Tag Archives: vegetarian

Vegan guide to Oaxaca – Oaxaca de Juárez

VeganGuide toOAXACAOaxaca city is well known throughout the culinary world as the place to go in Mexico to get mole. That rich, decadent sauce, screams “Mexican Interior Cuisine” and Oaxaca supposedly has all seven versions, Mole Poblano (red), Mole Verde (green), Mole Negro (black), Mole Chichilo, Mole Amarillo (yellow), Mole Coloradito, and Mole Manchamantel but I think the most common around here is Mole Negro which is known for its chocolate although a few of them have chocolate. It isn’t sweet at all, the chocolate isn’t sweetened before it’s put in but the mole itself can be made sweeter with plantains or dried fruit. If you’ve never tried it before it doesn’t matter because even though there are supposedly seven versions there are actually seven thousand and every single one that you try will be different. I didn’t have too much trouble sourcing vegan mole, many of them start with lard or a pork or chicken stock and then some have meats simmered in them. But, other versions are plentiful and waiters had no trouble telling me if it was meat-free or vegetarian, they can barely ever tell me in Texas! I bought some vegan mole to take home from the little store by The Rayón Pochote Organic Market off Rayón, they had a couple varieties and I’m sure you could find some at Bambuu organic.

La Jicara / Calabacitas Tiernas 
It took me a while to figure out that these are the same restaurant! I think one is the name of the space which also holds a bookstore, an art shop, and a children’s shop. The menu only has a couple vegan things, the waitstaff didn’t speak much English but the chef noticed my dilemma and came over and spoke with me. She spoke terrific English and gave me the scoop. I was dying to try the seitan stuffed chile relleno and it sounded better than the menu of the day which was also all vegan, and I think it always is. The relleno wasn’t fried which was a nice change although I wished it would have had some rice and beans. We were stoked that they also had a little market section where we bought chocolate bars, vegan cookies for the airplane, and more mole. We also tried their dessert, a chocolate mousse which was maybe a bit too healthy tasting for me, probably date-sweetened. I would definitely give it another shot

Le Campane 
This spot was one of my favorites, it had a whole vegan section with multiple options including their housemade seitan. I wish I could have tried more but we were in a hurry because we were meeting someone later. I had the mole tamales and they were delicious. My friend got the soy al pastor tacos and they were even better. I really wanted to try the picadillo but it didn’t have olives so I couldn’t refuse the tamales which I had been craving all day. They also had tacos dorados with mole and mushrooms and a Mediterranean seitan which DID have olives but I wanted Mexican food. Travel is tough!

Cabuche 
This was my most favorite place after I saw the Vegetarian Posole at the very top of the menu there wasn’t any way I was getting anything else. This hominy soup is usually made with pigs but not at Cabuche! You could get the broth verde or rojo and then pick your vegetables and add additional toppings. I added avocado because I love it in a hot soup. This was an amazing meal. The verde was very much like the version I make at home but it had mushrooms instead of seitan which I am definitely going to try next time. They also had huitlacoche tacos so don’t miss this spot!

Hierba Dulce 
The only all-vegan spot that I know of in Oaxaca is Hierba Dulce and they are legit. We were so excited to be seated in their beautiful courtyard lined with fencepost cactus. No one spoke English but the menu was all in English which made it super easy. The service was so nice, they kept adjusting our umbrella to keep us out of the sun and were so friendly. They make their own vegan cheese, manteca (which usually means lard but there was coconut oil based, bread, and almond milks. I was overwhelmed, as I usually am with all vegan spots and I ended up getting the avocado toast and empanadas, which weren’t what I’m used to as empanadas, this was more like a taco, but they were really good. I was very excited to see vegan queso fresco on my empanada! A very rare treat! My friend tried the huitlacoche tacos and they were terrific. Note that they are only open for breakfast and lunch.

Boulenc 
This bakery is where it’s at, we had the best chocolate drinks and bread. I was jealous though, of everyone else’s pastries. I, again, had the avocado toast, I sure felt like a hipster in Oaxaca eating avocado toast everywhere but it was usually the best bet for breakfast that was all vegan. I loved the interior of this place, many places had these really cool textural lamps and the one at Boulenc was so neat. Definitely, a good place to hang out for awhile.

Chilhuacle Rojo
I couldn’t go here because you have to make reservations to have dinner, it’s only open until 1, so if you are planning a trip, make it happen. They also do cooking classes and you can learn how to make vegan mole. Zandunga 
Somewhere along the way, I listed this place as having a vegan mole, but when we got to this really adorable restaurant with a beautiful bar we found they didn’t have anything vegan on the menu and I thought I’d just get drinks. The waiter told me that he would happily get the chef to make me something vegan and they prepared me a delightful mushroom-packed Tlayuda which is a grilled tortilla filled with stuff and topped with beans. Since you only really see them in Oaxaca I was excited to get one. Sometimes cocktails come made with this special salt that has worms in it, which I did not think to look out for, but my waiter checked with me and gave me regular salt with my mezcal margarita. So nice!

Voces de Copal 
We stopped in here to see their incredible display of alebrijes but I never wanted to leave that colorful patio so we stayed for a little while and drank chocolate. Don’t miss it.

Los Danzantes 
This fine dining restaurant was recommended to have vegan-friendly mole which was the case, there just wasn’t much to put it on. My best bet was the huitlacoche rellano which I wasn’t too excited about because I had the same thing for lunch but I went for it. The portion was small and since it was so fancy they didn’t have rice and beans so I was not totally satisfied. But, the service was excellent, it started to rain and they immediately moved us to a better table and then brought us blankets. My friend went on an errand while I hung out for a little while and our waiter kept bringing me shots of mezcal, so that was lovely. The outdoor seating was dramatic and definitely worth a visit.
VeganGuide toOAXACA

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Vegan Guide to Japan – Kyoto

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Kyoto is where you go when you want to experience the other side of Japanese culture. Whereas Tokyo is neon and anime Kyoto is cherry trees and geishas.IMG_1569

Since it was December there was lots of citrus and at the market, I got to try a citrus mochi which I can still remember the taste and the texture of. The Nishiki Market is also the home of a soy milk ramen and tiramisu at Mumoketeki.IMG_1633

Another day we went to 0% Arabica for coffee, hiked around the bamboo forest, and then had sushi and potato cutlets for lunch at Prunus.
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We took the tram across town to the Golden Temple and then had the most authentic matcha ever at Ipoddo.ChoiceCheese

Another surprise by the Keihan Sanjo subway station was Choice, an all GF vegan cafe that makes their own amazing vegan cheese! I had the french onion soup, chocolate covered pancakes, and we split all the cheeses. We had to get two extra orders of crackers though because 4 was not enough! I would love to buy that cheese though.
nishiki

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Tokyo

Hakone
Kyoto

Vegan Guide Japan

Vegan Guide to Japan – Tokyo Asakusa

templeDogOn New Year’s Eve we found ourselves in the district of Asakusa the home of the Buddhist temple Sensō-ji. It turned out it was the perfect place to be. New Years is a big holiday in Japan, maybe the biggest and there are lots of traditions. The main one is that you go to a temple and put in your prayer for the new year. It’s important to do this as fast as possible once the new year starts so there are tons of people lined up waiting for midnight to approach the temple. Sensō-ji had an atmosphere of a huge festival with vendors selling snacks and charms for blocks and blocks on the way to the temple. Inside the grounds, you could also get your fortune scroll after making an offering and picking a lucky number. Mine said I’m going to lead a revolution.

We waited around but it was pretty cold and so we left for a little to warm up at a bar in a fancy hotel overlooking the sky tree where we were completely underdressed but still treated with kindness and respect. Japan is really great. In Asakusa you have a great view of Tokyo Sky Tree which is lit up at night. Also, it’s just one stop over from Uneo station which is home to another T’s Restaurant. On New Years you are supposed to eat Udon Noodles for luck and this was the spot to do it for sure.

We made it back over to Sensō-ji for midnight where we got to hang out by some VIPs who were ringing the toki-no-kane (bells of Time),  for New Years.  It rings 108 times and every single ring is made by a different person. It was a magical night as we ushered in the Year of the Dog!

Bells

Top 5 vegan options in Asakusa

    1. Toryanse

    2. Sekai Cafe

    3. Kaemon Asakusa

    4. Sumida River Kitchen

    5. Aasics Connection

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Kyoto

 Vegan Guide Japan

Vegan Guide to Japan – Tokyo Harajuku

cupcakeSweets in Japan are a pretty big deal but vegan ones aren’t always easy to find. Unless you stroll into the tiny Brown Sugar 1st where you will be overwhelmed with things to buy like coconut popcorn and yuzu cookies and soft serve ice cream and cupcakes.

A district in Shibuya, Harajuku, is unlike anywhere I’ve been in my life. It became famous for the “Harajuku Girls” who come out to shop in the most fabulous clothes you’ve ever seen. And girl power is definitely the name of the came. Everything is kawaii (cute), in pastel colors, and looks like it was designed by the coolest committee of twelve-year-old girls anywhere. There are cat cafes, bakeries, crepe shops, animal costumes, and stuffed animals everywhere. And this is for sure the place to pick up that glitter filled cell phone case you’ve been dying for. I would want every girl in the world to have a neighborhood like this to wander around, there were so many small groups of unchaperoned girls just having the best time. It made our trips to the mall in the 80s seem pathetic by comparison. And yes, we did spend way too much money on this giant rainbow cotton candy! cottoncandy

Top 5 vegan options in or near Harajuku

    1. Harukucchii
    2. Sass-no-ha
    3. Hachinoki
    4. Kamakura 24sekki
    5. Kitotoki

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Vegan Guide to Japan – Tokyo Shibuya

HachikōMaybe you’ve heard the story of Hachikō, the dog that waited at Shibuya station for his human to get off work every single day. He was so famous for his ever-present to folks in the neighborhood for his unwavering attitude that when he passed they built a statue of Hachikō, waiting in his spot.

Shibuya is probably the area that you think of when you picture Tokyo in your mind. It’s like times square on some sort of intense Japanese drugs that they only have in anime movies. Everywhere you look there are giant ads, giant building, and millions of people everywhere. The day I was at the famous intersection across the station enjoying my matcha latte at Starbucks, I even saw a bunch of people driving go-carts dressed like all the characters from Mario Kart, Luigi, Toad and the Princess were all there. They say the intersection is the busiest in the world and it’s super interesting to watch the lights change and see it swarm with people.

Aside from the many stores and coffeshops, (one has a David Lynch theme!) there are plenty of vegan options. We tried Afuri which was very different than other bowls of ramen in Japan because it was positively swimming with bright, colorful vegetables. It was very tasty and I recommend it for sure. There are a ton of other options and many are open late so check Happy Cow and Yelp to see what’s what.

Vegan Guide Japan

Revolution Vegan Kitchen at the Midway

Update 6/20/2017 Revolution Vegan Kitchen relocated to 7800 S. 1st Street after this post was published34427123851_fca028daae_c

When Revolution Vegan Kitchen opened a few months ago there was a lot of confusion since this new trailer is named very similarly to long time Austin vegan business community members Unity Vegan Kitchen and Barbecue Revolution. At first we wondered if it was some sort of trailer offspring of the two super popular spots but it turns out that Revolution Vegan Kitchen is completely unaffiliated. I had heard it was out in Westlake but then I happened to see it driving out to the Hill of Life and learned that it is just west of Barton Creek Square Mall, off 360 in an awesome trailer park called the Midway. This is one of the most ideal spots for vegan kids in Austin. They have tons of covered tables and chairs, and a good-sized playground, and plenty of room to run around.33750286623_141216412a_c

And while you are waiting for your food you can chase after your little ones since RVK gives out vibrating pagers instead of giving you numbers to hang on too. 34086355250_8e02f855b1_z

Their menu is super kid friendly too, they have Mac ‘n’ Cheez, Corn Dawgs, Hot Dawgs, Chick’n Nuggets, juice boxes and 4 oz containers of Nadamoo ice cream! [It just occurred to me that this vegan generation might grow up really confused about how to spell common food words!] They also have curly fries and burgers (we guessed they were boca burgers but I forgot to ask) on the sandwiches and bites side of the menu.33747023693_bcb4190ffb_c

More exciting for adult vegans is that they have fried pickles and Mozzarella sticks but both were out the day I went. I bet they sell out of a lot of items on nice days, the Midway was packed, so if it’s across town for you, check their social media or give them a call before driving all the way out there.

The best part about RVK was the tacos, and I’m not just saying that because tacos are my favorite food ever. These vegan tacos were straight up legit – and I have an advanced degree in taco-ology. Looking at the menu, originally, I was disappointed because almost every offering was jackfruit based. 34430103896_681c86701f_b

But it turned to be some of the best jackfruit I’ve ever had. I loved the Al Pastor and it made me happy that the bright orange grease was running off of it, so authentic! I also tried the Chorizo con papas + way fauxs  and I loved that too, it was a very traditional breakfast taco. 34171484000_b1619a7696_z

I want to go back and check out the rest of the taco selection FOR SURE. I’ll just probably wait until the next time I’m hanging out with kiddos.  There is so much fun stuff to play with and I’m pretty sure it’s dog friendly too. 34471164465_951d3dfeef_c

Sagra – An Italian Dream come true for vegans and the gluten free in East Austin

Italian food seems to be universally loved. I did an informal poll in my office asking “do you like Italian food” and everyone said yes, and then looked at me with questioning eyes as if I was about to give them a piece of lasagna or something. Sorry y’all! Somehow getting vegan Italian food in Austin isn’t always that easy. If you go to a fancy place they often use eggs in the fresh pasta. Rarely do they have vegan specials or delicious vegan cheese. You’re lucky to get Daiya at a pizza place here. If you go to a shitty place – I’m looking at you Olive Garden- you can’t even order a salad. I guess it comes shipped in pre-made from god knows where.

There is one place, however, in Austin that does it right, not only does Sagra have a multiple course vegan menu but they also offer homemade cashew cheese and special meaty substitutes. When I went the other day I was also impressed that they were able to assure me, without asking, that the table bread was vegan and they could easily leave items on the side so my dining companions could have their precious cheese. And yes GFers, they can make any dish gluten free. We started with the polenta fries with fried brussels and chickpeas in a salsa roja. I was a bit worried with all the fried items that this dish would be a bit greasy or heavy but it wasn’t at all, the large portion was enormous for the three of us too. 

We also tried the Barbietolla which was roasted beets, fruit mostardo, truffle salt. This dish was very sweet but a really nice complement to the polenta dish and we all enjoyed it as well. 

My favorite dish of the night was undoubtedly my pizza. When I originally looked at the menu I thought I might try the Macaroni al Forno, (baked macaroni and cheese, cashew cheese, spinach, bread crumbs, truffle oil, spinach macaroni), but once I saw the pizza I knew I had to try it. 

If you know anything about me, you know that I love olives and Star Trek and the only thing that could have made this pizza better would have been if I was sharing it with Captain Picard. Or actually, if they hadn’t run out of cashew cheese. No matter! I didn’t miss the cheese in the least and they added pine nuts to compensate. The pizza is called the Maialina and comes with pesto sauce, walnuts, black olives. Interestingly, they chopped up the walnuts and olives together which gave the pizza a salty delicious meaty texture. From now on it’s going to be my go to home topping. I loved it! And the large was so big that I got to eat it for the next few days although obviously it was much better in the restaurant.

So Sagra is a big win for me, their cocktails were fantastic too and they have a nice happy hour special so when it cools down I think it might become my after work meet up spot. Let me know what you thought or think if you try it out! I’m curious about the rest of the menu.