Guest post: Vegan in St. Louis: because you might have a connecting flight cancelled here someday »
As a born-and-raised Midwesterner, I developed a country-mouse inferiority complex at a young age, and like Janice Dickinson before me, I was all “I’M A CELEBRITY, GET ME OUT OF HERE.” So that’s what I did, for a while. Now I’m back, living in my hometown of St. Louis, Mo., and surprise, surprise, vegan food is now almost as ubiquitous here as getting a DWI in the Busch Stadium parking lot. Holla! Here’s a fat-pants-approved guide to eating vegan in St. Louis.
Waking up with an unbearable hangover means the same thing wherever I live: time for cheap-ass vegan brunch. Thankfully, St. Louis is with me on this. On Sundays, Shangri-La Diner offers a rotating brunch buffet including vegan French toast, meat-free brown sugar ham, sausage patties, breakfast potatoes, Southwest tofu scramble, and fresh fruit, and other, less expected dishes, such as vegan green bean casserole. Shangri-La also serves slamming vegan milkshakes, sandwiches, and desserts. A few blocks away, Black Bear Bakery does vegans proud with a similar array of vegan breakfast classics, as well as vegan cookies, cakes, and muffins. At Sweet Art Bakeshop & Art Studio, vegan brunch goes off the rails: breakfast quesadillas packed with potato, roasted red peppers, vegan sausage, and vegan cheese topped with avocado. If you sleep through brunch, stop by Sweet Art for a vegan BLT or any and all of the cafe’s LIKE WHOA vegan cupcakes: Boston cream pie, carrot ginger, red velvet, chai-spice, orange blossom, and more. For a unique vegan brunch, head to Rooster, where vegan Crêpe Suzette is served all week long. Rooster also offers a variety of vegan-friendly crepe inclusions, from oven-dried tomatoes with fresh basil to roasted apples with cinnamon and brown sugar. Keep things real (tipsy) and wash down breakfast at Rooster with mimosas, bloody Marys, beer, or wine.
My bottom-line for lunch is simple: inexpensive, no-frills, and filling enough to ride me out until dinner. Pair lunch with a pint of Missouri-brewed beer at Atomic Cowboy, where spicy vegetarian chili sans cheese makes snow in March seem almost charming. Channel your inner Liz Lemon with sandwiches at Foundation Grounds (the Madahoochi layers vegan cheddar cheese, marinated red onion, and spinach) or at the Mud House (the portobello reuben minus Swiss cheese still equals GIMME THAT). Hit up Cheesology for vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, or trek out to Vegadeli, located in Chesterfield, Mo., where rich people serve other rich people vegan burgers, nachos, tacos, and more.
Forget about New York City and Chicago, because local chain Pi Pizzeria in St. Louis is where vegan deep-dish pizza IS AT. Even President Obama agrees! The recipe for vegan pizza at Pi is simple: heaps of Daiya vegan cheese and spicy marinara, all the veggies you can stomach, and optional vegan Match Meat toppings. In addition to deep dish, Pi also serves vegan, gluten-free thin crust pizza, salads, and desserts, as well as great happy hour specials.
If you’re not down for pizza, CRAZY, go Midwest-traditional and grab house-brewed beer and a bite at Schlafly Bottleworks, where they serve vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, lasagna, and portobello burgers topped with Teese. For fancier fare, mosey on down the street to Boogaloo for Jamaican Johnny cakes with roasted plantains or yucca mashed potatoes. If you’re in St. Louis during baseball season, check out the veggie chicken and garlic fries at Dizzy’s Diner inside Busch Stadium, or hit up one of the arena’s many concession stands for soft pretzels, peanuts, or beer. Unfortunately, ordering a veggie dog at St. Louis’ famous stadium still isn’t an option—hey, guess what? You’re still in the Midwest.
[Photos, from the top: vegan brunch at Shangri-La; vegan deep-dish pizza at Pi Pizzeria; and portobello burger with soy cheese at Schlafly Bottleworks. This post was written by Liz Miller, who is pretty much the best. She loves champagne, beer, working out with sledgehammers, Arrested Development, 30 Rock, being sassy, and generally tearing shit up. You should try to be her friend because she would totally hate that.]