Category Archives: Reviews

New Vegan Eats In Chicago: Quesadilla – La Reyna del Sur

Thanks to one of our readers we recently found out about a new vegetarian Mexican place in Logan Square called Quesadilla, La Reyna del Sur (2235 N. Western, Chicago, IL 773-235-8807), so of course we had to go check the place out right away. According to our reader, Quesadilla used to be on the south side a few years ago before they disappeared. Now they’re back with a menu filled with food which can be veganized, since their soy-based meats are TVP and they offer both dairy cheese and non-dairy cheese (Follow Your Heart), all at taqueria prices!

When we first walked in we went up to the counter to check out the menu and ask questions. When it was established that we were eating in, the friendly woman behind the counter gave us menus and asked us to take a seat at a table. She brought out chips and two types of salsa, both of which were delicious, though she warned us that the chunkier of the two was pretty hot and it was. We munched on chips while we checked out the menu and I was a bit disappointed because the chips were greasy and not very good, but bad chips don’t necessarily mean bad food.

Of course we couldn’t write a good review unless we sampled a little bit of everything, so we did. We ordered a Huarache de Rajas, which is a large piece of fried corn dough topped with beans, lettuce, roasted Poblano pepper strips, tomato, cilantro and in our case Follow Your Heart mozzarella. I used to eat huaraches on a weekly basis at a market after school when I was a kid in Mexico and this one was just as large and delicious as those. Unlike the chips, it wasn’t super greasy and all the toppings were fresh, plus who can beat it at $4.75?

Huarache

We also ordered two tacos, 1 chorizo and 1 Al Pastor ($2 each). When they brought out the tacos they both looked exactly the same, so I wasn’t sure which was which and after taking a bite of both I still couldn’t distinguish between the two, which was unfortunate, because I love tacos Al Pastor (so far El Faro is the only restaurant I’ve tried that’s been able to make the perfect vegan Al Pastor taco). However, both tacos were good despite their uniformity. They had a chorizo-like flavor and were slightly spicy. They were served with onion, cilantro, lettuce and tomato and two small tortillas, just like they serve them in Mexico.

Finally, we also ordered a Veggie Cubana torta ($5.75) which was filled with soy-sausage, bacon and chicken, as well as beans, avocado, tomato and lettuce. Normally they also top them with mayo they make themselves from almonds, but they were out of mayo last night. Even though the huarache was delicious, this was our favorite item. Nothing beats a warm bolillo filled with delicious food.

On top of huaraches, tortas and tacos, Quesadilla also offers quesadillas, of course, as well as, a wide variety of fruit and vegetable juices. The woman I spoke with there knew what was up when it came to veganism (she marked our ticket – no butter, soy cheese and no sour cream – for the cook, even though we’d forgotten to ask about butter). She said they’ve only been in their new location for two weeks, but that they’ve been well received. So be sure to pay them a visit soon. They’re located on the corner of Lyndale and Western and are currently open from 10am-10pm Sun-Fri.

They’re so close to Second City Vegan headquarters I’ve got a feeling we’ll be getting take-out from them on a regular basis!

*Special thanks to David S. for giving us the heads up on this place. As always, if any of you know of any hidden vegan/vegan friendly gems within the city we don’t have listed on our restaurant page, or of any new places opening up, let us know so we can spread the word.

El Nuevo Mexicano’s New Vegan Menu

Last Thursday, El Nuevo Mexicano (2914 N Clark Street, 773-528-2131) premiered their new vegan menu with a benefit for Mercy for Animals. Nick and I were so excited we made a reservation a week in advance in order to make sure we’d get to try it out.

El Nuevo Mexicano, is a small restaurant which has been serving Mexican food in Lakeview since 1983. I had never been there until last week, because my family typically went to the Little Village to get Mexican food when I was growing up, so I wasn’t sure what to expect (other than that their vegan menu would include Daiya cheese and Upton’s Naturals seitan). Since we knew we would be reviewing the place and part of the proceeds were going to charity we decided to go all out and get an appetizer, 2 entrees and a dessert.

Appetizer:

Botana Combinada

We chose the Botana Combinada, which consists of two flautas filled with Upton’s chorizo, carrots and potatoes served with guacamole. It was delicious! I liked it so much I wasn’t entirely sure I’d made the right call not ordering the Flautas de Verduras con Papa y Chorizo Vegano as my entree (next time!). The flautas were flavorful and they weren’t bathed in grease, which can often be the case. The guacamole was fresh and we had an abundance of tortilla chips and salsa to finish off what we didn’t eat with the flautas.

Entrees:

Enchiladas de Vegetales en Salsa Bandera

I ordered the Enchiladas de Verduras en Salsa Bandera, which consisted of three corn tortillas stuffed with grilled peppers, mango, plantains, pico de gallo and Daiya cheese covered in chipotle and tomatillo salsas, served with rice and a salad made of fresh greens, jicama, strawberries and mango drizzled with a vinaigrette. I was not disappointed with my choice. I am not someone who shies away from mixing sweet and savory foods or sweet and spicy foods, if you are then this may not be the best entree for you to order. However, neither flavor overpowered the other, which is often what turns people off to such combinations and together the fruits, vegetables and salsa made a unique, healthy, delicious meal, which I look forward to eating again soon.

Fajitas Vegano Pt 1

Fajitas Vegano Pt 2

Nick, ordered the Fajitas Vegano, which consisted of sauteed onions, peppers and seasoned soy strips, served with quinoa, beans, guacamole, pico de gallo and warm corn tortillas. His entree was almost enough food for two people. He asked for the quinoa, which was seasoned like Spanish rice (yum!) instead of rice. After trying my entree and our appetizer he was a bit disappointed with the fajitas, because though they were good, he wasn’t blown away by them. He was scared away from some of the other entrees, because unlike me, he’s not really into fruit, so the idea of eating entrees which mixed fruit andspicy/savory things was a bit daunting, so he went with the safe choice. What he got was something we could have easily made at home, though, I had never thought of preparing quinoa like Spanish rice.

Dessert:

Chimichangas de Camote en Chipotle Durazno Salsa

We decided to split a dessert, because, Nick’s, entree was so large he wasn’t able to finish it all. At the time the only vegan dessert available was the Chimichangas de Camote en Chipotle Durazno Salsa, so we went with that. The chimichangas were flour tortillas filled with mashed sweet potatoes, served with a scoop of vegan ice cream and drizzled with warm peaches, chipotle powder and raisins. The chipotle powder gave the dessert a little kick and the neutral flavors of vanilla ice cream and sweet potatoes went nicely with the spiciness of the chipotle and the sweetness of the peaches.

Overall it was a very pleasant dining experience. The wait staff were friendly and attentive, never letting our water glasses go dry. The restaurant was cozy and not too loud, and the food was delicious. I’m looking forward to going back and trying more of the vegan menu. Though, we made a reservation, they are not required as the restaurant is pretty casual. Entrees range from $12-$15, which means it won’t be a weekly joint for us, but it also means it’ll be the kind of place we visit more than twice a year.

According to their Facebook page, El Nuevo Mexicano, will be adding/changing items offered on the vegan menu periodically, so check back often to see what new delicious treats are being offered! For those who are interested, they also offer drink specials 5 nights a week and can be booked for parties. Just remember to ask for the Vegan Menu.

Melt Bar and Grilled – Lakewood, OH

Melt Bar and Grilled is a haven for those who love music and cheese, both vegan and not. Their walls are covered with movie and music memorabilia and the entrance and main counter have an awesome mural any fan of independent music can appreciate. As their name suggests, they offer a wide variety of melts, including The Kindergarten, which is simply a grilled cheese sandwich. Many of the sandwiches can be made vegan with either vegan cheddar or mozzarella cheese substitutes and you can add all sorts of toppings to them, from grilled veggies to fried tofu. They also offer soups and salads, which also include vegan options.

This was our second trip to Melt in Lakewood, Ohio. We’d originally planned on stopping in at The Flaming Ice Cube once again, because the last time we visited Melt, there was a long wait and we like supporting vegan businesses, but unfortunately The Flaming Ice Cube is closed on Sundays. When we got to Melt we were informed there was a 2 hour wait to dine in and a 45 minute wait for take-out, so we went the take-out route and ate in the car.

Both Nick and I got The Kindergarten, but with different toppings.

The Kindergarten

I am a big fan of grilled cheese sandwiches. They were one of the things I missed most when I first went vegan, until I discovered vegan cheeses that melt nicely, like Daiya, Ste Martaen and Tofutti. This sandwich is better than anything I’d ever make myself at home though. The bread was thick, and toasted just right (not too crunchy, not too soft and no burnt spots!). I got mine with mozzarella vegan cheese (I think they use Tofutti for the mozzarella, though they would neither confirm nor deny), tomato, grilled onions and grilled peppers. It was delicious! The only thing that would’ve made it better would be fresh avocado, which was on the menu of toppings, but is $1.50 extra and as much as I like avocado, I decided to skip it. The cheese was melted perfectly, my only complaint was that my grilled peppers were a little over cooked, so they didn’t add much flavor to the sandwich. The last time we visited Melt, I got The Kindergarten with the vegan cheddar cheese and tomato, it was better than my choice this time around, but both were worth the wait.

Vegan Treats – Bethlehem, PA

Vegan Treats has won Veg News‘s  best vegan bakery of the year more than once and for good reason. They offer a wide array of decadent treats including cakes, pies, donuts, cookies and cheesecakes and they all look so delicious it’s hard to resist the urge to buy one of each. Vegan Treats is also heaven for those who would rather not support the alcohol industry, like Nick and myself, since they don’t use alcohol or any extracts containing alcohol in their baking.

Combined we spent about $60 on French pastries, doughnuts and brownies. Some were incredibly fantastic, while others were good, but nothing special. For pics and descriptions of everything we got check out the Flickr set.

Lisa:
I couldn’t help but grin when I walked into Vegan Treats and somehow that grin managed to get wider once I found out they didn’t use anything with alcohol in their baking (their owner is straight edge). It took me a while to decide what to get and I ended up letting Nick choose first, so I could get whatever I thought looked good that he didn’t pick, since we were planning on sharing everything.

We got so many desserts that I have decided to focus on my top 3.

1) Hazelnut Praline Cake:


Before I wend vegan, my favorite chocolate candies were Ferrero Rocher’s hazelnut chocolates. The little nut on top of this cake made me ask what was in it and when I found out I had to get it. It’s a chocolate cake with a hazelnut praline frosting between layers, encased in chocolate ganache, topped with pretty fondant flowers and a single hazelnut. It’s like a truffle in cake form. Perfection!

2) Tiramisu:


I haven’t had Tiramisu in ages and it’s a dessert that is hard to make right. Often it’s too strong or too moist and the subtlety of the different flavors is lost or it’s the frozen variety restaurants get that just tastes awful because it’s been frozen. Vegan Treat’s Tiramisu is perfect! The cake was moist, but not too moist and the espresso didn’t overpower the senses. The cream topping was rich and fluffy and the chocolate shell crust and shavings made it the best Tiramisu I’ve ever had. This is a great choice if you’re a fan of rich desserts and if you like the combination of chocolate and coffee.

3) Chocolate Encased Strawberry Shortcake:


Strawberries are my favorite berry. I like them in ice cream, shakes, popsicles, on cheesecake…you get the picture. This cake just looked like strawberry heaven and it was. It’s a vanilla cake layered with fresh cut strawberries and a light whipped cream, encased in dark chocolate with a white chocolate covered strawberry on top.

Nick:
I’m a dessert fiend and chocolate is my greatest weakness. One of the few things that tempers my dessert purchases is that I don’t consume alcohol, and I take that to the extreme of not even consuming extracts such as vanilla extract. I had been told by my friend Michelle from the band Sick Fix that Vegan Treats didn’t use alcohol based flavorings in any of their products. When I walked into the bakery I had to hear it for myself so I started asking questions. Sure enough it was completely true. With that hurdle cleared, my brain exploded and I started ordering anything and everything. In the end I ordered 5 French pastries, 2 brownies, and a doughnut. I’m trying to list the top three selections I purchased but its too hard for me to narrow it down so succinctly, so instead I’m going to just go with the highlights.

While Lisa was taking pictures of all of the items we purchased, I sat down with my Boston Creme Doughnut. It had been forever since I had anything like this. Lisa recently made doughnuts filled with jelly, but as cool as they were they didn’t match the grandeur of being one of my 2 favorite types of doughnuts before I went vegan – Boston Creme and Bavarian Creme. Needless to say, I had a brief moment of nostalgic bliss as I ate my vegan Boston Creme Doughnut.

Next I want to talk about the two Brownies I had. To be honest, I’m more of a fan of the dense fudgy goodness of a brownie than of the fluffy airy texture of a cake. The Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Brownie was absolutely delicious and though I can’t remember with exact certainty what the other brownie I had was, it was also dense and delicious.

I purchased 5 French Pastries and though they were all good, Death By Chocolate (which the girl behind the counter said was her own favorite) was just okay. It was pretty enough, but at the end of the day it was just standard chocolate cake with a thin shell of chocolate frosting. My favorite out of the 5 I purchased was the Peanut Butter Tandy Cake (I think that’s what it was called). It was a mix of yellow and chocolate cake with chocolate and peanut butter decorations and a peanut butter cup on top.

Peanut Butter Tandy Cake

Strangely, despite zeroing in on all of my favorite things; pretty much anything with chocolate and/or peanut butter, the sleeper hit for me was the Hazelnut Praline cake. Maybe the pink flower just pushed it out of the running when I was making my purchases, but I overlooked it completely. I only got to experience it because Lisa bought it. In my sea of redundant dessert flavorings the hazelnut creme really stood out and got my attention. This was an A+ dessert.

All in all, Vegan Treats was the highlight of the trip for me and though I overdid it completely (I spent over $40.00 on dessert for myself… Oops, I meant for Lisa and I to share) it was worth every penny! Definitely check Vegan Treats out if you get the chance!)

Vegan Treats
1444 Linden St.
Bethlehem, PA 18018
610-861-7660

Amsterdam Falafel – Washington, DC

Amsterdam Falafel is a falafel shop in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. All they sell is falafel sandwiches, french fries and brownies (which aren’t vegan). What makes them special is that you get to make your own falafel sandwich. They make the falafel for you, put it in a pita and then hand it over for you to add toppings to it from their fixings bar, many of which are vegan. They’ve got guidelines on how to do this, though, so make sure to read the instructions posted on the walls before diving in or you might get yelled at soup nazi style.

Lisa:

Amsterdam offers sandwiches in two sizes: small – 3 balls, and large – 5 balls. I got the large because we’d skipped breakfast. I added hummus, cucumbers with chickpeas and dill, giardiniera and tahini sauce. I also got a small order of fries. The pita was doughy and moist and all of the toppings I added made a winning combination. I love french fries and Amsterdam’s french fries would rank about a six in my book, with 10 being the best. They give you the fries in little paper cones and each of their tables has holes cut into it so you can stand your fries in them as seen in the picture. We were lucky enough to get there as the lunch rush was ending, so we were able to get a table by the window. I got a delicious meal for less than $10 and I left completely satisfied. I look forward to visiting again someday.

Lisa's Falafel & Fries

Nick:

I lived in the Washington, DC area for most of the year 2005. I was never much a fan of living there, but the one thing I missed when I moved away was Amsterdam Falafel. I fell in love with the idea of a restaurant that only sold falafel and french fries – it just seemed like simplistic genius. I’ve had falafel all over the country and Amsterdam Falafel makes some of the best falafel I’ve had  (the only place that rivals their falafel in my opinion, is a restaurant called Natalie’s, in Buffalo, NY). One of the critical errors I consistently make whenever I go to Amsterdam Falafel since I moved away is that I opt for the full pita rather than the half. First off, a 5 ball sandwich is huge – especially when you add the fixings. Secondly, its very difficult to get a good falafel to fixings ratio. So I recommend getting the smaller size falafel and a small order of fries. As far as the fixings go, I love the Turkish Salad and the Crunchy Onions. This time around I mixed it up and added some Baba Ganoush, as well, which has a delightful smokey flavor. I should note that the vegan and non-vegan items are not clearly marked. Luckily, the items that are not vegan are few in number. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the staff are usually fairly chill.

I do want to take a moment to get on a soap box. I mentioned earlier that Amsterdam Falafel was a genius idea and I’ve even thought of how successful it would be to import the idea here. Amsterdam Falafel is in a bar neighborhood and open late which makes it an ideal after concert snack. You would think that when I saw that Amsterdam Falafel are now trying to franchise the idea that I would be stoked. Unfortunately, part of the charm of Amsterdam Falafel is that it is unique. Our whole food tour last weekend was born out of my primary desire to share Amsterdam Falafel with Lisa, so I rented a car and drove half way across the country so that she could enjoy this rare treat. To me franchising the idea and the name cheapens the experience. Vegan food tours are cool because there are so many unique businesses out there to experience. Once a theme restaurant travels to other cities the idea becomes bland and homogenized like every other crappy “main drag” restaurant. The idea of Amsterdam Falafel one day becoming the next Chipotle has no appeal to me. One of the incidental joys of veganism is the diversity that I’ve gotten to experience – relying on specialty cafes, sandwich shops, diners, and bakeries. I love the idea of vegan food being readily available to everyone, but I despise the McDonaldization of most of America, but I guess that’s the next logical extension of growth and success. Anyway, that’s my tirade.

Our dog, Ian MacKaynine, outside of Amsterdam Falafel

Amsterdam Falafel Shop
2425 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
202-234-1969

One World Cafe – Baltimore, MD

One World Cafe is a vegetarian cafe with vegan options located in Baltimore, Maryland. The cafe is rather large and divided into three sections: a standard cafe with a dessert case up front, a sit down restaurant in the back and a bar in between.

Lisa:

When we first walked into One World, we walked into the cafe area, so I immediately headed to the pastry case to see what kinds of vegan options they had. I was surprised to see how many vegan desserts there were, however, none of them made my mouth water (perhaps Vegan Treats earlier in the afternoon made me raise the bar too high?). We headed back to the restaurant area to wait for a friend. I took a few minutes to check out the menu while we waited. After perusing the vegan options on the menu, I decided to get one of the specials, because nothing on the regular menu sounded particularly appetizing. The couple of dishes I was interested in unfortunately weren’t vegan. The special I went with was a curried chickpea burger topped with the works, which included greens, sprouts, onion and tomato. The burger came with a side of tortilla chips and some tahini sauce. I was disappointed by my burger. It wasn’t anything particularly flavorful and it was a bit dry. I kept pouring tahini on it, but I felt like it needed something more. Since it was a curried chickpea burger, I wanted it to have a little spice to it, but alas, it did not. However, my companions seemed to enjoy their food, so I may have to give One World another shot next time I’m in the area.

Curried Chickpea Burger

Nick:

Back in 2004 I lived in Baltimore for 6 months. During that time I was a regular at One World Cafe and my dish of choice was the Philly Cheese Steak-Less. I have to admit that I’m spoiled by living in Chicago where we have our own companies manufacturing faux meat and cheese, helping to push the envelope of quality vegan food in our local eateries. What I’m getting at is that the Philly Steak-Less hasn’t evolved in the 7 years I’ve been away, even though there have been huge advances in meat and cheese alternatives around the country. One of the things I love about Chicago establishments, like the Chicago Diner and Handlebar, is that they change their menus and incorporate new products – keeping things fresh. Though the Philly Steak-Less was really good in 2004, its just okay in 2011 with its Tofutti Mozzarella and corn chips with nothing but Veganaise to dip them in. The bite I had of Lisa’s Curry Chick Pea Burger was sort of uninspiring as well. I feel bad being critical – I loved having One World to rely on when I lived in Baltimore and they make some quality vegan food – I just think that they need to be more proactive in experimenting with the latest innovations in vegan products. I was genuinely surprised that my sandwich tasted exactly the same as I remembered it.

Philly Cheese "Steak-less"

One World Cafe
100 W. University Parkway
Baltimore, MD 21210
410-235-5777

Amy’s Place – Buffalo, NY

On Thursday morning we stopped at Amy’s Place, an old favorite in, Buffalo, NY to get breakfast with Nick’s parents. Amy’s Place is a greasy spoon diner located across the street from the University of Buffalo’s south campus. Amy’s Place offers a $2 (!!) breakfast special before 9am. The $2 breakfast special is limited to a small selection of vegan and non-vegan options, but the rest of the menu includes a lot of clearly marked vegan options, like vegan french toast, sandwiches and more.

Lisa:
I went with the $2 breakfast menu since we made it in right before the cut off. The vegan $2 breakfast consists of lentils with broccoli, home fries and toast. For an additional $1.75  you can add seitan or tofu. I’ve added seitan in the past and you definitely get your money’s worth of it, but I felt like keeping it simple this time so I opted to skip it.
The $2 breakfast isn’t anything mind-blowing, but it is good and the fact that you can get all the food you get for $2 is what makes is special. Everything in my meal was cooked just right – not too oily and not too dry.

$2 Breakfast

Nick:

As a native Buffalonian Amy’s Place has a special place in my heart. Every time I roll through Buffalo I make a point to pop in. Back in the day my friends and I filtered in for what was back in then the $1.00 breakfast. In those days if you asked for it vegan all you got was a double helping of potatoes and a few slices of dry toast, but it was only $1.00, so why wouldn’t you order it? Eventually some of my friends who lived in the University Heights neighborhood became known regulars with sandwiches named after them (I recommend dropping by for the Biff Sandwich) or ended up on the staff. Needless to say, its the type of restaurant where I’m guaranteed to run into someone I know every time I stop in which gives me a particular bias. I love going there, its as simple as that. Fast forward to today’s Amy Place, and the new and improved $2.00 Breakfast Special (formerly the $1.00 Breakfast Special). The $2.00 breakfast consists of a Lentil Broccoli Hash, Country Style Potatoes, and Toast with Vegan Margarine. For $2.00 it is plenty filling and for $1.75 more you can add Tofu or Seitan. In Chicago, where you would pay $7.00 for a meal like this at a place like Flying Saucer, you would likely walk away disappointed. This is not a mind blowing meal, but our sense of value puts everything on a sliding scale. When you take this meal out of the $7.00 price range and it’s suddenly $2.00 – the need to be mind blowing is taken out of the equation. I can’t think of anywhere else in the country where I can get a full vegan meal for $2.00. Factor in being able to enjoy that meal with friends or on a whim and it takes that feeling of value to the next level. After 9AM there are plenty of great options at Amy’s Place. Since they serve meat, you may want to ask prep questions if shared fryers and such weigh on your mind like they do on mine, but if you happen to be in Buffalo over night and you want an early breakfast the $2.00 Vegan Breakfast Special has to be taken advantage of. Remember, it only runs until 9AM each day; oversleep and you’ll miss out.

Amy’s Place
3234 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14214
716-832-6666

Flaming Ice Cube – Cleveland, OH

The Flaming Ice Cube is a vegan cafe located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, across the street from Public Square. They offer standard cafe fare, including soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees, as well as coffee, smoothies and juices.
The waitstaff was very helpful and willing to answer our many questions. The cafe was well lit and had ample seating room. They also had a shelf with vegan cookbooks for sale, as well as various vegan products (sauces, nut butters, etc.)

Lisa:
I ordered the Mmmushroom Burger, which came with one of the sides of the day. The sides for the day were cous cous, black bean and corn salsa, and a pineapple raisin salad. My first choice was the cous cous, but they were out, so I went with the black bean and corn salsa. The salsa was like pico de gallo, it included black beans, corn, tomatoes, green bell peppers, a little lime juice and some spices. The vegetables were very fresh and it was nice to have a healthy side instead of a pile of fries (which I love) or a bag of chips.
The Mmmushroom burger proved to be an excellent choice. The patty was thick and juicy. It was topped with sauteed mushrooms, Daiya Mozzarella cheese, mayo and sauteed onions. The mushrooms were cooked perfectly, they weren’t slimy and they added just the right amount of flavor to the burger.
If you ever find yourself near Cleveland, OH be sure to stop by and try one of the delicious handcrafted burgers or one of the many other items on their menu. Next time I’m in the area I think I’ll try out the Hula Burger, which is topped with grilled pineapples, peppers, onions, mayo, lettuce and cheddar – yum!

Mmmushroom Burger

Nick:

When I walk into a new place sometimes I like to ask what the house favorite is. The girl behind the counter after some degree of thought responded that the Pizza Burger was very popular so I ordered that. After sitting down in the car with our respective sandwiches I took a bite of each. In all honesty I was a bit disappointed I didn’t get the Mmmushroom burger. The mushrooms, onions, and Daiya had a lot more pizazz than the burger I got. The Pizza Burger was supposed to have marinara, Daiya mozzarella, and pepperoni. Unfortunately there was very little in the way of marinara and the pepperoni overpowered everything. Unlike the Mmmushroom Burger, the Pizza Burger tasted like generic store bought faux meat & cheese items just thrown together. I was definitely jealous of Lisa’s selection. You win some – you lose some. Like Lisa, I was a fan of the corn salsa on the side.

Pizza Burger

The unique highlight of the visit was the Peanut Butter Crunch Bar which was a peanut butter rice crispy treat with a layer of chocolate on top. Simple but effective. Delicious!

Peanut Butter Crunch Bar

Flaming Ice Cube
140 Public Square
Cleveland, OH 44114
216-263-1111

Second City Vegan – On the Road: Vegan Food Tour 2011

Nick and I are hitting the road with our pup, Ian, to visit friends, family and lots of tasty vegan restaurants. Some are old favorites and others are new to us. Here’s our tentative itinerary – stay tuned for reviews!

3/23 Cleveland, OH – Flaming Ice Cube
3/24 Buffalo, NY – Amy’s Place
3/24 Bethlehem, PA – Vegan Treats
3/24 Baltimore, MD – One World Cafe
3/25 Washington, DC – Sticky Fingers
3/25 Washington, DC – Amsterdam Falafel
3/25 Washington, DC – Jumbo Slice
3/26 TBA Syracuse, NY – Stronghearts?
3/26 Buffalo, NY – Natalies/Pizza Plant TBA/Feel Rite
3/27 TBA Buffalo, NY – Amy’s Place (2nd Appearance?)
3/27 TBA Cleveland, OH – Melt?

SCV On the Road – Ft. Lauderdale

There were two restaurants that stood out while we were visiting Ft Lauderdale, Pizza Fusion and Sublime.

Pizza Fusion – 1013 N. Federal Hwy. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304 (954) 358-5353

Pizza Fusion is a small eco-friendly chain with locations both in the US and abroad. Their pizzas are all made with organic ingredients and they offer both vegan and gluten free items.
Nick and I ordered the Very Vegan which is topped with vegan cheese, crimini mushrooms, tomato sauce and garlic with the traditional crust (both the whole grain and traditional crusts can be made vegan). We got a large pizza which was more than enough for two people. The cheese wasn’t stretchy, but it did melt well, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say it wasn’t Daiya or Teese, perhaps it was Tofutti? Regardless the pizza was delicious.
If the Very Vegan isn’t your thing, you can create your own pizza with soy cheese, your choice of sauce and your choice of veggies. Pizza Fusion also offers a vegan salad, cane sugar sodas and a vegan/gluten free brownie. The service at their Ft Lauderdale location was good. The servers where friendly, informed and accommodating. So if you’re looking for good vegan pizza in Ft Lauderdale make sure you check them out. Check out their website for other locations before you plan your next trip.

Sublime – 1431 N. Federal Hwy., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304 (954) 615-1431

Sublime was my first experience with vegan fine dining. The restaurant was founded by Nanci Alexander, founder of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF). 100% of Sublime’s profits go to organizations that promote animal welfare and the vegan lifestyle.
The menu at Sublime is entirely vegan. While we were visiting they had a special going for couples that included an appetizer, two entrées and a dessert, so we made sure to take advantage.
Nick and I shared the Frito Misto as an appetizer, I had the “Steak” Sandwich with sweet potato fries as an entrée and Nick had the Broccoli Cheddar Quiche which came with a kale salad, for dessert we had the Apple Crumb Pie a la Mode. Nick’s mom, Linda, and his brother, Mark, also had the couple’s special. Mark got Black Bean and Tomato Soup as an appetizer, Sublime Picatta as his entrée and he and Linda split the Coconut Cake. Linda and Ed (Nick’s dad) got the Vegetable Platter as their entrées: bbq tofu, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and marinated cucumbers; and sweet potato fries, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and marinated cucumbers respectively.
Everyone but me had been there before, so I let Nick pick our appetizer. The Frito Misto was amazing! It’s breaded cauliflower with a sweet chili sauce and sesame seeds. It disappeared pretty quickly since it was so good and though it was a good appetizer portion, I was left wanting more. When it came to entrées I went with what I felt was the safest option. The “Steak” in my sandwich was Gardein which has a very meaty consistency and is flavorful, but since I’ve had Gardein before I wasn’t completely blown away. The sweet potato fries, however, were cut steak style and were probably the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had. Nick’s quiche made me want to try making my own quiche again, because I forgot how good quiche can be, especially with the advances that have been made on the vegan cheese front. It was made up of broccoli, garlic, shallots, tofu and cheddar “cheese” and it was a nice sized piece. I was also able to sample Mark’s soup, which was a very basic soup which we all felt required something more (either more seasonings or additional veggies like corn or peppers), as well as the almond cookie which came with his and Linda’s Coconut Cake. The almond cookie was sweet, crunchy and divine and made me want to try every dessert on the menu. When it came to my dessert I went with the safest option once again. The Apple Crumb Pie had currants in it which made it better than basic apple pie and it came with just the right amount of ice cream.
Everyone in our dining party was satisfied with their meals. Mark said his Sublime Picatta made with Gardein was so delicious he preferred it to traditional veal picatta and both Linda and Ed were happy with their vegetable platters, as the asparagus was large but properly cooked, however, Ed did mention that the marinated cucumbers could have used a little more marinating time because the ones towards the bottom of the bowl were better than the ones at the top.
Finally the service at Sublime is exceptional. Our waiter was well informed, he was willing to answer questions and he engaged us every time he visited our table. He made sure out drinks were never empty and that we had everything we needed. He was also rather entertaining as he was a bit dramatic and had an odd sense of humor (at one point he made a Hannibal Lecter joke).

I’m looking forward to visiting Sublime again and trying something new!

Sublime is a busy and popular place and despite it’s large size, we had to wait about half an hour for a table, so I recommend making a reservation if you want to dine there. You should also check out their book section by the host/hostess station which includes the Sublime Cookbook, as well as other vegan cookbooks and animal rights books.