Nashvegan

A not-very-definitive guide to eating (and living) as a vegan in Nashville.

Happy Herbivore Abroad December 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 12:56 pm
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HHA Cover

Greetings faithful readers, and welcome to Nashvegan’s first ever cookbook review, author interview, and giveaway!  Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you’ve probably heard of Lindsay Nixon, better known as Happy Herbivore.  Nixon is a prolific author and blogger who advocates for a plant-based diet that includes no added oils and only a few added fats from nuts and avocados.  Her cookbooks Happy Herbivore and Everyday Happy Herbivore shot up the bestselling ranks on Amazon.com and now her newest installment, Happy Herbivore Abroad, is doing the same.  Her publishers were kind enough to send me a review copy and they’d like to send one of you a copy as well!  Details on the giveaway are at the end of this post.

First things first: let’s meet Happy Herbivore!  Nixon was kind enough to answer a whole bunch of my deeply probing questions about her life and her work.  Here’s what she had to say:

Nashvegan: There seems to be a current trend towards global vegan cookbooks (yours, Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Eats World spring to mind) – why do you think that is?

Happy Herbivore: I’m not sure. When I finished writing Everyday Happy Herbivore, I left for a long trip to Europe. While I was there I decided to write a cookbook that combined my lifestyle (my love of travel) with food from the places I’ve traveled too — it was about me and celebrating my passions (food + travel) together. I haven’t seen Romero’s book, but I imagine it’s quite different.

NV: How does Happy Herbivore Abroad (HHA) stand out both from your other offerings and from other vegan cookbooks in general?

HH: HHA is international themed and has a lot of me in it — personal stories and such. You won’t find that in my other books. This book is so personal, and I really love that about it…

My cookbooks (all of them) focus on being low fat, no oil — using whole foods, and basic ingredients, which makes them stand out from the vast majority of other vegan cookbooks on the market.

NV: How are you handling life after Earth Balance?  For many, it may feel like “life after cheese” syndrome all over again!

HH: I never really got into Earth Balance. I wasn’t much of a margarine or butter person before I was plant-based and a huge motivation for my dietary change was health… Earth Balance isn’t exactly a health food 🙂 I also adopted the no oil/low fat whole foods approach early into my plant-based change, so it was something I just passed up.

NV: What inspired you to come up with the idea of offering your plant-based meal plans?

HH: Fan requests 🙂

NV: What are your favorite plant-based “convenience foods” for people trying to live a low- to no-fat plant-based lifestyle?  Basically, what would you recommend for vegans who need something grab and go, perhaps in a gas station?

HH: Gas stations usually have fresh fruit and oatmeal 🙂

Lindsay Nixon headshot

NV: Give us your top three favorite recipes from HHA.

HH: Asking a chef to pick a favorite recipe is like asking a parent to pick their favorite kid 🙂

NV: After your previous career as a lawyer (this is a personal question for me because I have my J.D.), how did you make the transition from lawyer to plant-based cookbook author?  What sorts of practical challenges (student loan debt, etc.) did you deal with before your success, and how did you manage those challenges?

HH: I was never happy as a lawyer. Not to say the profession is a bad one, it just wasn’t for me. I’d been working as a lawyer for a few years (miserably) when the opportunity to write my first cookbook came along. I knew there was no way I could work as a lawyer AND write a cookbook, so it was one or the other. I decided to take a big chance, quit being a lawyer and work on my cookbook while also doing various freelance assignments to pay the bills. My husband and I also had to do some major downsizing to make it happen — selling our cars, moving from a large apartment to a teeny, tiny studio, etc. (I’m so glad he was up for it!)

I still have a mound of student loan debt crushing me — some $120,000 is left. I joke that it’s my summer home, since my law education costs more than what a friend recently paid for her house.

The book business is not lucrative — even when you’re a best seller so we continue to live with less “glitter” than we had when I was a lawyer, but I’m so much happier and I’ve really come to love the minimalist lifestyle.

NV: Why Los Angeles?  How did you end up there?  How do you like it?

HH: My husband’s work brought us here, but we’ll be leaving again soon for Tahoe. I love snowboarding more than anything and you can’t really do that in LA 🙂

This is the second time we’ve lived in Los Angeles. You can’t beat the weather or the casual, California lifestyle but the traffic is ridiculous. LA without the traffic would be perfection.

NV: I know a lot of my readers like to try to eat seasonally and locally.  Is this an issue that you’ve given much thought?  Have you considered writing a seasonal cookbook?

HH: I too like to eat seasonally and locally (and living in Southern California makes that easy!) but it’s not really practical for a cookbook since what’s local (and seasonal) varies so much from place to place and I try to write books that are accessible to everyone — no matter where they live. That’s one thing that really frustrated me when I first changed my diet. The vegan cookbooks I bought used bizarre ingredients that didn’t exist where I lived or they were way outside of my price range. I think that’s why I try so hard to use “supermarket” ingredients. You shouldn’t have to live in LA or NYC to be able to cook up a good meal!

——–

So I’m sure now you want to know about the food.  Well, wouldn’t you know it, I happened to cook some.  I cooked two meals from HHA, totaling six recipes.  I went on a Tour of Europe and then took a trip South of the Border.

TOUR OF EUROPE

Who needs a Eurorail pass when you have HHA?  This menu consisted of Swedish Meatballs, Irish Colcannon, and French Savory Glazed Carrots.

Getting ready to cook

Getting ready to cook

One of the things I love most about Nixon’s cookbooks (I have them all) is that they all use “normal” ingredients and are easy to prepare.  These recipes were all easy to follow, a breeze to prepare (if you don’t count all the time I spent chopping things), and of course turned out delicious.  I cheated a little with the meatball recipe, which called for mixing the gravy with chunks of tempeh, and used Trader Joe’s frozen meatless balls instead (THE HORROR).

Swedish Meatballs, Colcannon, Savory Glazed Carrots

Swedish Meatballs, Colcannon, Savory Glazed Carrots

First, I am a doofus and was so eager to get this on the plate and INTO MY MOUTH that I neglected to toss the meatballs with the gravy and instead just poured it over them.  Following recipe fail.  Whatever, they were still incredible.  I am serious, this food was so good I could eat it every day.  I couldn’t believe how much I loved the colcannon.  As a person who believes that all foods are better when slathered with Earth Balance, I thought there was no way I was going to like mashed potatoes that were fat free.  But guess what I INHALED THEM.  And they’re full of freaking KALE.  Talk about a nutritional powerhouse!  In your face, margarine!  The carrots had a great flavor but in my impatience I undercooked them a little.

SOUTH OF THE BORDER

Ole!  For my trip to Mexico I made AJ’s Pico de Gallo, Drunken Beans, and Migas.

AJ's Pico de Gallo

AJ’s Pico de Gallo

Despite my obsession with pico, I’ve never actually made it from scratch, mostly due to laziness.  This recipe was easier than I thought it was going to be and I loved that it used shallots instead of regular onions because, let’s face it, shallots make everything fancier.  I made this early in the day and then let it sit in the fridge until it was time for dinner so the flavors could marry and this was definitely the way to go.  It tasted a lot better later.

I’ve never heard of migas so I knew I had to make it.  Migas is traditionally an egg-based dish with corn tortilla strips and veggies.  I added nutritional yeast because I couldn’t make what was essentially a Mexican tofu scramble without nooch and I thought it added a nice depth of flavor.  I’ve also never actually bought a poblano pepper, which this recipe called for.  That worked out fine, too.  Turns out they sell them in the produce department.  Who knew.  Anyway, on to the booze.  Drunken beans are awesome.  They taste like beer.  I like beer.  I like beans.  I like beer and beans together.  Seriously though, the smoked paprika really made this dish for me.  Don’t skimp and just use regular paprika or you’ll be seriously missing out.

Migas, Drunken Beans, Pico de Gallo

Migas, Drunken Beans, Pico de Gallo

Happy Herbivore Abroad is a really solid cookbook and it’s definitely going to be on heavy rotation in my kitchen.  The recipes (and beautiful food photos) are interspersed with Nixon’s travelogue and personal stories.  Everything is plant-based and low- or no-fat.  Everything is made from “normal” ingredients that you can pick up in pretty much any grocery store, and there are no overly complicated cooking techniques.  This book is accessible, flavorful, and not too shabby to look at.  I highly recommend it.

HHA_31DaysofGiveaways_badge

After all that, I bet you want to get your mitts on a copy of this book.  Well now it’s giveaway time!  All you need to do to enter is leave a comment telling me about the best vegan thing you ever ate on vacation.  But what’s that you say?  You want to earn additional entries?  Of course you do.  Here’s how:

1. Share this post on Facebook and be sure to tag Nashvegan.  Leave a comment telling me you did this.
2. Share this post on Twitter using the hashtag #HHATour and mentioning @NashveganBlog.  Leave a comment telling me you did this.
3. Be my special friend on Facebook and “like” Nashvegan.  Leave a comment telling me you did this (or that you already liked me because duh we go way back).
4. Follow @NashveganBlog on Twitter.  Leave a comment telling me you did this.

So if you do everything you can get a total of five entries.  FUN.

Be sure to include a real email address when you comment so I have a way to tell you that you won.  The contest closes at 11:59 PM CST on December 31.  I will use a random number generator to select the winner.  The winner will be announced on January 1, 2013, so long as the world does not end before that time.  If I email you and you don’t get back to me within 72 hours, I’ll give the prize to someone else, so there.

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Proper Eats Cafe October 26, 2009

Spicy Black Bean Quesadilla

Spicy Black Bean Quesadilla

I had an AWESOME time in Portland, Oregon.  It is basically like vegan mecca.  I can only imagine what it would be like to live in such a city, where fantastic vegan fare can be had at nearly every establishment, and nearly every establishment knows exactly what “vegan” means.  I stayed in North Portland (NoPo) while I was in town, and as soon as I got in from the airport and dropped off my luggage my host and I popped over to Proper Eats Cafe for my first Portland meal.  Proper Eats is a natural foods store and cafe, with produce and some groceries in the front and a dining area in the back.  I was famished from spending six hours on and off various airplanes (but Southwest has some yummy vegan in-flight snacks!), and I had to restrain myself from ordering basically everything on the menu.

We started with the above Spicy Black Bean Quesadilla.  It was stuffed with vegan cheese, spinach, and black beans.  It was spicy, too!  The salsa served on the side was incredibly fresh-tasting and helped to cut through the spice a bit.  As you can see from the photo, it was topped with corn, red onion, and pumpkin seeds.  Talk about awesome!  When was the last time you had a vegan quesadilla?  I don’t think I ever had one until this moment.  I thought it was totally delicious, but it was kind of hard to eat–looking back, I should have used a fork and knife.  I ended up getting it all over myself.

Hazelnut-Arugula Penne Bake and Side Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Hazelnut-Arugula Penne Bake and Side Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

For my entree I ordered the day’s special: Hazelnut-Arugula Penne Bake and Side Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette.  Wow, that’s a mouthful!  Seriously, this was SO. EFFING. GOOD. and I am still reminiscing about it.  I wish I could get this at a restaurant in Nashville.  I mean, I could probably cook something similar from scratch but who wants to go to all that trouble?  The pasta was just the right texture.  The cheese topping didn’t exactly melt right, but the flavor was great.  The pesto was divine.  The salad itself was pretty standard (spring mix, broccoli, carrots), and the dressing complimented it nicely.

Sesame Peanut Noodles

Sesame Peanut Noodles

My host, an omnivore, had the Sesame Peanut Noodles.  He loved it.  The noodles are cooked in a peanut sauce and served warm with ginger lime tofu, all over a bed of spinach and garnished with asian slaw, broccoli and lime.  You can see the little lime wedge in the photo, just waiting to be squeezed over the whole thing.  He let me eat a little bit of it and it was even better than it looks in the picture.  The noodles were perfect.  The tofu was amazing.  This whole dish was well-executed, well-presented, and well-made.  It also kept well and made for an excellent second, reheated meal.

If I lived in Portland, I would dine at Proper Eats Cafe all the time.  The menu is varied, covering a lot of different types of food, and their daily specials are always interesting.  They are almost entirely vegan (they offer a choice of a few dairy-based condiments), and every dish can be prepared vegan.  If you have the good fortune to make it there, be sure to check the bakery case on your way out: I got a vegan chocolate truffle.  Sorry, I didn’t take a photo.  I know that next time I’m in PDX, I’ll be stopping by.

Proper Eats Cafe

8638 N. Lombard Ave.

Portland, OR 97203

503.445.2007

Website

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Qdoba October 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 9:15 pm
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Chips & Guacamole, Black Bean Taco, and Tortilla Soup

Chips & Guacamole, Black Bean Taco, and Tortilla Soup

I will just come right out and say it: I hate Qdoba.  Not because the food is bad, but because when I was an undergraduate, Qdoba replaced Baja Burrito Kitchen in my Student Union.  Baja Burrito had the best queso (now irrelevant, for obvious reasons).  They had an epic salsa bar.  Their vegetarian options were unmatched elsewhere on campus.  And Qdoba stamped them out!  At Qdoba, your meal does not come with free chips and salsa.  This is basically blasphemy as far as I’m concerned.  I mean, seriously, doesn’t all Mexican food come with complimentary chips and salsa?  What is the world coming to?

So why, with all my vitriol towards Qdoba, did I dine there on this particular day?  Well, my friends, Qdoba has a rewards card program and I got an email with a coupon for free chips and queso.  Since I am totally a sucker for coupons, especially coupons that provide me with things that are free, I moseyed on over to The Dobe (let’s make that name stick) for my free food.  Obviously, as a vegan, I do not dine on queso.  The staff was kind enough to let me have complimentary guacamole instead.

The guacamole was average.  Nothing to write home about, but it’s not like it was bad.  I decided on a taco-and-soup combo to go with my chips.  Above you see a black bean taco.  With pico.  And that’s it.  The line was moving so quickly, the person asked me if I wanted pico and I said “yes” and then he pushed my food on along and no one offered me anything else.  Since I don’t really know what all the strange Qdoba condiments are, as I do not dine there often, I just let them all pass me by.  There’s something with corn in it that looks pretty good, and it probably would have gone great with my little taco.  The most fantastic thing you can order at Qdoba is the Tortilla Soup.  Yes, it’s vegan.  Order it EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU GO or you are missing out.  I’m not kidding.  I could eat this stuff by the gallon.  It’s especially amazing now that the weather is changing.

Will I be back to Qdoba?  It’s almost a certainty.  Do I miss Baja Burrito Kitchen?  Yes.  Would I rather have Moe’s, with its tofu and complimentary chips and best salsa ever?  Yes.  But I can walk to Qdoba, and that soup is awesome.  Furthermore, Qdoba is super vegan friendly.  You can basically eat anything except the meat and the cheese and the sour cream.  I recommend you refer to this list of vegan offerings before you visit.  And get the soup.  For real.

Qdoba

2019 West End Avenue

Nashville, TN 37203

615.340.2822

Website

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Blackstone Brewery October 4, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 9:43 am
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French Fries

French Fries

Blackstone … not good for vegans.  Seriously, don’t waste your time.  The only reason I came here was because it was the restaurant of choice of the birthday boy.  I feel like this is always happening to me: I have to go to a seriously non-vegan-friendly restaurant for someone’s birthday.  I usually manage to ask some questions about the menu and get some kind of custom thing that is pretty good.  That was not the case here.  First, I had french fries.  French fries are part of my three basic vegan-eating-out food groups: french fries, chips and salsa, and hummus.  If I see this items on a menu, I order them without fear.  I did not ask any questions about these fries (for instance: animal-based natural flavorings, shared cooking oil) and if those issues are important to you, you should ask about them before ordering these fries.  They were actually pretty good, though certainly not the best I’ve had in town, as that honor belongs to Beyond the Edge.

Black Beans and Rice

Black Beans and Rice

Here it is: the only food of any real filling substance you can order as a vegan at Blackstone.  Black beans and rice is a side dish costing $3.00 on the dinner menu.  It’s on the lunch menu for $6.50 with extra toppings and what I assume is a larger portion, but this plate was enormous.  The dish really wasn’t half bad.  The beans were spicy and the rice was flavorful, and long-grain with veggies.  I was pleasantly surprised.  If memory serves, I think the dish came out with cheese on top and I had to send it back, even though my server and I had a pretty extensive conversation about veganism and what it is so I could be sure the dish was vegan.

I will probably never go back to Blackstone again unless friends are really insistent on it.  It wasn’t that the food that I had was bad, it was just unimpressive and there are not a lot of choices.  They have some salads that could probably be veganized, there’s a nacho appetizer that could be veganized (or just ordered as chips and salsa), they have pizzas that may be vegan (I didn’t ask about the crust while I was there), and there are a couple other sides like asparagus and apple sauce that may be vegan.  There are lots of other restaurants in town with more and better vegan options.  The best thing about Blackstone is the beer: they brew it on-site and even have a hand drawn ale.  If you find yourself here, grab a hand drawn Nut Brown Ale and a big bowl of black beans and rice and you’ll be just fine.

Blackstone Brewery

1918 West End Avenue

Nashville, TN 37203

615.327.9969

Website

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Rosepepper Cantina September 29, 2009

Who doesn't love neon?

Who doesn't love neon?

I feel like I go to a lot of birthday dinners.  It seems like all my friends have their birthdays in rapid succession, and they all want to have dinner.  My own is quickly approaching, in October.  For this latest birthday dinner I visited Rosepepper Cantina in East Nashville.  This place was adorable.  The decor was absolutely gorgeous, and I wish I could have taken more photos of the restaurant interior but because of the lighting they didn’t come out well.  You’ll have to be satisfied with this gorgeous neon sign, which is over the door from the dining room to the patio.  And what a patio it is!  We dined inside due to the size of our party, but the next time I visit Rosepepper I’ll definitely be eating al fresco.  The patio is enormous, and now that the weather had turned I bet it will be a really awesome experience to sit out there.

We had to wait a while for a table since there were a lot of us and we didn’t have a reservation and it was a Saturday, so we hung around the bar.  I decided to order a pina colada, for funsies.  If you decide to order a pina colada, you should know that it comes topped with a dollop of whipped cream.  My bartender was kind enough to spoon it out for me.  It is otherwise vegan, and you would be surprised how many wines and beers may not meet your personal definition of veganism (most hard liquor is fine).  There’s a link in my sidebar to a site called Barnivore and they have a fantastic, well-researched guide to all kinds of beer, liquor, and wine.  Information is power, people.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and Salsa

I eat a lot of chips and salsa in my journeys.  Seems like every restaurant I go to serves chips and salsa.  So far, my favorite salsa in town is from Cafe Coco, followed very closely by Moe’s, but I’ve loved the Moe’s salsa for years and it’s not unique to Nashville.  Other excellent salsas are available at Lime and Past Perfect.  That being said, this salsa was great.  It does not rival my top two, but it was still awesome.  There was a mild one, a spicier one, and a green one.  The green one was my favorite, followed by the spicier one.  The mild one was so-so.  I ate a lot of the green one.

Fajita Fresca Salad and Rice

Fajita Fresca Salad and Rice

Rosepepper is decidedly vegan-friendly.  There is a vegan burrito on the menu–named simply “Vegan”–and if you want a simple meal, I would recommend that.  But I didn’t feel like eating a burrito, I wanted a salad.  I talked with my waitress about being vegan and how to veganize the Fajita Fresca salad.  The waitress seemed knowledgeable about a vegan diet and helped me figure out how to change the salad.  We left out the meat (obviously), the cheese, and the sour cream, subbed steamed veggies for the grilled, and added fresh avocado slices.  It was pretty fantastic, except for the fact that it wasn’t really blended/tossed in any way and it was hard to get multiple things in one bite.  I really had to dig for the beans and at first I thought they weren’t in there.  I also had a rice, which my server assured me was vegan, but looking at the website further I’m not sure if that’s right.  The “Veggie” burrito has rice but the “Vegan” burrito does not, which is what rouses my suspicion.  If you are thinking about getting rice, be sure to ask if it contains any dairy or egg.

I will definitely go back to Rosepepper Cantina.  I hear their margaritas are amazing, but I wasn’t in the mood that particular evening.  Everything was fresh and tasty and there were lots of vegetables.  And I definitely want to eat on that patio!

Rosepepper Cantina

1907 Eastland Avenue

Nashville, TN 37206

615.227.4777

Website – menu, photos, drinks, and more

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El Rey September 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 4:43 pm
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Chips and Salsa and Pico de Gallo

Chips and Salsa and Pico de Gallo

El Rey is a Mexican restaurant on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Commerce Street.  It’s a pretty popular lunch spot, especially for the suits who inhabit downtown on weekdays.  I visited for lunch on a Thursday, and my dining companion and I chose to sit on the patio, which is pretty nice.  Your meal at El Rey begins with chips and salsa (as it should), and we ordered a side of pico de gallo for our dipping pleasure.  It was all pretty great, and it really hit the spot since I was starving.

Veggie Fajitas with Beans, Rice, and Toppings

Veggie Fajitas with Beans, Rice, and Toppings

For an entree I ordered vegetable fajitas (tortillas are in the aluminum foil).  Often when I eat out, I like to ask specifically about the animal ingredients that concern me.  If I ask if food contains “animal products” I often get told “no” when it does, in fact, include animal products, and if I ask if something is “vegan” I have even less luck.  I asked specifically if the rice contained chicken stock, if the beans contained lard, and if the vegetables were cooked in butter or chicken stock.  Since the answers to all questions was “no” I felt comfortable ordering this dish, but I always recommend doing your own research.  Sometimes different servers will give you different answers, like when someone at Fido told me the veggie sausage was vegan–I found out later that it was not.  Also, recipes and cooking methods change from time to time.  Always ask what’s in your food!  You have a right to know, and asking shows chefs and owners that there is a demand for vegan products.

On to the food.  It was good!  The beans and rice were great, the guacamole (it’s a topping, you can’t really see it in the picture  because it blends in with the lettuce) seemed pretty fresh, and the veggies were nicely seasoned.  I would have enjoyed some more variety with the vegetables as they were just peppers and onions and tomatoes.  Some broccoli or zucchini would have been great, and I sort of expected mushrooms.  I ended up using all the tortillas, as there were only two or three, and while I probably could have requested more tortillas I decided to eat the rest of my veggies and beans and rice with a fork.

I’ll probably be back to El Rey, if for no other reason than the location.  It’s pretty convenient right there on 2nd and Commerce.  So far, Las Palmas on 19th is my favorite “authentic” Mexican spot, but I haven’t tried all that many and I’m open to discovering more.  If you’re downtown and need to grab some lunch down on 2nd, and you want a waiter instead of counter service, head on down to El Rey.  And get some pico, because it’s tasty.

El Rey

139 2nd Avenue North

Nashville, TN 37201

615.726.8862

No website available

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Chili’s August 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 10:31 pm
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My "entree"

My "entree"

I’m not a big fan of chain restaurants (unless they are SUPER AWESOME), but sometimes you’re with people and they want to eat at one, so you do what you have to do.  Also, a lot of them have standardized menus with informative websites about ingredients, so you’ll know in advance what is vegan and what isn’t.  Furthermore, I like to go to restaurants with few vegan options for two reasons: (1) I want to show that there is, in fact, a demand for vegan dishes in “mainstream” establishments and (2) I want to show my co-diners that vegan food is relatively easy to find, appetizing-looking, and delicious.  I recruit future vegans one meal at a time.  Anyways, on to the food.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and Salsa

Who doesn’t love chips and salsa?  It is one of the things you can practically always order as a vegan.  Now, the chips at Chili’s may not meet some people’s definition of “vegan” as they are fried in oil also used to fry other non-vegan foods (so are the fries).  Not to delve too much into my personal politics, but I’m vegan to reduce animal suffering, and refusing these chips does nothing to stop the slaughter of animals for food, so the chips are fine by me.  If you don’t like to eat food that may or may not have been deep fried right after chicken tenders, avoid the chips.

The salsa at Chili’s is really not that good.  It’s quite runny, and it doesn’t really taste “fresh.”  Still, it’s Chili’s; what did you expect?  I like the chips because you can totally tell they were just fried mere moments before you were eating them, but ours had way too much salt.

See, vegans can eat at Chili's ... kind of.

See, vegans can eat at Chili's ... kind of.

I decided what to eat here based on an extremely informative post on the blog Vegan Restaurants Master List.  They have a great post about Chili’s here.  As you can see, that post is from 2007, but as far as I could tell from the questions I asked at the restaurant it still holds true.  On my plate above is the following: pico de gallo, guacamole, corn on the cob, black beans, and rice.  Off to the side of the picture (you can see them in the first photo of the post) is a dish of corn tortillas.  I made myself some interesting taco-like constructions, but the tortillas kept breaking open (as corn tortillas are apt to do) and I got frustrated and just started eating stuff with a fork.

And now, for your reading pleasure, I shall break the meal down bite by bite.  First, corn tortillas are weird.  They don’t wrap the way that flour tortillas do and they split open and you get guacamole all over yourself (don’t ask how I know that).  It seemed that the restaurant did the best they could to soften them, but they quickly got hard and icky.  I would say don’t even bother.  Second, the pico and guac are mediocre at best.  I personally prefer a nice, chunky guacamole, and this was basically a puree.  It didn’t taste fresh at all (likely because it wasn’t).  But hey man, it’s Chili’s.  Third, the corn on the cob was awesome.  I was so pleasantly surprised.  It was really sweet and tasted “grilled” if that makes any sense.  It blew my mind.  Make sure you order it with no oil or butter.  If you pick the corn up and there is a pool of yellow liquid underneath it, that’s oil and butter, send it back.  I know because this happened to me (not like the guacamole-tortilla-shirt mess, which totally did not).  Finally, the beans and rice … the beans are not as awesome as many other black beans I’ve had, partially because the liquid they’re in is really thin and watery, but that rice.  I could eat nothing but that rice for a week and be happy.  I don’t know what they put in it but I’m pretty sure it’s some kind of crack cocaine.  Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Bottom line: if you’re sitting around asking yourself “where can I get some awesome vegan dinner tonight?” the answer is not “Chili’s.”  But if your crazy uncle Phil is in town and change makes him act like he’s gone off his medication (or you just don’t want him to ask the waitress what “TAPE-nade” is), humor the man and go with him to Chili’s.  Who knows, he might even want a bite of your delicious delicious vegan super rice.  And you will tell him to back off because you need every last grain.

Chili’s

Multiple locations – they are everywhere!

Website

Vegetarian Menu (PDF) – you may find this helpful in making a food choice.  It’s a new addition to their website, which used to only have an extremely confusing and unhelpful allergen list.

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