Squatters Pub Brewery: vegan surprise in SLC!  »

I did some aeroplane-travel last week and had more than one layover in Salt Lake City, Utah, known mainly for Mormons and, I guess, the Great Salt Lake. So imagine my surprise when, during my famished, jet-lagged stagger through the Delta terminal, I stumbled upon Squatters Pub Brewery, an establishment featuring craft beers and oodles of vegan options! Never mind the beer, I would come here again just for the food!

On the way to my very exotic, secret destination, I ordered the Tofu Scrambler (comes with a bagel!). Although it came in a cardboard tray reminiscent of TV dinners, it tasted amazing, and not just because I was running on two hours of sleep. It featured tomatoes, parsley, and tasty salsa, and it wasn’t too moist or soupy, a common problem I find with restaurant tofu scrambles.

On my return trip, I went with the Fresh Veggie Wrap, which had the tofu scramble as a main ingredient. And again, it was amazing, just what the doctor ordered while recovering from a mad case of Montezuma’s revenge. I also ordered the Brewhouse Hummus with veggies AND chips (yeah, I got style), and that was yummy and healthy-feeling, although a tad heavy on the tahini.

Squatters’ (Ugh, I hate just typing the name, but it’s so worth it) menu has icons showing what can be made vegan and vegetarian as well as into what dishes you can substitute the tofu scramble. The proprietors should really look into vegan cupcakes, though.

So if you’re traveling by air and have to stop, try to make that stop in Salt Lake, and get your surprise vegan nom on!


Morty’s Deli in the Tenderloin: nice sandwiches you got there!  »

First of all, I love me a nice sandwich, and I love me vegan options in SF’s Tenderloin. I also love that Morty’s Deli’s motto is “…a nice sandwich,” and its logo is a basset hound. Hilarious! Plus they have beer on tap! WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?

Morty’s is a kick-ass deli with more vegan options than the menu appears to have. You just have to ask; for example, the No. 174 can be made vegan with marinated tofu, even though the menu doesn’t say it. Tim, the handsome face behind the menu, says he recently started leaning toward veganism himself for health reasons. Go, Tim!

The vibe is coffeehouse-meets-deli, and the beer is free-flowing on weekdays till 8 p.m., so maybe look into weekend hours? The people demand beer and sandwiches on weekends!

Now I love to eat, so I ordered a whole lot. Of course, I started with a salad.
because salad is all vegans eat, AM I RIGHT?!

But on the realio, the lettuce, tomatoes, and tangy dressing were all crisp and fresh, and the homemade croutons were top-notch. (Not pictured: french fries, because I ate them too fast.)

Then came a Soy Reuben. I was super-pumped for this sandwich, maybe overly so, because sauerkraut makes me rather damp in the crotchal region.

It was tasty, even though we had to sub dijon mustard in for the Russian dressing. However, might I suggest pressing the tofu a little more? I know tofu preparation can seem formidable, but it really doesn’t taste right to me unless it’s good and dry before you marinate and cook it. Juicy seitan? Good. Juicy tempeh? Excellent. Juicy tofu? Kinda gross and floppy. However, the flavors were good, the sauerkraut (UNGFDHGFDNGFGHT) was crunchy and tart, it came on real rye bread, and I would order it again.

The winner of the day was the Garden Sandwich (order without cheese). It was super-amazing: hummus and veggies, including ARTICHOKES and avocado and greens, on an onion kaiser roll. The hummus was supremely flavorful and added just the right amount of creaminess to the crunch of the veggies. It’s a basic sandwich, but it was my favorite.

Other options: daily made-from-scratch vegan soup (and the french onion soup is vegan if you order without cheese, HUGE bonus to me), Shroomin’ Sandwich, build your own sandwich, gluten-free bread, beer, delivery (HELLO SANDWICH BUDGET), and did I mention BEER?

Another thing I like about Morty’s is you don’t have to be like, “Does this have mayonnaise on it?” or “I want that without cheese,” because you can just say, “Make it vegan” and they totally know what that means. Seriously, get in there. N.B. I tried to pay for at least some of my huge order, but Morty’s was having none of it. Thanks, Morty’s! I’ll be back, not in a Terminator kind of way.


Sprinkles Cupcakes Goes Vegan! Kinda!  »

National chain Sprinkles Cupcakes is launching a vegan red velvet flavor in all of their stores on January 25. Apparently they’re gonna have gluten-free ones too BUT WHO GIVES TWO CRAPS ABOUT THAT. I joke! But really!

Road trip to Palo Alto? I know, it’s Palo Alto but CUPCAKES!! God, I’m stuck in 1998 but I swear, I love a cupcake and there is nothing you bitches can say that will make me stop because THIS LOVE IS TRUE.


Counterpoint: Mission Street Food  »

Last year this project began on the street; flatbread sandwiches served out of a taco truck parked just off Mission. It took off immediately, popular with omnivores and us vegans, thanks to Wonderful Person Anthony Myint’s crispy scrumptious king trumpet mushrooms + roasted garlic + triple-fried potatoes number. Oh it was heaven on flatbread, and even $1 less than the posted price when we asked for it vegan-style, without the creamy sauce. (for pictures, revisit Laura’s review)

After just a few weeks (and only one public fuss), the taco truck line grew too long, and the street food moved to a borrowed restaurant on Mission. This is where they started to lose me. First, they expanded the menu, which ought to have been a boon, but this meant they eliminated their two vegetarian items, and introduced a “meat-smoked rice” dish. The next week, it was rare beef with glass noodles. I kept track of these changes through the Mission Street Food blog.

On the last December night of business, MSF offered their first new vegetarian entree since leaving the street: smoky rice with shiitake, cauliflower, and tofu tempura. This in contrast to the smoky rice fried in duck fat with duck confit AND duck “cracklins.” Had you gone the previous week, you could have enjoyed the return of the mushroom sandwich, or pie with “bacon ‘snow,’” your choice.

Now Mission Street Food leaves me conflicted. I love the idea of a line cook at an established restaurant wanting to create his own menus, without the funding—or even desire, I don’t know—to open his own restaurant; Myint established a little place in his (our!) neighborhood where he could serve whatever food he wanted, and collaborate with other chefs to make fun crazy meals with bacon! and rabbit! and whatever the hell else they felt inspired to make that week. The community-togetherness part is integral to this Mission ideal so many of us love idealize, and the inventive-food part is integral to our stomachs.

Misson Street Food is a project that brings the Mission closer to being that creative, unpredictable, community-oriented neighborhood it’s supposed to be. I would sincerely recommend it to anyone who enjoys tasty plates of murder. But OK, glibness aside, when the MSF crew began eliminating their vegetable dishes and expanding their meaty foods, they disappointed me. I read the menu every week, hoping for something vegan or at least easily veganized, but until recently the best we’ve been given is an occasional side dish. I love my neighborhood, but I do not love it enough to wait an hour to split three orders of the same single side.

Do I think that MSF is obligated to “cater to all of us” and all of our diets? Not necessarily. Still, the Mission is full of vegan-friendly restaurants, and hungry vegan people, so in that spirit of community and neighborliness, it makes sense to offer a vegan dish. Cooking without animal parts doesn’t limit a person’s choices so much as shift your focus to other ingredients—not that I wanted to make that argument, but it bears repeating—and with the variety of dishes the MSF crew has offered so far, I’m sure they’re capable of making some good vegan food as well. Why they haven’t so far, I don’t know; then again, I haven’t asked, either. Clearly the demand from the omnivorous crowd is high enough that they haven’t needed to court us, and if business keeps on hopping, they may not ever have to.

So Mission Street Food is a success! I’m happy for them. Of course, I wish they that they needed vegan community support. I also realize that the vegan community is small enough that our support wouldn’t mean much either way, and I wish that were different too. I wish I had a satisfying, full-time job and health insurance. We all wish a lot of things. In the community spirit, perhaps if we ask the MSF people nicely, they’ll put more vegan-friendly dishes on future menus. They just announced that from now on all MSF profits will go to charity; they are obviously really good-hearted people. There’s no harm in asking, anyway. 

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