Reviews written by Matthew FHB
Registered on Jun 9 11
We ordered the Saag Chana, Jeera Aloo, and Roti. Everything was well above average. The Saag Chana was the best I've ever had. The service was great, veg knowledgeable/helpful, and friendly. It's definitely the best Indian food I've had in Minneapolis.
It's a little more money than other Indian places in town, but that makes sense given its location. I'd definitely recommend it for dates, semi-formal outings, special nights, tourists, etc.
So, Hard Times is pretty much my favorite restaurant. That said, I initially* didn't give it 5 stars because you really have to know what you're getting at Hard Times and I could totally see someone having an unpleasant experience there.
The coffee: Really really thick, kind of murky. French Pressed. I love it-- it's some of my favorite coffee in the city, but it's too much for a lot of folks.
The baked goods: The Espresso Cupcake is the best cupcake i've gotten from a cafe. Their muffins are a little dense for me. Their cookies are usually really good. I don't like the peanut butter cup. They change it up a lot, and some of the best items are random one-offs.
The soups are really good, and just about everybody loves the vegan biscuits and gravy. The quality of the food does vary pretty drastically from day-to-day/cook-to-cook. Their food can be on the greasy side sometimes, but I like that.
The service is quick, especially when it's not too busy. I've ordered soup and had it ready before I sat down. If you expect the staff to smile at you and compliment your shirt you'll be totally disappointed. On the flip side, if someone working there smiles at you or makes conversation, you'll know it's because they actually want to, rather than faking it to keep their manager happy. It's more honest that way.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you write what you want down on a slip of paper and put your name on the bottom, otherwise you'll piss off the barista. If you've got a super common name, like Matthew, make sure you put your last initial down so that you don't hear your name called, pick up someone with the same names food, and then come to blows thinking that you stole each others' food.
It's not actually dirty, just grungy. You can see the kitchen, and it's super clean and sanitary. The bathrooms are full of graffiti but people don't piss on the seat. The tables are carved up but they get wiped down as often as you'd expect from a cafe.
Hard Times is one of the few all vegetarian restaurants in the cities, and it's collectively run to boot! That alone makes me love it.
*I changed my review to a 5 because the staff seems to have gotten friendlier over the last few years.
It's an old Minneapolis restaurant. The interior reminds me of the House on the Rock: lots of hanging sheets on the wall, dimly lit, dark red, a little dingy. I really want to like this place, but I don't. Everything I've had has been pretty average, except the fried potatoes, which were bad. I not entirely sure how they made fried potatoes taste bad, but it happened. They tasted reheated.
The server was very friendly and knowledgeable about veganism.
I went there and ordered a bean burrito with no cheese and no sour cream. I emphasized that I wanted bean and not beef. They asked if I wanted black beans or pinto beans, and I chose pinto. I said I can't eat any dairy and pointed at my stomach for emphasis (while vegan, I'm also lactose intolerant).
When my burrito came I took a bite and it tasted really weird. I opened it up to look inside and it had lots of beef, no beans, and cheese. Brought it back to the counter and said I can't eat meat or cheese, and that I ordered bean with no cheese. I almost never send back food (MN nice), but I was hungry and they really messed up my order.
I had the good sense to open up burrito #2 before eating it. This one had no cheese, and had beans and beef. Getting closer, but still not a vegan burrito. I sent it back and they were irritated and said it had beans and no cheese. I said I can't eat any animal products, and I said no meat or cheese. They said "nothing on it?" and I said "no beef or cheese"
Finally a vegan burrito! I opened it up, and it had just a little bit of rice, beans, and peas. Burritos #1 and 2 came with chips-- Burrito #3 didn't come with any. Probably a passive aggressive way of saying that they were tired of me sending back burritos. The burrito wasn't particularly tasty, but it wasn't particularly bad, either. It didn't have a lot of filling in it, but that probably goes along with the lack of chips.
This is the first time I've gotten a non-veg dish or had trouble explaining vegan needs in South Minneapolis. There's enough vegans here that usually restaurants are familiar with it.
It's pretty much everything I want from a hot pot restaurant: The ingredients are fresh, lots of different kinds of mushrooms and tofu, lots of dipping sauces, and the staff was knowledgeable about vegetarianism. We ordered the "healthy broth," which usually comes with chicken broth, but if you tell them you're vegetarian, they'll make it without. I haven't had a chance to try the mala broth yet because I went with friends who didn't want the spicy, but they had a mala dipping sauce. It guess it could be a little cheaper, and they could have more vegan broth options, but it's so much better than the average hot pot place that I still gave it 5 stars.
Like all hot pot restaurants, only go there with people willing to eat veg (unless you're cool with meat in your broth).
It's right near the lightrail, and that's pretty cool, too.
Dibs is one of the few places in Winona to get a decent vegan meal. I haven't had the burritos but I have friends who swear by them. The baked goods are real good. The coffee's amazing, especially given that it's only a dollar. That atmosphere is kind of like a friendlier, less grungy version of Hard Times(MPLS).
There's also a small arcade of old pinball machines and video games.
It's a little difficult for me to choose a rating on this restaurant because I don't usually like American-Chinese food. I was tempted to go for a 4 rating because most of the American-Chinese restaurants I've been to are a lot worse and less vegan friendly. They had a number a vegan options. I got the General Tso's Tofu and my partner got the sesame tofu. They were both okay. The sauces weren't as thick or salty as I expected, which was a nice surprise. Sweet was the main flavor. They use styrofoam for their to-go boxes, which is unfortunate.
The good: You choose the ingredients, so as long as you make sure the soup base and dipping sauces are vegan, it's easy to eat vegan. The firm tofu and the Chrysanthemum were good. It's seemed authentic: they didn't give you ice-cold water unless you asked.
The bad: The rice was obviously not fresh (like, maybe it was cooked up yesterday not fresh), which made me wonder about the quality of the other ingredients. We ordered the Shiitake broth, and it tasted a little funny. Also, the server is in charge of the heat of the burner. All of the hot pot restaurants I've been to were set up so that the customers were in charge of the heat. The internet said they'd have mala (numbing peppercorn) as an option, but I didn't see it on the menu. They also charge for the dipping sauces (not much, just $0.50), and some places don't. My partner ordered the plum drink, and it tasted smoky and bad, so she didn't finish it. We've had plum drink in Southern China and liked it a lot. To give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe the smoky flavor is a regional thing in Inner Mongolia or some other part of China.
Remember: Make sure to ask about chicken broth with the soup bases. We told our server we were vegetarian and asked which broths were vegetarian, and he suggested the Shiitake broth. Then he said if half chicken broth, half water was okay, and we said no to the chicken broth. So be aware that they might not really understand veg. Also, since there's only one pot for your table, you don't want to go with people who want to eat meat (because the meat would be cooking next to your veggies). It's also not a good option for people who don't want to see meat, because your neighbors will probably have plates full of raw meat at their table.
This is probably somebody else's favorite restaurant, but I wasn't crazy about it. It's not really my style, and I think I had a bad roll of the dice, dishes-wise.
They had a large selection of Thai dishes. We ordered Tom Yum soup and a rice dish and two cups of matcha tea. The Tom Yum had golden needle mushrooms (same thing as enoki mushrooms) and the rice dish had unchewable bamboo sprouts (or maybe they were lemon grass?), which is unfortunate because those are two of the only vegetables I don't like (I don't seem to digest golden needle mushrooms).
Their fake meat was like fake-meat at traditional Buddhist restaurants in Hong Kong: looks and feels like real meat, but with little flavor. They do a good job of the traditional fake meat thing, but I prefer tempeh/tofu/mock duck to the ornate "looks like real meat!" proteins.
The Tum Yum broth had a really good flavor. The rice dish was a little on the bland side.
The workers seemed to speak no English (and I speak no Thai), which was fine because the menu had English and pictures. The facebook group for them says they speak English well, so maybe it depends who's working there. Prices were very reasonable, between 50-100 baht, if I remember right. It's worth going to if you're hungry and in the neighborhood, but not worth making a special trip for.
Quite simply, vegan food doesn't get better than this. I had the fried rice with tempeh and my partner had the pumpkin-coconut soup. The fried rice with tempeh had lots of different kinds of vegetables in it, a few random beans, and the nuts they sometimes have in Cantonese food whose name I never learned. It was light for fried rice, but it had a delicate and delicious flavor. The tempeh was great. The balance of carb/veggie/fermented soy/beans/nuts was perfect and nourishing.
The pumpkin-coconut soup was very rich and delicious. My partner especially liked the bread (not sure if the bread is vegan or not).
Prices were average for vegan restaurants in Bangkok: most dishes were between 80-120 baht.
I'll definitely try going here again next time I'm in Bangkok.
We ordered the green curry and massaman curry. Both were solid, and better than most curries, but not the best curries I've had in my life (which I was hoping for!). If it was in America, I would have given it five stars, but I hold Thai restaurants in Bangkok to a higher standard.
It's got an earthy cafe feel. The server spoke English well. It was packed when I went there (lunch on a Sunday), and nearly all the other customers were westerners. They had cookbooks on each of the table for perusing. The dishes were around 80-100 baht, plus extra for water and rice, etc.
It's a pleasant little coffee shop with lots of wood, (not for sale) rusty antiques, stuff related to Mao and the Thai King.
I went here for coffee, and the server asked if I wanted Pad Thai for lunch later. Her English was okay, but far from fluent (I don't speak Thai). I showed her a sheet of paper that says the foods I don't eat in Thai, and she she said that she can make it without eggs or shrimp. She asked if "fish oil" (oyster sauce) was okay, and I said "no" and she said, "okay, I'll use the other oil."
I never saw the menu so I don't know if there's other veg options, but I was really impressed with how open and aware the cook/server was about veganism. And the Pad Thai was amazing.
The Pad Thai was 65 bhat. Serving sizes were close to what one person typically eats (unlike the huge plates common in American restaurants).
I had green curry soup and my partner got the tofu. I showed the server my "I'm vegan, etc..." note, and they said, "okay, no fish sauce." The portions were quite small, especially for the tofu. We ordered the vegetable tempura as a third plate, and even with that we were far from stuffed. That said, all of the food was quite tasty: it's definitely above average Thai food.
We weren't planning on going here, but a worker yelled at us asking if we wanted pizza or seafood (this is actually common in Hua Hin: people often yell "welcome" in front of their businesses) and we shook our heads, "no." Then he said, "vegetarian?" and we decided to give the place a try (lucky guess on the worker's part, or has he had other veg*n customers who look like me?).
It doesn't smell like seafood, which is a solid plus.
I'd rank it as "excellent" if they had a few more options and larger portions.
Typical Indian food (which I love!). Portions are American sized, so I ordered more food than I was expecting to.
The decor is clean and fancy, but not romantic. It has an old English/Euro feel (painting of ships on the walls). The lighting is good.
I ordered the Vegetable Jalfreizi, my (non-veg) partner ordered the Karahi Paneer (vegetarian but has cheese), and we split an order of samosas . I told them I didn't eat eggs or dairy before I ordered, so I'm not sure if my dish is usually made vegan or not. The Jalfreizi was pretty good. The samosas were great! My partner claims they're the best samosas they've had. They were very soft in the middle and hard on the outside, almost like an unsweet pumpkin pie. The mint chutney was above average, the other chutney was slightly below average.
Both dishes were ordered "medium" spicy, and they both felt "medium" spicy.
I'm rating the restaurant "great" because the samosas and the variety on the menu. The actual main dishes we had were both fair-to-good.