Eating vegan at chain restaurants: BJ’s Brewhouse has vegan options! Vegan pizza options! »
I love hanging out with my family and getting away from the city for a few days. The only bummer can be going out to eat with everyone, as I usually end up getting a side of vegetables and a salad with half the ingredients taken out (cheese). I’ve made my peace with the Cheesecake Factory, but that is not the place to go every time I’m visiting. I mean, you gotta wait at least, AT LEAST, a half-hour to get a table, and it’s kinda fancy. What about casual? I just want to eat lunch with my mom somewhere, where we’ll both enjoy our food. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?
No it is not! BJ’s Brewhouse just opened up near my parents’ house and guess what? They have a few vegan options! Not only vegan, but some gluten-free options too! Plus tons of beer, including a gluten-free one (shudder), and delicious cocktails (I’m thinking of you, margarita). When my mom mentioned BJ’s for lunch, I figured I’d be eating a salad, yandet took to the internet to see what the vegan word was. You know what? QUARRYGIRL LOVES BJ’S BREWHOUSE.
Now, I do too! When Quarrygirl said BJ’s pizza was one of her all-time faves, I was excited, but skeptical. Silly me. That Quarrygirl knows her pizza! It is pretty epic stuff.
I got their Portobello Mushroom pizza, with caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar, oven-roasted mushrooms, and fresh herbs. I just left off the cheese, obviously! They let me get my pizza on a gluten-free crust instead of deep dish, too. I’m one of those people who tells themselves gluten-free is healthier for me, because I love lying to myself! The gluten-free crust was spectacular, by far the best I’ve ever had. It was light and flaky, with herbs baked into it. As for the toppings—taste party! They were the perfect balance of sweet and savory! I saved half my pizza, just so I could enjoy it when my mom and I got back home too. I told her I want to go to BJ’s every time I come visit!
Oh, Portobello mushroom pizza, I wish I could eat you again today (accompanied by another refreshing Piranha pale ale).
Vegan Roadtrip: Vegas, take two! »
In under one year I’ve been to Vegas twice! And I don’t even gamble (unless we’re talking about the guys I date, but we’ll save that for another time). I went with another femme fatale you may have heard of—Sarah M. Smart, anyone? Sarah was in Vegas for work, plus it was her birthday weekend, so this whirlwind vacay was taken with our friends Brent and Britney. Party time! Sarah and I often get asked how we have solidified such a strong, vegan friendship and we’re like, “Trips to Vegas, Katy Perry, and a mutual affection for cake vodka!” That’s how it’s done.
Unfortunately, I was a little under the weather for this trip, which meant more poolside lounging and eating, as opposed to a little something I like to call “elegant debauchery.” Poor me, right? Poor, hot-tub soaking me.
I like to stay at the Hooters Hotel and Casino, which boasts three pools and two hot tubs! Don’t forget, they have a sandwich that can be made vegan and eaten poolside, the Sassy San Franciscan!
Now, let’s get to the food! In terms of eating, Vegas has got it going on, if only for a little (entirely vegan) place called Pura Vida. Pura Vida is located in downtown Vegas, which is few miles off the strip. It’s like a part of Vegas only the locals know! And now ME!
The brunch I had at Pura Vida was one of the best vegan meals I have ever had. Chef Mayra is creative, brilliant, and quite the spitfire! It may sound as though I’m exaggerating with my whole “It was the BEST,” but I sent my vegan friend and co-worker, Nate, there a few weeks later when he went to Vegas and guess what: He said the same thing, and also that chef Mayra remembered me! How sweet. Next time you go to Vegas, make Pura Vida your first priority! (Maybe go to Vegas just to eat there?) And make sure you talk to the chef, she will brighten your day!
Brent ordered the empandas for an appetizers and they were delicious! I especially liked that they were very light and not greasy. I can’t find them on the online menu, and also cannot remember what they were filled with! Oops. However, everyone at the table agreed they were tasty and that the chutney they came with was superb! Look how vibrant the colors are!
I am going to Vegas again, hopefully in the very near future, to chow down on this baby: the Latin’tude breakfast burrito. It changed my life. Look at all those colors! So fresh! So beautiful! I might go back to Vegas and ask it marry me; I mean, when in Sin City, right? Another note on chef Mayra’s food—it’s organic, and she has many gluten-free options available. Now go!
Sarah, Britney, Brent, and I also hit up the Cheesecake Factory in Caesar’s Palace. (Please don’t tell anyone I made them go to Kardashian Khaos in the Mirage afterward, okay? Like, for an unsatisfying dessert.) I’m okay with eating at the Cheesecake Factory, because they have this cocktail called the Asian Pear Martini that I just adore! Plus, they have this new Skinnylicious menu, with many vegan or easy-to-veganize options.
I like to get the beets with goat cheese salad, minus the goat cheese. It is still very satisfying, with beets, arugula, pecans, apples and a vinaigrette dressing!
I also like to get the mushroom lettuce wraps! They come with shitake mushrooms, ginger, garlic, water chestnuts and green onions, all sauteed in a light soy dressing. They are very refreshing, especially wrapped in the crisp, lettuce leaves.
Lettuce taco, coming atcha!
Another place the four of us went that is worth mentioning is Red 8 in the Wynn hotel. It is an Asian Fusion bistro, with many vegan options, including vegan dim sum! How exciting!
We ordered dim sum, which I sadly do not have a picture of. I also cannot find their dim sum menu online, but I will say that the jade dumplings feature another love of my life, spinach!
Britney and I split the Gardein cashew Chick’n, celery, mushroom, and ginger entree, as well as the tofu and shiitake. So delicious! Now that I’ve broken the bank at both of the vegan restaurants I wanted to at the Wynn, I don’t feel the need to go back in the near future—unless of course my future sugar daddy is paying.
Chick’n, cashew, celery, mushrooms, and ginger plate!
Tofu and shiitake plate!
I know there are tons of places I didn’t get to in this last trip, but I will eventually. I can’t wait to get back to Vegas! It is my vegan haven!