Vegan road trip: Phoenix! Check out Green restaurant and make your own Big Wac! »
What’s a girl to do when a case of winter S.A.D, holiday fatigue, and the daily grind have got her down? Go to the Grand Canyon for Spring Break! Beat the blues by visiting one of the greatest natural wonders the Earth has to offer. Cautiously stand six feet away from the ledge, watch a group of men take a picture of their friend plank on the edge (thinking that surely you are going to watch a handsome Englishman plummet to his death right before your eyes, frozen in fear and experiencing vertigo just looking at him) and forget your own emotional baggage for a couple hours.
Sick of winter and worn out from the holidays, my bestie Britney and I began planning Spring Break 2013, or SXAZ, as it seemed everyone else was in Austin at the time. What was initially envisioned as a road trip from Vegas to Santa Fe quickly became reduced once travel time and expenses became a reality. Enter PHOENIX! VegNews just profiled Tempe and Phoenix vegan hotspot Green, Air BnB rentals* are plentiful, and for the four-hour drive to the Grand Canyon, Zipcars are available.
Now, if you should for any reason, find yourself in Phoenix, it is imperative that you eat at Green restaurant. Britney and I ate at Green three of the four days on that trip, we just COULD NOT get enough. By far, for both us, the most incredible item on the menu was their Big Wac, a vegan take on the (in)famous McDonald’s burger. We loved this sandwich so much, we stopped by for the third visit on our way to airport so we could eat our Big Wacs for dinner in San Francisco. Consider us obsessed.
Upon returning home, within four days I had to make my own. So I present you with the Big JB.
I like my junk food with a side of sautéed kale. Or chocolate cake, whatever is available.
Two imitation burgers of your choice (I used Whole Foods brand)
Vegan cheese (Daiya cheddar wedge)
Buns (whole wheat if you are healthy, white flour if you love decadence like me)
Equal parts vegan mayo and ketchup (probably about 2 tablespoons of each)
2 to 3 tablespoons diced white onion
Cook your burgers as instructed on the box. I fried mine up in vegetable oil, in a saucepan on the stove, because if I’m making glorified fast food for dinner, I’m not going the healthy route. Melt your vegan cheese atop burgers as you see fit. I like to put it on the burgers when they are almost done in the frying pan, turn off the heat, and cover the pan till the cheese melts. Smear your buns with “special sauce” (i.e. ketchup and vegan mayo), add diced onions and a couple pickles. Add your romaine lettuce as desired for nutrient value. Design burger as pictured, because you need that extra bun layer, believe me.
*We stayed in a hippie house that put Berkeley to shame. TO SHAME. No matter my minor in hippie studies from Humboldt State; I broke pretty much every rule in that house with my mere existence.
Guest post: Vegan exploration in the Eternal City of Rome! »
Organic plate at Cavour 313.
Cheese-laden pizzas and an emphasis on meat-based pasta sauces, with plenty of veal and offal thrown in too? On initial impressions, Rome is any vegan’s nightmare.
When I trundled off on a solo trip to the Eternal City in spring this year, it was my first time as vegan. And lo and behold, it wasn’t nearly as difficult to eat well here as I anticipated.
Let’s start with the bad, and go on to the good.
The bad bit was breakfast. I love my breakfast, I really do. But wherever I stayed, usually the most I was able to eat was some packeted dry toasts, and jam, with maybe a banana or an apple. There were, however, always plenty of cheese, eggs, croissants and other non-vegan things to choose from at breakfast.
There were two mornings that I relished, though. This was when I was staying at vegetarian eco-hotel The Beehive for a couple of nights. What a gem this place is. One morning I enjoyed apple cinnamon oatmeal made with soy milk, and another morning I was delighted to be cooked a tofu scramble.
Yes—tofu scramble! In Rome! The Beehive was also the only place that was able to provide me with soy milk to take in my tea (I am English, after all), and the owner said they were due to hire two vegan chefs this year. So they may be able to offer even more to vegans from their cute café now.
Eating at other meal times was mostly fine, as long as I studied menus well and hunted around. It is good to be prepared and have an idea of some places to go to and what to eat or not – but I don’t have to tell you that, do I?
As a rule, you’re fairly safe with the vegetable contorni dishes: eggplants, artichokes, bell peppers, and so forth. They will be cooked in olive oil and you can order several and make a meal from them, with some delicious fresh bread and olives.
You will often see potato croquettes, chickpea salads, hummus, and other vegan-friendly items on menus, too. Gnocchi in tomato sauce is another possibility, as well as the ubiquitous pizza marinara, which is simply pizza base with tomato sauce. Order some vegetables and top it yourself.
Rome does have a few vegetarian and vegan restaurants, and if you’re here for a week, theoretically you could go to one each night (I think).
The best experience for me was Il Margutta. Gourmet vegan cuisine at its finest, where my meat-eating companion also claimed it was the best food she’d eaten during her trip to Italy. It’s not a budget option, by any means, but if you’ve come all the way here on holiday, then treat yourself.
Fresh imaginative flavors abound; my vegan antipasti was a delicate combination of tofu-stuffed zuchini flowers deep-fried in a tempura batter, an Asian wok salad topped with pickled ginger, a wild berry salad drizzled with balsamic dressing, and a home-made ketchup, tasting of tomato, and not sugar. Oh vegan heaven.
My other great vegan discovery was Bibliothè, not far from Piazza Venezia. Here, they do a different set lunch menu each day that you can have, and they will take out any vegetarian elements that may be involved. They also have several vegan stand-alone choices, as well as vegan cakes.
And then there was also the originally named Taverna Vegetariana, close to Vatican City. It wasn’t the most inspiring food that I have ever had, but it is cheap, cheerful, and you know what you’re getting. They have color-codes on the dishes to denote whether they are vegan or vegetarian; very handy when you don’t speak Italian.
Though not exclusively veggie, another place I ate at a couple of times was a bar in the cobbled streets of Trastevere. At Art Two, you can buy a drink, and for only 2€, help yourself to the aperitivo buffet, which has several vegan options (eggplant, potato croquettes, salad, etc).
I also had a scrummy vegan meal at an Ethiopian restaurant called Africa (Via Gaeta 26), just north of the main railway station. There were not many vegan options, but this one meal of a selection of foods was filling and delicious, and made all the better by the fact I had to eat with my hands.
There were a number of other eateries that I sadly didn’t manage to experience on this visit, including a vegan restaurant called ReWild Cruelty-Free Club—funny little name, but it does what it says on the tin, which is offer cruelty-free dining as well focus on animal rights events in Rome.
If you’re going to Rome anytime soon, I hope this article has given you some vegan food for thought. One other tip: Watch out for risotto. It may appear vegan, but it almost always contains parmesan, which isn’t even vegetarian.
Andrea Wren is a U.K.-based freelance journalist and has a passion for vegan baking and food blogging. She ditched dieting years ago and loves to create interesting and imaginative dishes that tempt non-vegans as well as vegans. On her blog, you will also find her free ebook, Wot, No Eggs?! The Beginner’s Guide to Becoming an Expert Vegan Baker, packed with tips and advice. You can also reach Andrea on Twitter.
Let’s all go to Hawaii, guys! Turns out that in addition to pineapples, snorkeling, palm trees, George Clooney, and bikinis, our 50th state has some delicious-looking vegan food! Honolulu magazine just did a roundup of their five favorite vegan dishes on Oahu, and if I could eat with my eyes via the Internet, I would have just gained 17 pounds.
Vegan Roadtrip: Las Vegas! »
Hey everyone! Two weeks ago I went to Sin City and OMG. Even though the idea of Las Vegas depresses me (casinos in the middle of the desert, half-naked girls dancing, gambling addictions) I always end up having a blast! Probably because I’m like, the most fun person I know.
Everyone keeps asking me what I possibly could have eaten there. I’m like, guys, it’s super easy to be vegan in Vegas when you subsist on margaritas and Bud Light for 2.5 days. In the (paraphrased) words of my idol, Chelsea Handler, “I prefer to be on a liquid diet on my vacations.” Half-kidding! I had at least three meals.
The first night was not about eating: I ate before I left, knowing I would not be up for finding vegan food at 9 p.m. in Vegas. I did buy some vegan Power Bar-type thing and wasabi edamame in the airport, ‘cause I like eating while doing everything, especially waiting to board a plane. The Southwest terminal at SFO is not nearly as exciting or vegan-friendly as the Virgin America terminal.
The next day began with a Bud Light (seriously, I’ve never had so much Bud Light in my life. I can’t bear to look at another bottle right now) and then lunch at Chipotle!
My standard, a veggie burrito bowl: black beans, fajita veggies, NO RICE, both tomato and corn salsa, guacamole, and lettuce.
Dessert came in the form of a margarita at a bar stand outside of Caesar’s Palace. Now, normally I don’t drink margaritas because of the sugar in the mixes, but the people at this little tent-bar made theirs with lime juice, AGAVE NECTAR, tequila and Cointreau. Delicious! So worth the $12.
I know you are all wondering, DID SHE HIT UP LA CAVE? Of course. The second I made my plane reservation I knew I’d be eating there. After many hours and many Bud Lights (did I mention we stayed at Hooters Hotel and Casino? $30 rooms and $1.50 Bud Lights. SCORE.) I put on one of the 30 dresses I brought for my three-night stay and headed to the Wynn with my roommates.
Waterfall at Hooters. The pool and the hot tub are open 24/7! Drinking in them is totally acceptable. Even spilling a shot of tequila in the hot tub is fine!
Walking into La Cave, I felt like a vegan Kardashian. It’s so fancy! Now, one thing I didn’t know about the place is that it’s small plates/tapas-style. I did get a dirty look from one of my roommates (“I’m paying $15 for tapas?!”) but once we got our food, everyone was stoked/the evil stares dissipated.
The most important section of the menu.
Gardien Chick’n, Celery Root Puree, Lemon Caper Sauce.
Mushroom Tortellini, Arugula, Tomato “Cream” Sauce.
You guys, go to Vegas just to eat at La Cave. Though I have to warn you, being fancy does not come cheap.
After some more Vegas shenanigans (Old Vegas is super fun. It’s like being in an episode of Mad Men; the casinos are so retro), we ended up back at Hooters. You know, because it’s where we were staying. The boys wanted wings (so gross boys, SO GROSS) and luckily for me, there was totally a sandwich I could veganize on the Mad Onion menu: the “Sassy San Franciscan.”
Take out the cheese and mayo, sub mustard on this veggie sammie, please and thank you!
On our final day, I simply could not be bothered to leave the pool, so I ordered the sandwich AGAIN! There were plans to go to Ronald’s Donuts, but in the end, pool > donuts. I know, you guys are all “WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU,” but the thing is, I didn’t eat donuts before I was vegan and I’m not going out of my way to eat them now. Sorry I’m not sorry!
That’s all the vegan-ing I did in Vegas. I know there’s a lot of places I missed (drinking Bud Light all day really kills motivation) so let me know what to hit up next time! Because even though I don’t think I get Vegas, for some reason I always miss it when I leave. I’m already itching to go back. Sin City, I might love you.
Vegan road trip: San Diego! »
When going down to San Diego, I had no intention of eating my way through the whole city. Lie: YES I DID! I also didn’t go on a “road” trip: I FLEW! I whisked myself away for the weekend via Virgin America, which means I got to check out the new Terminal 2 at SFO. Two words: PLANT CAFE. Yes, it’s there. Now, normally I would not pay $8.25 for spring rolls, but my vacation started the second I wasn’t late for my flight, so I indulged. Shiitake, tofu and veggie spring rolls with peanut sauce—my getaway was off to a delicious start!
After much consideration (waking up in our clothes from the night before and drinking a couple more PBRs) my San Diego
tour guide friend Matt and I chose to eat at Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza for lunch.
The location in Mission Bay is located in a strip mall. Usually, I find this incredibly tacky, but I knew there would be beer once we were seated, so I decided to let it go.
Stone IPA is a San Diego brew, vegan and incredibly strong. Naturally, I loved it.
Sammy’s has vegan cheese (Daiya, of course, though the waiter was unsure) and a vegan gluten-free crust available. I got my pizza with spinach, mushrooms, and Daiya on the gluten-free crust. Very tasty. So much in fact, I packed this whole thing in my stomach. And two IPAs. I didn’t much feel like going to the beach afterward, but we did anyway. Another awesome thing about my Sammy’s experience is that the waiter was incredibly friendly about all my vegan questions—he checked with the back before he put my order in and wasn’t put off about anything. And he was hot.
Next meal on the agenda: Rancho’s. Matt and I went to the location in North Park, it’s super cute! It has the kind of atmosphere where you could bring a date, your family, or your friends. Plus, the prices are super reasonable with large portions — so, you know, 5 stars in my book. Two drinks and two entrees plus a side of guacamole came to about $35. I felt as though I had eaten like a KING.
I consumed the Veggie Trios Enchiladas topped with Daiya! Oh, and the black beans—so good! I’d never had them spiced so well at a restaurant. My friend was so impressed by this place, he couldn’t wait to come back with his roommate. And I can’t wait to get back to San Diego for another round!
Pokez, in downtown SD, was brunch the next day. Not in the traditional sense of a Sunday morning champagne-filled brekkie, more like a let’s-drink-a-PBR-and-start-our-day-at-one-in-the-afternoon kind of deal. What? I was on vacation!
I had heard rumors about
hipsters bad service, and unfortunately, the rumors are true. I knew to expect it, so I found it funny, but forgot to mention this to Matt. Luckily for me, we are friends because we find the same things funny! Be prepared to wait/be ignored. We put money in the parking meter for 50 minutes thinking that surely that would be more than enough time. Wrong. And Pokez doesn’t serve alcoholic drinks so…that wasn’t the hold up. Food is definitely worth it though. Trust me.
It didn’t matter I had enchiladas the night before—I needed more! Two tofu-and-mushroom-stuffed enchiladas with cabbage salad on the side. The menu doesn’t specify that the entrees come with cabbage salad, so being the glutton I am I ordered—
—a tofu, potato and mushroom taco! Vegan Mexican food heaven. Except for the whole no-beer-on-the-menu thing. And slow service.
After my body had to go to the work of digesting everything I’d eaten in the last 48 hours, plus a little time frolicking in the Pacific, I was ready for more beer! Hamilton’s it was.
Hamilton’s, located in South Park, offers tons of beer, and a vegan burger called the Cattle Decapitation, so bring your sense of humor. I was too full to eat it, but I’ve had it before and I remember it being really good. I thought I could will myself to work up the appetite to order it, but that just didn’t happen. Oh well! All the more reason to go back to San Diego!
I’ve been home about a week and half now, and I’m still full/digesting. San Diego, how did you do it? I’m always hungry in San Francisco!
Road Trip: Ding How in Davis! »
Public service announcement: Davis, Calif.—Sacramento’s hippie cousin, home of Aggies and bike lanes—has some great vegan eats. We’ve yet to review any of it here on the ‘saurus, but that changes RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, bitches, with a visit to Ding How.
Don’t be fooled by the sign outside: Ding How is not a cleaners. Praise be, because if it were I would not have been able to fill my belly with vegan Chinese food.
The atmosphere of this spot is pretty standard strip-mall Chinese (guess what, I’m the year of the dog!). But things start to get crazy as soon as they bring you a menu.
Note the words “Vegetarian Cuisine” on the cover. That’s right folks, they have a whole separate vegetarian menu, a parallel universe to the meat they also serve. This means you get to pretend you’re eating at a vegetarian restaurant even though you’re not, and you don’t even have to LOOK at the meat options. If you’ve got cranky carnivore friends with you, maybe try to slip them the veggie menu—they might not even know the difference! We’re so sneaky, that’s totally the way to change the world, right? Lies lies lies!
Do be careful though: plenty on the menu isn’t vegan, and the Vegetarian Bowl soup has fish balls in it. The good news is that the chef and wait staff (woo, Kathleen!) are good at answering questions and know that “vegan” doesn’t mean you’re from some sci-fi planet or whatever.
We started off with a large order of the hot and sour soup (vegan if you ask). Not only was the soup thick, pungent, and ass-kicking, it also had little strips of chewy protein in it. The large was enough for probably five or six people as an appetizer. Win!
Then, being solid gluttons, we got three entrees for three people. I hear the Mandarian fried shrimp are like crack, but due to a supplier snafu they were not available during our visit. You should probably order them though.
Instead, we settled for General Tso’s Chicken, Ginger Beef, and one of the house specialities, Oyster Mushrooms with Soft Tofu.
Chicken = must-have winner. Not too saucy, the perfect amount of chewy in each bite.
Ginger beef was also good, with jerky-like little strips and strips of real ginger.
The only disappointment of the evening was the mushroom dish. Though it looked sexy, the soft tofu was flavorless and the fried coating slimed off the outside. Don’t order that one unless you’re obsessed with mushroom, ok?
All that awesome food and the total only came to $35. There’s a lunch menu with even more value-filled specials. Conclusion: If you be in Davis, eat these foods.
Guest post: Eating vegan in Los Angeles! »
My beau and I set out on a three day eating extravaganza adventure to eat as much tasty Los Angeles vegan food as we could possibly fit our mouths around.
Our journey began as soon as we stepped onto the tarmac at Burbank airport, and my kindly obliging parents brought us some Veggie Grill. We got my fave, the chipotle BBQ burger, and the All-American Stack (live out all your burger junk food fantasies - it’s got onion rings on it!!). The bf thought the two burgers tasted too similar, but I say they’re probably the best damn veggie burgers I’ve had. Plus Veggie Grill has won over many an omnivorous friend.
On Saturday, we tackled some Los Feliz/Silverlake delicacies: Cruzer Pizza and Scoops ice cream. Cruzer isn’t the best vegan pizza I’ve ever had, but it’s damn tasty & affordable, plus they’re an all-vegan pizzeria! We got it to go and ate it in Griffith park, where we were serenaded by drum circles and the carousel organ.
Next up was Scoops. Hoo, boy. Scoops always has four vegan flavors, which are all crazy inventive and wacky and ridiculously awesome! Scoops takes customer suggestions for flavors, so you never know what to expect. We got pomegramate tiramisu (I know, holy shit, right?!), banana oreo, and pear champagne sorbet. Just in case you’re some sick masochist who needs additional incentive to go to Scoops (what part of pomegranate tiramisu ice cream don’t you understand?), it’s right across the street from another amazing vegan restaurant, Pure Luck. They have jackfruit carnitas burritos! And sweet potato fries! And sweet potato fries in a jackfruit carnitas burrito! [Ed.: It looks like Pure Luck is closing. We cry a million tears]
We took a short break from gorging with the Museum of Jurassic Technology. I know, it’s not food or vegan-related, but if you appreciate humor and/or conceptual art, it’s the best tourist attraction in L.A.
Then more gorging at the beloved Native Foods Cafe. We split the Native Nachos: infinite layers of deliciousness! It’s listed as an appetizer, but it’s enough for two people to get completely stuffed. Native Foods founder and head chef Tanya Petrovna is completely adorable. Every table has flyers with what she’s up to and this month it included building a tree house out of recycled materials for her rescued cats. Come on. Plus, the bathrooms have info on why elephants shouldn’t be exploited for entertainment. Tanya’s clearly got the right idea; lure people in with delicious food, then convert them to animal rights.
We culminated our gustatory odyssey in a run-down mall in Little Tokyo. Past all the Karaoke bars and Korean BBQ restaurants lies a vegan heaven. Shojin. The restaurant itself is beautiful and peaceful. Deciding what to order was a painful and lengthly ordeal, but well worth it.
We started with appetizers: pumpkin croquettes, and stuffed shiitake mushrooms. I have never tasted such an amazing combination of new flavors and textures as the pumpkin croquettes with homemade ketchup.
Then we reached le petit mort: the dynamite roll, a spicy tofu “tuna” roll with spicy mayo and green onion on top with spicy soy sauce. It lives up to its name; it has an explosively spicy and charred flavor—incredibly savory and satisfying. We got the dragon roll too, but it couldn’t hold our attention when we had the dynamite roll sitting right in front of us.
It’s not really fair for anything to follow Shojin, but we had to keep go(rg)ing. For dinner we went to Vinh Loi Tofu House in Reseda. Don’t let the whole strip-mall-in-Reseda thing scare you; they’re all vegan, make their own tofu and soy milk, and are Vietnamese fake meat heaven. I’ve heard the soups are souperb (sorry), but haven’t tried them yet.
Since it wouldn’t be L.A. without gratuitous driving, we had dessert at My Vegan in Pasadena. Coconut ice cream, banana spring rolls, and carrot cake. BONUS MEAL!
I couldn’t pass up a chance to go to Stuff I Eat in Inglewood, an all-vegan restaurant whose motto is, “If you don’t want meat, try the Stuff I Eat!” It’s like Souley Vegan + Mexican food on high-quality acid. Case in point: the Kilamanjaro Quesadilla topped with vegan cheese sauce, organic wild and black rice, seasoned tofu, black beans, mock chicken salad, carrot un-tuna, organic sauteed portobello mushrooms, sauteed broccoli, tomatoes, corn, and guacamole.
Katie C. is a former Los Angelino who’s forsaken the smog and best vegan food ever for Berkeley. She works with autistic kids, and gives presentations on the evils of factory farming. Check out Vegansaurus’ previous L.A. coverage here!
Vancouver, we love you! Meatless Mardi at Provence Restaurants »
Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 19, a pair of Provençal restaurants in Vancouver, B.C. introduced Meatless Mardi, a three-course prix fixe menu for $25 CA ($25 US, our dollar loses worth by the minute). All the courses are vegetarian, with the option to be made vegan, but it looks like the last few menus have been fully vegan. Provence Restaurants, you are a dream come true.
First course from last Tuesday’s menu, the Meatless Mardi Martini with roasted veg, arugula and tomato soup. Photo by SweetOnVeg.
The idea came from chef/owner Alessandra Quaglia, out of concern for the health of the planet and the people. Alessandra worked and studied in kitchens in the south of France. Inexpensive vegan food cooked à la provençal sounds AMAZING. Then again, what part of “three-course vegan dinner at a French restaurant” could anyone hate? Exactly.
Second course from last Tuesday’s menu, stuffed baby acorn squash with bulgar, root vegetables, sweet corn kale, cumin-spiced pine nuts. Photo by Sweet on Veg.
Presumably the cost of living in Vancouver is significantly lower than in San Francisco, because a comparable menu at our finest vegan dining restaurant, Millennium, is $14 more. Can’t we have nice AND afforable things? At least for Meatless Mondays? Canada’s got that social safety net, and Kate Beaton, and gay marriage rights since 2005, and now reasonably priced vegan French food, too! It is NOT FAIR. Yes, yes, the seal hunt is horrific, but it’s not like we’re saints down here. Maybe we can perform a reverse-Jordan and find a nice Canadian fellow to take us away from all this. As long as we are taken directly to a Meatless Mardi menu at one of the Provence Restaurants in Vancouver. And then at the other location. Two dinners are better that one!
Third course from last Tuesday’s menu, chocolate coconut cream and apple compote, almond tuille cup, caramel sauce. Photo by SweetOnVeg.
Sugar Plum Vegan Cafe + Bakery has opened its doors! This makes it the first all-vegan bakery in Northern California! Not only that, they’re already get great press from mainstream media. ROAD TRIP, Y’ALL!
You can regularly find their treats in San Francisco at Rainbow Grocery but I can’t wait to get at the actual bakery because they’re selling VEGAN NACHOS MADE WITH GARDEIN AND DAIYA. Oh and might I mention an ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT VEGAN BRUNCH that starts Easter Sunday?* I’m sorry, did I stutter?
Sacramento, I don’t care if you’re the crack capital of California and also the whack capital of California, I’m a-comin’ to get ‘cha!
*for all of you who don’t pay attention to Christian holidays, that’s THIS SUNDAY, APR. 4!)
When in NYC, get yourself to Absolute Bagels. My friend Leda suggested it and girl knows what she’s talking about. Not only are the actual bagels the biggest pillows of delicious dough you ever ate, they also have aprox 50 types of vegan cream cheese to slather on them. My last visit, I indulged in TWO BAGELS, an everything with veggie cream cheese and a plain with walnut raisin cream cheese and GIRRRRRL, these bagels are NO JOKE. So what if they’re roughly 2 million calories each? They’re amazing and delicious and there is no better vegan cream cheese selection in all of NYC and you can wander up the block to Columbia and see five-year-olds carrying Birkin bags (Are those still in? Sorry, I live in 2000! She was a good year!) and the Ghostbusters building. LIFE IS GOOD.