I am sad to say that I honestly cannot remember my first vegan meal, home-cooked or otherwise. It was a slow, ongoing process for me to remove animal proteins from my diet, and as such a gradual change almost goes unnoticed, the meals I made and ate also went under the radar.
I do, however, have a handful of best-ever meals over the course of my work travels and culinary adventures in the past 6 years. If you ever find yourself in one of these cities, please go check out these delicious spots!
1. White Dog Cafe (Philadelphia) // Not a vegan restaurant, but with an ever-changing seasonal menu that includes some dedicated vegan options. My last meal there was white bean ravioli with caramelized onions, kale, celery root puree, and turnips. Gourmet perfection.
2. Farmicia (Philadelphia) // My all-time favorite restaurant. With locally sourced seasonal produce, their menu features meat options, vegetarian dishes, and vegan fare, including dessert. Three courses with a view of the city street is why I went back three times within the same trip once I discovered this gem.
3. Farm Restaurant (Dublin) // Tucked inside a renovated house, this quaint gem of a restaurant about gave Farmicia a run for its money. By far the best meal I ate in Ireland, and considering most places with vegan desserts are just so-so, the chocolate coconut tart topped the entire meal.
4. The Chicago Diner (Chicago) // All vegan, all diner. Milkshakes, burgers, and brunch heaven.
5. The Wallflower (Vancouver) // Another diner-style, eclectic spot, perfect for carb-loading comfort food. They even serve their mac and cheese with vegan hot dogs if you really miss your childhood favorites.
6. Kirbey Lane Cafe (Austin) // Best vegan pancakes. And an ever-rotating daily vegan pancake offering. I’ve stopped trying to order anything else, although the tofu migas come in a close second.
7. Sweet Ritual (Austin) // Ice cream sundae heaven. Chocolate milkshakes are getting me through pregnancy.
8. Departure (Portland) // Small plates with numerous choices. Apple pear salads, Brussels sprouts, artfully prepared veggie sushi, mango curry. I could go on and on.
9. Wazuzu (Las Vegas) // All the restaurants inside the Wynn have vegan menus, but Wazuzu is my favorite. It is genuinely difficult to find good veggie sushi that’s not just a cucumber roll, but this one makes it easy. I have yet to have the same items twice here, and all were fantastic.
10. The Farm of Beverly Hills (Los Angeles) // Go get the best kale salad you will ever eat.
Runners-Up (chain restaurant favorites):
- Kure Juice // Juice, smoothies, and acai smoothie bowls. Plus, Vega protein add-ins!
- Veggie Grill // Best macaroni and cheese you will ever eat.
- Le Pain Quotidien // All the avocado toast.
- True Food Kitchen // Unique, seasonal entrees, brunch, and beverages.