Reviews written by Benjamin Kutschied
Registered on Oct 29 09
If you have been in Costa Rica long enough to eat a few meals out, you have probably noticed that the vegan options are not exactly abundant. Well, perhaps they are abundant, but they are not very interesting. Organico offers the ethical traveler a much needed break from the casado vegetariano.
The atmosphere here is exactly what a visitor to Montezuma is looking for. The servers are friendly, the outdoor dining area is comfortable, and everyone is extremely chilled out. Thankfully, the staff at Organico is not so tranquilo that they forget to take your order or bring the check. Every time I visited, I was immediately greeted and given a pitcher of water. The servers checked in to ask us how we were enjoying the meal and took pleasure in telling us about their abundant vegan options.
The food here is delicious, nutritious and well presented. I highly recommend the tropical French toast for breakfast. It is worth it for the homemade syrup alone! The tofu scramble was gorgeous and came with a generous side of whole grain bread and homemade pineapple jam. While it was not the best scramble I have ever had, it was good and being able to order this dish in Costa Rica made my whole day. (By the way, there is a tofu scramble offered down the street as well. I recommend sticking with Organico.)
The lunch/dinner menu is even more vegan friendly than the breakfast menu. Their spicy Thai and falafel burgers (with vegan cucumber yogurt sauce!) are to die for. I could feel the nutrition rushing back into my body while eating the whole grain bun. I was less excited about the dragon noodle bowl. It was flavorful, but I felt that it could have used just one substantial ingredient like a mock meat or even a side of their delicious breads.
There are a variety of delicious vegan desserts and smoothies/juices to choose from as well. The Turkish delight smoothie was made with real dates and a careful blend cardamom, cinnamon and other flavors. The brownie was dark, rich, gooey and perfect.
My only real beef with this restaurant is the prices. This place is way too expensive for most backpackers that are coming to visit this hippie influenced town. Many of the meals cost more than they would at a similar restaurant in the States. That having been said, for the vegan who can't handle another plantain, bean or grain of rice, Organico might be the most interesting option in the country.
I enjoyed my recent visit to Karyn's on Green. The atmosphere is classy with upscale decor, a full bar with an excellent wine selection, nicely dressed servers, etc... Had the place not been mostly empty, I would have felt silly dining in my flip flops and t-shirt. Karyn's motto is "making vegan sexy." For the most part, it looks like they are doing a decent job.
They fall a little short of this goal in a few areas. First and most importantly, *nothing* in the world is *less* sexy than a Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich. After taking in the atmosphere and being greeted by our server, I didn't expect to be handed a menu full of sandwiches and pizza. To be fair, I was there for lunch, and it looks like the dinner menu is much more sophisticated. Another thing that wasn't incredibly sexy was the weird dude who kept filling my water glass every time I took a sip. He stopped by our table about 30 different times (not an exaggeration). It was really obnoxious. Finally, videos of gators eating birds should maybe not be screened in your vegan restaurant. I realize that most wild animals aren't strict vegans, but I don't need to watch them kill and eat each other while I'm dining.
We had the Portobello Burger and the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. They were both very good. We also had the raw ice cream plate for dessert. This was excellent! Very creative, classy, and well-presented. Seemed like I was eating dessert at a different restaurant. I plan to come back to Karyn's on Green for the dinner menu next time I am in Chicago. I'll have to update my review then and hopefully add a star or two.
Soul Veg rocked my world. I just ate there for the first time and had a great experience.
An employee told us that the entire menu was vegan although that was not indicated anywhere on the menu itself. We ordered the onion rings for an appetizer (totally unnecessary with Soul's generous portions). These were my first onion rings in many years and were totally worth the wait. The gyro was okay, but I was a little put off by whatever ingredient was giving it that unusually sweet taste. The steak stir fry was excellent. Unlike similar rice dishes I have had at other restaurants, Soul's steak stir fry did not skimp on the "meat" and veggies! I am a hot sauce fiend and would normally douse a plate of rice and veggies before even trying it. I'm glad there wasn't any within arm's reach because I wouldn't dream of putting anything else on this perfectly seasoned dish. Along with the onion rings, my partner and I made two full meals out of the visit.
The service was not bad, but it could have been better. The first employee we spoke to was extremely enthusiastic and wanted to talk to us about the type of food they specialize in. The woman who actually served us, however, was indifferent. While eating we witnessed her blow off questions another customer had about vegan food and ignore someone waiting at the counter until he had to yell into the kitchen to get some service.
Really, the only disappointing thing about my visit to Soul Veg was knowing that (as a Minnesotan) it will probably be a while before I am able to sample more of their menu.
How on earth did a 100% vegan cafe open somewhere other than the Twin Cities?! Ah, well.
I enjoyed my lunch at Great Grains. The service was fantastic and we had a good time chatting with one of the folks who runs the place. I had their special of the day, Jamaican rice and beans with pico de gallo. Not bad, but nothing to write home (or reviews) about. My partner had the avocado sandwich, which was pretty awesome for an avocado sandwich. I guess I'm just not terribly impressed with the menu. I can get a veggie burger and a baked potato anywhere. Also, if their mission is to support the health of the local community, they could probably come up with some more health-focused dishes.
In short, Great Grains is good, but they will need to exercise a little more imagination before I can call it great.
* Keep an eye out if you are shopping. A few items in their store are not vegan.
I've enjoyed most of the dishes I've had at Bravo. They might be a little less impressive than similar plates at Evergreen (15 minutes away in MPLS), but they are also half the price ($5.50 - $6.50!). That, the quick and friendly service, the healthy balance of veggies to proteins, and the option of brown rice earns Bravo 5 stars in my book.
I enjoy eating in right on Grand Ave, but the experience could be drastically improved if they would just use actual silverware rather than plastic forks...
I really wish I enjoyed eating at Camdi. The owner is extremely friendly and tries very hard to cater to vegans. He has a separate 100% vegan menu (you don't even have to ask for it) and uses separate woks when cooking vegan food. Also, this is the only place I know of where you can get mock cream cheese wontons.
Sadly, I have eaten here a few times and have not been impressed with the food itself. This most recent time, I was unable to finish my kung pao mock pork because the texture was so revolting. I felt like I was eating huge chunks of fat. The wontons were okay, but actually tasted more like cheese curds to me.
I want to support Camdi, so I will probably visit again and order a dish with tofu or mock duck. I get excited when restaurants offer something fun like mock pork or chicken, so ordering tofu when there are other options is disappointing. If you are looking for creative mock meats, I suggest visiting Evergreen Chinese on Nicollet.
The Mall of America doesn't have an abundance of vegan options outside of the food court, so Crave is the best place I've found to sit down and have a vegan meal with table service.
There aren't many options for vegans, but the waitstaff is very accommodating and has obviously been trained to respond politely and thoroughly to vegan customers. I had their whole grain veggie burger for lunch. It was very good and didn't suffer from the consistency issues that some egg-free patties suffer from. It was served with picked cucumbers and carrots and a side of fries. I didn't get a complete list of their vegan offerings, but I know they also have cucumber/avocado sushi and a Mediterranean plate that are both vegan. Most of their salads can be made vegan as well.
The best part was how great they were with my daughter. They brought her a plate of fruit right away, and her meal (avocado sushi) was free! I think this only applies on Tuesday afternoons, but it was pretty great. I had a beer, but if I had been in a wine mood, there was an outstanding selection.
I'd give it a higher rating if they labeled vegan items on the menu and offered one or two more vegan entrees.
I'm surprised by all of the low ratings for Dancing Ganesha. I've always had good (but inconsistent and slightly overpriced) food and excellent service. The gobi manchurian appetizer is probably my favorite appetizer in the Twin Cities at the moment. Vegetarian food is labeled, and the servers are very knowledgeable about which dishes are vegan. One big improvement they could make for vegans would be labeling vegan items and adding at least one vegan bread to the menu.
Since there hasn't been a review in quite some time I just was to assure everyone that Evergreen is still awesome. This might be my favorite place to eat in the Twin Cities.
The atmosphere is lacking as Evergreen is located in a weird basement space with rather sterile decoration. Frank, the owner, is a man of few words. Still, this place is worth a visit, especially if you love mock meats.
I've been to similar restaurants elsewhere, and none of them do vegan Chinese food as well as this place. The first time I ate there, I almost sent my meal back because I thought the mock meat was actual meat. The dishes are that convincing! If you're a fan of mock meats, do yourself a favor and make a trip to Evergreen. In addition to tofu and mock duck, they carry mock pork, chicken, beef, and seafood. My favorite menu items include the thai basil eggplant, lemongrass mock beef, and pepper fried mock pork.
They are closed on Tuesdays, the saddest day of the week.
Vegan yogurt at the Mall! They day I was there they only had one vegan option (strawberry), and it seemed like that was the norm. It was labeled as "non-dairy," and tasted more like ice cream than yogurt to me...
The best part is the huge toppings bar! You can pile on fresh fruit and other toppings, but keep in mind that pricing is determined by weight.
If I had written this review six months ago, Hard Times would have received a much lower rating. Much lower. All it took was a barista with a good attitude to make my visit a great experience.
The food is good. I would even go so far as to call the Vegan Biscuit Breakfast with Gravy great. The service, however, has always been terrible. I don't expect any sort of royal treatment when I visit a cafe, but a customer shouldn't be made to feel like she or he is ruining an employee's day by placing an order.
I am happy to report that I have received excellent service the last few times I have eaten at Hard Times! The barista this morning was actually smiling. I ordered and paid for my food without him rolling his eyes at me once. The cook even acknowledged my presence when I thanked him for the food. Let's hope they keep this up!
Jasmine 26 is one of my favorite restaurants in the Twin Cities. The food and service are excellent, the atmosphere and location are ideal, and they are fantastic at serving vegans. A knowledgeable server will be happy to recommend the best vegan menu items. On Chinese New Year, I stopped in to discover that they were serving a 7 course vegan meal and doing a traditional dragon dance right in the dining area!
Order the salt and pepper tofu. If you have a friend who is skeptical about tofu, this is the dish to have them try! I am also a huge fan of the vegetarian pho, the tofu and mock duck crepe and the basil noodles (just ask them to leave out the egg).
If they labeled their vegan food, I would give Jasmine 26 five stars.
I visited Little Szechuan with a large group and had the opportunity to try several of their dishes. This is a great place to go with several people. The service is quick and friendly and the large, circular tables with a lazy susan in the middle work perfectly for sharing dishes.
I highly recommend the szechuan spicy tofu, kung pao tofu, green beans and the stir fried pea tips. The only dish I wasn't a huge fan of was the ma po tofu. The flavor was excellent, but the tofu was much softer than I care for.
I will definitely be back just as soon as I recover from this tofu hangover. Clearly labeled vegan options and a couple of vegan dishes that aren't almost entirely tofu (vegetables or other mock meats) would easily earn Little Szechuan five stars!
I'm surprised that Ping's has gone this long without being added to VegGuide. I believe it's been in the same location since the 80's. The restaurant is in such close proximity to Evergreen that I never gave it a shot until recently when I was working just down the street and heard that you could get take-out quickly.
Sure enough, I've ordered food to go about a dozen times and I've never waited more than 10 minutes. Eating in is an interesting experience as the decor is stuck in the 80's. Everything is very... pink. Otherwise, the table service and service at the bar is friendly.
So far every dish I've ordered from the vegetarian section has been vegan and pretty good. The sauces are rather sugary and Americanized (sometimes that's what I'm looking for), but the texture of the tofu and eggplant dishes is consistently perfect. Like most Chinese places, I wish they would add more vegetables to their tofu dishes.
I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to order a vegan meal at this steak and sushi restaurant. The server knew exactly what I was talking about and could immediately tell me whether the dishes were vegan or able to be made vegan.
There is a vegetarian section on the sushi menu with four options. The roasted veggie roll is delicious and visually interesting. The seaweed salad was simple, but I liked it enough to eat two orders. There are a handful of other vegan appetizers and sides, but no entrees.
The food and atmosphere are very upscale, and some of the entree prices reflect this. Sushi, appetizers, and sides were reasonably priced, and there were some excellent drink specials.
All in all, a great dining experience when you're going somewhere fancy with a non-veg group. I'd give them a higher rating if there was even one vegan entree.
I just moved to the Nokomis area and am unimpressed with the local veg offerings. I was happy to hear that there was a restaurant in my area that catered to vegans. I visited Singapore for the first time last week and enjoyed a very veg-friendly dining experience.
We waited at least 15 minutes before being greeted by the owner (who appeared to be the only person working). She was extremely friendly and more than happy to let us know that almost everything on the menu could be prepared vegan.
The food was pretty good. I actually enjoyed the standard tofu curry more than the captain's curry. The flavor was excellent and the veggies were cooked thoroughly, but the tofu was soft and mushy. I would have enjoyed the curry more if I could have ordered it with mock duck or deep-fried tofu instead.
I hate to say this, but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat at Singapore. I am, however, happy to have a place like this in my otherwise non-veg neighborhood.
Tip: Singapore doesn't sell alcohol, but they will let you bring a bottle of wine from the liquor store. They'll even open it for you!
Word on the street is that St. Louis does Chicago pizza better than Chicago. I'm skeptical, but this is what Barack Obama says about the deep dish served at Pi Pizzeria. According to Pi employees, this is our Chicago-raised President's favorite pizza joint.
I ordered the Delmar, but was told that it had to go on thin crust in order to be made vegan. Despite this one unfortunate flaw, Pi Pizzeria is very vegan-friendly. The employees know what vegan means (our server was a vegan herself) and will cheerfully explain your options. They offered a few different meat substitutes and even carried Daiya cheese! If you haven't tried Daiya yet, I recommend that you stop what you are doing and go eat some Pi pizza immediately. This stuff melts, stretches and tastes deliciously greasy and salty just like real cheese!
I might not order 140 Pi pizzas to be made at my home like our President, however, I will definitely make sure to stop at Pi again the next time I am passing through St. Louis.
Veg Out opened about a year and a half ago, and it seems like they are in London for good. We went for a late lunch on a Tuesday after a holiday weekend, and there were several other customers dining in, getting take-out, and yes... getting food delivered via bicycle.
The atmosphere is kinda hippy dippy, but tidy and clean. I would have sat on their huge outdoor patio, but it was a little too chilly when we visited. Local art is hung inside along with a chalkboard listing all of the ingredients that are currently organic. The servers are a bit hippy dippy as well, but they are friendly and attentive.
We started with the Tempeh Wings. They are battered and fried, and absolutely delicious. For our main dishes we ordered the World Famous Fish and Chips and the Lemon Poppy Seed Grilled Tempeh. The Fish and Chips was one of the best vegan dishes that I have ever had. Everything at Veg Out is made from scratch. The 'fish' patty was tempeh (maybe thrown in a food processor with something else?) wrapped in nori, beer battered, fried, and served with tartar sauce. The Lemon Poppy Seed Grilled Tempeh was not my favorite (lacking some sort of tangy or sweet flavor maybe), but the wild rice and veggies it was served on were incredible. We even took a slice of their chocolate cake to go.
I'm looking forward to stopping here again the next time I am passing through London.
During my recent visit to Stratford, I was amazed that very few servers in town were familiar with vegan diets. At one location, right after explaining that I did not eat animal products, a server asked me if I wanted cheese on my veggie burger and gravy for my fries.
Although vegan food could be found at some other Stratford restaurants, Raja Fine Indian Cuisine was the only place I visited that I would call vegan-friendly. The menu actually has the word 'vegan' printed on it, and the servers know exactly what it means. There is a vegetable specialties section, and most of these dishes in this section can be made vegan. They are not listed individually, so you will have to ask which ones can be prepared sans animal products.
We ordered the chana masala and the bharta, both of which were excellent. Gently seasoned, not cooked to death, and not oily. The atmosphere is upscale, but don't feel like you have to wear your Sunday finest. There will be a lot of tourists in t-shirts and flip flops in the seats.
Tip well! These servers work their butts off!
My wife and I took a detour through Madison recently and enjoyed a great dining experience at The Green Owl Cafe.
The atmosphere was unique with owl kitsch scattered about and a couple of different art installations including one with pictures of animals from an animal sanctuary. The dining room is a long hallway that opens up at the back of the restaurant with tables scrunched together rather... intimately. The friendly and casual staff did a great job chatting everyone up and making customers feel comfortable in close quarters.
The food was outstanding. The vegan chipotle remoulade (on the Crabby Cakes appetizer)
alone was worth the trip. I regret not asking whether I could purchase a jar to take home with me. We had two sandwiches for our main course: BBQ Jackfruit and Vegetarian Italian Beef. Jackfruit was a great "meaty" choice for a vegetable-based BBQ sandwich. The Italian Beef was one of the most impressive veganized meat dishes I've ever had. It brought me back fifteen years to eating at Johnny's in Chicago. I'm not sure whether they have it available daily, but the Chai Cake was great as well. Although I was in a Madison beer mood that night, they also have house-made kombucha available.
The Green Owl has a great staff, 100% vegetarian menu, clearly marked vegan options, and some of the best food around.
Ian's Pizza specializes in orders by the slice, and had at least a dozen different options ready at the counter the day we went. I would've tried more than one kind, but they didn't have any vegan slices ready the day we went. The person working the counter told us that they do occasionally have vegan options available by the slice.
Some of the pizzas could be made vegan, and the menu suggested two in particular. We ordered the Lasagna Marinara, which was great. It had a marinara sauce, lasagna noodles, Daiya Mozzarella, a mock parmesan, and fresh herbs. The other vegan suggestions was the Mac n' Cheese.
They didn't serve alcohol, but the atmosphere reminded me of a college bar where they are worried about patrons trashing the place. There was a comic book theme that started in one corner then gave way to a huge piece of ugly and half-destroyed modern art. The layout was awkward as well forcing customers to simultaneously hover over a table and be in the way of the soda fountain while waiting for their orders.
Our pizza was creative and really good, and offering Daiya scores points with me. A couple of mock meats, better atmosphere, and a mock meat or tofu option is all it would take to make this an excellent place for vegetarians.
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