Eat Me.

Anything you can do we can do vegan.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

New Orleans Restaurant Guide for Vegans

Let's face it - there is no one dedicated happy place for vegans in New Orleans. Most of the local specialties center around seafood and just when you thought you were safe with the vegetable plate at Galatoires you realize everything on it was fried in butter. In the words of our friend Albert "you guys must be disappointed a lot." However painfully true that is on occasion there are way more fantastic occasions on which you find a hidden gem of a restaurant that by default serves food that is always perfectly vegan and always perfectly delicious.

Note: This post is to be constantly under construction.

African

New Orleans' traditional cuisine has its roots in traditional African cooking. Corner store red beans and rice, jambalaya and gumbo are all variations of traditional African dishes that don't always live up to their predecessors. However eating at an African restaurant affords you the joy of discovery and exploration if you are already down with the comfort food and other dishes that make us feel at home.

Bennachin

1212 Royal Street
504.524.3828

Cash only. Daily 11-10. BYOB (Corner-store one block away in case you forget your wine.) Lunch specials.

I don't know how we survived in New Orleans without knowing about Bennachin. A fellow vegan clued me in on their reasonably priced lunch specials and fabulous black-eyed pea fritters. My favorite meal is the jama-jama; coconut rice w/sauteed spinach and plantains on the side. Nice and simple. More favorites are peanut or pumpkin seed stews, beans and rice or Amos' favorite; the black-eyed pea fritter po-boy. The dinner rolls got a thumbs up from Amos' grandma who is a dinner roll expert. Click on the name above for the Gambit's review of the restaurant. This place is perfect for you out of town vegans wanting to taste something unique and New Orleans-y but too drunk to make it out of the quarter. The only thing is be prepared for a wait after you sit down and order - the staff is usually one server and a cook if you are lucky...

Menu Highlights: Jama-Jama, Black-Eyed Pea Fritters, African Po'Boy, Jambalaya, Sauteed Vegetables with Cous-Cous. Long list of vegan items and many items on the menu available without meat. Fantastic Dinner Rolls.

Breakfast

Because sometimes you need some scrambled tofu.

Surrey's Juice Bar

1418 Magazine St
504.524.3828

Cash only. Wednesday -Sunday 8-Lunch.

Surrey's is great. It's cute and light and airy just like a breakfast place should be. We try to go on Saturday mornings almost as soon as they open and then hit up the farmer's market. They make their own bagels and granola. Watch out for the 6$ glasses of fresh juice.

Menu Highlights: Bagel Plate with Vegan Avocado Mash, Granola w/Fresh Fruit and Soy Milk, Fair-Trade Coffee, Roasted Vegetable Po-Boy, Tofu Scramble.


Burritos

There was no Mexican or South American food before the storm. Now however there are a few establishments looking to serve very very authentic dishes and roving trucks serving food for the working masses. I haven't tried to navigate any of these new establishment's yet but will refer two old standbys.

Juan's Flying Burrito

2018 Magazine St
504.569.0000

Monday - Saturday: 11-9 PM Sunday 4-9 PM

Juan's is where we go when we are HUNGRY. A bean and rice burrito the size of your head is $5.50.

Taqueria Corona
5932 Magazine St
504.569.0000

Monday - Saturday: 11-9 PM Sunday 4-9 PM

Non-fussy Mexican food with good margaritas. Also where I discovered cebollitas. Get the cebollitas.


Mediterranean/Middle Eastern

I don't really know why we have so many fantastic Middle Eastern restaurants in New Orleans or why I have two within walking distance from my house. I'm certainly not complaining. And if you are unfamiliar with Middle Eastern food take a meal and try it. You will be hooked I promise.

Lebanon's Cafe

1506 S. Carrollton Avenue
504.862.6200

Open daily for lunch and dinner. BYOB.

I love Lebanon's. Although their prices have risen over the years it is well worth the extra dollar for falafel that is perfectly spiced every time. Middle Eastern food is fantastic but Lebanon's has stepped well beyond the ordinary. They serve traditional dishes that are perfect every time with gracious portions. At whole foods the price of the pine-nuts in their Lebanese iced tea would cover the cost of your entire dinner.

It is also great to grab one of their sidewalk tables on a perfect day and watch the world go by. The owner is always about as is the neighborhood cat that lounges around outdoors ignoring the patrons as they vie for his attention.

Mona's Cafe
1120 S. Carrollton Avenue (one of many locations...)
504.862.6200

Open daily for lunch and dinner. BYOB.

Mona's Cafe is like a legacy in New Orleans with multiple locations serving many different neighborhoods throughout the city. Everyone in New Orleans knows Mona's. Because when you want your hummus and falafel or an outstanding bowl of lentil soup they will be there for you. I just googled "Mona's Cafe" and reviews from the New York Times popped up. A few locations have outside seating (mid-city and riverbend) and our favorite thing is picking out the few Arabic words we know from the music they are playing. Also stop in to buy freshly baked house pita for 1.50$.

Spanish/Mediterranean

Fiesta Bistro
1506 Carrollton Avenue
504.865.1612
Saint Charles Bus. Monday - Saturday 11-11. Sunday Noon-10.

When fiesta opened it didn't have much in the way of vegan food. They have revamped their menu to include a large selection of tapas, one lovingly named "vegetarian tapas for veggie lovers." Joy! We went with three tapas and sangria. Sangria was o-k but not the boozy lovely dense sweet drink with an abundance of fruit we have come to love at Lola's. Skip the chips and salsa and even if ordering from the veggie menu specify no dairy!

Menu Highlights: Grilled Veggie Tacos or Fajitas, Patatas Bravas (very good!), Tomato Confie, Eggplant Granada, Empanadas de Frijoles, Garbanzo or Fava Casserole, Stuffed Mushrooms. 2$ mimosas all day Sunday and daily happy hour from 2:30 to 5:30.

Lola's
3312 Esplanade Avenue (Near City Park)
488-6946
Mon-Thu,Sun 5:30pm-9:30pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10pm
Dressy Casual, No Reservations, Cash Only!

By far one of my favorite restaurants in the city. This is the protocall at Lola's. Call up all your friends or go with just one. Wait outside for a table, if you brought your own wine start drinking (corkscrew is in the hostess stand - shh!). Sit down and be served hot little pistolettes out of some magic hot bread oven. The paella is to die for and if you have lots of friends just order a big dish and share. The cutest thing about this restaurant is the older folks that come with their own personal coolers of booze. I'm telling you this is a hidden gem and go there and know about the wonder that is Lola's.

Menu Highlights: Sauteed crimini mushrooms, vegetable paella or fidellua, salads, garlic soup. Bring your own wine or get their sangria w/lots of fruit for 3$ a glass. 3$!


Vietnamese

New Orleans has a large Vietnamese population. Most of the Chinese restaurants in the city are actually run by Vietnamese families and aren't very good at all. There isn't a shortage of authentic Vietnamese restaurants around town though they tend to be on the Westbank or in New Orleans East and are difficult to get to without a car. Read the menu before you sit down: many Vietnamese restaurants have meat in everything with the option to add eggs if you are so inclined. One waiter actually asked us why we were even bothering to pay for the spring rolls if we didn't want pork or shrimp (after we had to explain to him shrimp is indeed a type of meat). But a few restaurants have broken out of that tradition to provide kick ass vegetarian food. Who needs Pho anyway?!

Pho Tau Bay

113 Westbank Expy # C
Gretna, LA 70053
(504) 368-9846
Open Monday - Saturday. Call first. Kitchen closes at 8:30.

Before Katrina (or Pre-K if you are so inclined) there were several Pho Tau Bays around the New Orleans area including one next to Angelo Brocato's on Carrolton Avenue serviced by the Canal Streetcar Line. The last one standing is located in a bleak strip mall in the shadow of the elevated West Bank Expressway next to an acrylic nail supply company and abandoned bowling alley. Don't let the lack of locality ambiance scare you off - the food is amazing and there is no shortage of vegetarian/vegan options. And seriously it is only five minutes from the quarter (by car) and well worth the trip.

Menu Highlights: Soda Chanh (beverage of club soda, lime and sugar served mix-it-yourself style), Spring Rolls (fresh and fried), Vermicelli Noodle Salads, Tofu Vietnamese Po-Boy, Vegetable Soup (add your choice of rice, tapioca, bean thread or a few other noodles), Vietnamese Coffee (ask for soy milk), lime-jasmine tea, other beverage concoctions you never knew existed.


Jazmine Cafe
614 S. Carrollton Avenue
504.866.9301
Take Saint Charles Bus to Riverbend. Open Tuesday - Sunday 11-9.


Jazmine Cafe is a newer addition to the neighborhood and used to be the 24-hour Trolley Stop Cafe. Thank god that's gone... On a Saturday night business was brisk with diners and take-out orders but the atmosphere is casual and it is sort of nice not having to wait for two hours for a table. The menu and staff are very vegan friendly: on one occasion after we ordered the waitress asked if we were vegetarians and recommended switching out the chicken soup my meal came with that I hadn't even noticed.

Menu Highlights: Vegetable Spring or Summer Rolls with peanut-hoisin sauce, Tofu and Avocado Vermicelli Noddle Salad Bowl (add crispy fried summer rolls- I dare you!), Mushroom Glass Noodle Soup, Tamarind Tofu Soup, Bubble Teas, Vietnamese Coffee (ask for soy milk).

2 comments:

Katie and Sam said...

We are headed to New Orleans in about 3 weeks, and I am PANICKING over what I am going to eat that is VEGAN. I always panic when we go on vacation. My family is vegetarian, and easier to find food than for me...who usually just buys peanut butter and eats with a spoon on vacation. Your webs site has been MOST helpful to me! THANK YOU!
Katie

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