My visiting vegan friend presented a fun challenge and a new excuse for exploring vegan restaurant options in my adopted city. I definitely haven’t made a point of searching out vegan food here, but I had a hunch that in a city so very devoted to gustatory delights, I wouldn’t have far to look.
I had already joined the Facebook group Where NOLA Eats, so I posted there looking for advice. Even though a moderator mildly noted that there were already a LOT of threads on this very topic, I still managed to garner quite a number of enthusiastic recommendations, many of which were not yet on my radar.
Good Karma Cafe. We went back twice for lunchtime meals, and enjoyed every bit of it. The flavor-rich food, the calm vibe, the actual towels in the bathroom instead of those evil, deafening blowers that are so omnipresent these days. Bouquets of herbs on the tables, clearly identified and labeled, “For eating!” And the infinitely patient, super chill staff who calmly dealt with each patron’s special dietary instructions. Bonus points for easy street parking and location adjacent to a yoga studio in the same big, blue building.
Bearcat Cafe. This place was seriously bustling for Sunday brunch. We had a 20-minute wait, which wasn’t bad, although we sort of overflowed from the very small waiting area by the hostess stand and were definitely in the way of the fast-stepping wait staff. I liked the whimsical concept, with a “Good Cat” side of the menu, featuring vegetarian and vegan, balanced out with the “Bad Cat” side offering omnivore options. Absolutely delicious food, hands down. Those breakfast potatoes! The quesadilla was massive. Also a delicious iced matcha latte, a beverage made from finely ground green tea leaves, which was new to me. Sadly, the noise level was absolutely deafening with all the hard surfaces, a packed house and an open kitchen. I might try it again at a less-busy time to see if that makes a difference.
After my friend left, I couldn’t resist trying one more option that had been highly recommended by the Where NOLA Eats folks. It was my birthday week, after all, and the vegan treats at Breads on Oak have gotten such excellent buzz lately! After my black bean soup and half a vegan banh mi (I had to pack up the leftovers for later), I dug into a gorgeous “brioche of the day,” which was secretly stuffed with a decadent chocolate & cherry filling. I had a serious debate about whether to try the Boston Cream stuffed brioche, which last fall was named one of the “50 Best Vegan Desserts in America” by VegNews. I will definitely go back on a cooler day and sit in their courtyard with the two lazy cats.
Of course, this was only scratching the surface. There is such a deep reservoir of food culture in this city. I expect you’ll hear more from me on this topic soon!