's isn't complete without ordering at least one of the delicious desserts in the display case. My favorite (so far) is the rice krispy pop, which is made with homemade marshmallows and drizzled with dark chocolate! The creme-de-menthe brownies are also very satisfying. They're rich, chocolate brownies with a creme-de-menthe cream topping, covered in dark chocolate ganache. The black bottom cupcakes are also pretty good, although I wish that they came with a little more of the cream cheese topping.
Overall, Emily's Cafe & Desserts is a very welcome addition to Baltimore's growing collection of vegan restaurants.
After a long day of holiday shopping in the Towson Town Center, I thought I was hallucinating when I stumbled across an all-vegan cupcake stand on the third floor of the mall! I immediately purchased 6 cupcakes and returned a few days later to purchase an additional 12. It was so nice to have such a conveniently-located source of vegan desserts while I was visiting family in Baltimore.
The cupcakes themselves range from "decent" to "incredibly delicious," depending on the flavor. My favorite flavors were the cinnamon cupcake (which tastes like coffee cake and has cinnamon frosting and creme filling), the cherry vanilla cupcake (which features dried cherries mixed in with the cake and has a faux cream cheese frosting) and the tiramisu cupcake (which tastes a bit like the Italian dessert, minus the gelatinous filling).
Some other flavors that were available on the days that I visited included: lemon, pumpkin, coconut, red velvet, vanilla, black bottom, cookies and cream. All-in-all, I think that this place is a wonderful addition to the Towson Town Center and I hope that it stays around for many years.
One word of warning: I purchased some cupcakes with the Emily's Desserts label at Roots Market over the summer and they were terrible - the cupcakes had a strong baking soda aftertaste and the texture was really off. I think that either the recipe that Emily's uses has improved significantly since then or the cupcakes at this cupcake stand are much fresher than the ones that were at Roots. Either way, if you have had a bad experience with Emily's cupcakes in the past, I would recommend giving them a second chance.
What can I say? This place sells tofu burritos that are heavier than my 5 month-old kitten at a really amazing price (and the beans aren't fried in lard!). 1 burrito is seriously enough food for two meals and will cost you well under $5. Alright, so the ambience is very hole-in-the-wall. But sometimes that's what you want: a small, vaguely-Mexican hole in the wall with excellent burritos.
The Golden West Cafe has a great selection of vegan desserts these days: coconut lime cake, chocolate cake, carrot cake and dairy-free ice cream sundaes. The coconut lime cake is amazing. So is the drink menu. Best of all, Golden West Cafe is one of the only places in Baltimore where you can get a vegan white russian! The only downside is that the Golden West Cafe is also a music venue so it can be quite noisy at times (not ideal if you are trying to have a conversation).
The Health Concern probably has the best selection of vegan products in the Baltimore area (I'm not counting Roots Market in this assessment because it's about 30 minutes from downtown Baltimore). There isn't much in the way of prepared foods (just soups and sandwiches and some Middle Eastern dishes) but the freezer and fridge cases are well-stocked with vegan goodies. Some of the highlights include: Sweet and Sara marshmallow products, SO Delicious coconut milk yogurt, Tofutti cheese products, gelatin-free gummi bears, Smart Treats (dairy-free chocolate peanut butter cups, S'mores cups, Almond Joy cups), Alternative Baking Company cookies, Celebration Roast...
One policy to keep in mind: they don't accept credit cards for purchases under $5.
The Helmand is located within blocks of Peabody, the Lyric Opera, the Meyerhoff Symphony Orchestra and numerous theaters. It's a great place to dine before/after a show. The food is delicious and most of the vegetarian items can be made dairy-free if you ask. There is a vegetarian stuffed pepper dish that I would highly recommend.
The flatbread is really good. There aren't too many vegan options here, but you can get a pita sandwich with hummus and lots of veggies or a veggie kabob with rice.
Mezze is a pretty standard Mediterranean tapas bar. It's not as glitzy as Pazo but the prices are a lot more reasonable, not to mention the fact that it's easier to walk in without a reservation. The sangria is really tasty, as are the beet salad and the baba ganouj. Mezze is always open really late, so it's worth checking out if you're looking for food after midnight.
Kathmandu Kitchen has pretty standard vegetarian Indian options and less than half of them are vegan (or easily made vegan). There is a lunch buffet every day from 11 AM-3 PM, which I apparently *just* missed. Instead, I ended up ordering channa masala, which was decent but not terribly exciting. That said, Kathmandu Kitchen is probably the only place in Towson that can claim to serve authentic Indian food, so it's worth visiting for that reason alone.
The Landmark Harbor East Cinema has a reputation for getting some of the edgier, more artistic films that come to Baltimore. I was thrilled to discover that it also has a good selection of Alternative Baking Company vegan cookies and several flavors of Pom brand pomegranate juice at its concession stand. It was so nice to have healthy, vegan-friendly snacks at a movie theater!
Liquid Earth has some of the best vegan cake that I have ever tasted. If you order it, be sure to bring at least two other friends along because it is 3 layers high and the slices are usually quite wide as well. There is also a very creative selection of juices here, many of which have cool earthy-sounding names. The guy who makes the juice used to work at the Chicago Diner.
The Lost City Diner is a 1930's sci-fi themed diner located across the street from The Charles Theater. Roughly one quarter of the menu is vegan or can be made vegan upon request. The fare focuses on traditional diner cuisine, including delectable items ranging from vegan pot pie to VLT sandwiches (made with vegan bacon). The desserts are mostly ice cream sundaes, but again the vegan options are plentiful. Some of the more unusual vegan toppings include homemade pecan praline, marshmallow sauce, and faux bacon (for those who want to embrace the bacon trend without the animal cruelty that comes along with it). Lost City Diner also has a nice selection of beverages, including shakes, smoothies, malts, vegan "egg creams" and, my personal favorite, homemade lemon ginger soda.
I like the concept behind the Lost City Diner, but I think the food could still use some fine-tuning (the restaurant opened a few months ago). As the highly-anticipated successor to Zodiac, I was expecting Lost City to have more in the way of vegan baked goods (oh how I miss Zodiac's molten lava cake!). The ice cream sundaes are fun in a retro sort of way, but the only vegan ice cream choice was vanilla soy ice cream. I would have been more excited if they had coconut milk ice cream instead.
Mr. Chan Szechuan Restaurant is a great vegetarian-friendly restaurant with fast service and reasonable prices. The mock meats are delicious without being overly meat-like. In each dish, customers have a choice between different proteins: seitan, tofu, tempeh, healmay, yuba and veggie protein nuggets. There are also citrus-flavored mock ribs and a number of faux chicken items on the menu (seitan with yuba "skin"). My favorite dish (so far) is the orange seitan, which is sugary and satisfying. I also love the fact that the waitresses bring free hot tea, kim chi salad and crispy noodles with homemade dipping sauces (all vegan) when you sit down. I'm always too full after my meal to try the desserts, but I've heard good things about the vegan chocolate mousse and the vegan green tea custard.
One World Cafe is a great place to chill with a laptop and a fancy coffee drink. With its ever-changing art displays, poetry slams and trendy location, it is a great place to meet interesting people. The vegan peanut butter smoothie is unparalleled. I have tried many times to buy similar-sounding smoothies at other restaurants and have been sorely disppointed each time. Although a number of items on the menu don't have the vegan "V" sign next to them, they can be made vegan by substituting in soy cheese. The vegan desserts at One World are quite good, so be sure to save room for them.
Some of the better nights of my teenage years were spent at Papermoon. Although the prices keep going up while the menu seems to have stayed the same, I keep coming back to this place for the ambiance if not for the food. This isn't to say that the food is bad: the tofu wrap (if you order it without cheese) is decent, as are the other handful of veganizable items on the menu. What you're really paying for when you eat here, however, is the hip atmosphere and the fact that it's one of the only places in Baltimore that is open 24 hours. For that reason alone, it's probably worth a visit.
I ate here with my family last summer and found it to be a good compromise for a vegan daughter and her meat-loving parents. While the menu does not initially look that vegan friendly due to the fact that it is separated into three categories (food from the land, food from the sea and food from the field... you can guess which of those is the "vegetarian" list), there are a surprising number of vegan items strewn throughout the menu. Also, my waiter was really nice about checking on the vegan-ness of the breads for me.
Pho Dat Thanh doesn't strike me as the most authentic Vietnamese restaurant (the menu contained several dishes that I tend to order at Thai and Chinese restaurants) but I was grateful for the fact that the menu was so friendly to vegetarians. The waiter mentioned that all dishes containing fish sauce are labeled as such, so vegetarians don't have to worry when ordering food here.
I ate at Pho Dat Thanh for lunch and the portion was huge - easily 3 meals' worth of food for a very reasonable price. The menu had a good selection of bubble tea flavors, but it's important to ask which flavors contain milk if you're vegan (unfortunately, that aspect of the menu is not clearly labeled). I ordered the tofu in brown sauce, which came on a bed of vegetables and rice noodles. The sauce was pretty tasty, but the whole dish was a bit greasier than I would have liked. Overall, I thought that this was a decent quick food option in Towson, especially for the price.
I recently re-visited Pizzazz with some (non-vegan) family members and it was a great place for all of us to eat together. The menu is two-sided, with one side featuring only vegan options, including vegan versions of many of the items listed on the omnivore side of the menu (chicken parmesan, gluten-free pesto pizza, etc.). Pizzazz uses Daiya cheese and Gardein faux chicken, so the cheese on the pizza actually melts and the chicken has a very realistic texture. The vegan desserts now come from Emily's Desserts. Everything that I ate was delicious.
My only complaint about Pizzazz is that it did not seem to be very busy when we visited, yet the restaurant was out of several salad ingredients. I got the impression that they just don't stock strawberries and other summer produce when they're not in season, but I wish that they would create a separate winter menu to reflect this.
Original Review: August 28, 2009
Pizzazz has a few solid vegan entrees: a vegan burger, a raw wrap, fettuccine primavera, plus all pizzas can be made with soy or rice cheese. The best part about Pizzazz, however, is that Brunie's Bakery supplies three vegan cakes each week, including one gluten-free and one sugar-free (agave sweetened). The cakes from Brunie's are out of this world!
Note: The breakfast menu is not nearly as vegan-friendly.
The homemade vegan pumpkin cheesecake was a little strange, but the soy chai and the vegan brownies were quite good.
I ate dinner at Rocket To Venus tonight and wasn't very impressed with my meal. The Sloppy Jo-fu was literally a pile of scrambled tofu and sauce on a bun, which made the bun far too soggy to pick it up. The first few bites were decent enough but there was a lot more tofu on the plate than I could really bear to eat.
I think my bad experience was largely based on the menu item that I chose. There were some pretty tasty-sounding salads on the menu which I probably should have ordered instead. On a more positive note, there were a number of really interesting drink specials and our waitress was pretty attentive. Also, if I wasn't basing my rating primarily on the food, I would probably give Rocket To Venus an extra point for having a neat ambiance (and a really great story about how the restaurant got its name - check it out on their website!)
I have purchased a few of Ruby's Vegan Cupcakes at Charm City Cupcakes. The cake is very moist, but the icing tends to be a bit grainy. Overall, I would say that the cupcakes are better than most vegan dessert options in Baltimore. That said, I've had better vegan cupcakes in other cities.
Sushi Hana has the standard vegetarian sushi options in addition to one sushi roll that I have never seen anywhere else (but it is amazing): it consists of apple, carrot and tofu rolled with rice and seaweed paper. Sweet and crunchy and protein-filled, this sushi roll tastes delicious when dipped in wasabi-infused soy sauce (I love the sweet-spicy dichotomy).
Suzie's Soba has a number of interesting vegan options. I really like the fried vegetable mung bean pancakes and the cha soba (soba noodles made with green tea, topped with spinach and garlic). Suzie's also has pretty good mixed drinks and sorbet for dessert. The only downside is that the service can be slow at times.
I was so excited when I heard about this place. It was described to me as a "gluten-free cupcake bakery with tons of vegan desserts" and the business cards say "cupcakes, coffee, gluten-free and vegan options." When I entered the bakery, I saw two types of cupcakes: some were labeled "dairy" and others were labeled "dairy-free." I figured that the "dairy-free" cupcakes were the vegan options so I ordered 6 of them.
After I had paid for the cupcakes with my credit card, I made a comment to my friend about how wonderful it was to find a place with so many vegan cupcakes. The salesperson looked at me and said "oh, those aren't vegan." It turns out that the "dairy-free" cupcakes are milk-free but not egg-free.
The salesperson was nice about offering to exchange the cupcakes for other baked goods that are dairy-free (snickerdoodle cookies and pies). I appreciated the gesture but I was still disappointed that all of those wonderful-looking cupcakes weren't vegan. I realize that it was my fault for not clarifying the meaning of "dairy-free," but I also thought that the signs were pretty misleading. I wish that Sweet Sin would make some vegan cupcakes. Until then, I probably won't be going back.
I believe that this restaurant has either gone out of business or relocated. I went to the spot where it used to be and it looks as though the building has been bulldozed.
That said, I used to be a big fan of Tamber's. The Indian food was pretty authentic, given the fact that the restaurant was known as the "Nifty Fifties Diner" and had a weird fusion of diner food and Indian cuisine.
I ordered a "vegan" pizza once at TOV but later heard that the soy cheese contained casein. I'm not sure whether this is true (or whether they have since changed) but I would definitely ask...
Also, TOV may not be open these days. According to the website, there was an after-hours fire in the food preparation area in September and TOV is "temporarily closed until further notice."
Does Vegetarian Desserts Bakery do anything besides Oatmeal Raisin cookies and chocolate cake? Those are the only desserts advertised on the website and they're the only ones that I've had the opportunity to try. The cookie was decent (although I must admit that I'm not the biggest fan of oatmeal raisin in general). I do like chocolate cake, however, and I was pretty disappointed with this one. Vegetarian Desserts Bakery seems to make the same mistake that many well-intentioned restaurants make with their dairy-free desserts. The icing was gritty and tasted like its only ingredients are whipped soy margarine, cocoa and sugar. The cake itself was bland (although it was pretty moist).
If you're looking for good vegan desserts in the Baltimore area, try Brunie's Bakery instead.
I wouldn't normally write a review about a Whole Foods Market, but I wanted to mention that this one is particularly vegan-friendly and it sells wonderful vegan dishes from local restaurants. There is a "raw foods" section that sells raw dishes from Zia's (including Zia's fabulous raw vegan desserts). The bakery section has a number of homemade vegan cookies and muffins, as well as a good selection of products from Alternative Baking Company, Liz Lovely and Nutrilicious. The "soy products" section has (possibly) the best selections of vegan cheeses in the Baltimore metropolitan area. The "prepared foods" section always has a number of vegan options, including some very good mock meats.
The food here is decent but there isn't a large selection. On the day that I went to The Yabba Pot, it seemed like the main menu options were vegan hot dogs, some sort of cabbage dish, collard greens and various vegetable wraps (none of which were particularly exciting). I've been told by many people that the fake chicken is amazing (which wasn't on the menu when I was there). I guess I just picked a bad day to show up.
Zia's has a great variety of vegan foods. While they're not explicitly a vegan restaurant, they have the best selection of vegan items of any restaurant in Towson (in my humble opinion). Zia's consists of a juice bar, sandwich shop and refrigerator case (containing prepared foods).
Their refrigerator case is usually full of vegan empanadas, salads, and prepared dishes, not to mention delicious vegan desserts. The food changes almost every time that I go, so there's always something new. Some of the vegan dishes from Zia's that I have seen in the fridge case include: sweet and sour meatballs with Asian vegetables and brown rice, miso pesto penne, banana maple crepes, tofu scramble, lentils with rice, vegan breakfast burritos, vegan empanadas, and chick pea "meat" loaf with pineapple curry sauce on a quinoa pilaf.
In addition to the prepared foods, Zia's can always make vegan sandwiches from the vegetables, tofu and other fixings on their homemade bread. Their vegan "specialty" sandwich is called the Zucca, which consists of caramelized onion, potato, butternut squash and sage on an organic spelt bread.
The desserts are probably Zia's best feature. During my many visits, I have encountered the following vegan desserts: brownie with chocolate ganache frosting, mocha espresso brownie, gingerbread with almond icing, pineapple cake with pecan glaze, chocolate hazlenut tofu mousse, and a (slightly healthy-tasting, but still good) chocolate peanut butter tofu cheesecake. Zia's also tends to have a selection of cookies, in flavors such as ginger molasses, and chocolate chip cookies.
Another bonus: The cafe employees are always very helpful in showing me which items in their cafe are vegan and are willing to adjust juice orders to suit the taste of the customer (not to mention that they make the best homemade spiced cider ANYWHERE, using apples that they juice right in front of you).
Baltimore Citypaper voted Zodiac for "Best Vegan Desserts" in 2005. Upon reading this review, I made a special trip to Zodiac just to make sure that they weren't lying. Sure enough, half of Zodiac's dessert offerings that night were vegan. My pick of the evening was a pecan praline "lava" cake, oozing with a gooey center and topped (a la mode) with vanilla soy ice cream. My non-vegan companion and I both thought it was first rate.
I had a spectacular brunch at Great Sage. I started out my meal with a rooiboos chai "float" (made with vanilla soy ice cream). The waitress informed us that there were three breakfast specials: vegan lavender-cardamom pancakes (served with soy whipped cream!), orange cinnamon buns and a tofu quiche (stuffed with red peppers, corn and caramelized onions). I decided to order the lavender-cardamom pancakes, which were unusual but incredibly delicious. I also ordered a side of vegan sausage, which consisted of two perfectly-seasoned patties. Even though I was fairly stuffed by the time that our waitress came to tell us about the dessert specials, I couldn't resist ordering the chocolate lava cake (which was served a la mode and was also ridiculously good). My only regret in the entire meal was that I wasn't able to try the other two breakfast specials.
Roots market is incredibly vegan-friendly. In addition to having the largest selection of cheese alternatives and faux meats that I've seen in the Baltimore area, Roots has many varieties of Liz Lovely cookies, about 6 flavors of vegan cake, Sweet and Sara marshmallows and moon pies...
One caveat for vegans: some of the baked goods are labeled "dairy-free" but still contain eggs.
There always seems to be a line going out the door at Bagel Rising. That said, it's well worth the wait - the tofu "cream cheese" is amazingly good and comes in six flavors. I especially like the garlic tofu spread. I was less of a fan of the soy chai (it didn't have much flavor and came unsweetened).
I'm not a huge fan of the "classic" burrito at Boloco (it lacks flavor and even the "large" is smaller than a standard Chipotle or Qdoba burrito). That said, their other burrito flavors can be quite good. The Teriyaki, Summer and Thai burritos are all quite good sans dairy.
One Caveat: The Buffalo burrito is not vegetarian (the buffalo sauce contains anchovies).
Bon Savor reminds me a lot of Elephant Walk in that it has a separate vegetarian/vegan menu with a number of interesting-sounding food choices.
The soups were delicious. I ordered the broccoli-apple soup, which was artfully-presented as a stack of broccoli and green apple slices surrounded by a moat of "creamy" broccoli soup.
The only vegan entree at Bon Savor is a stack of fried tofu steaks served with asparagus and potato carpaccio in a vanilla-eggplant broth. The description sounded flavorful enough, but I was disappointed to discover that the dish was actually pretty bland.
The Bon Savor website says that there is a chilled melon soup served with basil sorbet on the dessert menu. Unfortunately, this dessert was not mentioned on the menu at the restaurant, so there were no vegan dessert options.
All in all, I would say that Bon Savor is a nice place to take a date (particularly if you are veg and your date is not). The prices are pretty reasonable and the ambiance feels cozy yet upscale.
Boston Tea Stop has the best bubble tea that I have found in Cambridge. It has lots of sweet fruit-flavored smoothies, most of which are dairy-free. Boston Tea Stop tries to keep its customers entertained by offering free wireless internet, a selection of magazines and board games, and a TV that shows music videos.
One downside is that Boston Tea Shop only takes cash, so be prepared to run to the Bank of America across the street if you don't have any on hand.
Clover has a trendy, eco-friendly vibe. All of the silverware, plates and cups are compostable. Orders are taken with an iPhone by one of the friendly attendants milling around the front of the cafe. The decor is somewhat futuristic, with white plastic cubes instead of traditional chairs. The food is reasonably-priced and perfectly adequate, if unremarkable.
My one gripe is that there are no non-dairy cheese or mayo options at Clover, so if you order the BLT or the BBQ Seitan Sandwich, you have to ask that they leave off these items. The lady who took my order spent several minutes trying to convince me that the BBQ Seitan would be terrible without cheese and mayo, and that I should really consider ordering the Chickpea Fritter (which is basically a falafel sandwich) instead.
I insisted upon getting the BBQ Seitan, and it really wasn't bad without the dairy fixings. I also ordered the Rosemary French Fries, which were pretty standard french fries with a few flecks of rosemary mixed in, and the Tarragon Lemonade, which was very unique and delicious.
Overall, I would say that Clover is a good option to have, especially if you're already in Harvard Square, but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat there.
Crema Cafe has a few interesting vegan options. The sweet potato sandwich comes with avocado, green apple, sprouts, hummus & caramelized shallot vinaigrette on toasted wheat. There are often vegan soups on the menu, as well as baked goods in the front bakery area. The vegan brownies are rich and delicious - I highly recommend them! Crema Cafe also has a large selection of coffee and tea drinks that can be made with soy milk instead of dairy. Overall, I would say that this is one of the best places in Harvard Square for vegans to get a quick bite.
The Elephant Walk is a Cambodian-French fusion restaurant. It has a separate vegan menu, featuring salads and Cambodian-style food (sadly, none of the French menu options are vegan). The food is quite good, albeit a little pricey. Unfortunately, The Elephant Walk doesn't seem to have any vegan desserts.
Update (July 2009):
I just went to Grezzo again last night and ended up loving the food even more than the first time that I went. The only two "weak" parts of my meal the first time that I went were the beverage (a sour-tasting kombucha) and my entree (as you can see below, I didn't like the raw zucchini). This time I had a "rootbeer float" to drink, which consisted of sasparilla-infused sake, crushed vanilla beans and coconut milk, served over ice. It was incredible! For my entree, I tried the BBQ pizzeta, which consisted of a dehydrated pizza crust, topped with homemade bbq sauce (carefully prepared over a wood fire to control the heat temperature), pineapples, and raw vegan feta. It was served with a jicama and raw blue cheese salad. My meal was nothing short of amazing. Accordingly, I have upgraded my rating from "4" to "5."
Original Review (August 2008):
I don't normally like "raw" foods (or anything that contains a lot of vegetables, for that matter), but I was really impressed with the cuisine at Grezzo.
The soups were by far my favorite part of the meal. The Summer Melon Stew consisted of a chilled watermelon base with mango, lavender and Thai "noodles" (strips of coconut "meat"). It was light and very refreshing. The Cream of Fennel soup was more savory, with the spice of the fennel balanced with the sweetness of honey tangerine.
Next, I tried the the Gnocchi Carbonara, which were tiny brown dumplings with a nutty taste, covered in "rawmesan cheese" and served with English peas and pea shoots. The faux cheese sauce was smooth and tangy, and the gnocchi themselves had a nice texture, but the flavor wasn't quite like the real thing.
For my entree, I decided to order the Spring Vegetable Napoleon, which consisted of layers of fresh and dehydrated vegetables and nut cheese, served over a raw pomodoro sauce. The pomodoro sauce was slightly spicy and complemented the flavors of the raw vegetables nicely. Most of the vegetables worked really well in the dish (the only exception being the zucchini, which I really can't stand when it's raw).
I had a slice of the raw cheesecake for dessert, which was absolutely delicious (but tasted nothing like cheesecake). It had a thick creamy texture and a sweet agave-nectar taste, with a crust of dates and ground nuts - a wonderful way to finish off a very innovative dinner.
I was wandering around the Newbury Street area yesterday when the Kickass Cupcake Truck showed up on my block. I decided to check the menu and, sure enough, there was a vegan flavor: ginger peach bellini. Apparently, this is the only vegan flavor that Kickass Cupcakes makes on a regular basis. Fortunately, the ginger peach bellini cupcake is pretty decent - moist, ginger-flavored cake topped with peach icing and a single raspberry. I couldn't really taste the champagne flavor that was implied in the "bellini" part of the name, but the cupcake was still interesting enough that I wasn't disappointed with my one and only option.
If Kickass Cupcakes were to sell multiple vegan flavors at a time, I would probably upgrade their rating from "good" to "great." Still, I have to applaud them for a pretty "kickass" concept. After all, how many cities have cupcake trucks patrolling the streets with vegan options on hand?
My Thai Cafe Vegan & Bubble Tea Bistro recently relocated to this new address in Chinatown. The menu remains the same (in fact, some of the menus even have the old address still listed on the cover). The new restaurant is a big improvement, however. It's a short walk from the Boston Commons and the Newbury Street shopping district. As a result, tourists will find it much easier to eat here (patrons essentially needed to rent a car in order to get to the old Brookline location). The entrance is a bit unsettling - a dirty, smelly stairwell leads to the restaurant's second floor location - but once inside, the new My Thai looks very professional.
The food consists of mock meat versions of traditional Thai dishes, including some unusual items like scallops, shrimp and squid. My favorite entree is the pineapple chicken, which consists of a half veggie chicken smothered in vegetables, pineapples and coconut curry sauce. I'm also a huge fan of the Thai iced tea bubble tea (made with coconut milk) and the vegan cakes (which come from Cafe Indigo).
Every time I go to My Thai I have a fabulous experience. There is vegan Thai iced tea, sweetened with sugar and coconut milk instead of sweet and condensed milk. My favorite menu items are the coconut soup (sweet coconut milk with vegetables and mushrooms) and pineapple chicken (which has a wonderful chicken-like texture), but I've enjoyed everything that I've tried so far. The menu is very extensive and includes a large array of vegan "seafood" items. There are many wonderful desserts (imported from Cafe Indigo) to choose from: chocolate cake, lemon poppyseed cake, carrot cake, chocolate peppermint ganache cake. I would highly recommend this place to anyone visiting the Boston area.
The Other Side Cafe is conveniently located on one end of the biggest shopping street in Boston. Although The Other Side Cafe is not strictly a vegetarian restaurant, there are a number of vegan and raw vegan options on the menu. Breakfast is served all day and all scrambled egg dishes can substitute scrambled tofu for vegans. I wasn't a huge fan of the scrambled tofu on its own (it was a little bland), but it tastes great in the Tex Mex Tango or the Breakfast Burrito. My favorite vegan breakfast item at The Other Side Cafe is the sausage. It has the perfect flavor and texture.
The Other Side Cafe has a number of vegan desserts, including chocolate mint cake, blueberry pie, three types of vegan cookies and a raw vegan chocolate mousse. The chocolate mint cake is incredible. The cake is rich and moist, filled with creamy mint icing and topped with chocolate ganache.
It's definitely worth stopping by this place if you're shopping on Newbury Street!
Peace o' Pie is located in the space that TJ Scallywaggles used to occupy, but the food is much more consistent. Every dish that I have ordered there so far has been delicious. All of the pizzas and calzones are made with Daiya vegan cheese, so they have that stretchy, gooey consistency. The white pizza is my favorite flavor so far, although I'm also a fan of the Buffalo and Hawaiian. The calzones are a nice option if you don't want to order an entire pizza for yourself (all of the pizza flavors come in single serving calzone form as well). I haven't tried many of the desserts at Peace o' Pie yet, but the chocolate cupcake with strawberry icing is quite good - the cake is delicious and moist, and the icing contains fresh strawberry seeds! I'm thrilled to see another wonderful vegan eatery pop up in Boston.
I have to admit, I had high expectations for The Pulse Cafe. I loved the owners' previous restaurant, Vej Naturals. Needless to say, I was very excited when I discovered that they were opening a larger restaurant in Boston. Unfortunately, the only pleasant part about my meal at The Pulse Cafe was the Root Beer Float (which, admittedly, is pretty hard to mess up).
I started my meal with the Loaded Fries, which sounded delicious in the menu description ("french fries with melty cashew cheese, tempeh bacon and sour cream") but in reality they were disgusting. The fries were incredibly soggy and the "cashew cheese" tasted like mustard mixed with nutritional yeast. The tempeh bacon had a very strange flavor that I couldn't quite place, but my dinner companion remarked that the taste reminded him of liver.
My entree wasn't much better. I ordered the Somerville Cheese Steak, which might have been decent if I had asked for it to be made with Daiya (which was one of the options). Instead, I went with the homemade pepperjack "cheese," which was the same mustard/nutritional yeast flavored goo that came on the Loaded Fries. In short, it tasted nothing like pepperjack.
To make matters worse, I spent the entire meal anxiously waiting to try one of the desserts (Rooiboos Cake with Vanilla Chai Icing) only to discover that it was sold out by the time that I finished my meal. I would say that I'll try it the next time that I'm at the Pulse Cafe, but I honestly don't think I'll ever be back there again. There are too many other wonderful places to find a vegan meal in Boston.
I like the fact that Sweet bakes vegan cupcakes, but I hate the fact that they only sell them on Mondays. I go to Boston all of the time, but usually during Friday - Sunday, so I have never once managed to be in town when vegan cupcakes are available. I wish that Sweet would shift its vegan cupcake day to the weekend so that visitors from out-of-town can enjoy them also. I mentioned this to a salesperson once but she said that the vegan cupcakes don't sell as well, so they don't want to waste display case space on them on weekends. I find it depressing that Sweet's "pupcakes" (cupcakes for dogs) sell well enough that they're available every day, while the vegan cupcakes are relegated to the slowest day of the week. I would give this place a rating of "terrible" except that I'm sure that their vegan cupcakes are actually quite good (if you can get your hands on one). By all accounts from my friends, the lacto-ovo cupcakes are "amazing."
My experience with T.J. Scallywaggles was mixed. I really loved the garlic bread and the chocolate peanut butter cup. The garlic bread was perfectly toasted, coated in melted soy margarine and chopped garlic, served with a bowl of marinara sauce. The chocolate peanut butter cup consisted of rich dark chocolate with a gooey peanut butter interior - yum!
I would have liked the chicken parmesan sub if the "chicken" didn't have a cardboard aftertaste and a mushy texture. T.J. Scallywaggles uses Chicago Soydairy's Teese on the chicken parmesan sub, which is one of the most convincing mozzarella substitutes out there. Unfortunately, even delicious soy cheese couldn't mask the weird flavor of the "chicken."
The buffalo chicken sub suffered for the same reasons, minus the soy cheese. I ended up picking most of the fake chicken out of my sandwich, it was so terrible.
I've been waiting for several years for a place like True Bistro to open in Boston and I'm thrilled that it has finally arrived. The restaurant has a trendy, upscale feel to it and the food is a step above most of the other vegan fare found in New England.
The menu seems to focus on traditional American fare with a modern twist: items like "french fries tossed with porcini-infused oil and fleur du sel" and "seitan piccata with a lemon & caper white wine sauce" grace its neatly-printed pages. Each section contains at least one raw option for those who eschew foods that are heated above 112 degrees F.
I started my meal with a glass of sangria, which was refreshing but not particularly authentic-tasting (I got the sense that they made it by mixing red wine with fruit juice, instead of infusing the wine with fresh fruits overnight). For my appetizer, I ordered the butternut squash ravioli, which turned out to be my favorite dish of the evening. The sweet cinnamon-scented ravioli were served al dente with a savory cream sauce drizzled generously on top. The plate contained just enough ravioli to leave me feeling satisfied with the offering without spoiling my appetite for the main course.
No sooner had my waitress whisked away my empty ravioli dish than my entree arrived. The seitan piccata turned out to be a perfectly-textured juicy seitan steak that came with a somewhat less-inspiring mound of garlic-infused mashed potatoes and broccolini. It would have been a winning dish if the accompaniments had been a tad moister and more flavorful (for example, if the mashed potatoes had been topped with butter or gravy).
I finished the meal with the "Death-by-chocolate cake," which my waitress was raving about. Sadly, I thought it was the weakest component of the meal. The "cake" turned out to be a heavy, bitter chocolate mousse with a hint of soy in the aftertaste. It came topped with "creme anglaise," which was largely flavorless, and "crunchy shattered caramel," which, although quite delicious, was used a bit too sparingly to make up for the unevenness of the rest of the dessert.
Overall, I would say that True Bistro is comparable-in-spirit to Horizons (in Philadelphia) and Blossom (in NYC) but, at this point, the food isn't quite on par with that of these dynamos of vegan haute cuisine. That said, the restaurant has enormous potential. It has already attracted quite a following among young, hip Bostonians. With a little attention to the side dishes (and, perhaps, a dedicated vegan pastry chef on staff), it could be one of the top culinary destinations for vegans in the US.
I decided to eat at the Soiree Room at Upstairs on the Square after seeing it listed on this website (and checking the restaurant's website to confirm that there is a vegan tasting menu). However, when I got to the restaurant, the waitress only gave us the option between two tasting menus, neither of which were vegan. Fortunately, after I mentioned to her that I came explicitly for the vegan tasting menu, she talked to the chef and said that he would be able to prepare a similar vegan tasting menu for our party.
(Note: In order to avoid being in a similar situation, I would recommend explicitly mentioning if you're vegan when making your reservation - while they were happy to accommodate us, I think they would have preferred to have a little more time to plan for our meal)
In spite of the impromptu nature, we were still treated to a panoply of exotic dishes and wine pairings. The chef was even careful to adhere to our vegan diets while still treating us to all of the perks enjoyed by the other restaurant patrons. He sent olive oil and balsamic vinegar to go with our bread (instead of butter), grated white truffles over our salad (instead of grating cheese) and the maitre d' arranged for all of our wine pairings to be biodynamic/organic.
Our favorite dishes were the amuse bouche (a tempura green bean in a spicy/sweet wasabi/fruit sauce over a slice of avocado), the watermelon gazpacho (with sweet tarragon and yellow watermelon "foam"), and the dessert: strawberry sorbet over a bed of blueberries, coated in a red wine reduction.
The only "downside" is that the entire meal (including wine) ended up being about $150 per person, but I thought it was a worthwhile price to pay for a truly special evening.
I wasn't particularly thrilled with the food at Veggie Planet. The pizzas were greasy, the crust was undercooked in places and the tofu feta wasn't very convincing. The vegan Caesar salad dressing tasted more like an olive vinaigrette. It came with "tofu croutons," were were crispy, presumably deep-fried cubes of tofu. The only part of the meal that I liked was the vegan orange chocolate chunk cake. The orange flavor was barely there, but the generous portions of chocolate chunks more than made up for it.
On the brighter side, the service was quick and the prices were unbeatable (less than $25 for two pizzas, 2 Italian sodas and a piece of vegan cake). The location (just off of Harvard square) is very convenient. I wish that Veggie Planet would re-think their menu. It has so many other things going for it.
Vej Naturals makes some of the best vegan food I've had in the Boston area. It's a little out of the way, but it's definitely worth the trip. The restaurant is very small and has a tiny parking lot, but when I went the place wasn't very busy so we were able to park right in front and there was no wait.
The food can best be described as healthy comfort food. I decided to try the Caesar salad as an appetizer, and it was one of the best vegan Caesar salad that I have ever had (not to mention the fact that it was huge and only $6!). For our entree, my friend and I split the Mole Our Way (tofu layered with polenta, covered in mole sauce and served over a bed of vegetables) and the Teriyaki Seitan. Both were very satisfying, albeit not terribly creative.
There were two desserts available on the night that I visited: chocolate chip cookies and lemon cake covered with "cream" and blueberries. I especially loved the tofu "cream," which had a smooth texture and was not overly sweet, so it complemented the blueberries and lemon cake nicely.
I think that Vej Naturals has a lot of potential. I'm hoping that after they build a solid customer base, they will be able to expand to a slightly larger restaurant. Right now, the kitchen and the dining tables are all in the same room, so I ended up listening to all of the conversations between the waitress and the chef and (I'm sure) they ended up listening to all of my conversations as well. The intimacy of the dining experience wasn't necessarily bad, it just made things a little awkward at times.
Last year around Thanksgiving time, some local restaurants featured Wheeler's Ice Cream in butternut squash and pumpkin flavors. I was a huge fan of the pumpkin ice cream, but the butternut squash was a little too weird for my taste.
I've tried to visit Wheeler's on numerous occasions, but their hours are pretty bizarre (and seem to change every time that I'm in the Boston area!). Most recently, I went to Wheeler's only to find out that they had decided to close shop for a two-week vacation. I would definitely recommend calling ahead of time if you're planning to visit.
Yoma is a wonderful Burmese Restaurant located in the "vegan district" of Boston (i.e. next to Grasshopper and Piece O' Pie). While the restaurant itself is not all-vegetarian, it has many wonderful vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. My favorite Burmese restaurant staples are the Tea Leaf Salad and Coconut Rice, and Yoma does an excellent job with both. I especially love the fact that the Tea Leaf Salad comes "disassembled" so that customers can mix it themselves. The Burmese-style limeade is also highly recommended - it's not overly sweet, which makes it much more palatable than most American-style lime juice drinks.
Overall, I would say that Yoma is one of the better Burmese restaurants that I've been to. The food was delicious, the service was very quick and attentive and there wasn't a huge wait to get a table.
I marked The Juice Bar as "vegetarian-friendly" because none of the pastries or ice cream are vegan (or at least they weren't vegan the last time that I went; things may have changed by now). However, the juices are a great option for vegans. You can either design your own juice flavor or you can order one from a long list of fruits and vegetables. My favorite was always the watermelon juice, but the fruit-flavored lemonades are very good also.
Eating at Bela is what I imagine that eating dinners with my family would have been like if I had been raised by vegetarian parents. The food isn't gourmet, it's just good, healthy home cooking. In addition to some soups and salads, there are three main varieties of food: pasta (with tempeh, tofu or seitan, served in some sort of sauce and mixed with veggies), stir fry (same options as the pasta) and veggie patties (either served in a bun or with gravy and mashed potatoes). Most of the menu options are vegan and everything on the menu is carefully marked with allergen information.
The desserts at Bela seem to change from day to day. On the night that I went, there were three dessert options and all of them were vegan. I ended up ordering a gingerbread molasses cake, served with blackberry sauce. My waitress asked me if I wanted some fresh, house-made whipped cream on top, which I politely refused. She must have picked up on the fact that mentioning dairy made me uncomfortable, because she then asked me if I wanted some vegan whipped cream and apologized that it was not made in-house! I was so thrilled that Bela had vegan whipped cream that of course I didn't care. The gingerbread, by the way, was moist and delicious and tasted amazing with the whipped "cream" and berry sauce. I will definitely go back to Bela sometime soon.
I was very excited to learn that Bueno Y Sano has a seitan "steak" burrito. Usually, when restaurants try to make a vegetarian burrito, they put tofu on it and the texture is all wrong. The seitan "steak" burrito at Bueno Y Sano was very meaty and satisfying. I was also impressed that the daily special on the day that I visited was a BBQ seitan burrito.
I have to go to Evolution every time I'm in the Northampton area. They have an incredible selection of vegan baked goods (from Oh Sweet Mama's vegan bakery), not to mention sinfully delicious vegan nachos. Evolution also has a brunch menu, with mouth-watering options like lemon corn waffles with blueberry sauce and a vegan shiitake mushroom omelet.
Evolution can make your coffee with 7 different types of milk substitutes: Oat Milk, Hemp Milk, Coconut Milk, Almond Milk, Rice Milk, Soy Milk, Soy Creamer. They also sell blocks of Sheese (which can't be found in most of the local grocery stores). This place is a fabulous resource for vegans!
Cornucopia often carries amazing vegan baked goods from Oh Sweet Mama Vegan Bakery!
Green Bean is a new restaurant in Northampton. In spite of the fact that it is not an explicitly "vegetarian" restaurant, Green Bean has a decent number of vegan offerings on the menu. There are tofu scramble dishes (served with vegan sausage), vegan cornmeal pancakes (served with fresh maple syrup and soy margarine), a tempeh reuben sandwich and Korean tempeh bim bop (just to name a few of the menu highlights). I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of the baked goods were vegan as well. I found that the cornmeal pancakes were a little crisp around the edges but the dairy-free chocolate cupcake was moist and delicious.
I was very excited to find out that Haymarket Cafe has a number of vegan baked goods in the upstairs coffee shop (muffins, blueberry buckle, chocolate ganache cake, chocolate peanut butter cups). The chocolate ganache cake was wonderfully decadent. I also had a glass of freshly-squeezed mint lemonade which was very refreshing if a bit sweet.
The upstairs coffee shop was pretty crowded, but we managed to find a table downstairs in the restaurant area. No one seemed to mind that we were studying and eating food from upstairs. All in all, it seemed like a pretty relaxed place. My only complaint is that the downstairs area was noisy at times (it sounded like the kitchen staff kept dropping dishes).
Update: I am downgrading my rating of Herrell's from "great" to "good." When I first visited Herrell's, I was thrilled just to find an ice cream parlor with vegan options in Western MA. However, Northampton is an extremely vegan-friendly town and the number of dining establishments that cater to vegans is rapidly expanding. As a result, the fact that Herrell's has 1-2 "No Moo" flavors at a time doesn't make it stand out any more. My other reason for changing the rating is that the dairy-free ice cream has a noticeable soy aftertaste. I wasn't bothered by this aspect when I reviewed Herrell's in 2009, in part because coconut milk-based ice cream was much less common back then.
Original Review: May 24, 2009
Herrell's "No Moo" ice cream is creamy and delicious. The consistency is perfect and I love the fact that it doesn't have a soy aftertaste.
My only complaint is that they seem to only have one "No Moo" flavor at a time. I realize that they probably have a lot more customers buying the dairy flavors, but it would be nice for vegans to have a little more to choose from.
India House Restaurant is one of the most vegan-friendly North Indian restaurants I have visited. The menu has the vegan items clearly labeled and has detailed notes about other items that can be made vegan by leaving out certain ingredients. In addition to standard Northern Indian fare, India House has a number of creative dishes and drinks that are flavored with pomegranate juice.
Karma is my new favorite restaurant in the Northampton area. The restaurant is huge, with at least three different levels of seating. The menu appears to change seasonally - when I visited the restaurant over the summer, I had a vegan caprese salad, with ripe tomatoes, faux mozzarella and basil leaves, drizzled with balsamic. The winter menu focuses on savory specialties. I especially like the apple walnut wrap, which is a nice combination of hearty and sweet. If you eat at Karma, you should definitely save room for dessert. The Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake is delicious and completely raw (I'm not usually a fan of raw desserts, but Karma has won me over)!
The cupcakes that I bought at Oh Sweet Mama Vegan Bakery are probably the best vegan cupcakes that I have ever tasted. The strawberry shortcake cupcake had a sweet, vanilla-like cake flavor and topped with faux whipped cream and strawberry slices. The whipped cream didn't taste at all like soy - it tasted amazingly like the real thing.
I also tried the cardamom rosehip cupcake, which was indescribably good. Seriously, I can't find words to describe the taste because it was unlike anything I had ever eaten before, but I would definitely drive back to Northampton for another one if only it wasn't so far away.
The vegan scones from Oh Sweet Mama were also very good - they came in flavors like ginger and maple walnut and were dry (as scones should be!) without being overly dense (as some vegan baked goods tend to be).
I could go on and on about this place. If you're ever in the Northampton area, it's definitely worth stopping by.
The food at Paul and Elizabeth's is decent (albeit, not particularly exciting). They have a couple of seitan/tofu dishes for the vegans (all of which seem to consist of vegetables and rice, be served in either a ginger sauce or a mushroom sauce). There is one vegan dessert on the menu, a non-dairy chocolate mousse that is served with drizzled raspberry sauce. The chocolate mousse was actually pretty good, but it was the only really interesting vegan item at Paul and Elizabeth's.
What a neat movie theater! Not only does Pleasant Street show interesting independent films (and showcase works by student filmmakers), they also have yummy vegan chocolate chip cookies and a large selection of teas at the concession stand. If only other movie theaters would follow their lead...
I had a vegan carrot muffin from Rao's that seemed to be more "carrot" than "muffin." Literally, the whole inside was filled with carrot shavings. I prefer my muffins to taste a little less healthy. The coffee was good but the place was overrun with college students, so there wasn't anywhere for me to sit.
Sweeties has a large sign in the window advertising the availability of vegan chocolate, and it doesn't disappoint! I was thrilled to discover that the chocolates on the top shelf in the glass display case are vegan. Sweeties also has a whole section of vegan cordials that come in a number of different flavors (ex. amaretto, mint), as well as some exotic varieties of vegan chocolate bars. All of the vegan products are clearly marked, and there are helpful "not vegan" signs next to a few of the items that are in close proximity to the vegan section. The prices at Sweeties are very reasonable - for approximately $4, I walked away with 7 cream-filled chocolates and 2 cordials. Best of all, the cashier was wearing a button with the word "vegan" written on it.
I wasn't terribly impressed with the vegan peanut butter cookie that I had at Woodstar. It was dense and somewhat stale. If Woodstar was located almost anywhere else, I would probably give them a more favorable rating for having vegan baked goods. However, there are so many coffee shops and restaurants with wonderful vegan cookies in the area that I would recommend going elsewhere.
On the plus side, the soy chai is really good, and rumor has it that Woodstar makes the best macchiatos in Northampton, so Woodstar is worth checking out if you're not looking for food to go with your hot beverage.
Zen is a slightly upscale Asian fusion restaurant with lots of vegetarian options. I was especially impressed by the attentive service. No more than a minute after I put down my chop sticks, the waiter was there to pick up my dish.
As for the food, Zen has one of the most creative sushi selections that I have ever seen. There are two types of "fruit sushi" that can be made vegan, not to mention a large number of interesting vegetable combinations. My favorite was the Hawaiian sushi - asian pear, mango, avocado, cashew nuts, glazed with honey and wrapped with rice and bean curd.
Most of the meat dishes can be made with mock meats or tofu (and are otherwise vegetarian). The staff was more than happy to make me a vegan version of the lotus leaf wrap by using vegetarian ham and leaving out the eggs.
All in all, I had a very positive experience with this place and I can't wait to go back!
I've never been terribly impressed with the vegan options at Seva. As the first reviewer commented, the dishes tend to be fairly bland and typical vegan fare (lots of earthy-sounding menu items that come with sprouts). The dairy-free desserts are usually made with whole wheat flour (or are wheat-free) so they tend to be very dense and a little too healthy tasting for my preferences. That said, I still go to Seva every time I'm in Ann Arbor. I've learned just to stick with the Thai vegetables in peanut sauce for my entree and the really delicious juice offerings.
I stayed here a few years ago and had a pretty decent vegan breakfast. There was a fruit salad and the hostess made some vegan pancakes for me. The room that I stayed in (Ada) was really cute. The location was a little farther from downtown Ann Arbor than I would have liked, but the beautiful gardens behind the house would not have been possible if Vitosha had been located in the main commercial district.
I was somewhat underwhelmed by the donuts that I tasted from Little Monster Cakes. They were similar in flavor and consistency to other vegan cake donuts that I've tried (from brands like Nutrilicious in Chicago and Pepples in San Francisco) but there isn't anything that really sets them apart from the others. That said, I'm excited that there is a vegan donut company in New Haven and I think it's really neat that they have flavors like the "Homer Simpson" (a pink frosted donut with sprinkles!).
Crescent Moon is a nice place to study or enjoy some live entertainment (depending on the time of day). Their vegan food options are limited, but soy milk is available for coffee and tea drinks and the staff seems pretty knowledgeable about ingredients. Crescent Moon also has a really great selection of dark chocolate available for purchase, as well as a library of books by Nebraska authors.
I end up eating here every time that I'm in Lincoln. It's one of the few restaurants in town with interesting vegan options and the waitstaff are very knowledgeable about which dishes can be made without dairy. The portions are generous, the carryout service is speedy (I once called in an order and it was ready in 10 minutes!) and the restaurant is in a really cute area of town.
De Bolhoed is a quaint all-vegetarian restaurant overlooking the Prinsengracht canal. It has a great location: only a few blocks away from the Anne Frank House and other Amsterdam museums.
Make sure that you get to De Bolhoed early in the evening. The restaurant closes at 10:30, and often it runs out of its "vegan daily special" (a 6 course, completely vegan meal) early. I got there at around 8:30 PM and they had already run out of the vegan special and the pasta of the day, so I was stuck ordering a la carte. The a la carte meal that I ordered was a bean burrito, which was decent but not spectacular. There are many vegan cakes, cookies, and brownies displayed in the dessert case, but they look a lot prettier than they taste (my slice of chocolate strawberry ganache cake was a bit dry and didn't taste particularly sweet). I don't know if the same is the case for all of the vegan desserts, though.
That said, the service was excellent and the people working there spoke good English (which is very helpful to those of us who do not speak Dutch). The Dutch grotesque statuettes of vegetables that are located throughout the restaurant are worth admiring while you are waiting for your meal. I honestly think that I would have had a much better gustatory experience if only had been there early enough for the seitan ravioli vegan special.
Green Planet is located down the block from one of the locations of the University of Amsterdam. It is a pretty small restaurant and meals take a long time to be served (the signs on the walls even say "Slow Food," warning customers that "quality takes time").
The signs were right - it took us roughly 2 hours to get in and out of the restaurant, but the meal was pretty good. I had the vegan crostini (toast with a humus spread and grilled vegetables on top) and the Thai sweet potato coconut basil soup, both of which were excellent. For dessert, I had a slice of lemon tofu "cheese"cake, which did not taste quite like cheesecake but was still good. One caveat: I'm pretty sure that they drizzled honey on the plate next to the cheesecake for decorative effect, so if you are strict about honey I would recommend asking the waiter to leave that off.
As for the menu on the whole, there are a number of vegan appetizers and soups, but there are only two or three vegan main courses, one of which is the masala of the day and another which was a Thai noodle dish, so you have to be in the mood for East Asian food to go there if you're vegan.
Cafe Ba Ba Reeba! was one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago, so I made a point of going to the Las Vegas location when I was there. Unfortunately, the menu at the Las Vegas Cafe Ba Ba Reeba! was much smaller than the Chicago menu and didn't have many choices for vegans. Pretty much the only vegan options are the spicy potatoes (if you get them without the alioli sauce), the guacamole and chips, the salted padron peppers and the salads (if you get them to hold the cheese). I was pretty disappointed that they didn't have some of my favorite dishes from the Chicago location. Unless you're just planning to drink the amazing sangria, I wouldn't bother eating here if you are vegan.
The sorbet at Cafe Gelato is wonderful. They had about 8 different vegan flavors each day. You can ask for free samples if you have a difficult time deciding between all of the delicious-sounding options. My favorite flavors were the watermelon and coconut.
The Canyon Ranch Grill has more options labeled "vegan" on the menu than most of the restaurants that I found on The Strip. That said, they're all pretty basic (things like veggie burgers, tofu scramble and vegetable stir-fry). I ended up ordering the SpaClub Vegetable Stir-fry with tofu, which sounded more exciting than most of the vegan options on the menu because it comes with a soy pomegranate sauce. In reality, the soy pomegranate sauce just tasted like basic teriyaki sauce. The taste was reasonable enough, but the dish was not as interesting as I had hoped.
Overall, I was glad to find a number of vegan options when I got hungry in the middle of my luxurious day at the Canyon Ranch Spa. That said, I don't know if I would go out of my way to eat here if I hadn't already been at the spa.
I wouldn't normally write a review about a chain restaurant owned by McDonalds, but I thought that the following information might be useful for other vegans visiting Las Vegas:
There are a number of vegetarian restaurants in Vegas, but unfortunately they're off The Strip and generally pretty far away from the tourist attractions and tend to close fairly early. The other vegan-friendly options that seem to show up a decent amount on VegGuide are the hotel buffets. Unfortunately, most of these buffets stop serving food by 10:30 PM. Fortunately, Chipotle is centrally-located (right across Las Vegas Boulevard from the Forum at Caesar's Palace and The Mirage) AND it's open until midnight.
I would have probably gone to bed hungry after a long day of travel if I hadn't stumbled across this place at 11:30 PM.
Like most Indian restaurants, Indian Oven is extremely vegetarian friendly and is able to cater to a clientele with a wide variety of dietary restrictions. They have about 15 vegetarian items, about a third of which are vegan. Each entree is $17.99 and comes with a side order of naan (Roti for the vegans) and rice. I order Channa Masala whenever possible, and was particularly pleased to discover that Indian Oven means it when they say that their food can be made 'very spicy'.
I had a plain pretzel from New York pretzel and it was pretty tasty. The dough was flavorful enough that I didn't feel like I was "missing out" by not eating one of the pretzels that was covered with butter. I was also pretty happy that the pretzel was fresh out of the oven. It seemed like New York Pretzel was popular enough that the pretzels never sat out for more than 5 minutes before being eaten.
Parasol Down probably has the most beautiful (and romantic!) ambience of any bar I have ever been to. It is located next to the "Lake of Dreams" at the Wynn hotel, which has a stunning waterfall, enclosed in a miniature forest. Throughout the evening, the waterfall changes colors and various miniature "shows" take place on the lake - some whimsical, others a little more sultry (the sultry shows started happening after midnight).
The drink menu is largely vegan. There were only two mixed drinks that couldn't be made vegan, and the waitress was knowledgeable enough about the drink consistencies that she could explain this to me. There were a number of really interesting drinks made with sake infusions. My favorite was a martini made with Asian pear sake and lychee syrup.
Red Square does a nice job with the "USSR" theme. It juxtaposes old Russian imperialist decor (rich, red velvet fabric and crystal chandeliers) with the crude cement blocks of Soviet-era architecture and, of course, a healthy dose of Soviet propaganda. It's definitely one of the more interesting bars that I have visited. Not only does it have a neat theme, but the drink selection is top-notch. The restaurant boasts over 200 varieties of vodka, ranging from flavor-infused vodkas to pricey imports from Russia. I sampled a few of the quirky cocktails, most of which resembled tropical drinks but had cute names like "Cuban Missile Crisis" and "From Russia With Love." A friend of mine ordered a tasting of vodkas from different countries (Russia, Poland and Estonia), which he really seemed to enjoy, but I'm not enough of a vodka connoisseur to appreciate the subtle differences. Unfortunately, I didn't find out that tourists are allowed to visit the subzero vodka vault (keeping warm with authentic Russian Army jackets) until afterwards, but I will definitely have to check this out the next time that I'm in Las Vegas.
Red Velvet Cafe is outstanding. It's not remotely close to The Strip (you have to take a cab and it'll probably be a $30 fare each way) but it's definitely worth the cab fare if you have others to split it with. I was really impressed with the fact that basically anything from the "regular" menu at Red Velvet can be made vegan, not by leaving out ingredients but by substituting delicious faux meat and dairy-free cheese substitutes. All of the faux meats, cheeses etc. are made in-house, so the staff can vouch for the vegan-ness of their ingredients.
When my friends and I went to Red Velvet, we assumed (based on all of the wonderful VegGuide reviews) that it would be pretty busy so we called ahead to make a reservation. The staff made fun of us and said that the reservation wouldn't be necessary. It turned out that we were right. Red Velvet is more of a casual cafe than a sit-down restaurant and we were the only customers at 8 PM on a Tuesday night. The lack of clientele was no indication of the quality of food, however.
For an appetizer, I decided to try one of the specials: a giant plate of bacon cheddar fries, which contained the best approximation of bacon that I have ever tasted. My buffalo "chicken" wrap was equally impressive - soft chunks of vegan chicken, covered in buffalo sauce and ranch dressing and homemade casein-free soy mozzarella cheese, served in a grilled tomato tortilla. Even though it wasn't a full service restaurant, the people working behind the counter were very attentive and refilled my raspberry lemonade -free of charge- throughout the evening.
The best part of the meal, by far, was the desserts. There were about 6 different types of vegan cake, plus a number of vegan cookies to choose from. I couldn't decide between the blood orange chocolate cake and the red velvet cake, so I ended up ordering both. These were some of the best vegan desserts I've tasted.
At the end of the meal, we had to wait a while for a cab to pick us up. The cab didn't end up showing up until about 10 minutes after the restaurant was supposed to close, but the staff were really nice about keeping the restaurant open for us.
I will definitely return to Red Velvet next time I am in Las Vegas!
The donuts at Ronald's are incredible! They're the best donuts I've ever had (vegan or otherwise). The soy cream donut with chocolate frosting was definitely my favorite, but the cinnamon sugar and maple glaze donuts were also very good. The donuts were very reasonably-priced (about $1.00 each).
I have to admit that my friends and I were a bit skeptical that the donuts were actually vegan. First off, they tasted too good to be true (although I would hardly hold that against a good vegan-friendly business!). Secondly, there was no place in the store advertising that there were vegan donuts. I asked the man who was serving me which donuts were vegan and he told me that the top 2 racks were, which amounted to about 90% of the donuts. I told him that I had never had such wonderful vegan donuts and asked him what he used to make them and he said it was a secret recipe.
I'm pretty sure that the place is legit because half the people who walked in (mostly locals) asked about the vegan donuts, I just thought it was a little strange that someone who has accomplished the wonderful feat of making vegan donuts that taste better than most "normal" donuts wouldn't advertise this fact anywhere in the store.
After making a wonderful trip to Peru last year, I have a bit of nostalgia for Peruvian cuisine. Needless to say, I was excited when I discovered that there was a Peruvian/Japanese restaurant on The Strip in Las Vegas. The restaurant itself has a very trendy feel to it. Most of the clientele seemed to be in their 20's and early 30's and the decor was very modern. Almost all of the dishes are served tapas-style, and guest are encouraged to sample from both the Peruvian and Japanese menus.
I went to Sushi Samba with a vegan friend and, between the two of us, we managed to order almost all of the vegan items on the menu. We had the trio of seaweed salads, served with tomato "caviar"; cripsy taquitos, which the server made vegan especially for us; Peruvian corn; coconut rice; sweet plantains; purple potatoes; Veggie Kun sushi rolls; and green bean tempura, drizzled with white truffle oil. The portion size for the tapas was quite large, so next time I would probably only order half as much. All of the dishes were delicious, but I especially enjoyed the Peruvian corn and green bean tempura. Our waitress gets major bonus points for arranging for the taquitos and tempura dishes to be altered so that we could eat them.
Lastly, I have to say that Sushi Samba may have the coolest bathrooms that I have ever seen in a restaurant. The toilet stalls are beautifully-decorated cylindrical "pods" and the ladies' room had a really sweet attendant who had breath mints, lotions and perfumes for patrons to sample.
I have always appreciated Vosges dark chocolate bars, but I was very excited to stumble upon the Vosges boutique in the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. The boutique had many more flavors of chocolate bars than you would be able to find in a grocery store and the employees were willing to give out samples of all of the chocolates! My favorite, by far, were the dark chocolate-covered dried mango chunks, dusted in sweet curry.
Another huge advantage of going to the boutique in Las Vegas was that one of the employees had an encyclopedic knowledge of the vegan products. When I mentioned that I was vegan, she got very excited and started telling me about how she's trying to get Vosges to start making a line of dark chocolate truffles with coconut milk (right now, NONE of their truffles are vegan because they are made with heavy cream).
Thanks to the extremely helpful employee, I have updated the Vosges description above to reflect the complete list of vegan products that are currently available (either in stores or on the Vosges website).
Calactus is a cute vegetarian cafe in downtown Moncton with tons of indoor and outdoor seating. The menu consists of an interesting combination of Canadian and Indian dishes. For example, the veggie pate is made with lentils and is flavored with curry. Everything can be made vegan (by substituting whipped tofu cheese for dairy cheese), so just ask!
When I visited Calactus, I decided to order an appetizer platter which consisted of warm pieces of flatbread, coated with garlic and olive oil, served with sticks of carrots, celery and two dipping sauces. I decided to try the veggie pate and the whipped tofu cheese spread, both of which were delicious. The whipped tofu was creamy and flavored with savory herbs. The veggie pate was a hearty spread with the flavor of Indian curry.
For dessert, they had a variety of vegan options, including banana walnut cake, cookies and dairy-free ice cream. I didn't wind up ordering anything because I was completely full from my appetizer.
If you're driving on the TransCanada Highway/NB 2, I highly recommend stopping here. Calactus is definitely one of the best options for vegans traveling through Atlantic Canada.
I coerced my two roadtrip companions to spend the night in Moncton just so that we could eat here (I visited the Zen Gardens in Waterloo a few years back and loved it!). Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled when we arrived at Zen Gardens at 7 PM on a Saturday night and found that the restaurant was closed. It did not appear to be closed permanently, but there were no signs indicating why it wasn't open - the fact that the lights were off and the door was locked seemed to contradict the hours posted on the door. At any rate, I was surprised (and annoyed) that a restaurant that is part of a Canadian chain didn't have the decency to put up a sign. I refuse to give a restaurant that is part of such a wonderful, vegan-friendly chain a rating of "terrible," which is why I rated it "fair." However, I won't be going out of my way to try to eat at this branch again.
Cafe Indigo has the best vegan Sunday brunch in New Hampshire. For $15, you can eat as much as you want from the salad bar and dessert bar (which includes their legendary cakes, plus an assortment of muffins and scones), unlimited coffee and tea (with soy creamer available!) and your choice of entree. I had the "Sampler" as my entree, which consisted of cornmeal pancakes, french toast, tofu scramble, soy sausage and potatoes.
Cafe Indigo is the company that supplies cakes to Mai Thai, Whole Foods and other Boston-area restaurants and grocery stores. The restaurant has a number of baked goods that you can take home with you (whole cakes; boxes of cookies, cinnamon rolls, brownies or scones) as well as a refrigerator case of exotic vegan cheese substitutes (including Sheese, which is imported from Scotland).
Boloco has worse-than-average burritos if you're looking for a standard meatless burrito. However, if you can get past the idea of eating a burrito filled with tofu, broccoli and terriyaki sauce then it's actually a pretty decent place for vegans. Boloco also has a number of smoothies, a few of which are soy-based or fruit juice-based. The service is usually very quick, although it can be quite slow during peak lunch and dinner hours. Boloco also provides an online delivery service.
Chocolate Now has a wonderful selection of vegan sweets, including many flavors of dark chocolate bars, marzipan, and maple candy. I'm a big fan of the Vosges Black Pearl bar (dark chocolate with wasabi, ginger and black sesame seeds) and the Nirvana Pomegranate bar (dark chocolate infused with pomegranate and Madagascar vanilla).
Unfortunately, most of the exotic truffles and chocolates in the display case are not vegan.
The Hanover Co-op doesn't have as much selection as the Lebanon Co-op, but it does have a number of vegan staples: casein-free soy cheese, soy margarine, mock meat products. If you're looking for more than one flavor of soy ice cream, you should go to the Lebanon Co-op.
Cupcake Queen has been bringing vegan cupcakes to the Hanover Farmer's market every week this summer! So far, the flavors have been: vanilla chai, coconut mocha, coconut buttercream and coconut with chocolate ganache. I can't begin to describe how much Cupcake Queen has brightened my summer with their delicious offerings.
Original Review: June 8, 2011
I was thrilled when I found out that there are vegan cupcakes available at the Hanover Farmer's Market. Today, the vegan flavor was vanilla chai, which came topped with a ripe blackberry. The cake texture was perfect - light and airy, without being overly dense. The cinnamon in the cake gave it a nice "kick." The frosting was creamy and sweet. There was just enough frosting that it didn't run out before I finished the cupcake, but there wasn't so much frosting that it overpowered the cake. I really hope that Cupcake Queen continues to sell vegan cupcakes in the future, because they were some of the yummiest cupcakes that I have ever had. If vegan cupcakes become a regular part of the menu, I will gladly upgrade my rating from "great" to "excellent."
The Dirt Cowboy has a number of exotic loose teas, smoothies and espresso drinks, not to mention the best coffee in town (according to every Hanover resident that I have met). Unlike the Starbucks down the street, the Dirt Cowboy has many "seasonal" drinks year round, ex. pumpkin spice lattes. The staff is happy to make anything with soy instead of dairy milk and seems to be pretty conscientious about asking customers if they should hold the whipped cream if a customer requests soy milk. Unfortunately, none of the baked goods or sandwiches are vegan.
The Dirt Cowboy is a popular place for Dartmouth students to study. Depending on the time if day, it can be very difficult to get a table. Also, Dirt Cowboy closes at 6 PM, which can be very frustrating.
Thanks to a vegetarian employee, Gusanoz is now offering a vegetarian burrito and has fajita veggies (grilled peppers and mushrooms) and black bean salsa that you can add to any dish. The menu has been updated to say "now substitute black beans for any meat filling on a burrito or taco at no extra charge!" I suspect that this might have been a response to all of the confused inquiries that they were getting about having nothing specifically vegetarian listed on the menu. Either way, I'm thrilled that Gusanoz is becoming more vegetarian-friendly!
Original Review: (Feb 25, 2009)
I've never been terribly impressed with the vegan options at Gusanoz. Any of the burritos, tacos etc. can be made vegan, but then you're basically left with refried beans, rice and vegetables on a tortilla shell. I've been a lot happier with the vegan version of the taco salad, mostly because the guy who works there is happy to load up my salad with extra veggies to make up for the lack of cheese, sour cream and meat.
The prices are somewhat higher at Gusanoz than at Boloco, particularly because Gusanoz doesn't charge less for vegetarian versions of dishes. However, the food is much more authentic at Gusanoz, so it's nice to have that option.
This restaurant offers a variety of vegetarian dishes. In fact, the vegetarian menu is basically identical to that of Jewel of India (located about 100 meters down the road). Unfortunately, the service here is TERRIBLE. The one time I came here to eat, I ended up waiting 3 hours for my food (every 30 minutes I was told that the food would be right out and I embarrassingly believed them). I suggest eating at Jewel of India instead and coming here for drinks on karaoke night.
Jewel of India is consistently rated the Best Indian Restaurant in the Upper Valley. I'm pretty sure that this is because there isn't much competition. The food is pretty bland (unless you tell your server that you want it really, really, really spicy and even then you're likely to get something that doesn't have much spice).
The samosas at the Jewel of India are probably the only good samosas in the region. There are other places in the Hanover area that sell samosas, but they all seem to be made by the same company and come in flavors like "cheddar cheese and sunflower seeds," and even the ones containing peas, potatoes and other "normal" samosa ingredients have a funny aftertaste.
On Sundays, the Jewel of India has a popular lunch buffet for about $9. It usually has a number of vegetarian dishes (including a couple of vegan options, like chick peas, rice and lentils). On Monday-Saturday, the Jewel of India has lunch specials on regular menu items. All of the portions at Jewel of India are huge, so the lunch special is probably a better deal than the buffet (unless you eat a ridiculous amount of food).
The Jewel of India is one of a very small number of restaurants in the Hanover area that has multiple vegan items on its menu.
I used to hate going to Lou's because the only vegan items on the menu are a veggie burger and a falafel sandwich (the same vegan options offered at every other restaurant in Hanover).
However, it seems like they have recently been putting a lot of effort into attracting vegan customers. In the past month, I have seen chickpea soup, tofu pasta and a cranberry walnut spinach salad all appear (clearly labeled "vegan") on the weekly specials. In addition, Lou's recently started selling chocolate soy milk. I can only hope that some of the delicious-looking desserts in the display case start appearing with a "vegan" label...
Mai Thai is the only Thai restaurant in Hanover (and, as far as I know, in the Upper Valley). The food is decent, but not spectacular. The lunch special is one of the better deals in Hanover (for about $6, you can get a cup of vegetarian soup, a vegetable spring roll and a plate of curry with your choice of rice). There is also a lunch buffet, which varies from day to day (some days are more vegetarian-friendly than others).
The service is fairly slow - lunch usually takes at least an hour, and dinner can take upwards of 2 hours. As far as I can tell, the dishes that sound vegetarian don't contain fish sauce and the coconut sticky rice with mango is a vegan dessert. Mai Thai is one of the only restaurants in the area with multiple vegan options, so it's definitely worth checking out if you're a vegan living in the Upper Valley.
Morano Gelato is quickly winning me over. Over the past 2 weeks, they've had at least 2 dairy-free options each time that I've stopped by and the flavors have gotten a lot more interesting. My favorite sorbetto flavors so far are dark chocolate (yes, it's a sorbet!) and grapefruit. The dark chocolate reminds me of a slightly bitter version of a Fudgecicle. It's creamy and rich without being overly sweet. The grapefruit is light and airy and possibly the most refreshing-tasting ice cream product that I have ever tasted. Unlike many American "gelato" shops, Morano Gelato knows its craft. The sorbetto is actually creamy, as true Italian sorbetti ought to be.
I'm thrilled that Morano Gelato has been moving in a more vegan-friendly direction. The only thing holding me back from giving them 5 stars at this point is that there are still some days when there is only one vegan flavor and it's something pretty standard (like lemon). That said, if the number and variety of vegan options become more consistent, I will gladly give Morano Gelato that extra star.
Original Review: May 13, 2011
I was so excited to learn that Hanover was getting a gelateria - I literally walked past the storefront every day for a month in hopes that it would open. However, Morano Gelato finally opened last week and, so far, I have been a little disappointed with the non-dairy offerings. I'm used to gelato shops with dairy-free sorbetto flavors comprising roughly 40% of the menu. So far, Morano Gelato only seems to have 1 dairy-free flavor available at a time, and it's usually pretty uninspiring (lemon, passion fruit, banana). On the other hand, it seems like there are always around 10 flavors that are made with dairy, and most of these flavors look really interesting (olive oil, chili-chocolate, panna cotta, jasmine, honey).
I spoke with the owner and she mentioned that she's hoping to start having 2 sorbetto flavors at a time once the weather warms up, but she warned me that the fruit-based flavors don't sell as well as the cream-based flavors, so she's not sure how sustainable it will be to carry 2 sorbetti at a time. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that something changes soon. I realize that Morano Gelato has to do what is best for its business, but it's getting really depressing waiting in the gelato line with my friends, only to leave empty-handed (somehow, it feels worse to settle for the lemon sorbet while everyone else goes crazy over the exciting non-vegan flavors) .
The Orient has a good selection of tofu dishes and, to my pleasant surprise, fake meat dishes (made with seitan). I love the vegetarian sesame chicken. Their delivery service is usually quicker than the phone operator estimates. Overall, I've had very good experiences with this place.
Rosey's Coffee and Tea is a cute coffee shop that never seems very crowded. I was impressed to see the large variety of vegetarian sandwiches on their menu. Unfortunately, all of the sandwiches rely heavily on cheese, so Rosey's is not a good lunch option for vegan customers.
Also, for some reason they are unable to make iced chai. They serve hot chai and iced coffee but when I asked for an iced soy chai, I was told that it would not be possible.
The food made by Taste of Africa is some of the best vegan food in the Upper Valley area. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find it when it's freshly made (the Lebanon and Hanover Coops sell "African chickpea meals" and other vegan boxed meals made by Taste of Africa, but you have to buy them from the refrigerator case).
During the summer, there is almost always a Taste of Africa booth at the Norwich Farmers' Market. They usually have samosas, coconut rice, warm chickpeas in a delicious sauce and clove lemonade (all of which are vegan).
In addition, it is possible to have warm Taste of Africa meals delivered to your home via their catering service. However, the orders must meet a minimum of $75. Otherwise, you have to arrange to pick up your meal from them. Their website advertises that they can make a wide range of vegetarian/vegan fare from countries and regions throughout Africa.
I really hate Umpleby's. None of their pastries are vegan (and a number of them actually contain meat!). There are two vegetarian sandwiches on the menu - a portobello sandwich and a hummus sandwich. The hummus sandwich contains goat cheese and the portobello sandwich contains mayo. You can request to hold these ingredients, but then you're basically paying $8 for a handful of veggies on two slices of bread. I've heard good things about the vegetarian soups, but again they tend to be cream-based. I try to avoid this place whenever possible.
I ate at the new Hanover location of Yama last night and the service was terrible. The hostess originally estimated that it would take 40 minutes for us to be seated, but instead it took 70. To top it off, various staff members came out and told us "5 more minutes" every 10 or so minutes after the first 30 minutes of waiting and then proceeded to seat all of the small parties that showed up after we did (rather than pushing together the next 2 small tables that became available to seat the 6 of us).
After we had been seated for 10 minutes or so, the staff told us that they needed us to move to a different table because they wanted to join our table to another group that was expecting more people to show up. Yama decided to reward us with free Edamame appetizers for being good sports about moving.
We were temporarily mollified until it was time for our orders to come out. Half of our table received food very promptly. The other half of us waited for 30 minutes, then asked our waiter about our food. He checked the kitchen and then told us there was a "mix-up" and that they would have to start cooking our orders all over again. Because of the "mix-up," we were given a 20% discount on our meal.
I appreciate the fact that the staff at Yama recognized their mistakes and tried to compensate with discounts and free appetizers (which is why I'm not giving Yama a rating of "terrible"), but it will be a long time before I go back there. Hopefully, by that point, it will take substantially less than 3 hours to get a meal.
This place is amazing for vegans. It has (almost) everything that you can find at large organic grocery store chains such as Whole Foods. The prepared foods section usually has a vegan soup, as well as vegan dumplings, seasoned tofu, samosas and African rice dishes. The bakery carries Liz Lovely vegan cookies. In addition, the Co-op also has many types of casein-free soy cheese (including Follow Your Heart and Soy Feta), local Vermont soy milk (plus all of the usual brands), an extensive selection of fake meats (located in the produce section), soy and rice ice cream products, etc. The people who run the Co-op seem to be open to customer suggestions. The Lebanon Co-op is larger and has more selection than the Hanover Co-op, but both are extremely vegan-friendly.
The Lebanon Health Food Store has the best selection of Road's End Organics Macaroni and Chreese that I have seen in the Upper Valley (the Food Coop only sells one flavor). It also carries Liz Lovely cookies, Tofurkey products, Newman O's etc.
I'll be honest: the food here isn't outstanding; in addition to a few vegan salads they have a hummus plate, vegetable wrap and veggie burger. The atmosphere is nice though (some of the live bands that play here are quite good), and frankly, the fact that a tiny bar in the middle of NH serves any vegetarian dishes at all is commendable.
Three Tomatoes is a popular Italian restaurant on the Lebanon Green. Outdoor seating (with a nice view of the Lebanon Green) is available during the summer months.
There are three pasta dishes that are vegan: pasta with tomato basil sauce; pasta with tomatoes, roasted garlic, spinach and mushrooms; and the vegetarian special, which usually consists of seasonal vegetables sauteed in olive oil served over pasta. In addition, the complimentary bread is served with chopped fresh garlic and olive oil and there are a number of vegan salads on the menu.
The drink menu is probably the main reason that I keep going back to Three Tomatoes Trattoria. Unlike most restaurants in the Upper Valley, Three Tomatoes has a creative cocktail menu. My favorites are the Italian margarita (made with Amaretto) and the white peach bellini.
When Stella's opened last year, I found the sole vegan option (pasta with marinara sauce) to be disappointing. I was recently persuaded to return, only to discover that the menu has since improved significantly. There are two items that are actually labeled "vegan" on the menu, a very rare occurrence in this area.
I decided to order the vegan penne, which consisted of whole wheat penne tossed with sauteed vegetables in extra virgin olive oil. My friend ordered the vegan white bean cassoulet, which was a stew of white beans, arugula and artichoke. Both dishes were light and flavorful.
There were two other options on the menu that are suitable for vegans: pasta with marinara and pasta with aglio and olio. For lacto-ovo vegetarians, there is an artichoke ravioli dish that another friend of mine raves about.
The desserts are pretty impressive, even for vegans. There are usually four flavors of homemade sorbet. I tried the fresh berry cabernet and the balsamic pear sorbets, both of which were incredible.
Susty's Cafe is a rare gem in the back woods of New Hampshire. While the location is not completely remote (it's about about 30 minutes from Concord, en route to Portsmouth), the restaurant is pretty far from the major highways.
Susty's specializes in comfort food, with homemade menu items that include seitan pot pie, tofu lasagna, tofu scramble, a seitan peppersteak sandwich, tofu fries, and soy fritters. My favorite dishes were the soy fritters, which came with a wonderful dill soy yogurt sauce, and a tofu pesto sandwich served on farmhouse bread. There was also a lemon cake with neon pink raspberry frosting that was moist and delicious.
All in all, I am really impressed that a place like this exists in rural New Hampshire. I've lived in NH for two years and I've found that even the major cities (ex. Manchester, Lebanon) don't have a single vegetarian restaurant, so I'm surprised that Northwood is able to support a completely vegan restaurant.
That said, if you're in the area, you should definitely check out this place!
Cantore's is my new favorite vegan-friendly dining establishment in the Upper Valley. The service is quick and the prices are very reasonable. All of the calzones and pizzas are made fresh to order (except for the pizza that is sold by the slice), so you can completely customize your meal. For example, Cantore's will make vegan calzones stuffed with Daiya cheese and your choice of veggies (just specify that you don't want any parmesan sprinkled on top). They also have gluten-free pizza dough available upon request. The Cantore's staff is pretty generous with the pizza toppings and the portions are huge (I would recommend ordering the "small" calzone if you're just ordering for yourself). My only (very minor) complaint is that Cantore's doesn't have any vegan dessert options at the present time. I would love to see them add some vegan cake slices to their dessert fridge!
Koto is an average hibachi restaurant with higher than average prices. The food preparation show is fun if you have never experienced hibachi before, but I can't say that it was all that spectacular. There are a number of food options for lacto-ovo vegetarians. That said, it's definitely worth mentioning that you're vegetarian so that the hibachi chef will hold off on grilling the meat dishes until after the vegetable dishes are finished.
As a vegan, I was pretty appalled that my strawberry daiquiri automatically came with whipped cream and my vegetable hibachi dinner was made with a large slab of butter. The waiter was willing to replace my daiquiri with a dairy-free version, but nothing could be done about the butter in the hibachi dinner. I realize that plenty of restaurants probably throw butter into my otherwise vegan meals and I unknowingly end up consuming it, but it was frustrating to watch as large slabs of butter were added to my food against my will. If it hadn't been for the fact that this was my friends' wedding reception, I probably would have left.
That said, the service was excellent and the chefs tried to be as accommodating of my diet as possible (they even cooked my meal first, so that there would be no cross-contamination with meat), so I've decided to give Koto a rating of "fair" instead of "terrible."
I wouldn't ordinarily list a place like "Panera" on a vegetarian food guide, but it is one of the better vegan options in our area. Many of the vegetarian soups (particularly those labeled "low-fat" and "vegetarian") are vegan. The employees are happy to show you a binder that they have which contains the ingredients of all of the soups if you have any doubts as to whether a soup contains dairy products.
Panera is also very good about customizing sandwiches and salads to be suitable for vegans. In many cases, you can order a salad or sandwich "without gorgonzola" or "without chicken" and wind up with a meal that is still very flavorful.
Un Doo is a brand-new health food store that is owned by the same people as Un Dun (the local tattoo/piercing parlor and head shop). It has a phenomenal selection of raw vegan food items, as well as a few regular vegan items (ex. Daiya cheese) and vegetarian items (ex. local, organic eggs).
The homemade kombucha is the main reason to come here. Un Doo has two flavors at a time (raspberry and ginger, the last time I checked) and you can bottle it yourself with one of their re-fillable bottles.
Unfortunately, the raw food products are very expensive. That said, Un Doo just opened last week, so I'm hoping that they'll expand their "regular" vegan offerings (which are much less expensive) after the owners get a sense of how the inventory is moving.
Yama is one of the only places in the Upper Valley with more than one menu option for vegans. There is vegetarian sushi (including inari), edamame, scallion pancakes, and some noodle dishes with tofu.
I love this store! The purses are all vegan and they hold up well after being used for several years. The designs are more innovative than I've found at most vegan handbag companies. I get tons of compliments on my Big Buddha purses every time I wear them.
Pizza Plant is local chain restaurant that is pretty conscientious about providing food options for vegetarians (and purchasing its ingredients locally, whenever possible). The food is pretty decent. I had some yummy nachos (covered in curry powder and tons of veggies) and a fairly bland soy cheese pizza with soy sausage. Almost half of the menu items are vegetarian (and are labeled as such). I really wanted to try the vegetarian buffalo wings but unfortunately they had just run out of them.
One big caveat for vegans: the soy cheese almost certainly contains casein. I asked the waitress about dairy-free vegetarian options and was told that they can make the pods (calzones) and pizzas with soy cheese. However, the cheese was a little too stringy to be milk protein-free. If you're vegan and decide to eat there, you might want to be a little more specific than I was about not wanting milk derivatives in your meal.
When I went to ABC Cafe, I noticed that there was nothing on the menu to indicate which items could be made vegan. The waitress explained that they are willing to make anything vegan by leaving out certain ingredients, but obviously some work better than others.
One caveat for vegans: the soy cheese contains casein. The staff seemed pretty aware of this fact, however, and made sure to steer me away from my original plan of ordering nachos with soy cheese.
I ended up having a seitan sandwich on garlic toast (made with soy margarine) and a glass of Ithaca chai. Both were delicious. On the night that I was there, ABC had vegan carrot cake for dessert.
Culture Shock is a really neat concept. It's a hip little cafe that features live music performances, a rotating art show by local artists, as well as a giant ball pit in the front of the restaurant that is designated as "kids only" before 8 PM and "adults only" after 8 PM. I visited Culture Shock on a Saturday night and couldn't help but smile at the sight of a pack of college students playing in the ball pit.
As far as food goes, Culture Shock is surprisingly vegan-friendly. The cafe seems to specialize in dishes of the "build-your-own" variety, so it's very easy to have any dish made vegan. You can build your own salad, using the large array of vegetables, fruits, dressing and other toppings that are available. You can also build a decadent ice cream sundae using either frozen yogurt or vegan soft serve ice cream and a nice selection of toppings. According to the manager, there are two flavors of frozen yogurt and two flavors of vegan soft serve available every day. Most (if not all) of the toppings are vegan.
The vegan soft serve flavors that were available when I was in town were a coconut milk-based chocolate mint ice cream and a rice milk-based vanilla chai ice cream. Both were delicious, albeit a bit strange in combination (next time, I won't get the flavors swirled together). The manager also made sure to mention other vegan desserts that weren't listed on the menu, including cookies and slices of raw vegan cheesecake.
Farm Sanctuary is an amazing place. It was really touching, being able to see the rescued animals living out their lives as naturally as possible. It reaffirmed my reasons for choosing to be a vegan. I could go on and on about Farm Sanctuary and how wonderful I think they are as an organization. However, I'm mostly writing these reviews to help other vegans in pursuit of food, so I thought I should comment that Farm Sanctuary isn't half bad as a vegan cuisine destination. If you stay at the B&B, they serve vegan pastries for breakfast. The Farm Sanctuary Visitor Center gift shop has a wide array of vegan cookies, candy, dairy-free ice cream sandwiches, fruit bars, juices, soy milk and other yummy vegan snack food. If you're looking for vegan leather or cruelty-free shampoo they have a few of those items for sale (and lots more to try out and then order for yourself online).
The Glen Mountain Market makes seitan sandwiches and subs. They also serve vegan breakfast pastries and cheesecakes. According to the people at Farm Sanctuary, you can order vegan birthday cakes from the Glen Mountain Market (this must be done one day in advance). I haven't actually eaten here, I just thought it sounded good and thought I would pass the information along. I will definitely check it out next time I'm in the area.
The word on the street is that they use Soy Temptation mix (from the Chicago Soydairy). When I was there, they had softserve chocolate soy ice cream. Yum!
Greenstar is an amazing grocery store, especially for vegans. There are a huge number of vegan products available, including some difficult-to-find brands like Dr. Cow's Tree Nut Cheese. When I was at the Greenstar Coop, the bakery section had several flavors of homemade vegan cookies, as well as at least 4 different types of vegan cakes and homemade vegan Twinkies! The prepared foods section had a number of vegan options, including fresh-from-the-oven slices of pizza made with Daiya cheese. The Greenstar Coop also has a fabulous selection of local foods, including Susie's Seitan and Tofu-Kan (locally-made seitan and tofu, respectively).
I was impressed with the selection of vegan sandwiches at the Ithaca Bakery. There were several vegan options in each category, including some that contained interesting ingredients (Daiya cheese, locally-made seitan, vegan chicken salad). My favorite sandwich was a customized version of The Fusion, which normally consists of lemon teriyaki seitan, caramelized onions and other veggies on toasted bread. I paid a few dollars extra to have melted Daiya added to the sandwich and it was delicious (albeit pricey).
Ithaca Bakery also had some vegan items in the dessert case, including glazed lemon bundt cakes and a few different varieties of vegan cookies. That said, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that the vast majority of the desserts were not vegan and, on the whole, the non-vegan pastries and cakes tended to be much more decadent-looking than the vegan options (I had to content myself with glazed lemon bundt cake while my non-vegan friends indulged in white chocolate mousse tortes and slices of chocolate hazelnut cheesecake). I would give Ithaca Bakery an extra star if they put a little more effort into making exciting desserts for vegans.
I had a wonderful stay at the Log Country Inn B&B. The Inn proprietress was more than happy to accommodate my dietary needs. Every morning, I woke up to a delicious homemade vegan breakfast. On the first day, there were vegan blintzes, filled with various fruits and jams. On the second day, we were treated to vegan potato pancakes.
The Inn is conveniently located about 40 minutes away from the Watkins Glen location of Farm Sanctuary. In addition, there are many vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in the area. The rooms have a "rustic" cabin feel but are fully-equipped with private bathrooms (some with large jacuzzi tubs). It's a great place for an animal conscious person to take a vacation.
I went to the Lost Dog Cafe on a Sunday afternoon after reading their menu and seeing some tasty-sounding vegan lunch options (the tofu corn cakes caught my eye). However, it turns out that they have a different menu for Sunday brunch, and the only vegan option on their Sunday brunch menu was a veggie burger (which I wasn't terribly excited about). I asked the waitress if they could still make me a tofu cake even though it wasn't part of the brunch menu, but she said that it wouldn't be possible. I'd be curious to go back sometime when they have their regular menu to try out some of the vegan options.
While I was visiting Cornell for a conference, a friend of mine recommended that I eat lunch at Manndible Cafe, mainly based on the convenience of the location. I was pleasantly surprised by the vegan-friendliness of this campus dining facility. There were at least 5 different brands of vegan cookies to choose from, including several from local companies that I hadn't encountered previously. I decided to try the vanilla chai cookies from Everyday Gourmet Vegan Bakery and they were fantastic! Manndible Cafe also had a nice selection of organic sodas and juices, as well as a few hot dishes that were vegan (tofu scramble, vegan sausage patties and customizable burritos that can be made with faux ground beef).
I'm not sure that I would go out of my way to eat at Manndible Cafe if I was just visiting downtown Ithaca, since it's quite a trek to get up the hill to the Cornell campus and, at the end of the day, Manndible still has a "campus dining facility" feel to it. That said, I highly recommend this option to any vegans or vegetarians visiting the Cornell University campus.
I thought that the Moosewood restaurant was somewhat overrated, at least in terms of its vegan offerings. The only lunch menu items that were vegan on the day that I was there were a hummus sandwich, some salads and a vegetable soup. All of the more interesting sounding menu items contained dairy or fish. The vegan chocolate cake was decent for a cake that claims to use bananas as its sole sweetener, but I found much better vegan desserts elsewhere in Ithaca. In short, Moosewood is a good place to go if you happen to be in the area, but I wouldn't make a special trip there.
I had a pretty tasty soy cheese pizza here. The "cheese" used is Follow Your Heart Mozzarella (vegan). Most of their dairy cheese pizzas are available by the slice. If you want them to make a soy cheese pizza, you have to order a whole pizza. However, it only takes 20 minutes. The "large" is about $20 and it's enough to feed at least 2 hungry vegans (we probably could have fed a third, given the amount that we had left over). I haven't tried the calzones but I've heard that they're fantastic.
I had my best meal in Ithaca at Thai Cuisine. It's not in an ideal location for tourists or Cornell students, but if you have access to a car, it's well worth the trip. The restaurant has a separate all-vegetarian menu that is fairly extensive. As an added bonus, nearly all of the vegetarian items can be made vegan upon request.
According to various sources (including the restaurant's website), Thai Cuisine is purported to be the "best Thai restaurant in New York State, including New York City." I haven't eaten at enough Thai restaurants in New York to decide whether I agree with this statement, but it is pretty amazing Thai food. One of the qualities that sets it apart from other Thai restaurants in my mind is that Thai Cuisine isn't afraid to experiment in its dishes. All of the traditional "favorites" can be found on the menu, but why order yet another restaurant's version of Penang Curry when you can try the Gaeng Kooa Pohn-La-Mai (the chef's special curry of pineapple with coconut milk, grapes, raisins, seasonal fresh fruit, cashews and Thai basil)? I ordered the Gaeng Kooa Pohn-La-Mai with seitan and found myself thinking about this dish for days afterwards.
If sweet curry dishes aren't your "thing," Thai Cuisine also has some unusual spicy dishes, such as the Gra Prow (seitan or tofu stir-fried with veggies and flambeed with whiskey) and the Lad Prig (tofu or seitan served with veggies in a tamarind-chili sauce). The best part is that the spicy dishes can be customized to match your desired level of spiciness and, from what I can tell, the spice levels are pretty consistent between visits. Thai Cuisine also gets major bonus points for using tofu and seitan made by local companies.
Waffle Frolic is a cute place to stop for lunch. As the name might suggest, all of the foods that Waffle Frolic sells seem to revolve around waffles. You can get a peanut butter and jelly waffle sandwich, a vegan waffle dog (which is basically like a corn dog, but with waffle batter instead) or a waffle with your choice of toppings. Any of the waffles can be made with vegan or gluten-free batter upon request. I decided to order the waffle dog for my lunch, which came with maple mustard dipping sauce. On its own, the waffle dog wasn't very filling, but I didn't mind having an excuse to order a waffle ice cream sundae (made with mint chocolate chip coconut milk ice cream) for dessert.
I went to Sticky Lips with a few (non-vegetarian) friends. I thought it would be a good option since my friends were not so keen on eating at a strictly vegetarian restaurant, but at the same time there was a separate vegetarian menu and I was intrigued by the idea of vegan BBQ. The food was fairly mediocre. I had BBQ tofu with some vegetable sides, and the tofu did not seem to absorb any of the flavor of the BBQ sauce. My friends were equally dissatisfied with their meals.
There were a few other vegetarian options on the menu which I did not get a chance to try (one of the menu items was even labeled "vegan," although it is possible to get other items made vegan as well). One caveat: I was reading the ingredient lists on the BBQ sauce bottles at our table and only about half of them were vegetarian (the others contain worcestershire sauce, which is made with anchovies).
Overall, I think Sticky Lips was a neat place to try once (the waitstaff was very friendly and fast and the decor was interesting - lots of old newspaper articles from the 40s and 50s covering the walls), but I'm not sure that I would go back there again.
The food here is decent but pretty overpriced. They have a selection of sandwiches, salads, smoothies and juices, most of which seem to be vegan (the menu specifically stated that the sandwiches were made with vegan cheese, but I couldn't tell with some of the salads). The restaurant also advertises making cheese and chocolate fondue (presumably not vegan) and has a variety of vegan and non-vegan baked goods, vegan truffles and assorted gift baskets.
On a recent visit, I ended up ordering a vegan American cheese and sun dried tomato sandwich, which was good but not terribly filling. I didn't see any drinks on the menu other than the juices and smoothies so I ended up ordering a banana smoothie. Unfortunately, my sandwich-and-smoothie lunch ended up costing me almost $20!
On the plus side, the people working at the cafe were really friendly and helpful. Also, the vegan cupcakes are only $2.50 and they're really good.
Dun-Well Doughnuts makes some of the best vegan doughnuts that I have ever tasted. The only company that I've found to produce comparable doughnuts (in terms of flavor and texture) is the ubiquitous Ronald's Donuts in Las Vegas. One of the key aspects that sets Dun-Well and Ronald's apart from the other vegan doughnut companies is that they make yeasted doughnuts instead of cake doughnuts. Yeasted doughnuts are lighter and fluffier than cake doughnuts and, unlike cake doughnuts, they're capable of holding a filling.
Dun-Well Doughnuts makes good use of this additional feature. One of the most popular flavors that Dun-Well produces is the Peanut Butter and Jelly Doughnut, which is a jelly-filled doughnut topped with peanut butter frosting. During my last visit to New York, Dun-Well was experimenting with a Boston Cream Doughnut, which came with a cream filling that was made from the homemade cashew nut milk that Lula's Sweet Apothecary uses in its ice cream. I hope that the Boston Cream becomes a regular menu item, because it was out-of-this-world!
In addition to creating outstanding doughnuts with fillings, Dun-Well Doughnuts also excels in the more traditional-looking doughnuts with holes. The flavors that Dun-Well creates change from week-to-week, but some of the most popular ones (like the PB&J doughnut) seem to appear on the menu every week. An up-to-date list of doughnut flavors available during a given week can be found on the Dun-Well Doughnut Blog. Some of the past flavors include: Lavender Lemon Poppyseed, Raspberry Cheesecake, Root Beer, Key Lime Pie, Ginger Snap, Black Licorice, Peppermint Stick, S'mores (made with Sweet & Sara Marshmallows), Cranberry with Rose Water Glaze, Green Tea with Ginger Crystals.
The only downside to Dun-Well Doughnuts is that the doughnuts are so amazing that they tend to sell out fairly quickly. As of May 2011, there is no Dun-Well Doughnuts storefront, so all of the doughnuts are delivered to local vendors on Saturday mornings. I purchased Dun-Well Doughnuts at Blossom Du Jour approximately one hour after it opened and all of the flavors were still available. However, I got the "last one" of several flavors and I wouldn't be surprised if the doughnuts were completely sold out by 2 PM. For now, I would recommend getting in line early if you want to partake in these delicious treats. That said, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Dun-Well Doughnuts gets a storefront soon.
I didn't know what to expect from an all-vegan bar, so I was struck by how ordinary the Pine Box Rock Shop seemed. There weren't any "Why Vegan" leaflets floating around, or video screens showing images of farm animals. Instead, Pine Box Rock Shop felt pretty much like every other bar that I have ever been to. There was a large TV showing a sports game on one end of the bar. Near the back, there was an old video arcade game console (I have to admit, I thought that Big Buck Hunter was a slightly strange choice for a vegan bar). The clientele consisted primarily of hipsters in their 20's, but everyone seemed pretty friendly and the bar wasn't overly crowded at 1 AM on a Friday night. I got the sense that a lot of the bar patrons weren't aware that the bar was all-vegan, which I found to be surprisingly refreshing.
One reason that Pine Box Rock Shop is able to slide under the radar of people who might not normally frequent a vegan establishment is that the drink menu doesn't ever use the words "vegan" or "dairy-free." A friend of mine ordered a White Russian at one point and I noticed that the bartender pulled out a carton of soy milk in order to make it. For me, the most exciting item on the menu was the homemade vegan Irish Cream. In order to take advantage of this rare opportunity, I ordered the Sam In A Sweater (which was basically like an alcoholic root beer float made with the Irish Cream). It was fun for me to be able to go to a bar and order anything on the menu without worrying about the ingredients.
I purchased the "Vaute Coat" from here and I have been thrilled with it. At first, the faux-wool material seemed a little strange (it's made from recycled polyester) but it has really started to grow on me. The coat is so soft and warm - I live in New Hampshire and it has kept me cozy in 10 degree weather. I love the fact that Vaute Couture's coats look like a high fashion coats. It's nice to have cruelty-free options that are also very stylish. Best of all, Vaute Couture donated 10% of the proceeds from my coat to Farm Sanctuary!
I don't understand all of the hype over Babycakes NYC. I've tried a few of their cupcakes at this point and I honestly think that most of my vegan friends bake better cupcakes. The cake is somewhat dense and the icing isn't very sweet. I know that Babycakes tries to make everything gluten-free and refined sugar-free and I applaud them for making an effort to accommodate people with a variety of dietary restrictions, but the results just aren't the same. My biggest disappointment is the price. For $4.25, I would expect a slightly larger cupcake.
I went to Bar Suzette Creperie with a group of friends and was thrilled to discover that they had a vegan crepe on the menu. I ordered the standard vegan option, which came with truffle oil and hummus. They were also willing to make one of the sweet crepes with vegan batter for me, but a lot of the toppings weren't vegan. I wish that they would make "lemon and sugar" crepes, which would be a nice alternative to the (non-vegan) "butter and sugar" crepes. If they had more vegan dessert toppings, I would upgrade my rating from 3 to 4 stars.
I keep hoping that Blossom will live up to its image of being a high-end vegan restaurant, but each time that I have visited, I've been disappointed with some aspect of my meal. My biggest qualm is with the desserts, which tend to have a soy aftertaste. On a recent visit, I was so unhappy with my chocolate ganache that I convinced my "date" to join me for a second dessert at Lula's Sweet Apothecary!
My other major gripe with Blossom is that the tables are very close together - it often feels like I'm on a double date with the people sitting at the table next to mine. If Blossom would get rid of a few tables to give the remaining ones a more "intimate" feel and hire a dedicated pastry chef, I'd give the restaurant another star. As it is, I think there are many more exciting places to get a "fancy" meal in NYC.
Blossom du Jour may just be my new favorite sandwich shop in New York. On a recent visit, I ordered the BLT Caesar, which was an ingenious combination of two of my favorite lunch items: caesar salad and a BLT. The faux meats had a nice texture and the caesar dressing complemented the rest of the flavors nicely without being too overpowering. The sandwich came on toasted panini bread, which was a bit oily but overall very satisfying. On its own, the sandwich would not have been terribly filling, but I was glad to have a little extra room for the Boston Cream donut that I purchased for dessert.
My only disappointments in Blossom du Jour were in the seating arrangement (lunch counter facing into the wall) and in the beverages, which were just the standard bottled organic options that can be found everywhere. If Blossom du Jour added a juice bar and some table seating, I would give it 5 stars.
I actually prefer Cafe Blossom over the original Blossom Restaurant. The food at Blossom Restaurant relies on expensive ingredients to make it seem "upscale" (the menu is very mushroom-heavy), but I've never felt that the dishes themselves are all that flavorful or innovative.
On the other hand, Cafe Blossom delivers down-to-earth items but does it well. The Butterfinger shake is outstanding. It's thick and creamy with candy chunks that taste just like Butterfinger candy.
The marinated seitan ravioli is one of my favorite appetizers at any of the vegetarian restaurants in New York. The texture and flavor of the ravioli is decent enough to satisfy my omnivorous Italian relatives. The dollop of tofu ricotta on top of the ravioli is one of the better ricotta imitations that I've tried. The best part about the dish, however, is the subtle pesto broth that envelopes the ravioli. It moistens without overpowering the other flavors in the dish.
Another menu item that I can't seem to get enough of is the lemon peppercorn seitan. The seitan is tender and the sauce is delicious. It rivals some of the best "meat and potato" dishes that I've had at upscale vegan restaurants, such as Millennium and Horizons.
In addition to providing delicious food at less-than-exorbitant prices, Cafe Blossom also wins points in my book for having a decent layout. Unlike Blossom Restaurant, the tables at Cafe Blossom aren't on top of one another. I appreciate the fact that I can eat at Cafe Blossom without feeling like I'm on a double date with the couple at the next table.
Oddly enough, Cafe Mingala was the only Burmese restaurant that I could find in all of New York. The food was decent, but I've definitely had better Burmese food in other cities. My main complaint is that the Tea Leaf Salad seemed a bit off. Tea Leaf Salad is normally my favorite Burmese dish, but unfortunately the flavor wasn't as pungent here as in other places and it contained lots of peanuts and very few of the other crunchy seeds that are normally found in Tea Leaf Salad. On the plus side, the portions at Cafe Mingala were very generous. Between the Tea Leaf Salad and a side of the Coconut Rice, I had more than enough food for dinner. The waiter was very polite and the service was quick. I will probably end up eating here again, if only because I'm obsessed with Burmese food.
I have been to Candle 79 twice, and both times I found myself wishing that I had eaten somewhere else. The food wouldn't be disappointing if Candle 79 wasn't trying to be an upscale restaurant. Unfortunately, the high prices raised my expectations for what turned out to be two fairly bland meals.
On the plus side, the ambience is nice and the cocktails and fruit juices are very good. The service was pretty slow both times that I went, but the people on the waitstaff were all very friendly.
Note: My rating (3 stars) is based solely on the food itself. If I were to rate Candle 79 based on value, I would probably reduce the rating down to 2 stars.
After a few disappointing visits to Candle 79, I finally decided to try the original Candle Cafe. I have to admit that the Candle Cafe far exceeded my expectations. The service was relatively quick (we were in and out in under an hour, in spite of the fact that we seemed to show up at the start of the lunch rush). The casual atmosphere made Candle Cafe seem like it wasn't trying to pass off its food as haute cuisine, which also helped my opinion of the place.
I began my meal with a plate of focaccia and a side of miso tahini dipping sauce. The miso tahini sauce was unusual but quite addicting. I was disappointed to later discover that the sauce was $8 (twice the cost of the focaccia itself) but I would probably order it again.
For my entree, I decided to try the one of the daily specials - a plate of rosemary nut-encrusted tofu triangles served with broccoli rabe, mashed sweet potatoes and seared brussel sprouts (which were drizzled with a delicious sauce). Every aspect of the entree was amazing. I don't normally eat brussel sprouts, but I made an exception for the ones on this plate.
For dessert, I decided to try a slice of the cheesecake. It came dusted with cinnamon and tasted a little more like tiramisu than cheesecake but it was still pretty good.
I also managed to save the sangria-infused fruit from the bottom of my fall sangria ("a blend of California merlot, apple, pear, pineapple, citrus, cinnamon and agave nectar") until after dessert, which left a wonderful taste in my mouth for the rest of the afternoon.
Visiting Cocoa V made me realize how far the vegan movement has come along over the past few years. Who would have dreamed that, by 2010, there would be an all-vegan dessert restaurant? Novelty factor aside, Cocoa V does an impeccable job at creating the chic ambience and innovative flavors that one would hope to find at such a place. While it's true that Cocoa V is beyond pretentious, the attitude is completely justified. These chocolatiers know their craft - each truffle is a hand-painted masterpiece.
For vegans who are used to having limited dessert options, this place can be a bit overwhelming at first. With more than thirty flavors to choose from, it's hard to settle on just five chocolates for a platter. In addition to excellent chocolates, Cocoa V boasts chocolate fondue, cupcakes, tarts, "whimsical" quiche slices, and cheese platters featuring Dr. Cow's Tree Nut Cheese. To top it off, you can order wine pairings to go with your truffles or choose from a nice selection of teas and espresso drinks.
If you're looking for a romantic date spot, I can't recommend this place enough! Even if you're not, I still think it's one of the "must visit" spots in Manhattan. Where else can you sample dark chocolate-coated orange vanilla caramels and aged cashew hemp seed cheese at the same table?
I had a phenomenal meal at Counter. I have to disagree with some of the previous posts. I thought my meal at Counter was much better than similar meals that I have eaten at Blossom and at Candle 79.
My date and I started off our meal with a round of drinks. I ordered the "Tie Me To the Bedpost" (a lavender and rosemary-infused vodka, topped with cranberry and lime juices). The rosemary taste mixed nicely with the cranberry, but the lavender seemed to be overpowered by the other flavors.
I later ordered an "R-rated Root Beer," which is one of the two best drinks I have ever tasted. Seriously. Imagine sarsaparilla, wintergreen and vanilla-infused vodka topped with Tahitian vanilla soy ice cream... I probably should have saved it for dessert, but I just couldn't help myself.
Next, we ordered a round of appetizers. I loved the potato almond gnocchi, served with a lemon-thyme sauce and crispy sage. Both my date and I agreed that the crispy sage was the best part of the appetizer. It resembled a potato chip in texture, but absorbed the flavor of the lemon sauce very well and added its own savory taste.
For my entree, I decided to try the Italian Farmhouse Panini. At first I was a bit skeptical about the idea of eating a sandwich for dinner, but this sandwich was every bit as delicious as it was unpretentious. The sweetness of the plum tomatoes juxtaposed with saltiness of the bread and the crunchiness of the Italian ciabatta juxtaposed with the creaminess of the rosemary aoli sauce and the walnut-lentil pate made every bite exciting.
The dessert was the only part of the meal that I wasn't absolutely thrilled with. I ordered the vegan creme brulee, which had a texture and flavor that more closely resembled cheesecake than creme brulee. It wasn't bad, but I had really gotten my hopes up (I've only ever once found good vegan creme brulee at a restaurant and it was at The Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga Canyon, California - unfortunately, a little too far away from where I live).
Aside from my minor disappointment in the dessert that I ordered, the only other real complaint that I have about Counter is that the restaurant faces a fast food restaurant (which featured a large picture of a burger on the wall - not the most appetizing sight for vegans to look at while eating). Everything else (the service, the ambience, the food) was fabulous.
I decided to try Galaxy Global Eatery because it's one of the few vegan-friendly restaurants that serves brunch before 11 AM on weekends.
I was pleasantly surprised with the variety of vegan options that I found: tofu scramble, blueberry pancakes, tempeh bacon, rosemary tofu skewers, a tempeh "BLT," vegan caesar salad with cornmeal crusted tofu, BBQ buffalo seitan, tofu soft tacos, a hemp veggie burger and some interesting salads.
I ended up ordering a vegan version of the blueberry pancakes with a side of tempeh bacon. The blueberry pancakes came with a minted berry compote, which was my favorite part of the meal. The tempeh bacon was crispy and delicious (but, thankfully, didn't resemble bacon too closely).
The service was quick and our waitress very attentive. I definitely plan to return next time that I'm in the area.
LifeThyme has a fabulous selection of vegan/organic/kosher desserts - I was so overwhelmed when I saw the pastry case that I ended up buying tiramisu, chocolate cake, strawberry cheesecake, peanut butter pie and a couple of cookies and scones. Some of the desserts had a bit of a soy aftertaste, but overall they were pretty good imitations of their dairy-rich analogues. I will definitely go back the next time that I'm in NY.
The ice cream at Lula's is seriously good. With twelve dairy-free flavors to choose from (including two soft serve flavors!) it's difficult not to go overboard. I found myself going so crazy over toppings and sauces that the server upgraded my order to a sundae. My favorite component of my sundae was the soft serve "cake batter" flavored ice cream. It tasted just like yellow cake batter, with a smooth, creamy consistency. I was also impressed with how cheerful and patient the server was, in spite of the huge line going out the door.
In spite of all of these positive aspects, I do have a few minor complaints about Lula's. First, the seating is very limited (4 bar stools that are very close together). When I visited, all of the seats were taken, so I had to hover next to the counter so that I could eat my sundae. My second complaint is that none of my favorite toppings that are listed on the website were available when I visited. I know that the website warns that these items are "subject to availability," but I was sad that the only candy toppings that Lula's had that day were sour gummi bears. What happened to the "Butterfingers", "Almond Joys," peanut butter cups, nonpareils, white chocolate chips, etc.? Lastly (and I know that this is really nit-picking), I was disappointed that Lula's doesn't accept credit cards. In most cities, I wouldn't make a big deal out of a vegan restaurant being cash-only, but in New York, even the cabs accept credit cards. As a result, it's easy to forget to bring cash and have to hunt down an ATM after waiting in the monstrous line.
I know that Lula's is fairly new, so I'm willing to forgive these faults. That said, I hope that as it continues to grow, Lula's will be able to stock a few more toppings and expand to a location with more seating.
I was excited to find an all-vegan cafe in the middle of Chelsea Market. Even more exciting: One Lucky Duck is run by the same people who own Pure Food and Wine. Like its upscale sibling, One Lucky Duck specializes in raw foods. One unfortunate consequence is that the prices are fairly steep (even by Chelsea Market standards).
I purchased a moon pie for $9, which looked shockingly like the real thing, in spite of the fact that none of its ingredients were heated above 118 degrees F. However, the illusion faded once I bit into the moon pie. The texture of the "marshmallow" filling reminded me of ice cream. I like ice cream, so this wouldn't have been a problem on its own, except that it also tasted like someone had forgotten to sweeten it. I didn't dislike the moon pie, per se, but eating a dessert that resembles unsweetened ice cream was just a little too strange for me to wrap my head around. It might be an acquired taste but, at $9 for a tiny portion, it's not a taste that I want to acquire.
I was much more impressed with the juice bar, which had a nice selection of freshly squeezed concoctions. Again, the prices were steep, but I'm used to being gauged at juice bars in Manhattan. I was a big fan of the banana nut shake, which was made with homemade cashew milk and had hints of vanilla and cinnamon. I also liked the agave lemonade quite a bit.
I visited Peacefood Cafe with a group of non-vegan friends and we were all pretty impressed with the food. The special of the day was a watermelon gazpacho, which was cool and refreshing without being overly sweet. I ordered the Roasted Japanese Pumpkin Sandwich for my entree, which had a delicious flavor - the sweet pumpkin and salty vegan goat cheese complimented one another perfectly - but the filling also contained ground walnuts, which made the texture a little strange.
My friends and I agreed that the highlight of our dining experience was the selection of drinks at Peacefood Cafe. We couldn't decide between the Bombay Delight (a combination of coconut, banana, dates, cardamom, nut-milk and agave nectar), the Summer Cooler (watermelon juice, mint, agave nectar and ice) and the vegan Mango Lassi, so we decided to order all 3. The prices for these drinks was quite high ($7-$8 each) but we rationalized ordering them by deciding not to go out to a bar afterwards (truth be told, these drinks were probably a lot more exciting than anything that we would have found at a bar).
Unfortunately, the desserts didn't quite measure up to our hopes. We might have just had bad luck on the night that we visited, but all of the desserts in the case appeared to be raw and the crusts on the raw dessert were a strange combination of nuts and seeds. I ended up ordering the Key Lime Pie, which was decent once I learned to eat around the crust, but it definitely wasn't the best vegan key lime pie that I've tasted.
People's Pops are fantastic! They make exciting herbal infusion flavors, such as blueberry mint and cantaloupe ginger. Most of the popsicles are vegan and the prices are very reasonable. You can purchase them in Chelsea Market or at one of the carts on the High Line.
I had a great meal here that consisted of vegan calimari, a fake chicken entree and delicious chocolate cheesecake for dessert. The calimari were so realistic that it was a bit disturbing. The cheesecake was, by far, the best vegan cheesecake that I have ever had. The service was quick and I was surprised at how inexpensive the food was, considering the quality.
Terri is a great place for a quick, delicious vegan lunch. The bacon chicken ranch sandwich is one of the best sandwiches that I have ever tasted. The fridge case has a nice selection of homemade flavored lemonades. I'm also a huge fan of the Butterfinger shake. The only dish that has disappointed me so far at Terri is the chicken quesadilla - the hot sauce overpowers the delicious flavor of the melted Daiya cheese.
I have to admit that I had higher hopes for V-Note. I've been waiting for a restaurant like Millennium or Horizons to open in New York, but unfortunately V-Note isn't it. My main criticism is that the menu is very similar to the menu at Blossom. There needs to be more to distinguish the two restaurants.
I was also disappointed that, like Blossom, the desserts at V-Note were mediocre at best. The Peanut Butter Ganache had a terrible soy aftertaste. I quit eating it after the first bite and didn't even try to feign enthusiasm when the waiter asked me how it was. I wanted the dinner to end on a high note, so I ordered the Butterfinger Shake. The Butterfinger Shake is one of my favorite desserts at Cafe Blossom, but it felt out-of-place at a "high-end" restaurant.
The appetizers weren't as bad as the ganache, but they were somewhat uneven. The Seitan Schnitzel sounded delicious on paper, but in reality the blueberry reduction was just a simple blueberry sauce and there wasn't enough of it to moisten the large chunks of fried seitan that arrived on the same plate. The Black-Eyed Pea Cake was surprisingly good, but the portion was fairly large and there wasn't anything else on the plate, so I got bored with eating it by the end.
The best part of the meal, by far, was the entree. I ordered the Pistachio & Pepper Dusted Tofu, which came stacked on top of a root vegetable crepe. The crepe was surrounded by a moat of white truffle sauce, and it was the white truffle sauce that really made the dish. That said, it wasn't so spectacular that I would go out of my way to eat at V-Note again.
Overall, I think that V-Note will need to overhaul its current menu if it wants to compete with the other vegan establishments in New York. Until that happens, I can't see myself eating there again.
The dim sum at Vegetarian Dim Sum House is one of the best deals in Manhattan. For $14/person (including tax and tip!), my three friends and I were able to each get a fresh fruit bubble tea, along with steamed "pork" buns, treasure balls, red bean cakes, faux shrimp dumplings, fried bananas, spring rolls, faux shark dumplings, half moon pockets and a few other items that I'm forgetting. Everything is vegan except for the mango pudding and the milk bubble teas.
The food was amazing. I've never had a more realistic faux shrimp. My favorite dishes were the "pork" buns, the red bean cakes and the fried bananas. There was so much food that the four of us could barely finish it. The only disappointment is that a few of the dim sum items were gone by the time that we arrived (at 8:30 PM) so make sure that you get there early!
You can tell that Himalayan Yak is authentic because almost all of the patrons look like they come from the Himalayan region. When I was there, many of the customers at nearby tables were dressed in traditional Nepali and Tibetan garb. The restaurant was quite popular - by 8 PM, there was a long line of people waiting near the door.
The menu contains a large number of vegetarian options, all clearly marked. For an appetizer, I decided to order the Cheura Tareko, which consists of "beaten" rice, peanuts, potato slices and spices. My friend (who is from the Himalayan region) explained that it is like the Nepali version of popcorn - it's a dry, salty snack that is meant to be picked up with your hands. If you've never had Cheura Tareko before, I highly recommend trying it.
For my entrees, I decided to try the Tsel Momo and the Tsel Tofu. The Tsel Momo consists of 8 steamed dumplings, which were similar to Chinese vegetable dumplings. The Tsel Tofu came in a delicious sauce, but there wasn't enough tofu for my liking (the dish came in a bowl with lots of vegetables and there were only 4 pieces of tofu).
Our overall experience was pretty good. The service was fairly attentive and the staff was nice about replacing a mixed-up order right away. Unlike some other Nepali/Tibetan restaurants that I have visited, Himalayan Yak did not try to pour yogurt sauce on everything. Almost all of the vegetarian options appeared to be vegan and items that came with yogurt sauce were clearly marked. My only minor complaints were that there weren't any vegan dessert options and that the chai comes pre-made with milk. Also, if you visit during the winter, you should try to request not to sit near the door (the restaurant was so popular that the door seemed to open every 3 minutes, which left us feeling very cold during most of the meal).
Spa Castle is like an amusement park - the admission price and the variety of offerings make it so that you want to spend the entire day there. Unlike most amusement parks, Spa Castle has a large number of vegan options. The food is pretty expensive (the salad bar is "pay by weight" and it's very easy to spend $12-$20 on a salad if you're not careful). I definitely wouldn't go out of my way to eat here, but it's a nice option if you're already planning a trip to Spa Castle.
Here are the vegan options offered at each station in the Food Court:
The Juice Farm features a number of fresh-squeezed juices and traditional Asian buns (the red bean buns and sweet potato buns are vegan). It also has some desserts that consist of red bean sorbet, ice and fresh fruits that are vegan.
Sushi Sushi has veggie sushi and edamame.
Little Italy serves pasta with marinara sauce (make sure that you specify "no cheese" if you are vegan).
The Salad Bar offerings vary, but it usually has oven roasted potatoes, seaweed salad, dairy-free pesto pasta (sometimes Spa Castle adds shrimp to it, so you need to check), beet salad, green bean salad and a selection of fresh fruits.
The 2nd Floor Starbucks has soy milk and can make any of its hot drinks dairy-free.
Francesca's is great for vegans. Not only does it have the typical fruit sorbetto flavors but it also usually carries a few soy-based gelato flavors, such as vegan cinnamon chocolate chip and soy chocolate.
Locopops has different flavors of popsicles every day, and at only $2 a pop they're a pretty good deal. Usually, there are about 10 cream-based flavors and 10 water-based flavors. The water-based flavors that I have tried include: pear rosemary, lemon thyme, and hibiscus margarita. The pear rosemary was my favorite, but all of the flavors were quite good.
As a vegan, I was somewhat hesitant to add Watt's Grocery to VegGuide, since the only vegan item on their regular dinner menu is a salad (albeit, a very delicious salad, but a salad nonetheless). However, I had truly exquisite vegan entree (homemade pappardelle pasta with a cheese-free basil pesto sauce, sauteed with porcini mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes and onions) which happened to be one of the specials on the particular night that I was at Watt's Grocery, so I figured that others might want to know about it. I guess the best advice that I can give is to call ahead and mention that you're vegan before making a reservation.
This place is amazing! It is, hands-down, the best vegan-friendly restaurant that I have encountered during my travels through Nova Scotia. All of the menu items that can be made vegan are clearly marked - however, you need to specify if you want them to be made vegan (the "V" just means "veganizable"). The service is quick and the waitstaff is very knowledgeable about veganism. The restaurant is decorated with cute monkey-themed statues, paintings and stuffed animals.
Every aspect of my meal was incredible. To start off, I ordered a "Flaming Moe," a drink which was based on an episode of The Simpsons. Unlike the drink on The Simpsons (which is made with purple Krusty Brand Non-narcotic Cough Syrup), this version was made with local blueberry liqueur, which gave it the "purple" taste that one might expect from watching the television show. True to its name, the drink appeared with a flaming sugar cube on top! (Note: If flaming "purple"-tasting drinks aren't your thing, Wooden Monkey has plenty more to choose from, including a vegan white Russian!)
For my entree, I ordered the vegan version of the seitan sandwich, which came with vegan cheese and mustard (instead of dairy cheese and mayo). The sandwich arrived warm, inside of thin slices of pita, accompanied with "roasties" (or, as Americans call them, french fries). I thought that the mustard was a little odd at first, but by the end I found that I really liked the combination.
For dessert, I had a choice between vegan chocolate tofu pie (which my non-vegan waitress was raving about - it's supposed to be the house speciality) and the vegan creme-brulee of the day (it turned out to be cherry-flavored). Being a creme brulee aficionado, I couldn't resist the second option. I couldn't have been happier with my choice! The creme brulee was made with coconut milk instead of dairy milk, which gave it a smooth, creamy texture and a rich coconut flavor. The cherries gave the creme brulee a reddish tint and a subtle hint-of-cherry taste.
This place is probably more suitable for vegetarians than vegans, but I still managed to find a few decent options. The Hiker's Crunch salad is completely vegan - it consists of veggies, nuts and dried fruits. The Portobello Rotini is also vegan. Several of the other salads and pasta dishes can be made vegan by leaving off the cheese. For lacto-ovo vegetarians, the Ivy Deck has a lot of great-sounding specials, like vegetarian moussaka. Several of my friends reported that the moussaka was one of the best meals that they ate in Wolfville.
While the food at Ivy Deck is decent (especially compared to most of the other vegan options in Wolfville), my favorite thing to do there is just to sit on the deck with a glass of sangria. The house made sangria is delicious and the deck is beautifully-decorated with plants. It's a nice way to spend a hot summer afternoon.
The vegan panini at Just Us! is exactly what you'd expect - veggies and hummus on grilled bread. It's a good option for a fast meal, but not the most exciting option in Wolfville. Still, I would recommend it if for no other reason than to sit inside of the old movie theater to eat a meal. It's a pretty neat space for a cafe.
The Tempest was definitely my favorite restaurant in Wolfville. Vegetarians may be a little happier eating here than vegans (there are several lacto-ovo vegetarian options listed on each menu), but I still was able to order a wonderful meal. When I visited, the vegan soup of the day was a chilled orange date soup with "Moroccan" spices. It was a sweet, thick soup with a clove aftertaste - definitely one of the more innovative soups that I have tried. I was able to order the beet salad without the goat cheese, which turned out to be pretty good even with the omission. The yellow beets were served in a delicious dressing, accompanied with candied pecans and micro greens. For my entree, the chef prepared the lemon and nettle risotto sans cheese. The arborio rice gave it a smooth, creamy consistency so I didn't even notice the lack of cheese. For dessert, I was offered a cup of homemade sorbet, made from locally-grown blueberries.
The Vegetarian Lunchbox was closed for renovation when I was in Wolfville. It is supposed to re-open by the end of July under new management. According to the owner of our B&B, the name of the restaurant may change and the word on the street is that the new managers are considering offering a meat option as well. However, the focus will still be on vegetarian and vegan cuisine. The Vegetarian Lunchbox was very popular among locals - everyone that I spoke with had overwhelmingly positive things to say about it, even though most of the people that I spoke with are not vegetarian.
Aladdin's serves Middle Eastern food with an American twist. There are a large number of homemade juices and smoothies available. The vegetarian menu items are clearly labeled.
I enjoyed the hummus falafel rolled pita, which was served on the largest pita that I have ever seen. I loved the purple turnips that were interspersed with the falafel. My only real complaint was that there were pickles on the pita (which didn't seem to go with the rest of the food).
That said, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that there weren't any vegan desserts in the huge dessert case. I know that's a lot to expect, but I was hoping that its close proximity to Pattycake Bakery would encourage Aladdin's to stock some dairy-free desserts.
Preface: I've never been to Benevolence for dinner or for Sunday brunch, so my review is solely based on the lunch options.
The food at Benevolence is decent but not particularly exciting for vegans. I've had some good dairy-free soups and the homemade bread is wonderful, but the other vegan lunch options are pretty uninspiring (and you have to make sure to mention that you're vegan when ordering - I once ordered a vegetable salad which came with sliced hard boiled eggs on top, even though eggs were not mentioned anywhere on the menu). I've had pretty mixed experiences with the baked goods at Benevolence, which tend to be a little closer to "health food" than I normally like in a dessert (but some of them are still quite good).
Pros: The ambience at Benevolence is fun - you end up eating in the middle of an environmentalist/leftist bookstore and the food isn't too expensive.
Cons: The seating is limited and most of the tables are fairly large, so you're likely to end up sitting with strangers (which is good if you like meeting people, but bad if you're socially awkward).
Bento Go Go - Asian Yum Yum seems like a "fun" place to eat at first, but the novelty wears off after a while. I always end up ordering the Ramune soda, which comes in a bottle that is sealed with a marble (you have to use a plastic tool to push the marble into the bottle in order to drink) but the soda itself is very overpriced. The curry dish is served in a generous portion but it lacks flavor, so eating the curry gets tiresome after a few bites. That said, the service is relatively quick and the entree prices are fairly cheap.
I was never terribly impressed with this place. The veggie burgers are greasy and flavorless. The one redeeming quality is that they're open late. Also, they have Dom Perignon on the menu (who wouldn't want a $100+ bottle of champagne to wash down their veggie burger?).
Blue Nile is one of the better places to find a vegan meal in Columbus. There are a number of vegan dishes on the menu and, although the prices aren't cheap, the food is very filling and you get a lot of it.
Also, the kitchen sends out free samples of other dishes when they bring out your meal. My waiter once brought me a sample dish that looked like it could be meat. I asked him whether there was meat on my injera and he laughed at me and said "no, it's eggplant" and then explained that the kitchen makes a point of only sending vegetarian samples to guests ordering the vegetarian dishes. In addition, he informed me that the kitchen is happy to split up a party's orders onto two separate pieces of injera if there are vegetarians in the group who are concerned about cross-contamination.
The seitan barbecue sandwich is the only item on the menu that is vegan/vegetarian. However, it's a pretty decent sandwich. It consists of homemade seitan, covered in barbecue sauce and collard greens, served on a bun.
Buckeye Donuts is a 24-hour donut shop and popular study location for OSU students. The menu isn't terribly vegan-friendly, but the owner and employees are very receptive to special requests from vegan customers. They even tried to make me a batch of vegan donuts once, but subsequently realized that the donut batter contained some ingredients that were hard to substitute.
There are two sandwiches at Buckeye Donuts that can be easily veganized: the veggie gyro (just ask for tahini instead of yogurt sauce and hold the feta) and the falafel sandwich. Both are very good (probably the best vegan food you'll find in Columbus at 4 AM).
Every time I end up anywhere near the state of Ohio, I feel the urge to go to Dragonfly Neo V. The food there is out of this world. Out of the 10+ times that I have dined at Dragonfly, I can only think of two dishes that I didn't really care for (one was a fried appetizer that just didn't go at all with my meal and the other was a chocolate dessert that had a strange aftertaste).
Some of my favorite menu items over the years include: Iced mexican hot chocolate, rainwater (a fruity-tasting elixir), a creamy chilled leek soup with dried cherries, artisan pizza flavored with white truffle oil and sun dried tomatoes and the various sorbets and tapioca creations that are featured on the dessert menu. My only regret is that I only seem to make it out to Columbus in the summer. I can't wait to try the winter menu items!
Mad Mex fills the much-needed niche of "popular hangout spot that also has vegan food available." It's a great place to take your non-vegetarian friends since it has something for everyone.
That said, I was somewhat disappointed with the texture of the soy cheese (like little sticks of cardboard that were flavored like cheese) and the tofu sour cream (think pureed tofu with lemon). I would stick to the menu items that don't rely on cheese, like the burritos or soups. One major bonus: there are sopapillas for dessert (which the waiter assured me were vegan, but you might want to check before ordering).
All in all, Mad Mex has made a laudable effort to extend their menu to vegetarians and vegans, so it's worth going just to show appreciation for their efforts (and perhaps to subtly slip the contact information of Follow Your Heart Soy Cheese and Tofutti Sour Cream).
I was really impressed with the homemade ginger ale, which also contained lime juice and mint. It was like a ginger mojito, minus the alcohol - very refreshing. I thought it was neat that the menu specifically stated which items could be made meat-free and dairy-free.
After reading all of the other reviews, I wish that I had gone with the beet burger for my entree. Instead I got the tomato cheese flatbread minus the cheese (with balsamic-glazed onions instead). The balsamic-glazed onions were great, but I was a little annoyed that they still charge extra for them even when you leave off the cheese. I ended up paying $9.50 for a thin pizza crust topped with tomatoes and a few glazed onions, while if I had ordered the dish as it was listed on the menu, it would have been covered in two types of cheese and cost $2.00 less.
That said, aside from my pricing complaints, I had a very enjoyable meal at Northstar Cafe. I would give them a rating of "great" if they were willing to make substitutions for vegan meals (rather than just leaving out ingredients).
The vegan options are surprisingly good at Oxley's: hummus and veggies with pita, salads, soups and, my personal favorite, the vegetarian meatball sub (you must specify "no cheese," however). Most of their fancy coffee drinks can be made vegan as well.
Oxley's accepts meal swipes, as well as credit cards and cash.
The cupcakes at Pattycake Bakery are huge and amazingly good. All of their baked goods are very reasonably-priced . On Saturday mornings, they make special vegan cinnamon buns.
The bubble tea at Pochi Tea station is good (although it doesn't seem to be made with fresh fruit). Many of the flavors can be made without milk. The crispy tofu and vegetable samosas are both made from vegan ingredients, but they are fried in the same oil as the meat items.
This place has phenomenal tea in a large variety of flavors. It doesn't have much in the way of food (or vegan food for that matter). They do have soy milk for the chai upon request.
Agave is a very decent option for a quick meal. It's similar in concept to Chipotle, but they have vegan chorizo (!) and a lot more choices of sauces. Everything that contains non-vegan ingredients is clearly labeled.
I love both the food and the decor at Aladdin's Eatery. The sleek, modern vibe makes it a nice spot for a date or lunch with colleagues. The restaurant boasts that it has over 40 vegetarian options. While the vegan options aren't quite as extensive, there are still many tasty choices. I am a big fan of the rolled pitas and the hummus platter. There is often a pretty potent sangria on the "specials" menu, which is perfect on a hot summer day. When the weather is nice, Aladdin's has outdoor seating along the sidewalk at the corner of College and Main, which is perfect for people-watching.
Black River Cafe is a "localvore" restaurant that has nice options for vegans on both of its menus. For breakfast, I had the vegan pancakes with blueberries and a side of tempeh bacon. For dinner, I ordered the gnocchi, which came with a tangy caper sauce. Both menu items were clearly labeled "vegan," which took the guesswork out of my meals. I have to admit that the exterior of Black River Cafe is a bit underwhelming, but the restaurant more than made up for the bland ambience with the quality of its cuisine.
On one hand, I'm sad to see this place close. It was nice to have an all-vegan, mostly-raw place in downtown Oberlin. That said, it seemed like Cafe Sprouts was doomed to disappear. The fresh juices, smoothies and elixirs were fantastic. However, they were also often in the $8-$10 range. The entrees were interesting (and, on the whole, very good) but the selection was limited and the portions were small. Many of my non-vegetarian acquaintances seem to have eaten here once or twice and then decided that it was too extreme.
Cowhaus Creamery is extremely beloved by the locals. It's easy to see why -- the ice cream is produced using all local ingredients and the place has a hip, eco-friendly vibe (eg. the tasting spoons are re-usable metal spoons and the "take-away" spoons are made from corn-based biodegradable "plastic"). The menu has some pretty exciting-looking flavors: salted whiskey, caramel honey cardamon, french toast, strawberry shortbread,... My only complaint is that there aren't a huge number of sorbet flavors and there aren't any ice creams made from milk substitutes. I realize that Cowhaus goes to great efforts to use milk from non-factory-farmed cows, so I can understand why milk substitutes aren't a priority. That said, if they started featuring a coconut milk-based flavor with any regularity, I would gladly upgrade my rating to 5 stars (and upgrade the frequency of my visits!).
The Feve is wiling to make anything on their menu vegetarian or vegan by substituting tofu for meat and leaving off certain ingredients. Depending on the dish that you modify, this can work out to a decent meal or a terrible one. It's a good idea to chat with the waitstaff for recommendations on what to veganize. I must admit that The Feve is not my favorite place in town for vegetarian/vegan food. That said, it is the only full bar in town, so if you spend any time in Oberlin, you will probably go here at some point.
Tree Hugger's Cafe is probably my favorite restaurant in Oberlin. I wouldn't give it 5 stars in a larger city, but it's a pretty decent option in this small town. Unlike its predecessor, Tree Hugger's Cafe is not all-vegetarian. However, I would estimate that at least 70-80% of the menu is vegetarian and many of the vegetarian options can be made vegan. In particular, they make a pretty tasty beet salad with fried beets, candied walnuts, blackberries, greens and other fruit. It normally comes with goat cheese, but the waitstaff is happy to leave it off. Tree Hugger's Cafe has a fantastic selection of vegan baked goods, including many flavors of cookies: orange, lemon, key lime pie, sugar (with sprinkles!), peanut butter, etc.
Al Madina has a sit-down area and a lunch counter. The lunch counter is relatively quick. Vegans can order pita with falafel, hummus, baba ganouj and various vegetables. There is also a falafel platter, an eggplant platter, couscous with mixed vegetables or beans, some salads and a vegetarian special. On Tuesdays, the lunch buffet is completely vegetarian (and all you can eat!). Other days of the week, the lunch buffet contains about half meat dishes, half vegetarian dishes.
The Duke Street Muse is a decent vegetarian sandwich shop. There aren't a huge number of vegan options, but the ones that they have are pretty good (ex. fake tuna sandwich, a soy cheese sandwich with various veggies and a non-dairy pesto sauce). There aren't any vegan desserts per se, but they do have some dairy-free smoothies. The service is pretty quick and the ambience is fun.
East African Cafe is a mostly vegetarian Ethiopian restaurant in Kitchener. The portions are generous. You have the option of ordering any number of dishes (between 1 and 6) for the same price (if you order 6 different dishes, you get smaller portions of each). I would highly recommend ordering all 6 different dishes (and a side dish of shiro) because all of the vegetarian items are very good.
Shandiz is a small fast food restaurant. On the day that I visited, there was a delicious vegetarian special consisting of pureed eggplant, sweet potatoes and various spices served over a bed of rice. There were also some middle eastern "staples," like vegetable kebabs and falafel.
Sweet Dreams Teashop has pretty good bubble tea drinks. In addition to the standard fruit-based (dairy-free) smoothie flavors, they can make soy smoothies.
I was pretty unimpressed with this place. The food was decent but not spectacular. I had some meatless chicken nuggets and a spicy "pork" noodle bowl. There were a number of vegan desserts on the menu, but they all consisted of tapioca mixed with some sort of fruit.
The service was pretty abysmal. Our waitress confused my order with another person's and ended up giving me the bubble tea made with dairy milk and gave my non-vegan friend the one made with coconut milk. She also left midway through our meal and none of the other waitstaff seemed to be interested in serving us, so our whole meal ended up taking more than 2 hours.
The weirdest part about this place is that it's called "Vegetarian Fast Food" but has a lot of (actual) meat on the menu. I guess it's an option for vegetarians trying to find a restaurant where they can eat with carnivorous friends, but I found the name to be pretty misleading.
Zen Gardens has amazing food and beautiful decor. All of the menu items are vegetarian and most of them are vegan (the non-vegan items are clearly labeled). I visited Zen Gardens while on a trip to Waterloo with some friends and all of us agreed that Zen Gardens was the best restaurant that we ate at during our entire trip (which was especially impressive, since most of my friends were not vegetarian).
I started out my meal with a "firewater" smoothie (cranberry juice, coconut milk, cinnamon and vanilla), which was indescribably good. Next, I had the assorted seitan appetizer, which consisted of a generous portion of bite-sized chunks of about 5 different flavors/textures of seitan. For my entree, I had the ginger "chicken," which was a sliced chicken "breast" covered in a delicious sauce and served with an incredible seitan-topped salad. The food was so good and the portions were so generous that I didn't even have room for dessert.
This restaurant has two menus: one with Japanese food and the other with Chinese food. Although there are a few standard vegetarian dishes on the Japanese menu (Miso soup, Inari, Vegetable tempura), there are many more on the Chinese menu. The Ma Po Spicy Bean Curd is especially good, as is the Vegetarian Paradise (both are bean curd based dishes).
Gianna's is a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint with impressive vegan options. At first, I was intimidated by the signs that explain how to order ("First, decide whether you are an omnivore, vegetarian or vegan... Order vegan items using their exact names. No substitutions or refunds for items that you thought were vegan/vegetarian but aren't labeled as such"). However, the employee who took our orders was really nice and was more than happy to tell us which items could be made vegan.
I was a somewhat disappointed by the fact that Gianna's was out of mock chicken when I was there, but the quick service and reasonable prices more than made up for it. No more than 3 minutes after ordering, I had a plate of cheese fries and a vegan philly cheese steak in front of me. The cheese steak was very authentic-tasting. It was so large that I was only able to finish half of it. I was a little less excited about the cheese fries, mostly because the vegan cheese was runny.
I've ordered desserts from Gianna's on multiple occasions and I've found that they range from incredible to mediocre. I absolutely love the peanut butter bomb, but I have been a little less than thrilled with the cupcakes (the icing tastes like whipped soy margarine). The cheesecake has a wonderful texture and the flavor is pretty decent compared with other vegan cheesecakes.
Horizons is an upscale American restaurant with a vegan flair. Every aspect of my dining experience was superb. The service was extremely attentive. The ambience was sophisticated and chic, without being overly "hip."
All of the dishes that I tasted at Horizons were fantastic. I started with a glass of pomegranate sangria and an order of Vietnamese Tacos, which consisted of crispy lemongrass tempeh, sriracha mayo and pickled vegetables, wrapped in a flour tortilla.
For my entree, I ordered the pacific rim grilled tofu, which came with an edamame potato puree, served in a miso broth. It wasn't as inventive as some entrees that you might find at other fine vegan restaurants, but the beauty was in the execution of the dish. The tofu had the just the right amount of thickness and it was grilled to perfection. The spicy gochujang glaze brought out the flavor of the grilled tofu without overpowering it. The edamame potato puree was subtle but it complemented the smoky taste of the grilled tofu.
The desserts were some of the best vegan desserts that I have ever tasted. I had a difficult time choosing between the options that I was presented: meyer lemon cheesecake, chocolate-stuffed beignets, saffron creme brulee and cinnamon bread pudding with caramelized apples and eggnog ice cream. I wound up selecting two desserts: the bread pudding and the creme brulee. The saffron creme brulee was possibly the best vegan creme brulee that I have ever tasted (and that's saying a lot, because I order vegan creme brulee every time I see it on a restaurant menu). The texture of the "creme" was perfect - thick and creamy, without any sort of soy aftertaste. The saffron flavor gave it a savory taste, which contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the burnt sugar.
The bread pudding was also delicious, although it was a little overpowered by the caramelized apples (there seemed to be a 1:1 ratio of bread chunks to apple chunks). My favorite part of the second dessert was the vegan eggnog ice cream, which had the perfect flavor and texture. I found myself wishing that Horizons would start selling their own brand of vegan ice cream because it's much better than anything else that is on the market right now.
All in all, Horizons provides an incredible dining experience that rivals other top vegan restaurants (Millennium, Candle 79, Blossom, Counter, Dragonfly Neo-V, etc.). It's definitely worth making a special trip to Philadelphia in order to eat here - you won't be disappointed!
This small market (basically on Rittenhouse Square) primarily sells vitamins and other health products, but also has a small cafe offering a variety of vegetarian sandwiches and stir-fry dishes. I had a vegetarian tuna salad sandwich (made with chickpeas) which was bland enough that I couldn't even finish it. Luckily, I had to purchase a few cliff bars in order to spend enough money to pay with a credit card, and thus had a filling meal.
This place is incredible! Unlike many "vegetarian" restaurants in Lima, this restaurant is completely vegetarian and has many delicious vegan options. There is a large menu with many choices available, including faux-meat versions of traditional Peruvian dishes and some international favorites (veggie burgers, Italian pasta dishes with faux meat balls, etc.). The restaurant is very large, with a nice view of the Parque Central de Miraflores.
For my dinner, I decided to order a delicious dish that consisted of a stew made from corn, pumpkin, wheat gluten "meat," cilantro and other spices, served with rice, yucca and sweet potatoes. There were many delicious fruit juices available. I decided to try the mint pineapple juice and the chicha morada, which was a traditional Andean drink made from corn. The chicha morada was very sweet and refreshing (and no, it didn't taste at all like corn). My entire meal, including two glasses of fresh juice, cost approximately 30 soles (10 US dollars). A great meal at a reasonable price with extremely attentive service! I highly recommend this place to any vegetarian visiting Lima.
This place is great for vegetarians (especially by Peruvian standards) but it does not have much for vegans - I wound up eating pasta with marinara sauce. My lacto-ovo vegetarian friend loved the four cheese gnocchi, however, so this restaurant comes highly recommended if you do partake in dairy products.
The main reason to eat here is for the stunning views. The porch protrudes over the edge of a cliff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, so if possible request to sit outside. Not only does the restaurant have a fabulous view of the beach and the Miraflores country club, but you can also often watch hang gliders and para sailers soar right past the porch on which you are eating!
The fresh fruit juices and cocktails are also quite good at Cafe Cafe. If you're vegan, I'd suggest visiting Cafe Cafe in the afternoon to enjoy a refreshment and the beautiful view.
This place used to be mostly vegetarian, but nowadays the menu seems to consist primarily of meat dishes. The menu changes from day to day, so perhaps we just stopped by on a bad day, but we were underwhelmed by the vegetarian option (stir fried vegetables with rice). Moreover, the entire place smelled like seafood. There are so many wonderful vegetarian restaurants in Miraflores that it isn't worth wasting your time here.
This surprisingly large restaurant feels like a hole-in-the-wall at first glance. Like many restaurants in Central Lima, it's completely open in the front, which means that lots of people wander in from the street trying to sell items or perform traditional Andean music for tips. If you can get past the frequent harassment and signs on the walls warning customers that the restaurant is not responsible for stolen personal items, the restaurant is actually quite good. Truth be told, you probably won't find a better option for vegetarians in Central Lima (all of the restaurants in the area seemed to have these problems).
The food was amazingly cheap and quite good! For less than $6 US, we were able to get 2 pitchers of fresh cantaloupe juice, a heaping plate of vegetarian lomo saltado (seitan, rice, french fries, bell peppers and onions, covered in a delicious sauce), an appetizer of fried yucca plant, a cup of coffee and a fresh, homemade applesauce dessert that came with the meal.
One caveat: The menu changes daily and is completely in Spanish. The servers did not appear to speak any English. However, all of the items on the menu are 100% vegetarian and most of them appeared to be vegan. If you're vegan, look for words like "queso" and "leche" in the titles so that you know what to avoid.
Govinda is a large chain that has restaurants all over Peru. This Govinda is one of the largest locations in the country. It features outdoor seating, as well as a store that sells handicrafts from India. Govinda seems to be moving away from the Peruvian tradition of serving a daily 3-course menú and instead now offers a large selection of a la carte items. The menú may still be available for lunch, but at dinner time the 8-page laminated a la carte menu provides a slightly more expensive list of selections (usually about $4 to $6 US for an entree).
Unlike many restaurants in Peru, Govinda doesn't have much to offer in the way of fresh fruit juices. My non-alcoholic pina colada was good but very overpriced at $3.50 US. My meal, on the other hand, was quite a good deal at $4 US. I ordered the Tibetan dinner, which consisted of soya meat balls, fresh pineapple, raisins, sugar snap peas and tomatoes, stir-fried in a delicious sauce and served with a side of white rice. My companion ordered a dish of fried tofu and fried bananas, which came with rice and a side salad. Both meals were extremely filling - we didn't even have room to try the vegan cookies that were in the dessert case!
This restaurant has a gelateria in the front portion and it makes many delicious flavors of dairy-free fruit sorbetto (usually 4-6 flavors in a given day, but the flavors change frequently). For $1.70 US, you can get two flavors of gelato or sorbet in a sugar cone. My favorites were the cantaloupe and coconut-flavored sorbets. Unlike many so-called "gelaterias" in Peru, the gelato here is the real deal - very smooth and creamy (even the dairy-free flavors!).
Tai-i Vegetariano may have different hours than advertised. I stopped by around 7:15 PM and they would not seat me (even though the restaurant was supposed to be open until 8 PM). According to our hotel concierge, it's "more of a lunch place." I wouldn't recommend going for dinner, since they seem to be pretty unpredictable with their closing time.
I had a wonderful brunch at Aux Vivres. I ordered Le Complet, which consisted of tofu scramble, cornbread, coconut tempeh bacon, sweet potatoes, salad and a few pieces of fruit. The coconut bacon was incredible. I was also really impressed with the Bombay Banana smoothie, which consisted of bananas, ginger, coconut milk, masala, raw sugar and dates. All of the coffee drinks were served with a combination of soy and coconut milk, which was a nice touch. There were many vegan dessert choices, although I wasn't very impressed with the one that I chose (a chocolate/vanilla parfait topped with raspberry sauce).
My only real complaint is that the service was slow. It didn't take very long to get our meals, but we waited for more than 30 minutes to get the check. At the same time, we were there during peak brunch hours, so the wait wasn't unreasonable.
I wandered in here once on a trip to Montreal and was surprised to find so many vegetarian/vegan options. The house-made chili is vegan. The chai is automatically made with soy milk (ask for the "Chai avec lait de soya") and is very tasty.
The ambience was definitely the highlight for me. There were tons of people playing chess around us and Cafe Pi sells tons of t-shirts, key chains etc. with the "pi" symbol on them (I'm a math grad student, so I tend to get excited about these things).
Chu Chai is a wonderful Thai restaurant in Montreal that specializes in preparing traditional dishes using mock meats. It is located in a trendy shopping district, so parking is a bit difficult, but the location has its advantages (for example, the terrace is an ideal spot for people-watching).
The fake meat is pretty convincing in terms of taste and texture, although my favorite dishes (dumplings in peanut sauce and tapioca pudding made with coconut milk) do not contain any mock meat. The only complaint that I have with Chu Chai is that they don't label the vegan/nonvegan items on the menu.
My friend and I tried to eat dessert at Chuch. After discovering that most of their dessert options are NOT vegan, I was even more disappointed to find out that the restaurant would not allow me to order dessert without ordering dinner (even though the seating area was half empty and even though I had *just* eaten dinner next door at Chu Chai, which is under the same ownership). I ended up ordering my coconut tapioca pudding "to go" since the cashier would not allow me to sit down. The pudding was good, but probably not worth $4.
Le Commensal had a large selection of vegan salads and entrees. I especially loved the seitan bourguignon and the beet apple salad. The prices were a little steep, but I generally find this to be the case at pay-by-weight places. It certainly wasn't any more expensive than restaurants with a similar price structure.
I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with the vegan dessert selection. There were many desserts on the dessert table, but the only vegan options were a carrot cake (without icing - it was just cake with carrot shavings on top) and a bland-tasting imitation cheese cake. I appreciate the fact that they have vegan desserts, but I wish they would put more effort into them.
I probably read every internet review on the Spirite Lounge before deciding to eat there. The more that I read, the more that I wanted to try the restaurant universally described as "an experience" for myself. I was intrigued by the "no waste" policy and by various patrons' accounts of being asked to leave (and never return) as punishment for not finishing the meal.
In spite of the fact that I had prepared myself for a very bizarre experience, the Spirite Lounge still managed to exceed my expectations. The decor was indescribable. We ate in the room closest to the kitchen, which featured textured gold walls (if you looked carefully, you could see letters and leaves that were glued to the walls before they were painted), animal print napkins, miniature trees covered with Christmas lights and parasols hanging from the ceiling. It had the feel of a harem mixed with an enchanted forest.
The waitstaff was equally decorative. The owner reminded me of a Cirque du Soleil performer, with his thick French accent, colorful clothing and optimistic world views.
The food was amazing and, at $15 for the entire 3 course meal, was quite a bargain. I chose to eat the "small" portion, which was still more than enough food for me to eat. Our first course was a creamy coconut coriander soup, served with small slices of whole wheat bread.
The main course was a vegetable-filled crepe, covered in a savory mushroom gravy and garnished with tropical fruit compote. I normally hate mushrooms, but I managed to devour every last morsel on my plate.
The dessert was a fruit-sweetened chocolate cake. It was a rich, moist cake filled with blueberries and coated in a fudge frosting. After dessert, we were given complimentary ginger cardamon tea.
The service was somewhat slow at times, but we didn't mind. It gave us the chance to savor our delicious meal and enjoy the serene environment.
My only disappointment in visiting the Spirite Lounge was that I didn't have the chance to witness any conflicts over wasting food.
Chez Victor is a surprisingly large restaurant that is located inside of an old house. It is a short walk from Vieux Quebec along Rue St. Jean. At first glance, Chez Victor isn't very vegan-friendly. The menu has four types of veggie burgers, but they all automatically come with cheese and the fries are served with your choice of flavored aoli sauce. Luckily, I found that the waiters were pretty accommodating, so I was able to get any of the veggie burgers made without cheese and the waiter brought me ketchup for my fries instead of mayonnaise sauce.
I chose to order the Noix et Epinard Burger (made from nuts and spinach) and my friend ordered the Pate Burger (it had the texture of foie gras but was made entirely out of veggies). The other two veggie burgers were a Tofu Burger and a Cereale Burger (made from grains). Both of the burgers that we ordered were among the best veggie burgers that I have ever had. Chez Victor also has a good selection of local beers, hard cider and house-made sangria.
Le Commensal is a great option for vegans visiting Quebec City. It's a spacious restaurant that is conveniently located within a few blocks of Vieux Quebec. There are tons of dairy-free dishes to choose from. My favorites are the Seitan Pot Pie and the Spring Rolls with Mango Sauce.
Le Commensal is one of the few places in Quebec with vegan dessert options. Only four of the desserts are labeled "vegan" - Pineapple Mousse, Tapioca Pudding, Carrot Cake and Soya Cake (a tofu cheesecake with a gelatinous texture). I highly recommend the Tapioca Pudding, which is made with coconut milk. It's very creamy and delicious!
La Carotte Joyeuse has a wonderful selection of vegan comestibles and it's very convenient for tourists (it is located just a few blocks from Vieux Quebec along Rue St. Jean). The fridge by the deli has a number of vegan sandwiches, including a tofu panini (made with vegan pesto) and a vegetable pate sandwich. La Carotte Joyseuse has a number of faux meats and vegan cheeses, including Sheese and Follow Your Heart. It also has a number of products that aren't widely available in the US, such as vegetable pates in five different flavors, many flavors of soy custard/pudding (I like the lime-flavored custard) and some Canadian brands of vegan cookies.
Restaurant Zen is owned by the same company that owns Kings Cafe in Toronto and the Zen Gardens restaurants that are in the other major cities in Ontario. However, Restaurant Zen has a different menu than the others. The menu at Restaurant Zen has more of a Japanese influence (lots of sushi and Bento Box meals) and doesn't include Dim Sum.
For tourists visiting Quebec City, it is important to note that Restaurant Zen is about 3 kilometers away from Vieux Quebec, so you may wish to take a taxi (which costs about $10 each way). The restaurant is very charming. It's situated inside of an old house with beautiful Asian-inspired murals painted on the walls.
I visited Restaurant Zen with my boyfriend on Valentine's Day. The restaurant was quite crowded and we were lucky to get a table without a reservation. Restaurant Zen made us a special Valentine's Day meal, which featured a passion fruit elixir, soup, an assortment of appetizers, bento boxes containing our entree (see photo), green tea, coconut cake and chocolate truffles. The meal was beautifully-presented and, at $55 per couple, the meal was very reasonably-priced for what we got. A number of the items in our meal are featured on the regular menu. I highly recommend the rouleau vietnamien, (which are cold minty-flavored spring rolls that are filled with many veggies) and the poulet kung po au soya (little seitan "balls" that have been breaded, fried and covered with sweet kung pao sauce).
I think that this place is closed in the winter. I tried to stop by and Tutto Gelato had a sign on the door with directions to places in Quebec City that sell gelato from Tutto Gelato. My hotel concierge told me that it's open "seasonally."
I wouldn't normally review a supermarket, but the selection of vegan items at this particular Stop n' Shop is outstanding (I go to Newport, RI once a month for business and purchase most of my groceries here during my stay). They have the full line of Amy's frozen vegetarian entrees, Tofutti ice cream/cream cheese/sour cream and about ten different flavors of the 'Purely Decadent' soy ice cream (I find that most markets only stock three or four flavors).
The Cable Car Cinema is a neat little movie theatre. It shows mostly independent and foreign films. The seats are comfy two-person faux leather loveseats. The concession stand has a number of interesting coffee drinks (most of which can be made with soy), ice cream and sorbet, sandwiches, baked goods and popcorn. There is a falafel sandwich that can be made vegan and the popcorn is made with peanut oil (not butter). The movie theatre has a cafe attached to it. I haven't been to the cafe but I've heard that it has vegan items from time to time.
Crazy Burger has a bunch of smoothies, fruit juices and fruit-infused lemonades that are vegan. As for entrees, there are about 6 types of vegan burgers, vegan enchiladas, vegan lasagna, plus some vegan soups (ex. corn chowder) and salads. I tried the lasagna, which was very good (layers of lasagna noodles, caramelized onions, mushrooms, olives, breaded tofu, tofu "cheese", faux sausage and tomato sauce) but I think that the burgers are probably better (my boyfriend kept going on and on about how much he liked the mushroom burger). The brownie banana split sundae (made with Rice Dream) was very tasty.
The food isn't particularly exciting, but the restaurant is very conveniently-located if you're staying in a hotel in downtown Providence. In addition to the standard Mongolian BBQ vegetables, Fire and Ice has fried apples, roasted potatoes and three kinds of pasta. I also like the fact that Fire and Ice has paper cups for tasting the sauces before you add them to your dish.
Garden Grille Cafe has a large number of vegan selections (and vegan desserts!). I was really impressed with the service - we were in and out within 1 hour. I ordered the vegan macaroni and cheese and the BBQ seitan, which came with a delicious wasabi dipping sauce. The best part of the meal was the dessert. I ordered the chocolate cinnamon mousse cake with slivered almonds, which came drizzled with raspberry sauce. I will definitely go back to Garden Grille next time I'm in Providence*.
*For those who aren't from the area, the Garden Grille (in Pawtucket) is only about a 10-minute drive from downtown Providence.
Julian's makes AMAZING vegan brunch. I showed up around 12:30 and had to wait about 40 minutes before I could get a table, but it was well worth it (note: the wait time seems to be a lot shorter if you show up after the lunch rush). Julian's has a separate vegan menu, containing delicious-sounding items like Orange Cinnamon French Toast, "Eggs" Benedict with Vegan Hollandaise Sauce, Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes, Tempeh Sausage, not to mention a couple of vegan sandwiches. There is also a fabulous drink menu, which includes a variety of alcoholic beverages (sangria, mimosas, absinthe-infused cocktails), freshly "squozen" lemonade, coffee drinks (with soy!) and smoothies/juices. I highly recommend the "strawberry shortcake" mimosa (champaign, strawberry puree and vanilla vodka) and the tempeh sausage.
Malachi's is a good 30-minute walk from downtown Providence. After trekking all the way out there, I was disappointed to discover that they didn't have any vegan baked goods that day and their chai couldn't be made vegan because the powder that they use contains milk derivatives. They do have a Tofurkey wrap and Tofutti cream cheese to put on bagels (but their bagel selection is VERY limited - I ended up ordering a plain bagel with Tofutti cream cheese). I may have just had bad luck on the day that I went, but I was pretty disappointed that Malachi's advertised as being vegan-friendly and had very little to offer.
The pizza at Nice Slice Pizzeria is probably the best vegan pizza that I have ever tasted. Located conveniently near Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, Nice Slice Pizzeria has outdoor seating, late hours (they're open until 2 AM!) and very reasonable prices. There is a separate vegan menu, featuring fake chicken, pepperoni, sausage, casein-free soy cheese (a combination of VeganRella and Follow Your Heart) and an assortment of different sauces and toppings. I ordered a "buffalo chicken" pizza with dairy-free "ranch" dressing and it was amazing. Not only does Nice Slice have dairy-free pizza, they also have soy ice cream from a local ice creamery.
United BBQ has a vegan BBQ seitan sandwich. It's pretty much what you would expect - seitan covered in BBQ sauce on a bun. The food at United BBQ isn't bad, but I'm not sure that I would go out of my way to eat there. Still, I think it's great that United BBQ has vegan options. I wish that more restaurants would follow their lead.
After having a delicious dinner at another Alma branch in Cuzco, my companion and I were determined to eat here. The food is among the best in Peru - a nice fusion of traditional Peruvian dishes with innovative flavor combinations. The Puno restaurant has one wall that is made entirely of glass, giving diners stunning views of Lake Titicaca. Two of the entrees are easily made vegan: the penne pasta and the whole wheat risotto. The quinoa taboulhe appetizer is vegan (and quite delicious!). My only disappointment is that the restaurant didn't have any vegan desserts at the time. However, the chef said that with a few hours' notice, it would have been easy to whip something up (we didn't make a reservation ahead of time).
My dinner at Alma - cocina viva was one of the finest that I ate in Peru. The prices are high, even by American standards (approximately $80 US for two people), but the food is really exquisite. The chef offered to make a vegan pasta dish for my entree, but I opted to make a meal out of several appetizers instead. My companion and I shared the Andean minestrone (made with quinoa, fava beans, corn, yellow potatoes and vegetables), the grilled vegetable napoleon (a stack of grilled vegetables served with arugula pesto and balsamic reduction) and the warm corn cakes (served with vegetable ragout and avocado puree). The chef was happy to leave the cheese off of the latter two dishes, which were still very flavorful with the omission. For dessert, the chef made us fruit tempura, drizzled with purple corn syrup and served with a fruit sorbet.
This place may be closed. A new location opened in Miraflores in 2007, and it is unclear whether the new restaurant is a replacement for the old or whether there are two branches now. It is worth calling ahead before you visit to confirm that this location still exists.
This used to be a restaurant and holistic center, but now it seems to just focus on the yoga and alternative medicine (I went to the address but I didn't see any signs indicating a restaurant).
El Encuentro is very popular among both locals and tourists. At lunchtime, there is a "menu del dia" which consists of bread, soup, salad, your choice between two entrees and tea, all for the price of 6 soles (US $2). Usually, the soup and and at least one of the entrees is vegan. If not, you can always order a la carte from the extensive menu, which contains vegetarian versions of traditional Peruvian dishes (lomo saltado, chincherron), plus stuffed pancakes, vegetarian pasta dishes with faux meat, and a selection of soups and salads.
The restaurant is fairly small and if you visit during prime lunch hours (noon-2 PM), you will likely have to share your table with strangers. The bathroom is claustrophobia-inducing. In spite of these shortcomings, you won't find a better deal on vegetarian food in Cuzco.
Govinda has vegetarian versions of traditional Peruvian dishes. This location is small but the food is decent. I ordered the vegetarian Lomo Saltado, which consists of pieces of seitan stir-fried with bell peppers, onions and french fries. It was a bit greasy but the portion was generous.
This restaurant is so small, it only has room for 4 tables and a tiny kitchen. The sole woman working there served as both cook and waitress. I was a little hesitant to eat at this Govinda branch for all of these reasons, but the food turned out to be wonderful and the service was amazingly quick.
The menu at each Govinda restaurant is slightly different. My favorite dish at this branch was the chincherron, which consisted of faux meat, fried bananas, rice and salad. The restaurant only accepts cash, but fortunately there is an ATM right across the street.
Greens was closed for renovation when I visited, but our hotel concierge told us that this is a great place for vegetarians. Sometimes Greens has a vegetarian buffet. The menu changes seasonally but always includes several meat-free items. It's very expensive by Peruvian standards, but reasonable by American standards ($10-$15 for dinner).
Muse is a hip, multi-level bar/cafe that features nightly live music performances. During the day, the playlist consists primarily of current indie music from the USA. There are many types of seating options (comfy sofas, cafe tables, bar stools). The drink menu is quite extensive. In addition, there are plenty of fresh fruit juices to choose from.
Although Muse is not all-vegetarian, they do have a separate vegetarian menu with delicious options such as pasta with faux meat bolognese sauce or pesto, fried yucca with three dipping sauces (two of which are dairy-free), vegetable curry and veggie burgers. The service is quick and the portions are large.
Mushrooms is a fun place to hang out with a group of friends. It's very popular among Americans and Europeans, although there are plenty of locals that frequent the place as well. The beanbag seating is comfy, the music is hip and the drinks are out of this world! If you're looking for colorful jungle-themed elixirs, you have to try Mushrooms.
This no-frills dining option is decent for a vegetarian tourist with a tight schedule. The fresh juices are delicious. The falafel and tacos are what you'd expect - a little greasy and plain without the yogurt sauce and cheese (if you're vegan), but not bad for the price and convenience.
All of the locals told me that I absolutely had to try this place, so it comes very highly recommended. Unfortunately, as a vegan, there weren't many options for me to eat - several types of bread and rolls. The flat, ciabatta-shaped rolls are a regional specialty and they're quite good. I'm willing to bet that a lacto-ovo vegetarian would love this place. The cakes looked beautiful and many of them contained fresh fruit fillings or dulce de leche.
Sara is a sleek, modern bistro with dishes made from fresh, local foods. It would fit in better on the West Coast of the USA than it does in the narrow, cobblestone streets of Cuzco, which is probably why most of the guests appeared to be European or American. If nothing else, this restaurant has some of the most innovative tableware that I have ever seen.
As for the food, vegetarians will find several items on the menu (which changes seasonally). When I was at Sara, there was one vegan-izable dish available in each course. The bread comes with a dollop of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. In the appetizer section of the menu, there was a mushroom ceviche. For the entree, there was a pasta dish, prepared with olive oil, capers, two types of olives, and roasted garlic (note: you have to specify "no anchovies," even though they aren't mentioned anywhere in the menu description). For dessert, there was chicha morada sorbet. Chicha morada is a delicious purple corn juice that doesn't taste anything like corn. The flavor more closely resembles a green tea/fruit infusion with a slightly herbal taste.
Vegetarians visiting Cuzco will find Sara to be a welcome relief from the greasy faux meat dishes that are popular at other vegetarian-friendly establishments. The food is considerably more expensive than at most other restaurants in the area (approximately $20 US per person for appetizer, entree and dessert) but it's well worth the extra expense for a healthy, thoughtfully-prepared meal.
Ukuku's is one of the most vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Puno (excluding the few "100% vegetarian" restaurants). It's a cozy 2nd floor cafe with a nice view of the main shopping street in Puno. The vegetarian options aren't particularly exciting (veggie lo mein, veggie fried rice) but they're a nice change from the fake meat-versions of Peruvian cuisine that you'll find at all of the other vegetarian-friendly restaurants in town. Best of all, Ukuku's has a nice drink selection, including some warm options like mulled wine (perfect for warming up after spending a day on Lake Titicaca). Also, the bathrooms are much cleaner than most of the restrooms in downtown Puno.
Note that the "vegetarian risotto" is actually an egg-free Chinese-style fried rice dish, not Italian risotto.
Vida Natural is one of the few all-vegetarian restaurants in Puno. The menu is in Spanish, with some English translations. If you get confused, you can rely on the photos to help you with ordering. The emphasis is on health food, although there are still plenty of fried items. Some of the dishes include: yogurt with fruit and granola, salads, soups, pasta and faux meat versions of traditional Peruvian cuisine. The restaurant is surprisingly large and seems to be popular among backpackers.
My favorite dish at Vida Natural was a free plate of vegetarian ceviche that the chef sent over. It was my first opportunity to try a fish-free version of this traditional Peruvian dish and I really enjoyed it. The Chicha Morada is also worth trying (if you haven't already) - it's a sweet drink that is made from purple corn, but it tastes more like fruit juice. Overall, I would say that this is the best place in Puno to eat if you are looking for a reasonably-priced vegetarian meal.
Yajuu! is a hip cafe/juice bar that is located right on the Plaza des Armas. There are at least 20 types of fresh fruit juice on the menu, plus you can mix your own flavors by combining fruits. All of the vegetarian sandwiches were easy to make vegan by leaving off the cheese. Yajuu! also makes some of the largest, most delicious-looking fruit salads that I have ever seen.
I didn't have a chance to try the vegetarian sandwiches at Yajuu!, but I loved the fresh juices. My favorite was the watermelon juice (jugo de sandia), which was made from very ripe, flavorful watermelon. While the menu states some of the items in English as well as Spanish, it's important to order the watermelon juice in Spanish - otherwise, the waitstaff assume that you want "jugo de melon," i.e. cantaloupe juice (this happened to me twice).
I highly recommend this place for a quick, refreshing drink or snack. The service is very prompt and the prices, while expensive by Peruvian standards, are quite reasonable for US tourists (approximately $2.50 US for a huge glass of fresh juice).
There are many vegetarian options at Pizzeria Caruso (clearly indicated with a carrot symbol). The waiter told me that the Tre Bruschette was the only dairy-free appetizer but I imagine that the minestrone is also dairy-free if you ask the chef to serve it without the accompanying garlic bread. As for vegan entrees, there are a couple of options:
-spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and hot peppers
-spaghetti with tomato sauce and basil
-penne al arrabbiata
-potato gnocchi with tomato and basil
-wok-fried seasoned vegetables with tofu
(and probably some others that I am not aware of)
Siam Wind is one of the only places in St. Moritz where I feel confident that what I'm eating is actually vegan. The menu has a number of vegan options (or options which can be made vegan), including:
-Green curry with young eggplant, vegetables and tofu
-Red curry with coconut milk, vegetables and tofu
-Wok-fried seasoned vegetables with tofu
-Soup of vegetarian glass noodles with tofu
-Palm heart salad with lime dressing
-Spicy green papaya salad
Make sure to specify that you are a vegetarian when eating here. Otherwise, I suspect that some of the dishes listed above might be made with non-vegetarian stock.
Most of the vegan food at Bona Dea seems to be Indian-inspired. The main attraction is the buffet, which contains a number of vegan options and is priced per size of plate and per number of trips to the buffet (so the food is not weighed). The best part about Bona Dea is that it's right inside the main train station in Zurich. It's ideal for a traveller in need of a quick vegetarian or vegan meal. The food is pretty decent, although I don't think I would have gone if it hadn't been for the convenience of the location.
Hiltl is a more upscale version of Tibits. It has the same pay-per-gram buffet, but it also has a nice eating area with waitress service. I was excited to try food from the menu because it looked to have a lot of interesting entrees. However, I was disappointed to find that most of the food on the menu was not vegan (although all of the items were well-labeled with their ingredients, so kudos to them for that). As a result, I ended up eating the food from the buffet. While the buffet food is good, it is basically the same "fast" food that is at the buffet at Tibits (and, it seems, more expensive). Additionally, I was disappointed to see that, while there were lots of delicious-looking cakes on the dessert menu, the only vegan desserts were sorbet and fresh fruit. That said, Hiltl is pretty upscale (one of the few upscale-looking vegetarian restaurants I have seen) and it is well-located (just off of the Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich's version of the Champs Elysees). If you're looking for a fancy dinner, Hiltl is worth checking out. If you're vegan and you want to eat the same food for less money then you should go to Tibits.
I ate lunch here twice and found it to be pretty good. They have some appetizers and sides that can be made vegan, plus about 4 of their pasta sauces are meat-free and dairy-free (there is a tomato and olive oil sauce, an arrabiata sauce, an aglio e olio sauce, and a lemon sauce).
Some of the pasta is homemade and may contain eggs (my German is VERY limited and the waiter seemed to have a difficult time understanding my questions about the contents of the food, so you may want to check this for yourself) but the spaghetti does not.
The service is relatively quick. The indoor section is non-smoking but the outdoor section allow smoking, so you should ask to sit away from the window if you don't wish to be close to the smoking section. Santa Lucia is by no means a vegetarian restaurant, but it is a nice place to go with non-vegetarians friends who don't want to be dragged to Hiltl and Tibits for every meal.
I was overjoyed when I found Tibits right around the corner from my hotel. After visiting a number of Swiss restaurants that claimed to be vegetarian-friendly (only to find that the only vegetarian items on the menu were covered in cheese), I happened upon Tibits, which not only has approximately half of its buffet options marked with a "V" (for vegan) but also has a few vegan desserts.
The food is not haute cuisine but there's a lot of variety and the prices are reasonable. Most of the food is buffet-style although there are some entrees that can be ordered at the counter. I had some falafel, potatoes in mustard sauce and a couple of tofu dishes. For dessert, there was a vegan apple tart (which was delicious, I might add) and many flavors of sorbet to choose from. Tibits also has a great selection of tea, coffee and juices. The inside part is (what seems to be) one of the few non-smoking restaurants in Zurich.
All of the food here is vegetarian, about half being vegan. The veggie burgers have won numerous awards and the vegan sloppy joes taste delicious and are just sloppy enough. I didn't try any of the desserts but there seemed to be about 12, with 5 or so being vegan. I came here with several non-vegetarian friends, and all were impressed by the food (especially the vegetable lasagna).
To be fair, I didn't actually have the opportunity to eat at Adelante. I visited the restaurant and discovered that it was closed for the holidays. However, I called to ask about vegan options and discovered that the wheat tortillas are not vegan (but the corn tortillas are). In fact, a lot of the items on the menu that looked like they might have been vegan contained hidden dairy products.
The good news is that the staff at Adelante seemed to be pretty well-informed about the ingredients in the food that they serve, which is more than can be said for many Mexican restaurants. It sounded like there are a couple of items that can be made vegan, you just have to ask.
Also, for lacto-ovo vegetarians, there are some enchiladas and tamales without meat products in them (a rare treat, since cheese enchiladas are often cooked in chicken broth and most tamales are made with ground pork).
I think it is wonderful that San Antonio has an all-vegetarian restaurant (and perhaps, for that reason alone, vegetarians should support it). However, I wasn't terribly impressed with the food at Green.
My buffalo tofu wings were practically inedible (the texture was crispy and wonderful, but the sauce was a combination of extremely sour and extremely spicy - no one at my table was able to eat more than one of the wings, so we ended up throwing most of them out).
The sweet potato gnocci was good, but the tomato sauce that came with it tasted like (and had the consistency of) tomato soup.
The vegan double chocolate cake was the best part of my dinner at Green. It was moist, not overly dense, and the icing was creamy. My (non-vegan) boyfriend thought the icing tasted too much like soy margarine whipped with sugar and cocoa powder, but I liked it.
According to my waiter, the following menu items are/can be made vegetarian:
-Some of the ensaladas (salads)
-Roasted poblano relleno de queso (contains cheese)
-Spinach enchiladas (contains cheese)
-Beans and rice (but not the Mexican rice, which is made with chicken broth)
-appetizer (I can't remember what it was called!) that consisted of potatoes which are smashed into round cakes (about the size/shape of standard falafel), coated in cornmeal and fried (in vegetable oil), served with guacamole.
The beans and rice and the potato appetizer that I mentioned above are both vegan (although you need to specify "no cheese" on the appetizer). The potato appetizer was a wonderful treat. The beans and rice were pretty decent (though admittedly not very exciting).
Also worth noting: The outdoor seating area is beautiful. The restaurant was consistently crowded and the waiters were very friendly (and enthusiastic about naming off the vegetarian items). There is an extensive frozen drink list. Overall, I had a very pleasant experience at La Fonda on Main.
Cafe Ain Soph is a quirky little place located in the heart of the Ginza shopping district. The restaurant has a split-level layout, so there are only a few dining tables on each "floor." This makes for a rather intimate dining experience with the parties at the 2-4 other tables sharing the same floor with you. At the same time, before our floor became crowded with other diners, it was nice feeling like we had an entire restaurant to ourselves!
The menu at Cafe Ain Soph consists of typical American-style vegan fare: tortilla chips and dip, hummus and veggies, fried vege-meat, a tofu Spanish omelette, a Sheese cheese platter, as well as a number of salads and wraps. Everything that we ate was quite tasty, but nothing really stood out in my mind. Also, I was a little disappointed that the only desserts in the bakery case were brownies and banana bread. The website makes it sound like they regularly have a good selection of vegan baked goods (like cupcakes!), so we may have just chosen the wrong night to visit.
Compared with the other dining establishments in Tokyo, I am giving Cafe Ain Soph a rating of four stars. However, if the restaurant were located in the US, I would probably downgrade the rating to three stars.
Eat More Greens has a rotating lunch menu consisting of soups, salads and a few hot plates (eg. vegetable curry with rice). The food is pretty typical for vegetarian American-style cuisine; nothing special, but it's a nice change for Americans who miss eating familiar foods.
Perhaps my favorite feature was the baked goods case, which contained a good selection of vegan options, including several types of doughnuts and a dairy-free tiramisu. Unfortunately, the tiramisu had a bit of a soy aftertaste and the sea salt caramel doughnut that I purchased had a strong maple syrup flavor (I'm pretty sure that they used maple syrup in lieu of sugar as a sweetener). That said, once I got past the fact that my doughnut tasted like maple (instead of caramel), I really enjoyed it.
Sitaara is a solid option for vegetarians seeking food at the Shinagawa JR Station. I would not go out of my way to eat here over other vegan-friendly establishments in Tokyo, but Sitaara was definitely a reasonable place to eat lunch. There were 3 or 4 prix fixe options for vegetarians, which generally consisted of a Northern Indian vegetable dish (eg. aloo saag or channa masala), served with basmati rice, naan and vegetable pakora. There were also a number of vegetarian sides available (eg. samosas, salads and Indian snacks). The hibiscus iced tea is a house specialty and it is quite tasty. The food itself is pretty standard Indian fare (albeit, a bit on the bland side). That said, the service was extremely quick and the Indian waitstaff spoke English fluently, which made for a pleasant, hassle-free dining experience.
Chaya Macrobiotic was, hands down, my favorite restaurant in Tokyo. The restaurant was very easy to find (it is located on the 9th floor of the huge Isetan department store) and the menu was available in English. The waitstaff were very helpful in checking on the ingredients in some of the dishes for me.
There were a number of interesting vegan options on the menu, including vegetable croquettes (cornmeal dumplings) and vegetable brochettes (sausage-like vegetarian meat-on-a stick, served with a vegetable kabob and three different dipping sauces). The restaurant also had homemade ginger ale, which was extremely refreshing on a humid Tokyo summer day. For dessert, there were a few dairy-free options, including tofu cheesecake and pink grapefruit pie (made with agar-agar instead of gelatin).
The vegan options are somewhat limited (but delicious, nonetheless). There are a couple of salads made with vegetables, fruits and nuts that can be made vegan if you ask them to hold the goat cheese/gorgonzola. The Southwest Salad Plate is vegan and it comes with black bean cakes, roasted corn salad, field greens with honey-lime vinaigrette (just ask them to substitute the maple-balsamic vinaigrette if you don't eat honey) and fried corn tortillas.
In terms of entrees, there are a few vegetarian (but not vegan) ravioli dishes. Some days, the specials can be made vegan. The website says that they have a tempeh and vegetable-stuffed roasted red pepper on the menu, although they didn't have it on the night that I visited.
I decided to go with the Southwest Salad Plate for my entree, which was very filling and had a lot of flavor. The most impressive part of my meal was a pear martini, which tasted like it was made with fresh pear juice (and it came with a pear slice on the rim).
The Brattleboro Food Co-op has an incredible selection of vegan offerings. Nearly half of the cakes in the bakery section are labeled vegan, not to mention the fact that there is one of the largest selections that I've ever seen of Liz Lovely and Alternative Baking Company cookies. The prepared foods section also has a number of vegan items, all of which are clearly labeled "vegan" with a list of ingredients underneath. There is an entire freezer case full of Gardein products, which are pretty rare in this part of the country (I haven't been able to find them at a single other grocery store in Vermont). The Brattleboro Food Co-op is also the only place that I've been able to find the Chicago Soydaiy "Dandies" marshmallows.
Luna Azul is a hidden gem in the heart of downtown Brattleboro. I must have walked past it a dozen times without noticing it. The storefront is fairly small and unassuming. The inside of the restaurant is a mix of modern and whimsical, a refreshing departure from the sombreros and morracas that dot the walls on many a Mexican restaurant.
The menu at Luna Azul is also refreshingly different from most Mexican restaurants in the US. My appetizer was a plate of plantain chips, served with fruit guacamole. The plantain chips were crisp and perfectly salted. The fruit guacamole had the same basic structure as ordinary guacamole (whipped avocados), but the addition of fruit chunks gave it a subtle level of sweetness.
For my entree, I sampled the Quesadilla Luna Azul and the Tinga Pueblana. These dishes were made vegan by substituting Daiya for dairy cheese and seitan for meat. Both dishes were outstanding. The Daiya melted nicely in my quesadilla, and the faux meats were seasoned perfectly. I topped off my meal with a wonderfully refreshing watermelon martini, which was made with fresh watermelon purée, muddled mint leaves and gin.
I was pretty underwhelmed by Mocha Joe's. I wandered in on a hot day and it felt like the air conditioning was not functioning properly. In addition, the only vegan baked goods that they had were walnut brownies, which were fairly dense. In another small New England town, I might have given Mocha Joe's a three-star rating, but Brattleboro is so vegan-friendly that Mocha Joe's is pretty unremarkable in comparison.
The Twilight Tea Lounge is an adorable tea shop that is located underneath of "Knit or Dye" in downtown Brattleboro. As far as I can tell, it is 100% vegan. All of the baked goods sold at Twilight Tea Lounge are sourced from the all-vegan Cafe Evolution in Northampton, MA. On a typical day, there is a good selection of vegan cupcakes, scones, cookies and dessert bars. My favorite baked good (so far) is the vanilla cardamom cupcake. It's important to note that the baked goods are not labeled vegan. However, if you ask, the barista will be happy to tell you that they're all vegan.
The drinks at Twilight Tea Lounge also appear to be completely vegan. If you order chai or other "milk"-based teas, you will be offered a choice of rice or soy milk. Instead of honey, the Twilight Tea Lounge has maple syrup and agave nectar to sweeten your tea.
Vegetarian Paradise is an all-vegan Jamaican restaurant that is located 1 block up the hill from the Brattleboro Co-op. There are 5 entrees available each day, along with 2 side vegetables. The server happily prepared us a "sample" platter so that we could try each of the 5 entrees before we settled on one of them. I ended up ordering the brown stew tofu with a side of cabbage, while my friend ordered the curry chunks (seitan cooked in a curry sauce) with a side of kale. We also each ordered a glass of Vegetarian Paradise's Jamaican ginger beer, which was wonderfully refreshing. All of our food was delicious and the service was outstanding.
The seitan burritos at Bueno Y Sano are pretty good. I wish that other burrito restaurants would follow their lead and add seitan as an option. Usually, when restaurants try to make a vegetarian burrito, they put tofu on it and the texture is all wrong.
Dobra Tea is an eclectic little tea shop that is located just off of Church Street in downtown Burlington. The tea menu is quite extensive - it's literally a 30+ page journal, filled with information about the origin and medicinal properties of each tea selection. All of the milk-based teas can be made with soymilk upon request. In addition, maple syrup can be substituted for honey as a sweetener. The food menu is filled with vegan options, including several varieties of raw vegan chocolate truffles.
Magnolia Bistro is a cozy vegan-friendly restaurant in downtown Burlington. There are only a few vegan options on the menu at Magnolia, but all of them are well-labeled. The menu is also careful to mention that most options *can* be made vegan (although this seems to mean that they can omit certain ingredients, like cheese).
I ordered the french toast, which was made on walnut bread and had a wonderful flavor. There were two other tasty-sounding vegan breakfast options (tofu scramble and granola) as well as a couple of vegan sandwiches. I was disappointed to find out that the veggie sausage is not vegan. However, I was glad that my waitress was knowledgeable about veganism and was able to steer me away from ordering it.
In addition to being vegan-friendly, Magnolia makes a conscious effort at ecological conservation. For example, the bathrooms each have two trash bins in them: one is for "compost" items (like papertowels), and the other is labeled "landfill" (and has a list of items that cannot be "composted").
New Ethic Cafe is (as far as I know) the only all-vegan restaurant in Vermont. Ideally situated within a few blocks of the University of Vermont campus, the New Ethic Cafe has hip decor, fast service and fairly reasonable prices. The food is predominantly "comfort" food, but there are also some healthy-looking salads and smoothies on the menu. There aren't any vegan desserts on the menu (yet), but they do make vegan donuts on Saturdays.
So far, the only dishes that I have tried are the chicken ranch sandwich and the macaroni and cheese. The chicken ranch sandwich was delicious. The "ranch" dressing had a wonderful flavor and the "chicken" was a perfectly breaded and seasoned seitan cutlet, served on freshly-made bread.
The macaroni and cheese was a bit disappointing. It was very creamy and the noodles were perfectly cooked (not "al dente," but not overly soft). However, the flavor was closer to "fake butter" than it was to any sort of cheese that I remember. Still, I've paid much higher prices for worse-tasting vegan macaroni and cheese dishes at most other vegetarian restaurants, so I have to at least give New Ethic some credit for giving generous portions of macaroni and cheese at a reasonable price.
A Single Pebble is my new favorite restaurant in Burlington. It serves the best Chinese food that I've had in quite some time. Most of the dishes can be made vegetarian (with incredible mock meats!). I love the salt and pepper tofu and the General Tsao's mock chicken. I would give A Single Pebble a rating of "excellent" if they had more vegan desserts (right now, they just have sorbet).
Butterfly Bakery makes 4 types of vegan truffles: Heart of Darkness is a super dark truffle rolled in cacao nibs; Something Wicked is made from chocolate orange ganache, rolled in raspberry seeds; Angel's Passion is the "sweet" dark chocolate truffle, rolled in coconut; Devil's Desire is a spicy jalapeno chocolate truffle, wrapped in dried apricot.
My personal favorite is the Heart of Darkness, although the Angel's Passion is a close second. I recently spoke with the owner, Claire, and she mentioned that Butterfly Bakery teaches vegan baking classes and is happy to bake vegan cakes if you call ahead of time to make an order.
The Hunger Mountain Food Coop is located right behind the Kismet Kitchen. It has a large selection of vegan-friendly products, including lots of flavors of locally-made vegan cookies by Liz Lovely.
Kismet Cafe is a cute cafe tucked away in a quiet area of Montpelier. It has a large range of organic foods and, according to one of the waitresses, they're willing to make any of the menu items vegan (although this works better for some items than for others). I had a vegan crepe filled with dairy-free pesto, served with tofu scramble and root vegetable fries. All of the coffee drinks can be made with soy milk and everything can be sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar or honey.
The Landgon Street Cafe is a good study spot and has a decent selection of vegan options. They have Tofutti Cream Cheese to put on bagels and they have a Vegan Delight tempeh sandwich on the menu. All of the coffee drinks, lemonade etc. can be sweetened with (local) maple syrup instead of sugar and soy milk can be substituted for regular milk. Best of all, there are usually a couple of homemade vegan baked goods on the counter.
Overall, I wasn't very impressed with Rhapsody. The food was decent but not great, and it was pretty overpriced (the "pay per weight" concept really adds up if you want to try more than 2 or 3 dishes). Rhapsody has a "hot" buffet and a "cold" buffet. Both consist of cooked tempeh (Rhapsody's own brand), tofu dishes, all different kinds of salads, various forms of cooked potatoes, fruits, vegetables... There are usually a couple of vegan desserts (on the night that I went, there was a "tiramisu" and some sort of cheesecake, plus some muffins, cookies and slices of carrot cake). On the plus side, Rhapsody has a lot to choose from and the buffet aspect made the meal pretty quick.
The Skinny Pancake is a cute little restaurant that looks a bit like a log cabin on the inside. It has one crepe on the menu that is explicitly labeled "vegan" (a savory crepe stuffed with seitan red peppers and caramelized onions), but they are able to make any of their other crepes vegan if you ask them to use their vegan crepe batter instead of the normal batter and leave off any meat/dairy ingredients. My favorite crepe to "veganize" is the Lemon Classic, which consists of lemon juice and granulated sugar, wrapped in a crepe shell. The Skinny Pancake also offers a nice selection of local sodas, including Vermont maple seltzer.
I was very excited to try The Farmers Diner after I found out that they have a "Vegetarian Breakfast," which consists of tofu scramble, soy sausage, homefries and toast. I thought that this might be the first interesting vegan breakfast option in the Upper Valley (other local restaurants limit their vegan breakfast options to oatmeal, bagels and fruit).
Sadly, the "Vegetarian Breakfast" is far from being vegan. I made the mistake of ordering it without making any special requests and my toast came out of the kitchen literally dripping with melted butter. The soy sausage turned out to be Morningstar Veggie Sausage Patties (which contain eggs). The homefries tasted like melted butter as well. So, I was left with the tofu scramble, which was mediocre at best (a few pieces of mashed tofu, mixed with lots of cooked spinach, broccoli and mushrooms).
The waitstaff was so nice to me and apologetic when I mentioned that I felt misled by the menu description of the "Vegetarian Breakfast" (it is fairly detailed, but dairy is not mentioned ANYWHERE). They said that they'd be willing to make some accommodations next time if I let them know about my dietary restrictions when I order (i.e. not pre-buttering the toast, frying the potatoes in oil, leaving the sausage patties off of my plate), which is why I'm giving The Farmers Diner a rating of "fair" instead of "terrible."
Realistically, I would suggest avoiding this place if you're a vegan. Even with the accommodations mentioned above, the "veganizable" items just aren't that great. If you're a lacto-ovo vegetarian, I imagine that this would be a wonderful place to eat. The restaurant is cute (part of it is built into an old dining car!), the staff is friendly and all of the ingredients are fresh and local.
Elixir used to be an incredible martini bar, featuring lots of exciting drinks: basil mojitos, Swedish fish martinis with Swedish fish candies at the bottom of the glass, chocolate espresso martinis which featured a coco-powder-and-sugar-dusted rim and dark chocolate-covered espresso beans at the bottom... My one complaint was that the only non-potable option for vegans on the menu was a plate of fries.
The restaurant recently re-opened under new management and I was pleased to see that the menu mentions that vegetarian/vegan options are available. However, I was disappointed to discover that the vegan option that the chef decided to make for me was just a bowl of couscous with fiddleheads, tomatoes and corn. It was pretty bland and the portion was very small. I ended up eating a second dinner afterwards (at home) because I was still hungry. I thought that this was pretty unacceptable, given the $18 price tag on my vegan meal. Moreover, the amazing drink menu seems to have vanished and been replaced with pretty standard bar options.
I'm hoping that the new management will learn as they go and eventually return Elixir to its former days of glory (and come up with some more creative vegan options while they're at it!). Unless some serious changes take place, I doubt that I'll ever return to Elixir.
The menu that is posted on the Tip Top Cafe's website is misleading (and probably outdated). Every time that I have gone to the Tip Top Cafe, there have been at least two vegetarian items on the menu, one of which has been vegan (or easily altered to be vegan). Tip Top Cafe is one of the few restaurants in the Upper Valley area that makes a serious effort at food presentation and tries to offer eclectic menu items. I usually end up getting a salad, followed by some sort of Indian food inspired entree and sorbet for dessert. It's not haute cuisine and it's probably not worth the price, but it is some of the best vegan food you can find in the area.
The only vegan item on the menu at Tuckerbox Cafe is the falafel sandwich. Fortunately, it's the best falafel sandwich that I've had since moving to the Upper Valley. The flatbread tastes very fresh and the falafel is spicier than average (without being overly greasy!). The falafel sandwich comes loaded up with lots of delicious, local veggies.
Another perk is that Tuckerbox has some of the best coffee in the area and they have soy milk (which isn't advertised on the menu).
The Upper Valley Food Coop has a large selection of vegan cookies (more flavors of Liz Lovely and Alternative Baking Company cookies than I have seen anywhere else in the Upper Valley). It also has whole freezer cases full of soy ice cream and vegan frozen dinners, as well as a large selection of soy milk, meat substitutes, cheese substitutes and other items of interest to vegans. The fridge contains some vegan sandwiches, wraps, soups and other quick meals.
The coconut-crusted tofu is AMAZING. It came on a bed of ginger noodles and was by far the best food that I ate while at Disney World. On the day that I ate at the Brown Derby, they had vegan chocolate cake with mango sorbet. The waiter also mentioned that they make vegan rhubarb pie sometimes. The Brown Derby was one of the few places in Disney World that actually used the word "vegan" on the menu. I was very pleasantly surprised by this theme-park dining establishment.
The food at Araya's is consistently excellent. There are many unusual (and delicious!) curry flavors, including avocado curry and pumpkin curry. I love the fact that Araya's has a clear spice rating system - the server asks you to name a level between 1 and 5 (where 1 is "not spicy" and 5 is "very spicy"). This removes a lot of the ambiguity.
The Thai iced tea is easily my favorite menu item at Araya's. It's made with coconut milk instead of sweet-and-condensed milk and it's amazing!
My only (very minor) complaint about Araya's has to do with the faux meat. Unlike some vegan Asian restaurants, Araya's doesn't try to imitate chicken or beef by duplicating the structure and flavor. The "beef" in the pumpkin curry is just ordinary seitan, which is perfectly fine with me. However, the texture of the seitan is fairly tough and it doesn't soak up the flavor of the curry very well. If you're thinking about ordering a dish at Araya's that comes with seitan, I would recommend substituting tofu instead.
Chaco Canyon is the stereotypical "old school" vegan restaurant - the drink menu is filled with various homemade juices and elixirs, the sandwiches are prepared with sprouts, the desserts are made with flaxseed meal...
I must admit that I'm not generally excited about restaurants of this nature, but I was extremely impressed with my chai nut milk smoothie! I also though that the pesto melt was pretty tasty (although I would have preferred it without the sprouts). I was also pleasantly surprised when the cook offered me a free maple anise cookie, which had a unique (and delicious) combination of flavors.
I would definitely visit Chaco Canyon again if I ever have occasion to be on the University of Washington campus in the future, but I don't know that I would go out of my way to eat here if I were staying in downtown Seattle.
I didn't check VegGuide.org before visiting Seattle, so I was surprised when I noticed vegan scones, muffins and cookies in the glass case at a random bakery booth in the Pike Place Market area. I ordered the vegan snickerdoodle, which had a nice texture and a good cinnamon-to-cookie ratio (I get irritated when there is too much cinnamon on snickerdoodles). The cookie was gigantic, to a point where I was only able to eat half of it. I wish that Cinnamon Works would offer smaller options, but I'm sure that there are other people who would disagree with me. Overall, I'm thrilled that there's a bakery with vegan options in such a tourist-heavy area of the city!
I stopped by the Mexico Cantina for lunch today and did not see much for vegans on the menu (all of the items that were labeled "vegetarian" were things like "cheese quesadillas"). I asked one of the servers if there was a "secret" vegan menu and she didn't seem to know what I was talking about. Admittedly, I stopped by at an awkward time (around 3 PM) so perhaps the servers that are knowledgeable about veganism weren't around at this point. Either way, I'd be happier if they would advertise their vegan menu more openly if they do, in fact, have one.
I decided to visit Nanung Cafe after noticing a postcard in my hotel lobby advertising the vegan, gluten-free and soy-free cupcakes that Nanung offers. When I visited on a Saturday morning, Nanung did not have any cupcakes but there was a nice selection of vegan muffins and "Thai iced tea bars." I decided to try the Thai iced tea bar, which turned out to be a creamy, sugary dessert bar that tasted just like Thai iced tea! They were so delicious that I found myself wishing that I had purchased several more. At under $2 a piece, the dessert bars were quite a bargain. I can't wait to try the cupcakes on my next visit to Seattle!
Plum is a small, high-quality, all-vegan restaurant in the Capitol Hill area. It may not be as well-known as Millennium or Horizon, but the food is arguably at the same level and the prices are a little more reasonable. For $40, I was able to enjoy a delicious meal of rum-infused horchata, chai-flavored yam, walnut and green apple bruschetta and a seitan apple sage "steak" served with okra and fried onions. The seitan "steak" was juicy and succulent. It may well have been the best "steak" that I've had in the 15 years that I've been a vegetarian. The rum-infused horchata was pure genius - it was like a White Russian, but made with delicious horchata instead of Kahlua and milk.
The portions at Plum were fairly generous for an upscale restaurant, so I didn't wind up ordering a dessert. I did overhear the waitress explaining the dessert menu to the table next to mine, and I was a little disappointed with the offerings: coconut gelato or apple cinnamon crepes. The desserts apparently change every day, so there might have been more exciting options if I had visited on a different night. It's important to note that the menu advertised on Plum's website is much smaller than the actual dinner menu at Plum. For example, there were at least three different types of bruschetta available on the night that I visited, including a pear and quinoa-topped bruschetta that sounded delicious.
Plum is, by far, the best vegan restaurant that I have visited in some time. I strongly recommend it to anyone visiting the Seattle area!
I had a really terrific lunch at Himal Chuli. More than half of the menu is vegetarian (and a number of the vegetarian items can be made vegan by leaving off the yogurt sauce). I ended up sharing a couple of different appetizers with friends and then I had the seitan buff for my entree (which was basically a stir fry dish consisting of seitan, different vegetables and spices, served over a piece of flat bread).
It is definitely worth mentioning to the waiter that you are vegan. My friends and I tried to order only appetizers that sounded dairy-free but some came with yogurt sauce on the side. Also, we ran out of water pretty quickly and it took a while for the waiter to re-fill it, so it might be a good idea to ask for a pitcher of water or order another drink. The food isn't terribly spicy but it will still make you wish you had more than one small glass of water for the entire meal.
Ratings Without Reviews
- Andie's Restaurant
in Chicago, Illinois:
- Burton-Judson Dining Commons
in Chicago, Illinois:
- early to bed
in Chicago, Illinois:
- Einstein Brothers
in Chicago, Illinois:
- Ethiopian Diamond
in Chicago, Illinois:
- Hyde Park Produce
in Chicago, Illinois:
- Uncle Joe's
in Chicago, Illinois:
- Flat Top Grill
in Evanston, Illinois:
- Nile Cafe
in Baltimore, Maryland:
- Taj II Indian Cuisine
in Columbus, Ohio: