Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Minneapolis Eating Tour 2008

It was time for the bi-annual Minneapolis pilgrimage. We really wanted to see Cracked Pepper announce at a North Star Roller Girls bout. As new vegans, the opportunity to dive into vegan friendly restaurants was just too thrilling!

What?! EVERYTHING here is vegan?!

What?! The menu is plainly marked whether items are vegan or can be made vegan....without dirty looks...

(insert angelic chanting sounds and warm, glowing light here)

So, after exhaustive research from the internets with our bums firmly planted on the couch....the following are the joints that we ended up stuffing our faces at. There are other places that we just couldn't fit in on this trip :-( If you get to or live in the Twin Cities area, I would recommend all of these good eats.

Most of the couch-bound ressearch came from here:
VegGuide Twin Cities
Happy Cow Vegetarian Restaurant Guide

4/24/2008 one rainy day -------------------

Seward Café (breakfast)

What we had:

  • Mexicali ( tofu on corn tortillas with pinto beans, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, rancheros sauce & melted soy cheese)
  • Vegan French Toast ( thickly sliced, house-made whole wheat bread dipped in flax & soymilk batter) + maple syrup + soy margerine + blackberries + vegan sausage
  • Iced Chai (Home Brewed Chai, served hot or iced) w/ soy
  • Nice cold glass of Soy Milk

*bonus* there is the Seward Community Co-op store next door and thus commenced our shopping spree…

*tip* bring cash, fill out your own order and pay for it at the counter - menus and order forms are near the counter, ride a bike - there is ample bicycle parking on the side!

Evergreen Chinese Restaurant (runch)

What we had:
  • Sweet & Sour Mock Chicken (Battered mock chicken with green peppers, onion, and pineapple in sweet and sour sauce)
  • Wheat Gluten with Pickled Vegetables (Sliced wheat gluten roll, similar to, but not the same as mock duck cooked with hot peppers and pickled vegetables)
  • Vegetarian Rolls ( Deep fried spring rolls filled with vegetables)
  • Mango Soy Milkshake
  • Jasmine Tea

*bonus* authentic Taiwanese with many mock-meat options throughout menu. The food made me want to eat my weight in mock chicken! I was so happy with the food I wanted to kiss the owner….with my tongue….all over him….and his wife….rolled in pickled cabbage….or not.

*tip* keep your eyes peeled looking for this one. there is parking in the back - otherwise you'll have to find a spot on the street. walk into building and look to your right - go down stairs to the restaurant. leave your victorian eating etiquette at home - YOU ARE GOING TO SNARF AND SNORGLE UP DELISCIOUS FOOD!

Pizza Luce’ (dinner)

What we had:
  • Bruschetta w/ Rinotta (rinotta UNcheese, contains nuts)
  • Lil Gracie Pizza (Veggie sausage, phony pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives and soy cheese on red sauce) -black olives +pineapple
  • Cream Soda
  • Beer *burp*

*bonus* they’ve got vegan brushetta n cheesy garlic toast, amongst other things. Our pizza was tip-top and devoured.

*tip* i've made plenty of deliscious vegan pizzas at home but must admit that having one baked in a big ol' pizza oven with love from Pizza Luce' was simply scrumptious - try a pie!

4/25/2008 another rainy day --------------------

Namaste’ Café (lunch)

What we had:
  • Mamacha (6 pieces of delicious dumplings filled with tofu, onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, & a delicate blend of spices. Served with freshly prepared sesame sauce)
  • Kwati (A variety of sprouted beans and flat pieces of dough cooked in a thick soup with cumin, cayenne, ginger, garam masala, & bay leaves over a serving of rice)
  • Namaste Special Curry (House curry prepared with tumeric, ginger, onions, garlic, cumin, cayenne, tomatoes, & fresh scallions over a serving of rice)
  • Masala Chai (1 hot, 1 iced)

*bonus* another meal that I had to activate my impulse control to keep from licking all of the goodness off of the bowls. My first nepali eating experience and I want another one now!

*tip* their chai was rated #1 for 2008 in the Best of Pages, so, order one up! Also, our service was very slow, I don't know why, perhaps a fluke - just in case, plan for a long lunch :-)

Falafel King (snickety snack)

What we had:
  • Falafel King Combo (Hummus, tabouli and falafel with pita bread, 22 oz. pop)

*bonus* for middle eastern fast food, you can’t beat the falafel king! What a treat for fast food! Ha!

*tip* there are many locations - we tried the one on Lake St. and you'll have to maneuver around road construction for a few more months, but it is worth it! look for a big, gold crown on the corner of a building and you've found goodness within...

Midori’s Floating World Café (dinner)

What we had:
  • Edamame (boiled & salted soy beans in the shell)
  • Vegetable Gyoza (vegetable dumplings with dipping sauce)
  • Vegetable Tempura (deep fried vegetables in light batter)
  • Kaiso Salad (marinated sea vegetable assortment)
  • Veggie Tempura Roll (asparagus, sweet potato, avocado)
  • Rishi Fairy Flower Tea (The tea buds are tied into a ball and are highly scented with fresh Jasmine flowers. The balls not only give a fragrant aroma, but also a surprise when
    a row of hidden flowers open in hot water.)
  • House Sake *hic*

*bonus* very very very very tasteeee food here. Period. We tempura’d our asses off here….NOMNOMNOMNOM

*tip* this little joint gets BUSY! cuz it is that good. if you are planning to go there during peak hours, call for a reservation!

4/26/2008 whoa nelly! a snowy day --------------------

French Meadow Bakery & Café (breakfast)

What we had:
  • Sweet Corn Arepas (Corn cakes layered with vegan sausage, fresh organic spinach, sautéed red peppers and balsamic reduction)
  • Vegan Black Bean Chili (Organic black beans, ancho and chipotle peppers, corn, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions)
  • Grilled Tempeh Reuben (Marinated and grilled organic tempeh with sauerkraut
    and spiced tomato-soy aioli on organic rye bread)

*bonus* yet another NOMNOMNOM type of joint. We pick’em that way as we are certifiable foodies…..if you are into *not vegan alert* sweet rolls, holy moly, this place serves a cake size of a sweet roll….you’d have to be a sweet roll loving mo' fo' for sure. *end not vegan alert* As I am not, I chose some sweet corn arepas that knocked my socks off. I must add that Kristin didn't really like her Reuben because it wasn't zippy enough. We like Reubens that make your eyes go wide when you bite in 'em :-)

*tip* this place is packed during peak hours, be patient and pick out a seat before you jump in line - turn over of the tables are pretty fast so keep your eyes peeled & jump on one when it becomes free!

Hard Times Café (lunch)

What we had:
  • Vegan Gyro
  • Some Asian Sammich thing - sorry can't remember the name of it :-(

No website, so here is a review from someone else that I feel nails it on the head..

Hard Times is the ultimate punk-rock all-night vegetaria

n cafe and restaurant. At any given moment expect to see intellectual punkers, hobos with coffee, and everyday folks playing chess. The atmosphere is pure 1970s grunge, with a kick. The music is a bit too loud, but tolerable; the food is well-priced and tasty, with various comfort-foods, gyros, tacos, burgers, hummus and desserts. They can make pretty much anything vegan and everything is vegetarian. Waits for food are long and the service isn't the friendliest, but it's crisp and mostly efficient. Come to Hard Times for the food and the vibe. It's a Minneapolis institution.

*tip* bring cash, menu is at counter with order sheets - fill one out and pay right there, bus your table when done, wonder over to Cedar St. and shop at the little world market store across the street - if you are lucky, the lady's dog will be awake and you can pet her!

Ecopolitan (dinner)

What we had:
  • Flaxseed Tostadas (Two flaxseed-sunflower shells topped with spiced lentil mix,
    marinated mushrooms, olives, onions, cashew “sour cream”,
    hot sauce & cilantro, served with salsa & guacamole)
  • Casheese Roll (Rolled in sun-dried tomatoes, basil and olives, topped with
    balsamic onions and reduction, served with flaxseed crackers)
  • Jasmine Green Tea

*bonus* there is nothing at all to feel guilty about when you eat here…and it all was so damn tasteeeeeee. We knew that it would be good….but how good can raw vegan food be….i’ll tell you, REALLY GOOD!

*tip* wonder into the back down the hall to peruse some neat books.

The King & Thai (more dinner, cuz ur on vacycay n feel decadent....pass the body glitter)

What we had:
  • Vegetables with Sriracha Sauce
  • Indian Curry Fried Rice with Tofu
  • Mock Duck Curry Puffs

*bonus* it is thai food. Thai food is always a bonus ;-P this was a suggestion for downtown faire. It was pricey but they understood what we wanted when we said vegan so it was all good.

4/27/2008 gorgeous sunny day in tie for us to leave, damnit -----

Seward Café (brunch)

What we had:
  • Mexicali ( tofu on corn tortillas with black beans, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, rancheros sauce)
  • Hashbrown Supreme ( hashbrowns topped with grilled onion, green peppers, mushroom, tomatoes)

*bonus* it is just that good here….

*tip* don't forget to do some shopping next door at the co-op store!

In the end, we left Minneapolis very satisfied and the car loaded down with food n kitchen stuffs. That can be mentioned in another blog. Kristin's favorite meal was the first trip to Seward Cafe for Mexicali and my favorite was Namaste Curry at Namaste Cafe.

The end.