Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vegan Dining In and Out

This is a busy time of the year for me due to my job which requires a lot of travel.  I haven't had a lot of time to cook any "fancy" recipes at home; but when I do cook, here are some of the meals we have been enjoying lately:  (Sorry, no pictures.)

--Rice and beans
--Rice and stir-fried veggies
--Rice and grilled tofu
--Rice and vegetable salad
--Rice and avocado with soy sauce
--Rice and garden tomatoes with Tapa Tio

Okay, so you get the idea.  We eat a lot of rice.  It's the quickest, easiest thing to make and still manages to taste good!

Other popular meals lately include some kind of pasta with Trader Joe's Traditional Marinara Sauce and artichokes.  Oh and salad.  A lot of salad.  

Anyway.  When we're not eating rice, beans, tomatoes or pasta, we are eating at vegan-friendly restaurants.  Here are just a few of the fun places we've gone lately and what a vegan can eat there:

Le Papagayo:  Leucadia, California

W looked at the menu ahead of time and excitedly announced that they had a vegan option of Pasta Primavera.  Yes!  That's exactly what I was craving!  However, when we arrived at the restaurant for a birthday dinner, the menu said "Vegetable lasagne and veggie wrap with hummus."  Um, not vegan, hun, but thanks for looking out.  I instead asked for a gnocci that was made in one dish with the putanesca sauce made in another.  It turned out to be really delicious!

Meals by Genet:  Los Angeles, California
I had never been to an Ethiopian restaurant, but after this experience I am hooked!  I love this food!  There was another veggie lover at this meal, so we shared the vegetarian combination dinner.  I don't really know how to describe it other than it's a huge plate covered with Injera bread and tofu and about a dozen vegetable "dips" or relishes.  You rip off pieces of injera bread and use that to grab some of the relish.  It is sooo good.  I want to go back.  There are a bunch of Ethiopian places here in San Diego, so I'm anxious to try them.

Cosmic Cafe:  Dallas, Texas
I have a long story about finding a vegan restaurant in Dallas, but I won't go there right now.  Fortunately, I finally found this place and ravenously devoured this entire plate in under fifteen minutes.  This was an exclusively vegetarian restaurant and only a few items on the menu had dairy in them, so I was happy to see I could eat almost anything!  I ordered the Buddha's Delight which pretty much covered everything: curried vegetables, dahl, samosa, pappadam, rice & naan.  Even the naan was vegan!  Yum to everything!  Thank you Cosmic Cafe!

Don Carlos Taco Shop:  La Jolla, California
Okay, so yes this place is just a little hole-in-the-wall taco shop, but it has an amazing menu with tons of vegan options.  It's advertised on all the vegan websites for good places to eat in San Diego, so of course I had to check it out.  W was a little skeptical and insisted we could just go to the taco shop down the street from our house.  "But that place doesn't have tofu and soyrizo and guaranteed lard-free beans and tortillas!"  So to La Jolla we went.  And it was GOOD.  I got the soyrizo and potato burrito which was packed full of veggie goodness and smothered in guacamole.  Delicious.

Of course at places like this I always get overwhelmed with so many vegan options!  There were mushroom tofu tamales, veggie burrito bowls, tofu burritos, and basically anything on the menu without cheese and sour cream!!  I am going to have to go back.  La Jolla is a pretty fun place too.  See below:

Cups:  La Jolla, California
Vegan Cupcakes. That's all I have to say here... but I'll say more.  This was a cute little loungy-type place that looked served only CUPCAKES!!  I love cupcakes so much we had them instead of a traditional cake at our wedding.  The week before my birthday I bought all the ingredients to make my own vegan cupcakes, but then it turned out to be the heatwave of the summer and then we had that blackout and so cupcakes were never made.  One week later, we went to Cups to get my vegan cupcake fix and it was everything I dreamed it would be.  Mmmmmmmmm...

P.F. Chang's:  Riverside, California
Okay, so this is a chain restaurant, but it's not so bad.  P.F. Chang's has always offered a ton of vegetarian options and is always a good choice.  We went here with the family for a joint birthday dinner (mine and Grandma's!) and it was really good!  The table shared two orders of the vegetarian lettuce wraps which are always amazing.  The dish I ordered for myself was Ma Po Tofu.  It's my favorite at Chang's and what I always order, so I was satisfied.  Funny how everyone else at the table at first poo-pooed my choice and then when they all tried it they loved it.  Hmm.  You know, tofu really isn't that bad if it's made with the right ingredients.

That's pretty much been what's been happening in my vegan life lately:  easy, quick meals at home and lots of vegan eating out.  Maybe once I'm done traveling (in December) I'll look at some of my cookbooks again.  Sigh... oh cookbooks, how I miss you.

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