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

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San Francisco is known as one of the most liberal and unique cities in the world! People from all over the world and from every background roam these streets. Personally we have spent a lot of time in this city, as one of us from AP grew up in Northern California. This place is brimming with vegan friendly food and pretty much every restaurant has an option! Or at least they will know what the word vegan is and accommodate you!

Most people talk about Millennium (as it is often rated the Best Vegan Restaurant in the US) and Herbivore (always wins for Best Brunch) as top vegan destinations within San Francisco. Both these restaurants are fantastic and some of our favorites, however we at AP would like to highlight a restaurant a little more off the beaten path. So for San Francisco’s restaurant pick, we have chosen Golden Era.

Golden Era is located in between the juxtaposing neighborhoods of the Tenderloin and Union Square. The Tenderloin can be a bit sketchy, but the restaurant is on the outskirts of the neighborhood. We have dined here over the course of 6 years and have never encountered any problem! Golden Era’s menu is pan Asian based and all vegetarian. There are a few items that are not vegan, but like most restaurants the staff will advise you.
Drumsticks

There are not a ton of Appetizers to choose from on the menu, but the quality is superb! The Drumsticks and Steamed Veggie Bun are mouth watering and will leave you craving more! Both the Golden Rolls and Spring Rolls are delicious classics and the Vegetable Fu Young is scrumptious!
Spinach Tofu Soup

They offer both Salads and Soups to start your meal off healthy and are quite tasty themselves. We recommend the Tofu Salad and the Spinach Tofu Soup! These are meals within themselves.
Spicy Mongolian Chicken

There are tons of Entrees on this menu to choose from! They offer Noodle Dishes, Rice Plates, Regular Entrees, Claypot Choices, and Specialties. It must be said that most of these dishes are not run of the mill asian style! They are creative and of course delicious. For instance the menu offers dishes such as Caramelized Chicken, Pineapple Salmon, Vegetarian Lamb Claypot, and Sautéed Jalapeno Tofu. If you are looking for a little more classic dishes, fear not, as you can order Sweet & Sour Chicken, Lemon Chicken, Gourmet Fried Rice, and Pho Noodles. Trust us, dinner here will not be an ordinary event, because even their typical dishes are satisfying with a unique flavor.
Caramelized Chicken

Desserts here are just as exciting as their dishes! There are a couple non vegan desserts, but they are marked clearly on the menu. You can order anything from Vegan Caramel Flan to Egg-Less Cheesecake and our personal favorite Fried Banana w/ Vegan Ice Cream. And don’t forget to order a Vegan Thai Iced Tea to make your meal complete!
Fried Banana & Ice Cream

So if you are a local looking for some unique and creative asian style vegan dishes, hop on over to Golden Era! And if you are visiting, this is a MUST on your trip through the city.

Golden Era is located at:
572 O’Farrell Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Tel: 415-673-3136

Wed-Mon 11am-9pm
Closed Tuesday

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!

New York, New York: It’s the Big Apple, the city of dreams, America’s most populated city and was recently voted this years Favorite Veg Friendly City by the readers of Veg News. New York offers a plethora of great vegan eats ranging from around the world. It’s quite easy to eat vegetarian and even vegan within the city limits, but this week we at AP wanted to share one of our favorite veggie restaurants: Red Bamboo!

With two locations, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, Red Bamboo is a mecca for all vegan residents and visitors alike. Their menu is based on vegetarian soul and carribean food with heavy influences of great American cooking. They have seriously mastered the mock meat market with the variety they offer! Although not their entire menu is vegan, they mark which items are not acceptable and the menu is easy to read.
Coconut Shrimp

We have had the luxury of eating at both locations, although very similar they have minor differences on their menus. The Brooklyn location is also a bit larger and offers brunch on weekends. The brunch is decent, however the lunch and dinner is what you really want to try. The service is always excellent with helpful and friendly staff. Our last experience here was on a blistering 95 degree day in the streets of NY, where we found solace inside the air conditioned Manhattan location and our waitress was on point with the constant flow of water and ice tea!
Bourbon Chicken Dinner

A few sample items from their menu include: Buffalo Barbecue Wings, Coconut Shrimp, Creole Soul Chicken Sandwich or Appetizer, B B Q Steak Hero, and Codfish Cakes with Mango Salsa! With a variety such as that you can’t go wrong! Check out their full menus for the Manhattan and Brooklyn locations.
Soul Chicken Appetizer(Comes in Sandwich too!)

They also have a few vegan desserts on their menu such as cakes and ice cream, although we haven’t tried them yet and can’t vouch for them. However, based on how delicious their appetizers, sandwiches, and entrees are we don’t doubt they are delicious.

So if you are NY native or are visiting anytime soon, be sure to stop by either location and indulge in some seriously delicious soul vegan food!

Red Bamboo is located at:

140 W 4th St, Manhattan, NY (212) 260-7049

271 Adelphi St, Brooklyn, NY (718)643-4806

Feel free to let us know what you think about Red Bamboo and share your experiences or favorite dishes with us!

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