1. Wayward Vegan Cafe in Seattle—so nice, we ate there twice

    Seattle’s U-District, a neighborhood seemingly made for vegans, is home to what is one my newest favorite place to eat. Wayward Vegan Cafe serves up huge portions of diner style breakfasts and lunches for more than reasonable prices. In our four days in Seattle so far, we have eaten there twice.

    This is not the type of food that most people think of when you say vegan and I think that is a very nice thing. Vegetable based dishes certainly hold a place in my heart, but as a southern girl, if you put biscuits and sausage gravy on  a menu I will be your best friend. There are omelets (vegan omelets!), and french toast, and pancakes, and tofu scrambles, and sandwich and every single thing looks so very tasty. Luckily they have there menu posted on their website so you can see what I mean.

    Here’s what we ate: Country Bumpkin Biscuits, herb biscuits topped with tofu scramble and sausage gravy with garlic greens, Cheezy Scramble, a cheddar-cheesy scramble with lots of veggies, greens, and so much toast, the Pull No Pork sandwich, house made BBQ sauce with shredded seitan, onions and peppers, plus fries and a pickle, The Wizard, seitan and sauerkraut covered in horseradish sauce with a side of greens (instead of fries and a pickle), Chiggen Wrap, lettuce, tomato, onion and fake chicken in house made ranch(!!!) wrapped in a giant tortilla, and the Black Magic sandwich, fake chicken in a black magic sauce, coleslaw and cajan mayo with fries, a pickle, and a side of ranch.

    Here’s what I thought: SO EFFING DELICIOUS. I am glad my friends like to share because goodness all of these were great tasting. The Chiggen Wrap was a nice change because it was less greasy and heavy tasting and the Black Magic sandwich (from the specials board) was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. I was a little disappointed by the biscuits and thought they were a bit too dense where as I prefer layered, flaky biscuits. The tofu scramble and gravy made up for it though. The Pull No Pork was exactly the sandwich I find myself craving ,sweet and tangy like the BBQ I grew up with. Also, a side of ranch dressing is only $0.50 and it made my day. Seriously.

    In summation: if you are in Seattle, go to Wayward Vegan Cafe, and if you are not in Seattle, got to Seattle and eat at Wayward Vegan Cafe.

  2. melbourne vegan review: day 5

    We slept late on our fifth a and final full day in Melbourne and started our day with lunch. We took the bus to Fitzroy and after walking around for a while, we stopped into to Veggie Bar on Brunswick Street. It was quite busy inside, but the waitress pointed us to a corner seat at a big table where other people were already enjoying their lunches. We ordered the regular size vegan supreme pizza ($11.50) which came loaded with roasted vegetables, vegan cheese, and chopped walnuts and a lentil burger ($8.50) topped with satay sauce, beetroot, and salads.

    The food came quickly, the portions were big, and the waitress was very, very, very beautiful. Our food was really good and the rest of the menu looked tempting. I feel like we both ended up ordering some of the menu’s less exciting offerings because of what we were in the mood for and because we were trying to stay under $20, but now that I know how large the portions are, I think I would order one starter and one main (priced between $12-15) to split for lunch instead.

    We took the afternoon to wander around the city. It was great to stumble across so many vegetarian restaurants while just walking around. It felt like even if we lived in Melbourne it would take forever to try all of the vegan food the city has to offer.

    For our last dinner, we got just a little bit dressed up and walked to Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant on Faraday Street in Carlton. With starters around $12-16 and mains starting at $19.50 it was more than we would usually spend. We had high expectations and the descriptions on the menu definitely caught our attention. We decided on ordered two starters and one main to share. Their signature dish is Avocado Magic, which is avocado wedges, red capsicum strips rolled in thin eggplant slices, ‘tempura’ fried in a rice batter and served with a bright green sesame coriander puree. This dish really does taste much how I would expect magic to taste. The other starter we ordered was called Scent of a Green Papaya which is a ridiculous name (much like Avocado Magic) but with papaya, green beans, tomatoes, cashews, and seaweed crusted fried tofu strips dressed with a slightly sour tamarind & chilli sauce, I didn’t care. Again, delicious and a really good compliment to the Avocado Magic.

    The food here is really, really good. Like possibly some of the best I have ever tasted but the service was atrocious. And really bad service can sometimes overshadow delicious food and kind of ruin a meal. Things like getting a glass of water were impossible feats and when we had a question about one of the ingredients in a dish the responses we got were at best cold and vague. This was highlighted by the arrival of our main (spaghetti tossed with button, portabello and oyster mushrooms together with asparagus and basil pine nut pesto). Now the menu said the dish was vegan and that it came with soy cheese but when it arrived Lindsay and I just starred at each other for a minute it looked so cheese-like, too cheese like maybe, we took a bite and when neither of us were convinced it was soy cheese we decided it best to double check. No harm right? WRONG. It took a while to catch someones attention and when we finally did they seemed really indifferent and said “no, umm, it’s uhh, yeah, it’s soy cheese” I wasn’t really convinced. I asked if the waiter if he could tell me what it was made from or who made it and he said first that he didn’t know and then that they made it on site. We ate the dish. We did everything we could to ensure it was vegan and probably it was. (People are allergic to dairy all the time, so it would be a liability to say something is non-dairy and then have it not be.) But while the food was incredible, we both left with sour tastes in our mouths. WOULD NOT RECOMMEND.

  3. melbourne vegan review: day 4

    Wanting a lot of food for not a lot of money we decided to head back up to Brunswick to Tabet’s Bakery. This time it was busy inside, so we ordered 2 oregano pizzas with vegetables and 1 spinach pie to go for a grand total of $9. This seriously has to be one of the best food deals in Melbourne. The food tasted even more delicious than last time and we were completely stuffed.

    Even though we were completely stuffed, there is always room for dessert, so we made one more stop at the Radical Grocery Store, also in Brunswick. We each got a Tofutti Cutie (me mint chocolate chip and Lindsay strawberry) for $2 each. It made us miss our old Baltimore apartment directly above a natural foods store where Tofutti Cuties were 65¢, but they were a nice treat none the less.

    Realizing we were on a greatest hits tour of eating out in Melbourne, we decided to head back to Shanghai Village for dinner, this time opting to eat in. After much deciding, we ended up ordering 17 fried vegetable dumplings, 10 steamed vegetable dumplings, 3 vegetarian spring rolls, and 3 mushroom and vegetable steamed buns, plus two drinks which cost us just under $23.  I wouldn’t recommend the spring rolls - there was very little filling and they were tiny but I loved everything else. The vegetable and mushroom steamed buns really stood out which is saying something considering how much we enjoyed the dumplings. My only complaint, aside from the spring rolls, is that the filling they use in the steamed dumplings, the fried dumplings, and the buns is the same and while it is soooo gooood, it would be great to see a bigger variety of vegetarian dim sum offerings.

    Because we both subscribe to the belief that if you eat something savory then you should eat something sweet, we headed to Casa del Gelato on Lygon Street, conveniently located just a few blocks form our hotel. We had read online that there were lots of vegan flavors of gelato and I was pleasantly surprised by the options. There was a handful of flavors made with soy milk as well as a bunch of delicious sounding fruit flavors which were dairy-free. We split a medium container for $6 which meant we could pick up to four flavors. We finally settled on soy chocolate, soy coffee, passionfruit, and pear. The two soy flavors were a bit disappointing as they definitely had a soy aftertaste but it could have also been that the soy flavors were sugar free. The passionfruit was by far the best flavor.

    FYI, the portion size of each flavor seemed to correspond to the order we asked for them, knowing this I would definitely recommend ordering the flavor you are most excited about first as you will get the most of it. Yum.

  4. melbourne vegan review: day 3

    You know your day is going to be good when it starts with bagels topped with Tofutti brand herbs and chives cream cheese. It just is.

    For a late lunch, we headed to the East Brunswick Club in (you guessed it) East Brunswick. Looking at the menu on their website we timed our trip to coincide with pancakes off the breakfast menu and the $12 parma special. Parmas appear to be an Australian favorite. As it turned out, there were no longer pancakes on the breakfast menu and the $12 parma special was only for the traditional parma which was not nearly as appealing to us as the Americana parma. Which is how we ended up spending $21 on one dish, crossing our fingers that it would be worth it. Consisting of a huge chunk of wheat gluten mock chicken breaded and deep fried, topped with black bean chili, vegan cheese, facon, and mustard on top of a bed of fries and a side salad the Americana parma was definitely big enough for the two of us to share.

    And while we both agreed afterward that we wouldn’t pay $21 for it again, it was really delicious in a fried-thing sort of way and were happy to see that everything on the menu was slightly over priced—not just the vegan food. Honestly, this is not a place you go to be impressed by the decor, nor is it a place you would expect to find such a large vegan menu, it is a somewhat run down, wood-paneled pub with rugby posters up and large tvs hanging on the wall with a medium sized menu of pub food. That being said, nearly everything could be made vegan at no additional charge, and I really appreciate that.

    Walking along Acland Street in St. Kilda and seeing window after window filled with delicious sweets we opted for lunch desert. Monarch Cakes had a little sign in the window saying they had dairy free options available so we headed inside hoping something in the display was vegan. The woman behind the counter was really helpful and pointed us to the Marzipan Stick ($4.50), which was exactly what we were hoping would be vegan. It tasted as indulgent as you would expect a large roll of sugary almond paste dipped in dark chocolate to taste. It was really rich and we ended up taking half back to the hotel for a after dinner treat, it was just as good to eat then.

    For dinner we headed to Lentil as Anything’s St. Kilda location. It is a vegetarian / vegan restaurant with three locations in Melbourne all of which are pay as you feel the food is worth. Lindsay ordered the beetroot curry and I ordered the okonomiyaki which is Japanese vegetable pancake. The food arrived quickly and was beautifully presented. Both dishes were good but not great. The pancake was a little bland and the curry spices overwhelmed the taste of the beets.

    I really wanted to love Lentil as Anything (it is a great philosophy, a really cozy space, fast service, and beautiful food) but was unimpressed by the food.

  5. melbourne vegan review: day 2

    For our second day in Melbourne, we set out to the city center. After a few hours of people watching and walking around we headed to Chinatown on Little Bourke Street for a snack.

    Shangai Village looked unassuming enough from the outside, except there was a line out the door with people hungry for cheap dim sum. We didn’t realize then however that if you are getting take away, you can skip the line and head to the register at the back of the restaurant to order. Inside the walls are hot pink and jam-packed with people eating and waiters running back and forth to the kitchen with large trays of steaming hot dumplings. We ordered the steamed vegetarian dumplings for $6.50 and came with 18 pieces. They came filled with what seemed to be mushrooms, spring onions, carrot, and spinach and one order was a great snack size to share. These were the BEST DUMPLINGS I have ever eaten and I am hoping to eat there again before we leave.

    We headed next back up to Collingwood to Las Vegan on Smith Street. We were unfortunately way too full from our dumplings to order a meal and we settled instead on two mini cupcakes at $2 each. The cupcakes were made by the same person who provides cupcakes to the Radical Grocery Store and were likewise delicious. We tried the chocolate with peanut butter frosting and an unidentified but totally delicious citrus-y one, both great!

    Just a block away from Las Vegan is Trippy Taco, a meat-free taco shop. The menu is full of quesadillas, tacos, nachos, taquitos, and tamales so of course Lindsay and I were drooling just looking at the menu. Most things could be made vegan although frustratingly the vegan food was more expensive. We ordered a small vegan nachos to share. The nachos came loaded with vegan cheese, black beans, salsa, and guacamole and were delicious and even the small was big enough to share. It was disappointing however that they didn’t come with sour cream as the non-vegan version did - paying more and getting less is even less fun. (The lighting inside was horrible so here is vegan about town’s picture of the vegan nachos.)

    All of these small meals left us pretty full by the time dinner rolled around. Wanting something low key we walked to a place called Rakuzen Simple Japanese just a few blocks from our hotel which had delicious looking sushi in the window for great prices. We ordered an avocado roll, a seaweed salad roll, and a vegetable roll plus an order of nasu dengaku which is grilled eggplant with a sweet miso sauce. The seaweed salad roll and the nasu dengaku were the highlights for me, I had never tried either before and they were both so delicious. Lindsay and I will definitely be trying our hand at preparing eggplant like it soon.

  6. melbourne vegan review: day 1

    One of the reasons we chose to come to Melbourne was the food. After weeks of drooling over vegan food blogs (like this and this) we had a long list of places we knew we had to try.

    We arrived in Melbourne hungry, go figure, so we set off immediately to Tabet’s Bakery on Sydney Street in Brunswick. We had heard tales of extremely cheap, extremely delicious Lebanese bakery food and goodness did they deliver. Lindsay ordered the spinach pie and I ordered the oregano pizza with vegetables, each were only THREE DOLLARS. They were so good. Yeasty, doughy, flavorful, delicious and tasting completely different then we expected with lemon, herbs, and olive oil bringing out the flavors in both. We left completely satisfied and stuffed.

    Also in Brunswick is the Radical Grocery Store, Melbourne’s all vegan grocer. We stopped in for some treats (sheese, herb and chive tofutti cream cheese, and soyatoo spray whipped cream!) and were of course tempted by the cupcakes by the register. We split a Peppermint Patty cupcake that was a bit expensive at $4 but so good that we couldn’t help but try it before we took a picture. 

    For dinner we headed to Gasometer in Collingwood. With two fire places roaring and pear cider on tap this pub was a great place to come in from a slightly rainy autumn night. The menu was different then what we had seen online but there were still tons of vegan options and even more things which could be made vegan, plus ever thing was well labeled on the menu (which I am a total sucker for). We settled on an order of stuffed cabbage rolls ($12) filled with mushrooms, rice, tomatoes, and mint and smothered in vegan sour cream and dill. It was a flavor combination unlike anything I had ever had. We also ordered the seitan barbecue ribs ($18) with mac & cheese and beetroot & carrot salad as the sides. The seitan was tender and covered in a sweet not smokey barbecue sauce and tasted oh so similar to the barbecue sauce of my youth. The vegan mac & cheese and beets were delicious too.

    Not bad for our first day in the city. Plus, all of these places were easy to get to with public transportation. Check back in tomorrow for more eating adventures!

  7. we found delicious vegan food in Queenstown and we want you to know about it


    Tucked away in a side street Habebes Cafe Kebabs and Takeaway (Plaza Arcade, 30 Shotover St.) is definitely the best vegan option in town. We almost missed it because it was off the main street, but goodness, are we glad we did.

    What we ate: Falafel salad platter (medium, $14) with a bit of all the salads, plus hummus, chili sauce and garlic tahini, and a cup of the soup ($8 including tortilla and hummus) which was tomato with chickpeas, thyme, and smoked paprika.

    What we thought: THIS IS THE BEST FOOD WE HAVE HAD IN A LONG TIME. Seriously. It inspires all caps-esque feelings. Every salad was delicious and we were stuffed at the end of the meal. There was a pumpkin salad that was especially good as was the beet salad and black bean salad. Actually, all of them. All of them were the best ever and it was so effing exciting to stumble upon a restaurant/ cafe that not only had delicious vegan food but even had a little list posted of everything that was vegan.

    For next time: The falafel was okay, but it was the salads that were really mind-blowing. Next time we would order the large salad platter (a bargin at $12) and maybe get soup but maybe save the room in our stomachs for dessert, because they had delicious looking vegan treats (starting a $1.50).

    In conclusion: Way to go Queenstown, way to go NZ, way to go vegans, and way to go Habebes. We will be coming back to Queenstown just to eat here again.

  8. pizza from Hell

    There are times when we just want to have someone make us dinner. Probably everyone feels this way sometimes/ all the time. While we don’t often give in to these feelings (mostly because we are travelers on a budget) every once in a while we do and it is nice to have NZ chains which have vegan options on the menu. We’ve already professed our love for burgers from Burger Fuel, and today, it is for another nearly perfect food item: pizza.

    Getting a no-fuss vegan pizza in NZ is as easy as a stop into Hell.

    The kitschy branding of flames, dark and evil mixed with pizza (and while it may not the best pizza ever) is pretty darn good. There is a vegan pizza on the menu called “the Sinister” and it is loaded with refried beans, jalapenos, tomatoes, salsa, avocado, and onions on a crust that is reliably crispy on the bottom and soft and chewy closer to the top. The combination of toppings, while not traditional, is pretty effing delicious and it is nice to order a pizza off the menu that is vegan as is.

    Additionally, there is “the Creator” which gives you a chance to pick up to eight toppings off a surprisingly long list. Pineapple, caramelized onion, tomato, spinach, corn pizza? No problem. Just be sure to specify no cheese because it comes standard on the Creator otherwise.

    Prices seem to vary a bit by location which is a bit unfortunate. Queenstown, for example, was a bit more expensive than Hamilton. But otherwise, Hell is a pretty reliable place to stop in for vegan pizza.

    And, if by chance you have one or two slices of leftover pizza after eating, the pizza box can be turned into a small coffin shaped takeaway box.