During a recent adventure, we were lucky enough to spend a day in the beautiful city of Seattle. It had been a while since we had taken the time to enjoy such a city and were happy to walk along it’s docks and overcast skies.  Since we only had one day, we sought out a great vegan restaurant to try our taste buds on. We had heard through many a friend to definitely try this new vegan bar called the Highline, rumored to have the best vegan reuben in America. We walked, with luggage on our backs, over a mile to the bar. As we climbed the up the streets to Capitol Hill, a hip and culturally rich neighborhood, we found our destination. Unfortunately, to our dismay, the hours were listed incorrectly online and the Highline didn’t open for four more hours!

Our hearts were crushed and feeling rather defeated we sat on the steps outside the bar and regretfully used our smartphones to find a close vegan restaurant. Luckily, being in Capitol Hill, there were many options at our disposal. After much debate, we decided to walk another several blocks to a cute relatively new vegan restaurant Plum Bistro.

Set in a revamped warehouse that housed a few other businesses, Plum Bistro had an upscale industrial feel. The exposed pipe and roll up windows gave it a very unrefined look, while maintaining a classy feel with a full bar and nice furniture. The service was friendly and relaxed, helping us right away. While we looked over the menu, our server brought over some water. Now this wasn’t just any water, it was refreshingly tasty with fresh cucumber, lemon, and oranges, perfect after a long walk.

The lunch menu was limited, but literally everything listed on the menu sounded amazing with items such as Crispy Tofu Teriyaki Bowl and Spicy Jamaican Tempeh Wraps.  Most of the menu contained tofu or tempeh with a few “fake meat’ options such as seiten and tofustrami.  After much debate we settled on one appetizer and two dishes. We decided to try the Crunchy Garlicky Yam Fries with Aioli, ‘Strami on Rye Panini, and Quinoa Sliders.

The Garlicky Yam Fries were served first with a healthy amount of garlic. These well cooked sweet potato fries were crunchy, just as the menu boasted and definitely garlicky.  The fries were tasty, but what really won us over was the delicious aioli! It was incredibly full of flavor and gave the fries the extra oomph it needed. At this point, their fruity water just wasn’t doing the trick. We opted for a some dry natural soda, splitting the Rhubarb flavor. Definitely a great choice, as the soda was fizzy but not very sweet, just the way we like them!

We had almost finished off our yummy fries when the kitchen sent out our main courses! Even if they didn’t taste good (stay tuned), the presentation was beautiful!  Although we were salivating, we had to take a moment to take our customary photos! We couldn’t wait to dive in and decided to sink our teeth into the panini first! What a wonderful choice to begin with, this delightful panini. The tofustrami was really flavorful and not sure if it tastes like pastrami, but the taste was accented by melted vegan cheese (Daiya, we believe), tomatoes, and spicy mustard all on rye bread.  Mmmmm….

The panini was appetizing, but we still had not tried coup de grace. The next dish, we devoured in a manner of minutes! The Quinoa Sliders were adorable and came in a pair. Seriously, these may have been some of the best food we have ever eaten. They were made “sloppy joe” style with a millet and quinoa blend and topped with grilled onions, jalapenos, and orange slices. To top it off they contained more spicy aioli sauce that was to die for. Literally, these were creative, unique, and amazingly delicious. We have made a commitment to figure out there recipe at home in order to replicate it and if we can’t, maybe Seattle will be seeing us more often!

Plum Bistro turned out to be a gourmet, pleasant surprise, especially for a Yelp search.  Even though our hearts had been set on trying Highline, we were impressed with Plum Bistro’s unique and quality menu. Sometimes the best surprises in life are when you are exploring.

-Gina Williams 

Advertisements

So, who told you only big cities have great vegan food? Sometimes the best spots are the big fish in little ponds, which is exactly what is occurring in upstate NY. Rochester, a pretty little city who is often overshadowed by New York and Boston, especially when it comes to restaurants, now has a big vegan fish! Within the city lives a delicious gourmet restaurant who caters to people who love food no matter what their diet is.  The Owl House, which opened it’s doors in the Fall of 2010 focuses on local, gourmet American foods and specialty beers and cocktails. Although the restaurant serves meat and dairy, it also has tasty vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes including desserts!

On a recent road trip through upstate New York, we had the chance to indulge in this restaurant. After driving six hours we were more than happy to see the adorable Owl House, which living up to its name is in a house in a residential area. One step inside and we felt like we were at part 20’s style bar, part art gallery, part cafe, and part cozy house. Needless to say, we found it hip and relaxing.  After a long drive we were happy to treat ourselves to their unique cocktails such as the Townsend, Bright Eyes, and Upstate.

Vegan Mozzarella Sticks

And what goes better with drinks than appetizers? The Owl House boasts a vegan appetizer we have never seen elsewhere:Vegan Mozzarella Sticks! These definitely live up the hype. We really don’t know how they’ve done it, but it is quite possibly the best mock vegan dish we’ve ever tasted! The “cheese” was perfectly melted and the crust delicious. Honestly, they haven’t left our minds since and the non-vegans among us were just as enthused!  We also tried their Rosemary and Cracked Pepper Fries with house made ketchup, House-made Pickles, and Marinated Olives. We love how everything here is house made and it definitely shows.

Tacos with Smoked Tofu

Next we shared the Viva Verde Tacos with smoked tofu (you guessed it, done in-house) and the Saigon sandwich.  The tacos were delightful, especially with the house smoked tofu and black bean and corn salsa. They were filling and really great. We also enjoyed the Saigon sandwich which is a modern take on the Vietnamese Bahn Mi. The sandwich was made with more of the great smoked tofu, pickled veggies, and roasted garlic Vegenaise on a baguette! Boy, were we satisfied! As Bahn Mi connoisseurs this sandwich, although not traditional, was tasty and it was great to have the Vegenaise, which is normally hard to find unless added yourself.

Vegan French Onion Soup

Even though the Owl House has a great list of vegan desserts, we opted for a bowl of soup to round out our meal. One of the best features of the Owl House is their daily specials. Some recent specials include: Grilled Citrus Tofu, Tomato Braised Seitan & Chickpeas, and daily soups. The daily soup for the day was Vegan French Onion soup with vegan cheese! Once again, the Owl House surprised us with a dish almost impossible to find vegan. And let us convince you, this soup was wonderful. The Daiya cheese and soup flavor was perfectly blended. To see their daily specials which include appetizers, soups, entrees, desserts, and drinks, check their Facebook page, which often causes us to almost buy a plane ticket to Rochester just from checking our news feed.

It is too bad the Owl House is so far from us, well perhaps it is good for our hips, we wish we could eat every meal there! However, it provides a haven for vegans living upstate that have limited choice. This restaurant makes visiting Rochester completely worth it, even on top of its quaint beauty. It is clear the Owl House offers unique vegan dishes and really takes care in the food they prepare. We must say, it has landed itself a spot on our Top 10 Vegan Restaurants!!

Ipanema Cafe Richmond, VAOn our road trip to Richmond, VA we couldn’t help but take in all the local scene. And of course this means satisfying our palate with some tasty vegan foods. We were trying to figure out which restaurant to try from the list of many  and came across a recommendation from the Richmond Vegetarian Society for the Ipanema Cafe.  I have to say this right now: I believe this to be one of the best vegetarian restaurants I have ever experienced, well at least in my Top 5. The food is American, yet healthy style with a little International flair! The cafe is located near the VCU campus in quaint little spot with an outdoor patio. We arrived pretty late in the evening for dinner, so the bar crowd had already moved in. The cafe is a perfect mix of bar life, vegetarian restaurant, and local meeting place. In fact the night we were there, it felt as if everyone knew each other with all the hugs being given.

At first glance the atmosphere of the place is this seedy, kitschy, thrift store decorated bar. But really the place is quite hip and vibrant upon further investigation. The decor is something worth mentioning as it literally looks like a flashback to the late 60’s; in fact the whole vibe of the place was very 60’s, including the patron’s style. The only thing that was a bit tough, if its your first time, is the menu. It is written on a chalkboard in the entrance. So you have to take turns getting up to read the menu before placing an order. This inconvenience is actually hardly one after you realize what is on their menu, which I believe changes day to day. It was a bit cluttered and a tad hard to read in the dimly lit bar, but the choices (not all vegan but easily could be)  seemed all around enticing.

Vegan Ceaser Salad

Vegan Ceaser Salad

We decided to start with a salad as an appetizer and my eyes were drawn instantaneously to the Vegan Cesaer Salad! I must say it has been years since I had the chance to indulge in a truly satisfying Ceasar. This one lived up to my expectations! In fact, I didn’t want it to end. Their Ceasar is topped with the typical croutons but also grilled marinated tofu that was simply delightful! I can only recommend this appetizer as I didn’t have the chance to try more. But they also offer such tasty treats as Zucchini Fritters, Polenta and Grilled Vegetables, and Foccaccia. I hope to try more of their selections on a return trip to Richmond.

Fried Green Plantains

Fried Green Plantains

Next up, the entrees! There wasn’t a whole huge list to choose from but we settled on two great dishes: Crispy Fried Green Plantains and the Cantonese Noodle Bowl. The Crispy had the perfect mix of Caribbean and Southern flair. It included fried plantains, tempeh, sautéed sweet potatoes and zucchini with Caribbean spices. This dish was a flavor explosion in my mouth, its too bad I accidentally left the leftovers on the table. We also tried the Cantonese Noodle Bowl which consisted of wok seared noodles, crispy tofu, and garlic soy covered vegetable.  This was beautifully arranged with a side of dipping sauce next to it. The tofu in this dish was perfectly cooked and we were impressed with their seasoning style.  They also offer sandwiches and plenty of other entree choices such as Grilled Tofu Hummus Sandwich, Black Bean Burrito, Honey Gingered Tofu, and Cajun Crusted Seiten. They all seem pretty tasty sounding if you ask me.

Cantonese Noodle Bowl

Cantonese Noodle Bowl

We did not have the chance to try any dessert on our visit, as we were stuffed from all their delicious and hearty food. But they do offer some vegan desserts. However, we did get a chance to try a local bottle of wine, which was surprisingly good and fruitful! They also have a pretty comprehensive and delicious sounding Brunch menu where they offer standards such as Tofu Scramble and French Toast but also some unique dishes like Vegan Blitzes, Tempeh Benedict (with a vegan citrus bearnaise sauce), and Spicy Soyrizo Wrap! If we had more time in Richmond, we would have stopped back by to partake in this breakfast. On top of this delightful brunch menu they also offer a pretty large Lunch Menu, which is similar to dinner but with more options including Vegan BBQ, Grilled Eggplant Panini, and Vegan Chicken Wrap.

This restaurant (and full bar) is worth checking out if you are ever in the Richmond area and no doubt I will be returning there the next time we come into to town. I mean, really, I have been salivating at the thought of their Vegan Ceasar Salad for a week now. Check out some of their other reviews and this quote from their home page sums it up perfectly: “A comfortable, funky spot where both the tragically hip and the hopelessly uncool can leave carnivorous temptations at the door and forage instead in the great green world of vegetables.”-Style Weekly

Ipanema Cafe
917 W. Grace St. Richmond VA 23219
PH: (804) 213-0190

Native Foods, Palm Springs Photo by jeckmanThe sunny city of Los Angeles is thriving with great vegan eats from classy 5 star restaurants, to vegan drive thrus, and hip trendy spots, but for our restaurant pick we have chosen LA’s Native Foods. Native Foods is actually a small chain of 5 restaurants spread all over the LA area including Costa Mesa, Aliso Viejo, Los Angeles, Palm Desert, and Palm Springs. I’ve only had the chance to visit the LA spot in Westwood. Each location has a little different menu, which means next time I’m in the area I will be checking out a few more locations!

native foods Photo by cpandarThis relaxed restaurant overs the full gamete of California style food, only with a vegan twist. This means they offer a wide variety of dishes from around the world and plenty of fresh ingredients! I couldn’t help but smile as I entered the restaurant to a friendly sign that said “Einstein was a vegetarian. Think about it!” That sort of veggie love, warms my vegan heart! But really the restaurant atmosphere is a chilled out cafe far different from many LA hot spots. And that is perfectly fine with me, as I like to feel at home when I am eating a tasty meal.

kids' plate Photo by chinagrrl

Dippity-Do-Dog-Combo with Save the chicken Nuggets at Native Foods

Westwood’s menu has the typical set up with Starters, Salads, Cold Sandwiches, Hot Entrees, Pizza and Desserts. I was happy to notice there was a kid’s menu. This is something I have never seen at a vegan restaurant before. They title their kid’s section “Green Kids Rule!” and provide children’s favorites such as Dippity-Do-Dog-Combo (soy dog chunks or chicken nuggets and brown rice) and ChimpanZee “Cheese” Pizza (cheese pizza with bananas on the side). If you have veggie kids this is a great place to bring them. Or if you have children you would like to introduce to vegan foods, this is a place where they would enjoy the meals and it wouldn’t seem too “weird” to them. Next time I’ll bring along my nephew to do a children’s taste test!

"Save the Chicken" Wings

"Save the Chicken" Wings

But on to the delicious adult sized meals. Perhaps my favorite thing about Native Foods is what they name their fake chicken: “Save the Chicken.” In the Snacks section, you will find the best incarnation of their “chicken”. This is what they call the “Save the Chicken” Wings with “Ranch” on the side. Oh dear, this appetizer is to die for! In fact, I once had a friend drive 8 hours to bring me this very appetizer. Even a little soggy this is the best fake chicken I have ever had! You will find many people talking about this dish, as I believe it may be a favorite among all vegans.  Other great starters include Chili “Cheese” Fries, Native Nachos, Get ‘Yo Greens, and Bindi Bites(veggie samosas). I haven’t had the chance to try them all, on account of my love affair with the “Save the Chicken” wings, but I promise I will branch out next time I am in LA.

Portobello & Sausage Burger

Portobello & Sausage Burger

They also offer a great variety of fresh salads if you shy away from fried foods (although you can get a Chinese “Save the Chicken” Salad). If you are looking for California Cuisine, I suggest your try the OC Raw Chopper, a salad which screams California with avocados, almonds, and sprouts. Also, they offer some pretty tasty vegan pizza. They don’t have a ton of variety as far as pizzas go, but they offer it on an organic wheat crust. I like their pizzas and salads but must say their sandwiches are the way to go. I really enjoyed their Philly Peppersteak Sandwich, but have heard excellent recommendations about their Portobello & Sausage Burger, Chicken Run Ranch Burger, and Ceasar’s Wrap.

Tijuana Tacos

Tijuana Tacos

A trip to California wouldn’t be complete without a bit of Mexican flare! The Tijuana Tacos and Baja Surf Tacos are worth checking out. This fresh take on California Mexican is quite delicious and even includes soy taco meat in the Tijuana and crispy battered tempeh in the Baja choice, a take on California Baja Fish tacos.  They also, offer a variety of hot entrees served in a bowl including Mad Cowboy (BBQ style), Greek Gyro, and the Hollywood Bowl (includes tofu spears). Another bowl worth trying out is the Soul Bowl with includes red beans, jasmine rice, grilled veggies, BBQ “save the chicken” spears, cornbread, and all drizzled in “ranch” dressing!!

Chocolate Tofu Love Pie

Chocolate Tofu Love Pie

Of course a meal isn’t complete without dessert. And with dessert, Native Foods definitely delivers. You can get any typical American dessert from Native Carrot Cake to Sam’s Native Cheesecake. But they also have their own unique creations like the Key Lime Parfait and the Elephant Chocolate Cake (comes drizzled in cinnamon peanut butter sauce). My favorite dessert is the Chocolate Tofu Love Pie made with Fair Trade chocolate and vanilla and completed by an almond crust. Its a great way to end a California Meal.

Next time you are in the Los Angeles area, make sure you get your self to one of the 5 Native Foods locations, it’s definitely worth the trip.  There is no other great California style vegan restaurant, at least not at this caliber. And if LA is a little too far for you, check out their Native Foods Cookbooks and try some great recipes at home.

While down in DC for the inauguration, we decided to check out some of the local vegan options. One that caught my eye was Soul Vegetarian Restaurant. Being from Boston, there isn’t much soul food around or at least not vegan style. It was quite an adventure to find the restaurant as it was not in a central local. The print out we had stated it was right near a metro stop, however we had to walk about 10 blocks, which isn’t SO bad, but when its the dead of winter it can be worth it! The entire menu is vegan and their take on soul food really is excellent. Even with the walk, we were thoroughly impressed! And so is DC apparently, as the restaurant won 2008’s Best Vegetarian Dive in the Washington City Paper.

http://www.soulvegetarian.com/restaurants.php

The restaurant is nestled right near Howard University and upon reading reviews and as the name suggest we expected a full restaurant. When we arrived it was just a small take out place with limited seating. We didn’t mind this setting, it just wasn’t what we were expecting! The staff was friendly, laid back, and talkative. And the prices are totally worth the trek! Anywhere from $4-$9! They have daily specials that include several soy alternatives like pepper steak, tofu nuggets, and spaghetti with protein balls. Plus, our favorite baked mac n’ cheese! On top of the daily specials they also have everyday sandwiches, tacos, and pizzas you can order.  It does take a bit of time if you are ordering anything other than the daily specials, so be prepared to wait. My only complaint was that all the food is served in Styrofoam containers. Hopefully they will look into compostable containers for the future.

Baked Mac N Cheese Special

Baked Mac N Cheese Special

We decided to share the daily special of Baked Mac n’ Cheese, Green Beans, and Tofu Teriyaki and we also ordered a BBQ Tofu Sub which came with Candied Yams and Jerusalem Bakes! All of these dishes were quite delectable and filling! The Baked Mac n’ Cheese melted in our mouths and it is seriously the best vegan mac n’ cheese I have ever had! The BBQ tofu was really good as they baked the tofu in strips, smothered them with BBQ sauce, and wrapped them in a thick pita with veggies. Mmmm mmmm that sub was good! We also really enjoyed the candied yams, they were just sweet enough and we usually only eat that dish at Thanksgiving! This was the first time we had tried the Jerusalem Bakes which were thick potato wedges with a breading around them. It was definitely a filling meal!

On top of their service counter they have stacks of all types of vegan cakes made by the local bakery Sweet-n-Natural, located in nearby Maryland. The cakes ranged from cheesecake to carrot cake, but we decided to go with something a little less standard called a PinaColada Cake! The cake tasted exactly like what you would think! A whole lot of pineapple and coconut, but still very sweet and very moist. This was definitely a great end to our meal and we even had a little left over for breakfast the next day!

The restaurant also does brunch on Sundays. We were unable to attend this time, but according to locals the brunch is worth checking out! On a flyer we picked up it listed American favorites such as pancakes and cornbread. Next time we are in DC we will definitely have to check it out.

So if you are in the mood for greasy down home soul cooking, we suggest you check out Soul Vegetarian Cafe in DC. The food is perfect for that great comfort food in the winter or for long study sessions.  Let us know your experience or your favorite dish!

Soul Vegetarian Restaurant

2606 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 328-7685

Since we were running around Chicago for the music festival, we decided to pop in and try as many vegan and vegan friendly restaurants we could find. This was not a hard task, as Chicago seems to be brimming with creative and delicious vegan spots including the Pick Me Up Cafe (great breakfasts), Amitabul (all vegan Korean!), and Handlebar (great drinks and late night snacks). But since this is our Restaurant Pick for Chicago we are going to have to choose the Chicago Diner as our highlight!

The Chicago Diner is any vegan’s dream who misses good old American style cooking! You can pretty much find every comfort food you had as a kid in vegan form. The restaurant is located in a nice neighborhood fairly close to the famous Linkin Park. It was easy to locate for a bunch of us out of towners and the staff was incredibly helpful and friendly! Although they are not 100% vegan, the menu is clearly marked and most dishes can be made vegan by talking to your waiter. Also, they provide a gluten free menu, for those who choose to avoid it or have an allergy.
Chikin & Steak with Rice

Their menu includes Daily Specials, Brunch (daily until 3:30pm), and the Standard Menu. Some of the favorite American dishes include Mac and Cheese, Shakes, BBQ “Bacon” Cheesburger, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, and Chikin Ranch Sandwich.
Chikin Cesaer Wrap with Mac & Cheese

During Brunch you will find other delicious American style plates such as Biscuits and Gravy, Eggz Florentine, and Eggz Benedict. Also, the Diner has awesome appetizers including Crab Cakes and Stuffed Potato Skins!
Vegan Breakfast

The vegan shakes, including Cookie Dough and Mint and the desserts, such as Strawberry Cheesecake and Banana Poppyseed Cake are AMAZING! As you can tell, their menu provides something for everyone and everyday there is a few different specials to choose from!

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

They also will provide catering for special events such as weddings and provide recipes online. The Diner allows you to order cakes ahead of time and also has some cute Tees if you want to support them outside of eating their delectable dishes. So next time you are in Chicago or a local in need of some great comfort food, stop by the Chicago Diner and dive into some American grub!

The Chicago Diner is located at:
3411 N. Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 935-6696

Feel free to share your favorite dishes or experiences at the Chicago Diner!

  • Twitter: @autonomie

    Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

  • Facebook

  • Topics

  • Recent Posts

  • June 2018
    M T W T F S S
    « Oct    
     123
    45678910
    11121314151617
    18192021222324
    252627282930  
  • Archives

  • Advertisements