Tag Archives: bakery

Vegan-Friendly Kansas City

11 Sep

Kansas City is known for its BBQ and steak, but thanks to the growing desire for plant-based food, it is being put on the map as a vegan-friendly destination. With three (as of this posting) 100% vegan establishments and a variety of vegan-friendly bars, restaurants and stores, Kansas City is embracing its compassionate side.

Following is a list of vegan-friendly establishments located in one of the Show Me State’s most popular cities.

Café Gratitude

Café Gratitude is a 100% organic and plant-based restaurant chain primarily located in California, with a single location outside of the west coast. Needless to say, this location is in Kansas City! I was shocked when I first heard that Café Gratitude was opening a location here, and by the looks of it, this bold move was a smart one. Café Gratitude is almost always busy, which is a sign that the times are changing and people are moving towards healthy eating. This uplifting restaurant has creatively given their dishes positive and inspiring names.

My family and I began with an order of Present (“Bruschetta — toasted ciabatta with cashew mozzarella topped with tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette & fresh basil”). For our main dishes we enjoyed Grateful (“Shredded kale, brown rice, black beans & garlic tahini sauce”), Sensational (“Spaghetti squash noodles, spinach & portabella mushrooms tossed in our alfredo sauce. Topped with Brazil nut parmesan, basil & crushed red pepper. Served with our house side salad”), Transformed (“Two organic corn tacos with brown rice, black beans, guacamole, salsa fresca & cashew nacho cheese. Served with a side salad”), and Warm-Hearted (“Grilled pesto polenta over sautéed spaghetti squash, spinach & puttanesca sauce topped with Brazil nut parmesan, ricotta & basil”). We washed it all down with Incredible (“Banana, raw cacao, maca, almond butter, dates, coconut milk, & vanilla bean smoothie”).

Present Bruschetta from Café Gratitude

Present Bruschetta from Café Gratitude

Grateful dish from Café Gratitude

Grateful dish from Café Gratitude

Sensational dish from Café Gratitude

Sensational dish from Café Gratitude

Transformed dish from Café Gratitude

Transformed dish from Café Gratitude

Warm-Hearted dish from Café Gratitude

Warm-Hearted dish from Café Gratitude

Incredible smoothie from Café Gratitude

Incredible smoothie from Café Gratitude

Eden Alley Café

A 100% vegetarian restaurant, Eden Alley Café is located in the basement of the Unity Temple on The Plaza. Most of their dishes can be made vegan and many are gluten and soy-free. With an emphasis on local organic ingredients, Eden Alley Café does what they can to be kind to the environment including conservation, waste reduction, and recycling. Serving lunch and dinner Wednesday through Friday and brunch on Saturday, their large open space provides seating for more than 100 people and even includes a little shop with cookbooks, t-shirts and more.

FooDoo

Kansas City’s newest 100% vegan restaurant, FooDoo is a small establishment that prepares delectable dishes using fresh local produce, focusing on what is currently in season. Perhaps my new favorite plant-based restaurant in Kansas City, FooDoo definitely delivers in the flavor department.

My family and I enjoyed the Broadway Burrito (“Roasted Peppers – Caramelized Onions – Pepper-Jack – Hey Joe Chorizo – Jerked Potatoes – Jalapeno Jam” served with “Quinoa Black-eyed Pea Succotash & Organic Greens”), Taco Trio (“Cheddar – Shredded Lettuce – Tomato – Cilantro – Cactus Relish with Vietnamese Ham Gluten”), and The Bella (“Portabella Steak – Roasted Peppers – Pickled Onions – Italian Hot Peppers – Garlic Spinach – Mozzarella” on a Pretzel Bun and served with “Quinoa Black-eyed Pea Succotash & Organic Greens & Spicy Pickle”). I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious all of our meals were and will gladly return the next time I am in town!

Broadway Burrito from FooDoo

Broadway Burrito from FooDoo

Taco Trio from FooDoo

Taco Trio from FooDoo

The Bella sandwich from FooDoo

The Bella sandwich from FooDoo

The Foundry

The Foundry is a beer garden and bar + grill serving a handful of plant-based options. Such options include their Cheat Lover’s vegan pizza, guacamole, nachos (with “cheat meat” and vegan cheese, sans sour cream), Zucchini Fries (without honey or sauce), Sunflower Salad (with oil and vinegar dressing), and their Mean Joe Green salad (sans cheese). Thanks to a variety of options the plant-based crowd is sure to leave with full, happy bellies.

FüD

One of Kansas City’s first all vegan restaurants and a favorite among the plant-based crowd, FüD is a cash-only establishment specializing in both raw and hot dishes, and strives to serve organic meals. FüD’s sustainable practices include using “fluoride-free filtered water, composting, recycling, biocompostable to-go packaging and cutlery, buying local organic produce and providing the lowest impact food on the environment.” Now that is impressive! One such local item served here is Central Soyfoods tofu made in Lawrence, Kansas.

The dishes enjoyed at my table were the Smoked Tofu Nuggets (“A Basket of Fried Local Tofu Nuggets with side of Sweet Pickle Thrillanaise & spicy Chilinaise”), the Tune-Rahh Melt (“Tune-Rahh sandwich Panini Grilled with Garlic Sweed Cheese on Rye”), Phishwich (“Tune Rahh infused with cinnamon curry spice deep-fried and topped with Thrillanaise, Dillanaise, El Cream, Lettuce, Tomato & Purple Onion on Rye”) and the Olivewich (a mixture of olive tapenade, cashew cheese, lettuce and tomatoes), a brand new sandwich which is the cook’s favorite.

Smoked Tofu Nuggets from FüD

Smoked Tofu Nuggets from FüD

Tune-Rahh Melt from FüD

Tune-Rahh Melt from FüD

Phishwich from FüD

Phishwich from FüD

Olivada sandwich from FüD

Olivada sandwich from FüD

GreenAcres Market

GreenAcres Market is a natural foods store with seven locations (as of this posting), one of which is in Kansas City. With an emphasis on organic foods, nutritional supplements and body care items, this health foods store provides prepared foods in addition to pantry essentials and other grocery items. GreenAcres Market also takes it a step further by providing regular in-store classes and seminars to further educate the public on healthy lifestyles.

Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffee

Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffee is Kansas City’s first and only (as of this posting) 100% vegan bakery and coffeehouse. The super friendly folks here at Mud Pie make some delectable desserts and are happy to provide for various events including birthdays and weddings. One such event I used them for was my mother’s 60th birthday! In addition to desserts, Mud Pie also offers savory treats including house made scones and burritos from FüD.

The items I enjoyed from Mud Pie were their Lemon Kiss cupcake (filled with a delicious lemon curd), Coconutz bar, Mostess cupcake (fashioned after the popular commercially sold cupcake), Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treat, and their Apple Crumb Cake. Every single item I have had here has been delicious — highly recommended!

Coconutz from Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffee

Coconutz from Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffee

Mostess Cupcake from Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffee

Mostess Cupcake from Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffee

Peanut Butter Crispy Treat from Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffee

Peanut Butter Crispy Treat from Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffee

Apple Crumb Cake from Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffee

Apple Crumb Cake from Mud Pie Vegan Bakery & Coffee

Natural Grocers

Located in nearby Independence, MO, Natural Grocers (formerly Nature’s Pantry) is an excellent natural foods store providing a plethora of goodies including those which are difficult to find. Having opened its doors in 1995, Natural Grocers has since expanded and opened a Deli Café, providing paninis, pizzas and salads. In addition to groceries, Natural Grocers has a bulk and vitamin section, and sells various household and personal items as well. Some of the local items they sell are Central Soyfoods tofu (in Garlic Herb, Hickory Smoked, Hot Fiesta and Plain flavors) and Manifest Chocolates, which provides caramels and chocolates that are vegan, gluten, soy, dairy and nut free.

While here, I picked up a bunch of treasures including some Gardein Fishless Filets, a container of Garlic Just Mayo (Natural Grocers currently carries all four flavors), a package of Rising Moon Organics Artichoke and Olive Ravioli, and a container of non-dairy Scotch Chocolate ice cream from Steve’s Ice Cream — perhaps the best ice cream I have ever had! Definitely check this place out.

Nature's Pantry

Natural Grocers

Steve's Ice Cream - Scotch Chocolate Ice Cream

Steve’s Ice Cream – Scotch Chocolate Ice Cream

One More Cup

One More Cup is a coffee shop serving assorted smoothies (most, if not all can be made vegan with soy milk), and items from various local businesses including sandwiches from FüD, Tamales from Mean Vegan, and desserts from Kneaded Specialties and Be Free Bakers. The owners seem very passionate about their business so this is one worth supporting.

Seasons 52 Fresh Grill

A more upscale restaurant with separate vegan menu, Seasons 52 Fresh Grill is a chain located throughout the United States with dishes that are 475 calories or less. Their plant-based menu currently (as of this posting) features various appetizers, sides, entrees, a couple salads, and blueberries for dessert.

Spin! Neapolitan Pizza

A pizza chain with locations in California, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, Spin! Neapolitan Pizza has a Kansas City location that offers Daiya cheese, which can be used on any of their pizzas (minus the meat). While their soups are not vegan, Spin! does offer a few salads that can be ordered without meat and cheese, and topped with vinaigrette dressing. Their croutons are cooked in olive oil.

Succotash

Succotash is primarily a brunch and lunch restaurant with a few plant-based items and a variety of juices and smoothies. Soy milk is available. The folks at this establishment pride themselves in using locally grown/made ingredients whenever possible. As of this posting, available lunch items include pancakes, scramble and a wrap; the latter two featuring Succotash’s signature lima bean hummus and succotash.

Waldo Pizza

With two locations in the metropolitan area, Waldo Pizza gives Kansas Citians their choice between their Waldo and Lee’s Summit locations. This pizza chain goes above and beyond for their plant-based crowd, offering a variety of pizzas, starters, sandwiches, desserts, and beverages. For the gluten free vegan crowd, Waldo Pizza even offers an egg & gluten-free pizza crust (ask to make sure). Pizza offerings include both Daiya and Follow Your Heart cheeses, a large variety of veggies, various meat alternatives including chicken, hamburger, Italian sausage, pepperoni, and taco meat, and a variety of exciting sauces including, but not limited to, barbeque, buffalo, taco sauce and vegan garlic butter. After you’ve gorged yourself on delicious food, Waldo will send you on your merry way with a vegan after dinner mint.

I have been to Waldo Pizza multiple times and their pizza (and offerings) just seem to get better and better. My choice this time was a hand-tossed crust with artichokes, capers and “chicken” topped with Daiya Mozzarella. The capers added a really nice flavor to the pizza, which was delicious, but my only complaint this time around is that there was hardly any “chicken” on the pizza…I wanted much more! Definitely support these guys and gals.

Artichoke, Capers and "Chicken" Pizza from Waldo Pizza

Artichoke, Capers and “Chicken” Pizza from Waldo Pizza

Yogurtini

Yogurtini is a self-serve frozen yogurt shop that offers 1-2 vegan flavors of sorbet with various toppings including fruit, nuts, Oreos, Nutter Butter cookies and a handful of sauces. When I stopped by, Yogurtini had just one vegan flavor, their Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet, which was very good. Previously they had a pomegranate flavor.

Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet from Yogurtini

Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet from Yogurtini

Have you been to Kansas City before, or do you currently live there? What are your favorite vegan-friendly places to frequent?

Vegan-Friendly Portland

26 Aug

Portland goes by many names: The City of Roses, Bridgetown, PDX and Stumptown to name a few. Currently the largest city by population in the state of Oregon, Portland has a plethora of restaurants, shops and grocers catering to vegans. Because of this, Portland was rated the #2 Most Vegan-Friendly City of 2013 by PETA (source).

Below is a list of establishments I visited while in Portland. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it will give you a good idea of what places to stop by while visiting.

Back to Eden Bakery

Back to Eden is a 100% vegan and gluten-free bakery serving various pastries, ice creams, lunch items and beverages. Catering to any food sensitivities you may have, Back to Eden provides many raw, soy and sugar-free delectables. I stopped by this bakery twice while in Portland. Opting for their Boston Cream Mini Cake, I ate the whole darn thing in one sitting. While the cake seemed a little over-baked and dry, and the flavor didn’t remind me of traditional Boston Cream Pie, it was still good (and beautiful to look at). I wanted to try one of their shakes or sundaes on my second visit but alas, I was too full.

Boston Cream Pie Mini Cake from Back to Eden

Boston Cream Pie Mini Cake from Back to Eden

Blossoming Lotus

Many sing the praises of Blossoming Lotus‘ weekend brunch and they are right to do so! With mouth-watering choices like a Caramel Apple Cinnamon Roll and Zucchini Bread French Toast, this upscale restaurant covers its bases with the basics in addition to creative alternatives. The name alone sold me on the cinnamon roll so I ordered that as a starter and split it with my sister. After devouring half of this mammoth 5-inch plus cinnamon roll, I was already beginning to feel full. This thing alone could be a meal! Crazy enough, I also split the Lotus Benedict, which is “a split biscuit topped with tofu scramble, sausage patties, sliced tomato, wilted spinach, and hollandaise, served with steamed greens” and the Breakfast Burrito, filled with “tofu scramble, roasted potatoes, kale, tomato, avocado, red onion, coconut bacon, and cashew sour cream” with my sister. Needless to say we had leftovers!

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Roll from Blossoming Lotus

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Roll from Blossoming Lotus

Lotus Benedict from Blossoming Lotus

Lotus Benedict from Blossoming Lotus

Breakfast Burrito from Blossoming Lotus

Breakfast Burrito from Blossoming Lotus

Bob’s Red Mill World Headquarters Tour / Bob’s Red Mill Restaurant, Whole Grain Store and Bakery

If you have a car at your disposal, a fun thing to do is to drive to Milwaukie, OR (approximately 20 minutes south of Portland) and take a tour of Bob’s Red Mill World Headquarters. Offering two daily tours Monday-Friday, the friendly folks at Bob’s Red Mill will guide you through the factory where you can see each stage of the production process, and if you’re lucky, you may even get to meet Bob himself! After the tour (or before, if you prefer), you can visit Bob’s Red Mill Restaurant, Whole Grain Store and Bakery about a mile down the road, where you can shop for any Bob’s Red Mill product imaginable. Attached to the store is their bakery, which features a couple of vegan items, and on the other end is their restaurant. Though I had already enjoyed breakfast before visiting, I was happy to see that their menu has its very own vegan section!

Bob's Red Mill Grain Store

Bob’s Red Mill Grain Store

Vegan Menu at Bob's Red Mill Grain Store Restaurant

Vegan Menu at Bob’s Red Mill Grain Store Restaurant

Cacao

Cacao is a small specialty chocolate shop downtown, which offers solid chocolates from around the world, in addition to drinking chocolate and hot cocoa. The carefully selected chocolate sold here is chosen based upon criteria such as small manufacturers, organic and fair trade practices, and value pricing, just to name a few. Upon perusing Cacao’s shelves for vegan goodies, my eyes fell upon a jar of Hot Cakes Caramel Sauce. Never having tried this particular brand, I quickly snatched it up. The introductory flavors are very pleasant and finish with a slightly darker burnt flavor. Cacao also offers various vegan chocolates should you so desire.

Hot Cakes Caramel Sauce from Cacao

Hot Cakes Caramel Sauce from Cacao

Chef Fresh

A self-serve yogurt and smoothie place located in downtown Portland’s Pioneer Place Mall, Chef Fresh offers 12 different house-made rotating flavors, with 2-4 being 100% plant-based. The flavors on hand while I visited were Nutella (fashioned after the popular non-vegan spread), vanilla creamsicle and another one, which unfortunately, I cannot remember. In addition, Chef Fresh offers various toppings for you to enjoy with your soft serve. If you aren’t sure which are vegan, the friendly ladies behind the counter are happy to help. Dish out as much or as little soft serve as you want, top it with your desired toppings, then take your treat up to the counter where they will weigh it and charge you by the ounce.

Nutella & Vanilla Creamsicle Soft Serve from Chef Fresh

Nutella & Vanilla Creamsicle Soft Serve from Chef Fresh

D.C. Vegetarian

A 100% vegetarian food cart located in downtown Portland, D.C. Vegetarian makes their own seitan and offers a vegan alternative for every item on their menu. A favorite among many, this food cart offers brunch and lunch every day of the week except for Sunday (as of this posting). Opting to visit D.C. Vegetarian twice during my trip, I enjoyed their Sausage, (Not)Egg and Cheese sandwich for brunch, which was topped off with avocado, tomato and roasted red pepper sauce, and on the second trip had their Chicken Salad Sub (no picture, sorry) for lunch. “A mixture of soy curls, Beyond Meat, celery, red onion, and Vegenaise with lettuce and tomato,” their Chicken Salad Sub was very filling. Though I would have liked a little added flavor, it was still very good. My sister had the Italian Sub (not pictured) and it was delicious.

Sausage (Not)Egg & Cheese from D.C. Vegetarian

Sausage (Not)Egg & Cheese from D.C. Vegetarian

Departure Restaurant + Lounge

Departure Restaurant + Lounge is an upscale roof-top establishment located above The Nines hotel and features various Asian-inspired dishes, a few of which are vegan. With a bar that opens to the outdoor lounge area, Departure is the place to be when you want a fancy evening out. Hearing great things about their Departure Banana Split, I stopped by and got one to go. Consisting of “banana tempura, cherry compote, miso butterscotch, peanut brittle ice cream,” and topped with peanuts, this treat is possibly the most intricate and most well thought out dessert I have had in Portland. Word has it that the peanut brittle ice cream is from the popular Salt & Straw ice cream shop.

Departure Banana Split from Departure Lounge

Departure Banana Split from Departure Lounge

FLAVOURspot

The FLAVOURspot is a creative waffle sandwich food cart with two locations. Though they have a small menu consisting primarily of meat-based options, they DO have three vegan options: Vegan Sausage & Maple, Peanut Butter & Jelly, and PBM (peanut butter and maple). I decided on the Vegan Sausage & Maple waffle sandwich, which featured 2-3 vegan sausage patties (which I believe to be Gimme Lean) and The FLAVOURspot’s organic pure maple spread. The smell alone of this sandwich is enough to make your mouth water, so devouring the entire thing was no problem for me. I would definitely order it again and would love to try their other vegan options.

Vegan Maple & Sausage Waffle Sandwich from FLAVOURspot

Vegan Maple & Sausage Waffle Sandwich from FLAVOURspot

Food Fight! Grocery

Part of the first, and only (that I know of), vegan mini-mall, Food Fight! Grocery is a small 100% vegan grocery store selling the obvious groceries in addition to household and personal items, as well as apparel and accessories. Trying not to spend TOO much money, I settled on some Earth Balance Vegan White Cheddar Mac & Cheese, Sol Cuisine Veggie Breakfast Patties and a Caramel Cashew Bar from Amy E’s Bakery. You should definitely stop by this store while in Portland and pick up some vegan staples. Support local!

The Fruit Loop

Located in Hood River County, approximately an hour and 15 minute drive east of Portland, The Fruit Loop is basically a loop of various farms and fruit stands running along highways 35 and 281. Offering seasonal produce, many allow you to pick your own, which is what my friends and I opted to do. Needless to say, we ended up with the freshest and most delicious blueberries and strawberries we had ever had. Nothing makes you appreciate fruit like U-pick and it is fun for the whole family!

Fresh Picked Strawberries from The Fruit Loop

Fresh Picked Strawberries from The Fruit Loop

Los Gorditos

Starting out as a food truck in 2006, Los Gorditos‘ popularity quickly grew, which caused them to later open two restaurant locations. Los Gorditos provides a separate vegan menu with multiple items to choose from including various tacos, burritos and other plates, and from what I understand, they are all good. Having visited the Pearl restaurant location, I decided on the Soy Curl Fajita Burrito and was very pleased with it. Seasoned perfectly, this burrito was stuffed with “soy curls, grilled fajita veggies, beans, rice, onion & cilantro.” I thoroughly enjoyed it and wished I was able to visit a second time so that I could order it again! Does anyone want to ship one to me?

Soy Curl Fajita Burrito from Los Gorditos

Soy Curl Fajita Burrito from Los Gorditos

Herbivore Clothing

Located in the vegan mini-mall, Herbivore Clothing is a 100% vegan clothing shop that also sells various accessories, household items and books. Need a hoodie to proclaim your vegan awesomeness? Want a leather-free belt? How about a beverage cozie? They’ve got them all, and luckily for us we can order them online! Keep in mind, however, that their shirts run small.

Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ

Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ is a 100% vegan food truck that serves various comfort food items. Aside from their regular menu, they offer a different special each day, which keeps the crowds coming back. After browsing through the menu, it was difficult to decide on what to get, but finally my sister and I decided on the Grilled Hyam and Cheese (not pictured), which is “Applewood smoked maple-ginger hyam, tomato, Daiya mozzarella, Mellow Yellow, and Nocheese sauces on grilled sourdough,” and the Macnocheeto Burrito (“Smoked soy curls, creamy Macnocheese, BBQ beans, grilled peppers, onions and Maple-Bourbon BBQ sauce all wrapped up in a grilled wheat tortilla”). It was a hot and sunny day so I topped it off with an Arnold Palmer.

Macnocheeto Burrito from Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ

Macnocheeto Burrito from Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ

New Seasons Market

Giving Whole Foods a run for their money, New Seasons Market is a locally owned chain of health food stores offering various food and household items. They support local businesses and provide health-conscious consumers with multiple options, many of which are vegan. I recommend stopping by, just to see what kinds of goodies they may have.

Paradox Cafe

Located on the east side of Portland is Paradox Cafe, a 100% vegetarian restaurant with multiple vegan options. Paradox Cafe serves brunch all day (in addition to lunch and other items) and focuses on freshly made food that is easy on your wallet. Because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, I chose their Country Comfort dish, which has tofu, veggies, breakfast potatoes and a whole wheat biscuit topped with almond gravy. The potatoes and other vegetables were nicely seasoned, however, I wasn’t pleased with the biscuits as they were too light and tender. My sister opted for the Supa-Dupa Sandwich, which consisted of “tomato, avocado, sprouts, cucumber, [vegan] cream cheese and cranberry chutney served on Good Seed bread.”

Country Comfort from Paradox Cafe

Country Comfort from Paradox Cafe

Supa-Dupa Sandwich from Paradox Cafe

Supa-Dupa Sandwich from Paradox Cafe

People’s Food Co-op

A local, community-owned co-operative, People’s Food Co-op has a nice selection of vegan items, including some that are hard to find. One such item is the Snackrilege line of sandwiches, which is 100% plant-based. For my plane ride out of Portland, I opted for the Joey DeMayo sandwich, which features “red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes, seitan and balsamic vinaigrette Vegenaise, all on a Portland French Bakery Ciabatta roll.” People’s also sells fabulously soft and chewy cookies in a variety of flavors including chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate chip and snickerdoodle. I regret not taking photos of my sandwich but I did snap a picture of the cookie…it was DELICIOUS.

Chocolate Chip Cookie from People's Food Coop

Chocolate Chip Cookie from People’s Food Co-op

Petunia’s Pies & Pastries

A super cute shop located in downtown Portland, Petunia’s Pies & Pastries is another 100% vegan and gluten-free bakery. I stopped into Petunia’s around noon one day for an Ice Cream Sundae (hey, I was on vacation okay?) featuring a scoop each of coconut and salted caramel chocolate ice cream, topped with house-made salted caramel sauce, peanut butter and cookie dough pieces. Also enjoyed during my trip was a Salted Caramel Cookie Bar, a Peanut Butter Crispy bar and a Root Beer Float. Heavenly!

Ice Cream Sundae from Petunias Pies & Pastries

Ice Cream Sundae from Petunia’s Pies & Pastries

Salted Caramel Cookie Bar & Peanut Butter Crispy Bar from Petunias Pies & Pastries

Salted Caramel Cookie Bar & Peanut Butter Crispy Bar from Petunia’s Pies & Pastries

Root Beer Float from Petunia's Pies & Pastries

Root Beer Float from Petunia’s Pies & Pastries

Portobello Vegan Trattoria

Portobello Vegan Trattoria is a must if you are visiting Portland. This upscale Italian restaurant is very popular so reservations are highly recommended. Offering dishes featuring seasonal ingredients, Portobello’s dishes have light, yet very satisfying flavors. Perhaps their most popular appetizer is their Beet Tartare, which features “diced roasted beets with carrot aioli, fines herbes & capers atop cashew puree with olive oil, sea salt and toast.” As a matter of fact, my Beet Tartare with Cashew Cheese recipe was inspired by this very dish. Enjoying an order of this and their Mushroom Arancini, which are “crispy mushroom and risotto fritters with tomato basil sauce,” we were off to a delicious start. For dinner we enjoyed a large plate of the Mushroom Leek Ravioli (“mushroom and cashew cheese filled ravioli with caramelized onion cashew cream sauce”) and a small plate of Zita’s Cavatelli (“house made cavatelli noodles with brocolini, capers, oyster mushrooms finished with bread crumbs”). Regrettably I did not have room for one of their fabulous desserts or cocktails, but dinner was delicious.

Beet Tartare from Portobello Vegan Trattoria

Beet Tartare from Portobello Vegan Trattoria

Mushroom Arancini from Portobello Vegan Trattoria

Mushroom Arancini from Portobello Vegan Trattoria

Mushroom Leek Ravioli from Portobello Vegan Trattoria

Mushroom Leek Ravioli from Portobello Vegan Trattoria

Zita's Cavatelli from Portobello Vegan Trattoria

Zita’s Cavatelli from Portobello Vegan Trattoria

Powell’s City of Books

Located in downtown Portland, Powell’s City of Books is the largest new and used bookstore in the world. This bookstore is so large, it takes up an entire city block and recently opened up a second building for their overflow, right across the street. Consisting of nine color-coded rooms which feature over one million books in total, Powell’s is THE place to go if you would like to buy a book (or ten). Unlike other bookstores, Powell’s has a good two isles full of vegan books! I, of course, couldn’t leave without purchasing a book and my choice was the 365 Vegan Smoothies cookbook, which is currently assisting with my detox from all the Portland gluttony!

Sizzle Pie

Open until after 2am each day, Sizzle Pie has two locations in Portland. Though not a vegan or even vegetarian establishment, this pizza joint offers a variety of vegan options. With ten vegan pizzas, three salads and breadsticks with four signature sauces to choose from, Sizzle Pie is possibly the most popular pizza place in Portland among vegans. One such reason may be because they offer breakfast pizza! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to eat here for breakfast, but I did enjoy a slice of their Bad Reputation pizza and an order of breadsticks with their marinara and two signature dipping sauces.

Bad Reputation Pizza from Sizzle Pie

Bad Reputation Pizza from Sizzle Pie

Breadsticks with Marinara, Creamy Caramelized Onion Spread and Creamy Basil Cashew Spread from Sizzle Pie

Breadsticks with Marinara, Creamy Caramelized Onion Spread and Creamy Basil Cashew Spread from Sizzle Pie

Sweetpea Baking Company

Perhaps the most well known 100% vegan bakery in all of Portland is Sweetpea Baking Company. Part of the vegan mini-mall, this bakery has been around since 2008 and offers various pastries, breakfast, lunch and beverage items. After stopping into Food Fight! Grocery and Herbivore Clothing, I finished my vegan mini-mall trip at Sweetpea. From what I understand, their busiest time is in the mornings, so when I visited in the afternoon, the pickings were somewhat slim. After quickly browsing their selection, I decided on a peanut butter brownie and enjoyed every bite of it. You know how I am with peanut butter. My only regret is that the already healthy size wasn’t even larger.

Peanut Butter Brownie from the Sweetpea Baking Company

Peanut Butter Brownie from Sweetpea Baking Company

Veggie Grill

Veggie Grill is a 100% vegan fast food chain with various healthy salads, bowls and plates, sandwiches, beverages, and desserts to choose from. Opting for the “Crab” Cake (“Crispy ‘Crab’ cake, spiced tartar sauce, pickles, tomato, lettuce, red onion”) and a side of seasoned Yukon Gold fries, I was very pleased with the flavor, though I certainly could have used more tartar sauce. I was also hoping for more food for the price. Regardless, I enjoyed my food and even went back a second time for their Chill Out Wings (not pictured), which are their Chickn’ wings “with tangy BBQ sauce and chipotle ranch.” If you like Native Foods, you will surely enjoy Veggie Grill, which seems to have even more items to choose from.

"Crab" Cake from The Veggie Grill

“Crab” Cake from The Veggie Grill

Vita Cafe

Just down the street from Back to Eden Bakery is Vita Cafe. While not 100% vegan or even vegetarian, this place is very vegan-friendly. Vita Cafe features multiple plant-based options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. I had the pleasure of visiting Vita Cafe twice while in Portland, once for dinner and once for brunch. For dinner I couldn’t choose just one thing to eat so my sister and I each ordered a dish and then split them. I chose the ‘Fish’ and Chips, which is “battered and deep-fried tofu with fresh-cut fries + vegan tartar.” The tartar sauce was tasty and unique, featuring a familiar ingredient that I just couldn’t put my finger on. The other choice at my table was the Vegan Club Sandwich featuring “organic tempeh ‘fakin’, homemade faux turkey, vegan mayo, guacamole, lettuce, and tomato between 3 layers of toasted sourdough bread.” This sandwich had a variety of flavors that meshed well together and was very good.

For my second trip to Vita Cafe, I ordered their Sloppy Biscuit Sandwich with fried tofu, “faux turkey, [Daiya] cheese, & gravy between a vegan biscuit” with a side of potatoes. While I certainly didn’t have biscuits at every establishment I went to, Vita Cafe has THE best biscuits I’ve had in Portland. This dish was absolutely delicious and I devoured every bite of it, down to the last piece of potato, which was seasoned wonderfully. In fact, my mouth is watering just thinking about this dish. Needless to say, everything I had at Vita Cafe was very good so I highly recommend it for every meal of the day.

'Fish' and Chips from Vita Cafe

‘Fish’ and Chips from Vita Cafe

Vegan Club Sandwich from Vita Cafe

Vegan Club Sandwich from Vita Cafe

Sloppy Biscuit Sandwich from Vita Cafe

Sloppy Biscuit Sandwich from Vita Cafe

Voodoo Doughnut

If you are familiar with Portland at all, you probably knew this one was coming. Voodoo Doughnut is a must when visiting Portland, especially if you like doughnuts. With the tagline of “The Magic is in the Hole,” you know this place has got some spunk. With two locations in the city, Voodoo almost constantly has a line out the door, filled with adoring fans. Both Portland locations have two separate cases filled with doughnuts, and each case has an entire level dedicated to vegan doughnuts. They feature your classic doughnuts such as regular, maple and chocolate glazed, apple fritters, and cream and jelly filled, in addition to more exciting options with Fruit Loops cereal, Oreos, and other exciting toppings. What’s more, Voodoo takes it a step further by providing a giant glazed doughnut, a voodoo doll doughnut (he is raspberry-filled and has a pretzel stake through his chest), and even a phallic-looking doughnut, that, yes, is cream-filled! If you want a good chuckle and to enjoy some delicious doughnuts, I highly recommend Voodoo — just be prepared to wait in line.

Various Vegan Doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnut

Various Vegan Doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnut

Whole Foods Market

As you know, I always have to visit Whole Foods Market while in a new city. Here I purchased some Mighty-O Donuts Cini Minis, a package of Love Strips featuring Butler Soy Curls, and a box of Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Mac & Cheese. Mighty-O Donuts is a Seattle-based doughnut company so it was exciting to find that I could purchase their Cini Minis (which are delicious, by the way) in Portland. Whole Foods always has various other items I want to buy but there is only so much room in my suitcase!

Mighty O Donuts's Cini Minis from Whole Foods

Mighty-O Donuts Cini Minis from Whole Foods

Have you been to Portland before, or do you currently live there? What are your favorite vegan-friendly places to frequent?

Vegan-Friendly St. Louis

5 May

The city of St. Louis is perhaps best known for its famous Gateway Arch, located on the west bank of the Mississippi river. The monument was opened to the public in 1967 and has remained a popular tourist attraction ever since (source). During my visit to this beautiful city, I had the pleasure of visiting a few vegan-friendly establishments.

Pi Pizzeria

This popular pizzeria has three locations in St. Louis and offers various vegan items including deep dish and thin crust pizzas. Aside from your typical pizza toppings, Pi Pizzeria also offers Daiya vegan cheese and vegan Match Meat sausage. Pi’s traditional deep dish pizza is prepared with a buttered pan, so should you want a vegan deep dish pizza, the restaurant requests that you call at least 6 hours before you plan to eat there so that they can prepare a special crust just for you, sans butter.

With so many delicious toppings to choose from, we settled on Daiya cheese, Match sausage, wild mushrooms, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, roasted garlic and fresh rosemary. With a thick cornmeal crust, delicious toppings and tasty chunky tomato sauce, this pizza is one you should not pass up.

If you are able to refrain from devouring a whole pizza, I recommend enjoying a couple of their vegan (and gluten-free) chocolate chip sandwich cookies. Who doesn’t love moist cookies with a delicious vanilla cream filling in between? To top it all off, we washed down this delicious fare with some local Schlafly beer. We left with our stomachs full and our hearts happy.

Deep Dish Pizza from Pi Pizzeria

Deep Dish Pizza from Pi Pizzeria

Local Harvest Café

Local Harvest Café came highly recommended by a friend, and after looking at their menus, I knew I had to go. Needless to say I was not disappointed! With two locations, we stopped by the Tower Grove restaurant for dinner one night. As an appetizer we split an order of the vegetable sushi and got to sample some house-made pickled apple, carrots and pineapple. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the pickled items, but found that their natural flavors were nicely accented with fresh dill and vinegar.

For our entrees we enjoyed the Baby Kale and Crispy Potatoes Salad, White Bean Soup, Sage and Parsley Polenta and the Vegan Mushroom Linguini. The salad was good and we loved the crispy potato topping, which provided a nice texture. The soup was deliciously creamy and hearty, but also crunchy thanks to the black pepper croutons on top. The polenta was drenched with roasted butternut squash stew and accompanied by sauteed tat soi (an Asian variety of bok choy or mustard), which had a very nice flavor to it. Finally, the linguini was served with porcini mushrooms, spinach, garlic, roasted pine nuts and fresh herbs, and covered with a nice, lightly-salted oil. Everything we tried was delicious.

Though the prices at Local Harvest are a little high, the food is very fresh and of high quality to match. From what I understand, Local Harvest takes part in a local CSA, where they obtain much of their produce.

White Bean Soup from Local Harvest Cafe

White Bean Soup from Local Harvest Cafe

Baby Kale & Crispy Potatoes Salad from Local Harvest Cafe

Baby Kale & Crispy Potatoes Salad from Local Harvest Cafe

Sage & Parsley Polenta from Local Harvest Cafe

Sage & Parsley Polenta from Local Harvest Cafe

Mushroom Linguini from Local Harvest Cafe

Mushroom Linguini from Local Harvest Cafe

After viewing Local Harvest’s brunch menu, we were quickly persuaded to visit the Downtown location for brunch a couple days later. After finding out that we are all vegan, our friendly waitress informed us about the vegan specials they had. We chose two of them: the Sloppy Joe Slinger and the Root Beer Float French Toast. Not knowing what a slinger was, we quickly found out that it is a potato hash covered in either chili or gravy. Local Harvest did an excellent job on the slinger as it tasted eerily similar to the Sloppy Joes I grew up with. Accompanied by a couple slices whole wheat bread, the Sloppy Joe Slinger was all you would need in a meal. The french toast was basically dessert for breakfast! Two thick-cut pieces of brioche flavored with root beer, smothered in chocolate syrup and then accompanied by two scoops of coconut ice cream, this breakfast was awesome! Though I could barely taste the root beer (if at all), it was a very memorable dish that I would recommend to others.

In addition to these two dishes, we also enjoyed some house-made coconut granola, potato hash, vegan sausage and a peanut butter banana smoothie. The granola and hash both had wonderful flavors, as did the sausage, however, it was more like a slice of bread (both in look and texture) than actual sausage. It wasn’t bad, however, it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. To top it all off, the peanut butter banana smoothie tasted mostly like banana and could have used a little more peanut butter, but it was lightly-sweetened however, which was refreshing!

Sloppy Joe Slinger from Local Harvest Cafe

Sloppy Joe Slinger from Local Harvest Cafe

Root Beer Float French Toast from Local Harvest Cafe

Root Beer Float French Toast from Local Harvest Cafe

Potato Hash & Coconut Granola from Local Harvest Cafe

Potato Hash & Coconut Granola from Local Harvest Cafe

Vegan Sausage from Local Harvest Cafe

Vegan Sausage from Local Harvest Cafe

Sweet Art

I had heard rave reviews about Sweet Art so we stopped by in between activities one day, and each of us ordered a Boston cream cupcake. A huge Boston cream pie fan, myself, these moist cupcakes had just the right amount of sweetness with a creamy vanilla center and chocolate topping. I could have easily devoured four of these in one sitting. AMAZING.

Aside from offering desserts, Sweet Art also offers brunch and lunch. We weren’t able to try their brunch this time around but we did enjoy some lunch on the following day. One of the nice things about Sweet Art is that they offer a 1/2 sandwich + salad or side deal for around $8. Wanting to try multiple things, we took advantage of this deal and settled on various combinations of their Mackin’ Cheese, Queen Kale Salad, Jewel and River Monster sandwiches. Sweet Art’s Mackin’ Cheese is rich and satisfying and full of greasy goodness. Since they offer Daiya on some of their sandwiches, I’m assuming the sauce is a Daiya mixture with nutritional yeast in addition to a couple other items. Tasty! The kale salad had chunks of sweet potato with steamed kale and a light dressing. Both sandwiches were also good. I especially liked the River Monster as it had panko-crusted seasoned fried tofu with a curry tartar sauce. I could eat that stuff by the spoon, it was so good. In addition, the sandwich also had organic mixed greens and agave-lime pickled red onions. The Jewel sandwich had caramelized onions, fresh herbs, local organic sunflower sprouts, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, Daiya cheese and their signature vegan magic spread on house-made hoagie.

Queen Kale Salad & Jewel Sandwich from Sweet Art

Queen Kale Salad & Jewel Sandwich from Sweet Art

Mackin' Cheese & River Monster Sandwich from Sweet Art

Mackin’ Cheese & River Monster Sandwich from Sweet Art

Since we enjoyed the Boston cream cupcakes so much the day prior, we purchased a brownie, cinnamon roll, carrot cake cupcake and strawberry lemonade cupcake to go. Yes, all vegan! These were all moist and absolutely delicious as well. The folks at Sweet Art sure know what they are doing!

Strawberry Lemonade & Carrot Cake Cupcakes from Sweet Art

Strawberry Lemonade & Carrot Cake Cupcakes from Sweet Art

Cinnamon Roll & Brownie from Sweet Art

Cinnamon Roll & Brownie from Sweet Art

Black Bear Bakery

Having heard that Black Bear Bakery has a great Saturday buffet-style brunch with lots of vegan options, we elected to try it out. Unfortunately, however, we were disappointed. Perhaps the bakery was having an off day, but the buffet was small and the only vegan options offered were tofu scramble, potatoes, steamed kale and fruit. Not exactly my definition of “lots” of options, but then again, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day so I have high standards.

In addition, I found the food to be a bit on the bland side. While this can be seen as a good thing (i.e. healthy), everything could have used just a dash of salt and pepper to liven it up and bring out the flavor. The tofu scramble had carrots, green onion and turnips with a few cubes of tofu, the potatoes were plain but nicely roasted, and the kale had what looked to be a little nutritional yeast sprinkled on top. Luckily there was a table at the end of the buffet with a handful of seasonings such as Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and nutritional yeast. After sprinkling some Bragg’s Liquid Aminos on most of my plate, I was happy to finish the rest of my food.

A nice added touch that the bakery provided was musical entertainment. A local folk-type band got their groove on while we all chowed down. We left Black Bear Bakery with a couple cinnamon raisin cookies and a crunchy carrot muffin. Both were actually very good and hearty.

Breakfast Plate from Black Bear Bakery

Breakfast Plate from Black Bear Bakery

I Scream Cakes
After an ice cream craving struck, we found I Scream Cakes, thanks to a friendly fellow vegan who waited on us at Pi. Located next door to Black Bear Bakery, I Scream offers 3-4 vegan coconut-based ice creams each day. Those featured when we stopped by were Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana, Strawberry and Tastes Like Purple. According to the gentleman behind the counter, purple tastes like tropical fruit and also describes the color of the ice cream. The flavors we tried were Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana and Strawberry. Both ice creams were nice and creamy, with the chocolate tasting primarily of, well, chocolate and banana. I felt that it needed more peanut butter as it was a little difficult to taste. The Strawberry ice cream was very fresh, and we could tell that I Scream used real strawberries to flavor this ice cream. Very good!

In addition to their frozen treats, this ice cream shop also sells local vegan baked goods such as cupcakes.

Schlafly Bottleworks
Schlafly is a popular St. Louis brewery offering guided beer tastings each Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the neighboring town of Maplewood. According to Barnivore, all of Schlafly’s beers are vegan, yay!!! After being provided with a 5 or 6-ounce glass, then watching a short video about the brewery, we tasted four of Schlafly’s beers: Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, Dry Hopped APA and Oatmeal Stout. There were baskets of pretzels to munch on in between beers, which helped somewhat clear our palates before proceeding with the next beer. My personal favorite was the Hefeweizen as it is a light, unfiltered wheat beer, similar to my beloved Blue Moon. For those of you who enjoy coffee, I recommend the Oatmeal Stout as it tasted like straight coffe and was a favorite among the group.

Vegan Milwaukee

10 Aug

Wisconsin, known as “America’s Dairyland” isn’t laden with all the dairy-filled cities you might expect. Cities like Milwaukee make Wisconsin a lovely vegan-friendly state to visit. Though it is most well-known for its beer and cheese, Milwaukee has an abundance of vegan options, and delicious ones at that! Though the following list is far from comprehensive, it highlights the handfull of vegan and vegan-friendly bakeries, restaurants and shops I stopped by on my last visit. There are so many more left to try! Should you visit Milwaukee, I highly recommend roaming the Bayview neighborhood as it is packed with lots of excellent places.

Corned Beef Style Seitan Reuben from County Clare

County Clare
Though this Irish restaurant isn’t even 100% vegetarian, I’m told that the head chef himself is a vegetarian, hence why County Clare has a separate menu just for vegetarians! Luckily this menu includes a handful of vegan options as well, which are clearly marked. Other items can be made vegan by omitting cheese and other animal products. Having wanted to eat like true Irishwomen, my sister and I ordered the Seitan Corned Beef and Cabbage, and the Corned Beef style Seitan Reuben. While I appreciate eating vegan Irish food, I must say that these two items were lacking in flavor. The only thing that helped was the prepared horseradish that was served on the side. Now if you have a sensitive tongue, I do not recommend horseradish as it will burn the heck out of your sinuses. Other than that, I would recommend getting one of the other vegan items on the menu as I’m hopeful that they are more enjoyable.

Riverwest Co-Op & Cafe
A cute co-op grocery store with attached cafe, Riverwest Co-Op  is not to be judged by its small size. While small, both cafe and grocery store are bursting with goodies sure to satisfy. The cafe boasts a 100% vegetarian menu with most, if not all, items veganizable (Is that a word? If not, I’m making it one). Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and smoothies, there is plenty to choose from. The Breakfast Biscuit (veganized) was delicious. With scrambled tofu, spinach, onion, tomato, soy sausage and vegan mayo on a buttery biscuit, it was an awesome start to my day. Their pancakes (with the option of adding chocolate chips, blueberries and other items), and granola and bananas are also delicious. Both pancakes and granola came studded with almonds which added an excellent crunch and added nutritional value. Having enjoyed our food so much, we returned again a couple of days later and ordered the Biscuits & Gravy (veganized) and French Toast. I can honestly say everything was delicious and left me wishing I could eat enough food for 5 people so that I could try everything. The next time I’m in Milwaukee, I’m planning on indulging in their sure-to-be fabulous lunch!

Classic Slice
This hip pizza joint has two locations in Milwaukee. Having heard about Classic Slice’s football-sized calzones, we had to indulge. Opting for vegan cheese, sausage and black olives as our filling, the calzone came out of the oven piping hot and smelling delicious. Though the width and height of the calzone was football-sized, the depth (or thickness if you want to call it that) wasn’t. I could’ve used a bit more filling as the calzone seemed to have a lot of air filling, but it was still decent! A couple of days later we tried the breadsticks (opting for whole wheat) with vegan cheese and pesto, and a lemon lavender cupcake filled with fresh lemon curd. I’ve got to say, the breadsticks were tasty and smelled amazing. Where else can you get vegan pesto breadsticks!? And the cupcake? Delectable. From what I understand, Classic Slice also sells homemade cinnamon rolls in the colder months.

Curry Tofu Wrap from The Eatery on Farwell

The Eatery on Farwell
A more upscale establishment with both indoor and outdoor seating, The Eatery on Farwell offers a few vegan selections, most of which are clearly noted on their menu. We began our meal with the Onion Strings (veganized). Basically sliced onion rings battered and fried, these puppies were delicious. It was nearly impossible to keep from shoveling the entire plate into my mouth. Delicious but regretfully not healthy. That’s what vacations are for though, right? For the entrees, we enjoyed the Portobello Linguini and Curry Tofu Wrap. The linguini came with sliced portobello, diced zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper and Japanese eggplant and was served with a side of basil toast. The sliced portobello tasted as though it was marinated in wine, which is a good thing, but it could have used a little more flavor, perhaps a pinch of salt or even some vegan buttery spread to kick it up. Perhaps what would have made it even better was adding a side of Field Roast Italian Sausage. Always a winner! The Curry Tofu Wrap is described on the menu as “Curry breaded tofu, dried cherries, granny smith apples, spring mix & a vegan ginger aioli wrapped in an herb tortilla”. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? It was refreshing with the mixture of sweet and savory flavors. A great dish to have in the summer months.

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich from Babe's Ice Cream

Babe’s Ice Cream and Dessert
Offering a nice variety of vegan options, Babe’s Ice Cream carries multiple flavors of soy ice cream, in addition to shakes and vegan ice cream sandwiches. They even sell made-to-order vegan ice cream cakes! I want one….now. Unfortunately I only had the pleasure of trying an ice cream sandwich, and as you can see from the photo at right, it was a handful and quite delicious!

Cold Spoons Sorbetto from Cold Spoons

Cold Spoons
With an entire case filled with delicious vegan sorbetto, Cold Spoons did not disappoint. Lucky for us, we happened to stop by on Upgrade Tuesday, meaning we enjoyed large sorbettos for the price of mediums! The flavors being offered that day were avocado, blackberry, black plum, cantaloupe, coconut, cucumber mint, green apple, pear, pineapple, pink grapefruit, pomegranate and prickly pear melon. After trying nearly half of the flavors (avocado is surprisingly good), between the two of us, we decided on black plum, cantaloupe, cucumber mint and pineapple. The great thing about this place is that you can choose up to three flavors which are squeezed into a little cup. This place is so awesome on a hot day, or just any day you need something sweet and refreshing. Highly recommended if you’re craving that sweet, creamy treat!

Honeypie
Started by the same folks whom own Comet Café, Palomino, and various other establishments, Honeypie is a must for vegan cupcakes. If you enjoy big, beautiful, super sweet cupcakes, you’ll dig these! Baking different flavors every day, we enjoyed their chai, pistachio and red velvet flavors. Honeypie also sells breakfast, lunch and dinner. Though not all their offerings are vegan, those which are, are clearly marked. During our Milwaukee visit, we only had time to eat at Honeypie once, and, being that I am such a big breakfast fan, that is what meal we enjoyed. We chose the Breakfast Burrito (veganized) and Two Eggs Any Way (veganized). The burrito came chock full of tofu, roasted corn and bell pepper relish, black beans and poblano salsa. The Two Eggs Any Way were modified by using scrambled tofu with the addition of various veggies and served with breakfast potatoes and toast. Not too shabby although honestly I felt the food could use a little more flavor.

Centro Cafe
This intimate, dinner-only establishment is a must if you want to enjoy a nice, intimate Italian meal. Centro Cafe is a popular place so it is recommended that you get there early as they do not accept reservations. To start off, we had Centro’s Trio Spreads, featuring Bruschetta, White Bean Dip and Tapenade, and served with grilled bread and crackers. The appetizer was fresh and delicious. For dinner we chose the Capellini al Pomodoro and Vegan Meatball sandwich. The capellini, tossed with fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil was refreshing and boasted a fresh, healthy flavor…something you feel satisfied eating, and without the guilt. It had a nice, natural flavor to it. I enjoyed the sandwich even more as I was pleasantly surprised by their homemade vegan meatballs. Described on the menu as having tofu mixed in, I was a little hesitant to order the sandwich at first, as usually, meat and dairy-based restaurants often have not mastered the art of tofu. Needless to say I’m glad I ordered the sandwich! Also included in these meatballs are mushrooms, onion, carrots, vegetable protein and herbs and spices. The meatballs are then topped with marinara and served on a baguette. YUM. Highly recommended!

Doughnuts from Larsen Bakery

Larsen’s Bakery (Racine, WI)
A 45-minute drive from Milwaukee sits Larsen’s Bakery, known for its Danish kringle. Lucky for us, the bakery makes not only vegan kringle but vegan doughnuts as well, and if you call and order ahead, you’ll have fresh, delicious goodies ready to devour within a day or two. At the time of my order, Larsen’s had a few doughnut options to choose from: chocolate iced, vanilla iced,  jelly-filled, boston creme and long john. Needless to say I ordered a couple of each (begrudgingly I shared), and let me tell you, these are some of the best vegan doughnuts I’ve had. Now if only Larsen’s would create even more flavors for us to enjoy. *cough* apple fritters! *cough* Their vegan kringle is also delicious, tasting almost exactly like the animal-based version I grew up on, with flavors like almond, pecan, cherry, apricot, apple, raspberry and cranberry nut. I’m no stranger to this and get it every time I am in Milwaukee!

Health Hut (West Allis, WI)
Just a short 15-minute drive away from Milwaukee sits one of Health Hut’s three locations. Having visited the West Allis location, I was pleasantly surprised at what a nice variety of food and household items the store carried. Nowhere else have I found treeless paper towels and toilet paper! Very cool. Health Hut also has a great variety of dried bulk food items, frozen and packaged foods, pet food and various household items. I don’t recall seeing any fresh produce but who cares! This store was great! I recommend this store if you want to find some unique items.

Outpost Natural Foods
Don’t want to drive to Racine to stock up on Larsen’s vegan kringle? Go to Outpost! They have Larsen’s kringle in stock, just waiting for you to devour. With four locations (one in Wauwatosa), Outpost is the place to go for groceries. Though not a 100% vegan establishment, the store still has so much to offer including groceries and household items, as well as a little deli area where they can whip up some delicious vegan goodies, fresh for the taking. I highly recommend Outpost. This is a store I frequent any time I am in Milwaukee.

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