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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Cafe Coco January 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 11:31 am
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Hummus Plate and Chips & Salsa

What could be better than an independently owned neighborhood cafe that is open 24 hours a day with clearly marked vegan menu options and raw vegan chocolate cake in the cooler?  Nothing, that’s what.  Cafe Coco is one of my all-time favorite restaurants in Nashville and I’m really surprised that I haven’t featured it yet.  There is nothing not to love about this place, from the decor featuring local artists to the friendly vibe to the helpful staff to the fabulous food.  The patio is amazing when the weather is nice (which it wasn’t on this visit).  If you haven’t been there yet, go right now.  Don’t even finish reading this post, just go.  You can thank me later.

Pictured above are the appetizers of champions: hummus plate and chips & salsa.  Cafe Coco has my favorite salsa in the city, hands down.  It is so good.  If you’re thinking about getting a side of it with your meal, stop.  You need more salsa than that.  Get the appetizer so your salsa needs can be fully met.  The hummus is nothing to sneeze at though I could hardly say it’s the best in town.  Still, it’s really thick and the plates shown above can make a substantial meal by themselves–but why stop there?

Three Bean Vegan Chili and Raw Vegan Chocolate Cake

It seems that Cafe Coco’s “soup of the day” is always Three Bean Vegan Chili … but I’m not complaining!  This stuff is good.  It is just spicy enough to warm you up when it’s cold without being so spicy that you don’t want to eat it.  I recognize kidney beans and black beans, not really sure what the third bean is but I don’t really care because it’s delicious.  It is a little more watery than I like my chili, but for whatever reason it works.  I recommend crumbling up those multi-grain crackers and adding them directly to the chili for maximum chili enjoyment.

The cake is a new addition.  Cafe Coco has long had tempting-looking (dairy-laden) desserts in a cooler case near the register.  Imagine my surprise to peer into this case and view RAW VEGAN CAKE.  I wish I had written down the name of the woman who makes the desserts, but I didn’t, so if you go there check on that for me and let me know what it is so I can update this post.  I was speaking with my cashier about the addition of vegan cake and she told me the dessert woman recently took a raw foods cooking class and is now really into making raw desserts.  Kudos to her because this cake is A-MAZ-ING.  It was so rich I almost couldn’t eat it (note I said “almost.”)  It took a couple days to eat the whole slice.  The next time you’re there, grab a slice.  Don’t think about it, just do it.

If you haven’t been to Cafe Coco before you’re missing out.  In addition to the above foods, I also really like “The Skinny” which is a hummus and vegetable wrap–just omit the cheese and pesto.  Plus, it’s open 24 hours a day!  And there’s free delivery at lunch time!  WOW!

Cafe Coco

210 Louise Avenue

Nashville, TN 37203

615.321.2626

Website

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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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Beyond the Edge October 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nashvegan @ 11:37 am
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Behold, the beer selection

Behold, the beer selection

Beyond the Edge has a fantastic beer selection.  They also have a fantastic buy-one-get-one happy hour special.  And they have fantastic vegan food.  I’ve written about this East Nashville gem before here and I will likely write about it again.  It’s good, and it’s one of those places that keeps me coming back with varied menu options and, frankly, an awesome beer selection.  Look at all those taps!  And they have four kinds of Yazoo!  It’s the only place in town of which I am aware where you can sample Yazoo’s A Beer Named Sue, which is a mysterious dark confection, and can potentially attribute the gravel in its guts and the spit in its eye to that name.

Custom Wrap with Fries

Custom Wrap with Fries

A commenter on my last Beyond the Edge post informed me that the buns the restaurant uses are not vegan.  I’m not sure if they are or not (as when I asked I was told they were) but to be safe, I opted for a bun-less meal this time.  What you see in the photo is not on the menu.  It’s kind of a cross between the veggie wrap and the veggie burger pizza wrap.  Kudos to Beyond the Edge for (1) accepting a custom order; (2) not messing up a custom order; and (3) adding stuff to a custom order to make it even more awesome.  I basically asked for the veggie burger pizza wrap but with more of a Tex-Mex twist.  Since the veggie burger is a black bean patty, I thought it would be complemented nicely by avocado and salsa (instead of the cheese and marinara that came with the pizza wrap).  The cook really went above and beyond, filling the wrap with lettuce, tomato, onion, carrots, and red cabbage.  I dipped it in the little cup of salsa that came on the side.  It was AWESOME.  The blend of flavors was really fantastic – spicy burger and salsa, cool avocado and veggies.  The carrots gave it a nice crunch factor.  Plus, Beyond the Edge has my favorite fries in town.  Look how delicious they are!  This was one of the better lunches I’ve had in a while.  I’d love to see it on the menu permanently … so you should go there and ask for it.

Beyond the Edge

112 South 11th Street

Nashville, TN 37206

615.226.EDGE

Website – be careful, it plays music.

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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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