The Depot Tavern

Twin Cities, Minnesota


Image for Jeff Johnson

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On Friday night I met some folks for dinner at The Depot Tavern in downtown Minneapolis. This place is owned by the folks who run First Avenue and 7th Street Entry, and it's located right next to each.

On the upside, the Depot has a number of vegan options, and they're all clearly marked. Most of the vegan stuff is bar food. They have vegan onion rings, mock duck tacos, a tempeh B.L.T., a veggie burger, a salad, and a soup.

I opted for the veggie burger—they call it the "Red Beans and Rice Veggie Burger". I'm sorry to report that the Red Beans and Rice Veggie Burger isn't very good.

The first problem is that it was terribly bland. Even with lots of condiments (the vegan mayo pictured and some mustard I added later) the thing came up short in flavor. The second problem is that it had a weird, overly-soft texture. So it's clear, I'm not on the hunt for veggie burgers that could fool me into thinking I'm eating a hamburger (Gardein's beefless burger comes close, by the way). This thing was just plain mushy, and that's unpleasant.

I'll avoid this veggie burger from here on out. I may make another visit to the Depot, though, since a friend had the tempeh B.L.T. and said it was fantastic.

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I used to love going to the Depot Tavern because of their many clearly-labeled vegan options. However, I recently noticed a change in their menu - they have started labeling their mayo as "egg-free mayo (contains honey)." Depending on your stance on honey, you may still choose to eat this mayo. I am disappointed in their misunderstanding of the term vegan, but I'm glad they at least disclose that their "vegan" mayo does actually contain an animal product. That being said, their mayo is on most vegan dishes so if you are avoiding honey, you are probably going to have to eliminate the main condiment on whatever you order.

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4.3.12: So I've been here a few times now, and feel ready to review it. Everything in this review is vegan according to their menu.

I like the veggie burger - it's made of red beans and rice and it's deep fried. It falls apart, but it's kind of fun, and I think it's pretty delicious. It sometimes comes with vegan mayo, which I don't care for personally. (two times it did not, one time it did.)

The mock duck tacos are so-so, I think that the tacos from Senor Wong in St. Paul are superior. They aren't bad, just not great, either. The fries seem to be from real, actual potatoes with some pieces having the skin on. If the cooks are on their game, these come out fairly crisp with plenty of tender bits, too. Lots of potao flavor, which is nice. If the cooks aren't on their game, they can be meh and a bit soggy.

The other thing I tried is onion rings. Yum! Giant rings with the BEST ketchup ever - a curry ketchup. I love that freaking ketchup. A little sweet with some of the curry spice.

Other vegan items on the menu, a VBLT (Tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato) sandwich which I really want to try; a basil tomato soup; a coconut curry chop salad. They also have tater tots and sweet potato fries available.

Service has been great every time I've been there. The staff really knows their stuff and is willing to find out.

Overall - not overwhelmed, but a great spot to hang out between shows or even between other bars or to kill time in. Relaxed atmosphere. The slogan is "Your neighborhood bar, downtown" and I really feel that vibe.

Image for Unny Nambudiripad

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I ate here over lunch on a Friday, and it was very busy. The service was quite slow. The vegan options are very clearly marked, and there are several of them. The mock duck tacos I had were good, if a little bland.

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I'm rarely very excited about veggie burgers, but the lemon walnut veggie burger here was just shockingly good. I'm going to try the tempeh BLT next time.

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