Nashvegan

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

Taco Mamacita December 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 7:08 pm
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Hold onto your panties, kids, because I’m back and this is an update.  There’s no good reason for my absence as of late, so let’s not dwell on it and get to the food, okay?  It’s freezing right now and snowing a lot, so what could be better than TACOS?

Have you been to Taco Mamacita in Edgehill Village yet?  No?  Well, you should go.  Granted, it’s kind of more awesome in the summer when it’s not too cold to enjoy the spacious patio, but any time of the year is a good time for tacos.  The best feature of Taco Mamacita is their completely separate vegan menu, which will be placed in your hungry little  hands upon your request.  It’s pretty damn comprehensive.  This is no “refried beans in corn tortillas topped with red sauce and that’s it” establishment (seriously, that just happened to me at Fiesta Mexicana on 4th).  No, my friends, this is a place with a little something called “options.”

 

Salsa Sampler

My meal began with the Salsa Sampler to share, obvi.  Small dishes of three different salsas–mango jalapeno, salsa verde, and roasted tomato–were surrounded by crispy tortilla chips.  The mango jalapeno was my favorite, with the salsa verde coming in as a close second.  The roasted tomato was mediocre, but it had its place in rounding out the trio.  All in all, solid performance by the salsas, though the roasted tomato was lacking a certain something.

 

Freakin’ Vegan Taco, Vegan Jerk Taco, and Sweet Potato Fries

Wanting the full Taco Mamacita experience, I ordered the platter for my  entree: any two tacos and a side.  Out of the three vegan tacos on the menu, I bypassed the Avocado Taco in favor of the Freakin’ Vegan Taco and the Vegan Jerk Taco, because these tacos contained more “stuff” (that’s a technical term for food bloggers).  The Freakin’ Vegan Taco is basically a vegan version of your standard taco but fancier, filled with cilantro spinach rice, red beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, escabeche (a kind of pickled jalapeno slaw/relish), and guacamole.  The Vegan Jerk taco sounded particularly appealing to me, as I would probably eat woodchips if they were jerked, and contained cabbage, mango salsa, jerked and sauteed plantains, and red beans.  Both tacos were awesome, but the jerk taco really blew my mind.  All the flavors came together in perfect harmony to create a delicious party in my mouth, to which all were invited.  On my next visit, I’ll probably just get two of these.  Also, I really recommend the Sweet Potato Fries.  They got cold quickly, but were really great when they first came out.  Plus sweet potatoes are hella good for you.

Verdict?  I will absolutely be back.  Lots.  The food is awesome, there are a ton of vegan options, and there are great drink specials.  It gets super crowded on Wednesdays, because margaritas are two for one from 4:00 – 8:oo.  Also, Sangria is half price all day on Sundays.  So put on a coat, get off your sofa, and get some tacos.

Taco Mamacita

1200 Villa Place

Nashville, TN 37212

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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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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Lime September 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 1:34 pm
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Mojitos

Mojitos

My trip to Lime was a mixed experience.  In the interest of full disclosure, I was skeptical before I arrived (partially due to mixed online reviews and partially due to the lack of basically any information about the place on their website), but I like to think that I didn’t let some preconceived notions I may have had taint my visit.

Let me begin by discussing the portions of my experience that had nothing to do with the food.  I met my dining companion at Lime at 6:00 on a weeknight.  When I got up to the bar, the bartender told me that happy hour did not end at 7:00 anymore, but in fact ended at 6:00.  Had I known this, I would have gone earlier.  Also, since when does any happy hour end at 6:00?  That’s not very happy.  That was a minor annoyance, and I wasn’t going to let it ruin my time with my friend.  But it didn’t stop there.  We had a misunderstanding with our hostess.  She told us that “dinner” was served inside and on the side patio, but we could sit on the front patio.  We thought that this meant if we stayed inside or sat on the side patio that we would have to order dinner, which we were not sure we wanted to do, so we headed out to the front patio.  When our server finally arrived, he told us (and not too politely I might add) that we were not permitted to order anything off the dinner menu out front.  We could basically only order from the left side of the menu, and the right side was off limits.  So we were further annoyed, but didn’t want to switch tables and servers, especially as we already had the mojitos you see above, which were fantastic.  It was just kind of an annoying experience.  No one was really rude to us or anything, and on a subsequent visit for a friend’s birthday (I only had drinks that time) both the hostess and our server were really accommodating.

Salsa Duo and Fries with Guava Ketchup

Salsa Duo and Fries with Guava Ketchup

My dining companion and I decided to order the dip trio.  The reason you only see two dips here is because she is omni and we compromised that one dip would be cheese.  Actually, it was cheese and lobster and bacon.  And for some reason, if you wanted “avocado” as a dip (which I assume meant guacamole and not simply sliced or smashed avocado) you had to add $3.  Which seems a little ridiculous seeing as how you could select a dip containing lobster for no additional cost, but I digress.  The dip on the left is a mango salsa (I forget the exact name) and the dip on the right is Salsa Rojo.  The mango one was really really good.  We definitely ate all of it.  The salsa rojo was standard, and could have used a bit more of a bite, but if you like your salsa mild and tomato-y I would recommend it.  The fries and guava ketchup were really outstanding, as far as fries go.  That ketchup is great.  I just wish the portion was larger.  Also, it was listed as a side dish on the right side of the menu, which was supposed to be forbidden, but our server let us order it.  I liked the presentation as the fries were served wrapped in a square of the Nashville Scene.

Would I go to Lime again?  Yes, if someone else wanted to go there, but it would not be on the top of my list if someone asked me where I wanted to eat/grab drinks.  The decor in the restaurant is beautiful and they have some really creative dishes.  There were some entrees that seemed vegan-friendly, but I did not ask about them since I was not permitted to order an entree on the front patio.  If you’re planning a visit, keep in mind that happy hour ends at 6:00 so you can try to save your pennies.  Oh, and get the fries with guava ketchup.  Because that ketchup is awesome.

Lime

1904 Broadway

Nashville, TN 37203

(615) 340-0762

Website – there is no info here besides the address and phone number, but I figure it will be updated eventually.

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Beyond the Edge September 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 3:09 pm
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My happy hour beer and the vegetarian menu

My happy hour beer and the vegetarian menu

Beyond the Edge is a really neat little sports bar in East Nashville.  I really dig this place.  They have a fantastic beer selection, great happy hour specials, and a substantial vegetarian menu.  Plus there’s a patio.  I love hanging out on the patio when the weather is nice, enjoying drinks and foods with my East Nasty pals.  While their menu is available on their website, I included this photo of it for your convenience.  Note that “Albacore Tuna Melt” is listed as a vegetarian sandwich, and “Albacore Tuna Wrap” is listed as a vegetarian wrap.  I will forgive them this mistake since I like the place so much, but it’s still annoying.

Chips & Salsa

Chips & Salsa

Had chips and salsa to start.  It was pretty standard.  A very watery but quite flavorful salsa with thicker-than-average chips.  There’s not really much more to say about it.

Black Bean Burger with Chips and Fruit

Black Bean Burger with Chips and Fruit

Beyond the Edge serves the Gardenburger Black Bean Chipotle patty, which is always delicious.  The bun was soft and yummy, and toasted to a nice golden brown.  There are cucumbers underneath the patty, and lettuce and tomato on the top half of the bun.  Now, I asked for avocado to top the burger, and was informed they did not have avocado.  This was confusing to me because avocado is listed as the first ingredient in the Veggie Wrap.  I also asked if they had pico de gallo, and when my server said yes I asked for a side of that to top the burger.  As you can see from the photo, what I actually received was a cup of chopped tomato.  Disappointing.  I just spooned some salsa on my burger, but it wasn’t what I wanted.  I declined the french fries (which are quite good – seasoned curly fries) in favor of potato chips and a fruit cup.  Those Sweet Maui Onion chips are effing amazing.  The fruit cup was not very good.  I was expecting fresh fruit, like cantaloupe and honeydew and grapes or something, but what I got seemed like it came from a can and there was a lot of liquid in the cup.  Not impressive.

Will I be going back to Beyond the Edge?  Absolutely.  I really love the vibe, and the beer selection, and the patio, and the veggie burger.  And next time, I’ll be passing on the chips and salsa and fruit cup and I’ll stick with the fries.

Dig in!

Dig in!

Beyond the Edge

112 11th St

Nashville, TN 37206

(615) 226-EDGE

Website – a word of warning, it plays music.

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ETA: A commenter noted that the bun is not vegan.  On my visit, I asked if the bun was vegan and my server told me that it was, but it’s possible my server was incorrect.  If you’re dining at Beyond the Edge, I would recommend you ask about the bun and make your own assessment.  Also, apparently they can sub out a different kind of bread, and you could also probably request to have the patty in a wrap.

 

Cantina Laredo August 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 10:54 am
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Margarita

Margarita

Went to Cantina Laredo for a birthday dinner.  You may look at the Cantina Laredo menu and think to yourself “hmm … there are literally zero dishes on the menu that are vegan, aside from the guacamole.”  This thought will be entirely accurate.  That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to eat at Cantina Laredo.  I called ahead to ask questions about the menu, and I would suggest that you do the same.  You can order what I ordered and consider it to be vegan, but you really should call ahead and ask to speak to the manager and/or chef about vegan options: this sends the message that there is a demand for vegan options, and who knows, a new dish may find its way onto the menu.  Also, you see the lime and avocoado in the bowl there, by my margarita?  Yeah, they’re going to become guacamole later, at your tableside.  And trust me, even if there wasn’t another vegan option on the menu, you would still want to come here to eat this.

Chips & Salsa

Chips & Salsa

Your meal at Cantina Laredo begins with chips and salsa (duh).  They bring out two different kinds: one is spicy and one is mild.  The spicy one is better.  Our server was really good about keeping the chips and salsa coming.  The service at this restaurant is just fantastic.

Cantina Laredo - Guacamole 1Cantina Laredo - Guacamole 2Cantina Laredo - Guacamole 3

So it’s really really neat that they make the guacamole right at your table.  I’m pretty sure the waitress felt awkward while I took these photos, but such is the price of my “profession.”  BEHOLD, the finished product:

Guacamole

Guacamole

Eating this guacamole is basically like having  a party in your mouth–a party to which everyone is invited.  Unfortunately, said guacamole costs about $9.  Seriously, $9??  That’s just ridiculous.  I suppose I was in a fancy restaurant and should expect such things.  It was super fresh, clearly.  Our table of six demolished both those bowls long before our entrees came out.  Speaking of entrees, by the time I was done with all the margaritas and chips and salsa and guacamole, I basically forgot I ordered one.

Enchiladas de Espinaca

Enchiladas de Espinaca

This is a heavily modified version of the Enchiladas de Espinaca – spinach enchiladas.  The menu description for this dish reads as follows: “Sautéed spinach, monterey jack cheese and mushroom enchiladas topped with sour cream poblano sauce.”  These enchiladas have just spinach and mushrooms inside – no cheese.  Also, they clearly do not have any sour cream poblano sauce on top; I topped each of them with a different flavor of salsa.  They come with veggies on the side (be sure to specify no butter) and black beans (ask for no cheese).  The verdict?  It was pretty good.  It wasn’t fantastic.  The vegetables were really good and had slivered almonds.  The black beans were standard.  The enchilada was kind of bland, even with the salsa.  If someone I knew really wanted to go here I would probably go with them, but I likely wouldn’t pick it if restaurant choice was up to me.  Vegans can definitely eat here, but it’s kind of complicated to explain your order to your server and when I called about vegan options, I was put on hold for a while and eventually had to be called back later by someone who could answer my questions.  The guacamole is amazing, the margaritas were tasty, and the service was awesome.

Cantina Laredo

592 12th Ave. S.

Nashville, TN 37203

(615) 259-9282

Website

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