Growing up in Vermont, most places I considered “vegan” were stereotypical hippie joints – local co-ops bathed in patchouli oil, incense, and Birkenstock footprints. And, while many places in the Green Mountain State still resemble those icons, the vegan scene in Vermont is changing.
On a recent trip home, we pulled our car into a non-descript parking lot in Essex. The property is shared with a nursery/greenhouse. A small sign over a beautiful deck read “Sweet Alchemy Bakery and Cafe.”
From the outside on this chilly Winter day, so far the experience was quintessential Vermont – from the rolling frozen hills in the distance, to the barn-esque design of Sweet Alchemy. Once inside, the warm, sweet smells of a talented baker completed the experience.
Spending a week in Philly has been an awesome chance to get out and check the vegan scene. So far it has been an awesome experience.
Shortly after landing at PHL, I hit the road and had dinner at Hip City Veg on South 40th.
The spot was super nice, and had seats in the huge front window for epic people watching. I arrived later in the day, even after dinner, so the place was pretty empty.
The next challenge was to choose something from the menu. It isn’t a super expansive menu, but there was a decent variety of things. After hearing rave reviews of the Disco Chickin Sandwich, I ordered one up. I added a side of sweet potato fries, and the mysterious black bean dip.
Today we ventured down Broadway in Portland, looking for a spot for some lunch goodness. The only problem? I wanted something new. I remembered hearing about Blackwater Bar in Portland, an all-vegan bar.
Blackwater is a punk-rock themed bar, that teeters on the edge of dive status for me. Once you walk in, the space is on the dark side (not sure if deliberate for the punk theme) and has a good mix of booths and chairs with tables. The place is pretty good size, with a full sized stage for live music shows, a bar in the back, a couple of pinball machines, and ample seating.
It’s always exciting when you hear about a new vegan place in Portland. Especially with what seems like so many deciding to close their doors.
So yesterday, on a whim I ended up pointing the truck toward SE Belmont, and dropping in on Fatsquatch PDX.
The cart is nestled in a small pod on Belmont (Belmont Street Eats), and if you didn’t know it was there, you could possibly walk right past it. But once in the narrow little alleyway it opens up, with Fatsquatch lurking in the back like its namesake. Don’t expect covered eating at this pod, however. I had to eat in the truck.
Trigger warning: This post contains more superlatives than a Donald Trump speech.
It is often said in religious circles that “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” The vegan scene has had a few doors closing as of late, with Portland staples like Portobello shutting their doors. But, the vegan heavens soon burst open a giant window upon us all. And it is tremendous.
On a recent trip to Arizona, I checked out the Happy Cow app to help me find some local vegan restaurants and was stoked to see a place called Lovin’ Spoonfuls. After reading a few reviews I decided to head over and check it out.
The location is simple, but nice, nestled into a strip mall off Campbell Avenue. Parking was simple, and I found a spot right in front. They have a nice covered outdoor seating area and on this cool evening, I decided to eat out front.
Once inside, there is a really nice seating area with a dessert case, small retail section, and some information on animal rights and activism.
When I used to travel to Singapore, I always made sure to stop at VeganBurg – a country-wide vegan burger joint that prided itself on healthy vegan options.
So when I heard their first (and only) US location was in the heart of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, I knew I needed to go.
While the menu options seemed little lighter than I remember, the space itself was really nice, clean, and bright. I ordered the “Cracked Mayo” burger with seaweed fries (not as hippy as they sound, I promise), and Kristin ordered the Smoked Franks with a side of fries. Landen went with the standard – Chicken Tenders.
UPDATED 9/14/15! We returned to NLB for an amazing breakfast! See the new content below!
When it comes to vegan fast food, us vegans miss out on three key elements of the fast food culture:
1. We don’t camp out weeks in advance of an opening. And, while I would never be one of the schmucks in a $20 Coleman tent sleeping on a sidewalk outside some vegan Chick-Fil-A, the concept of it is appealing. I mean, how committed do you need to be to artery-clogging, fat soaked food to actually sleep outside for a week? That is true, foodie commitment.
Camping in the winter for a week. For fried chicken.
2. We can’t just have a greasy, bad-for-you burger experience. Most vegan burgers I have seen are typically some malted oregano-kale infused, carrot fiber burger, promising all kinds of health claims. Sometimes, I just want to eat something bad for me too.
3. We don’t have a vegan fast food mecca that beckons us to make multi-mile journeys off major interstates. We need a vegan In-and-Out kinda place.
So when I heard there was a new vegan burger joint in Bend, I had a chance to do a little of all three.
I have been complaining about Burlington’s vegan scene for a while now, with only a few places (like Stone Soup) offering anything substantial.
So when I heard about Pingala in the Chace Mills at Winooski, I was really excited to check them out.
Their location is pretty awesome, right on the banks of the Winooski River at the falls. While the idea of a nice outdoor spot sounded nice, the mercury was hovering around 15 degrees. So we elected to sit inside.