At the tail end of a month of stuffing your face with animal products, going vegan can seem like a refreshing change of pace while staying in line with your new year’s goals to “be more healthy” (whatever that means).
So, you vow to eschew beef, cheese, pork, eggs, fish, and more. Then reality sets in and you realize that subsisting on grains and vegetables may be boring and bland. Or will it? Here are my five favorite vegan dishes in Houston that could convince you to commit to this lifestyle full time.
“Cali” Sandwich, Green Seed Vegan
Nicknamed not for the state but for the meal's star ingredient, this delectable sammie layers “chicken fried” cauliflower with pickles, arugula, red onions, tomato, and a vegan mayonnaise with moderate heat on a whole-wheat bun. Although battered curds don’t taste like poultry, their crackly exterior approximates the pleasing crispiness, and the peppery batter provides welcome fatty depth to the vegetable.
Vegan Ramen, Jinya Ramen Bar
“How is there NOT cream in this?” is perhaps the most common reaction from those trying Jinya’s cloudy, rich vegan vegetable broth swimming with thick-cut noodles, green onion, spinach, and tofu. The answer, perhaps, lies in the addition of garlic and chili oils, which bolster the richness and increase the spice factor. A dusting of fried onions, garlic chips, and sesame seeds round out the otherwise silky soup with pops of crunch.
Veggie Loaf, Field of Greens
It might not be the meatloaf that mom used to make (unless she was vegan), this is still terrifically satisfying. The creative cooks at FoG construct their loaf out of flax, quinoa, cauliflower, celery, zucchini, and mushrooms, then cloak it in curry sauce. A side salad is on hand, but I suggest pairing this botanical beast with some tofu fries.
Buddha Bowl, Pat Greer’s Kitchen
One of the first restaurateurs to offer a full vegan menu, Greer continues to maintain a loyal patronage while attracting new lovers of her no-nonsense, well-executed, veggie-centric dishes. My favorite is the Buddha Bowl, a hearty collaboration of cooked quinoa, chickpeas, broccoli, and supple sweet potatoes with raw kale and black sesame seeds. The combination of those aforementioned ingredients alone would make for an outstanding vegan comfort food; however, a side of Curry on Dude dressing boosts the overall experience with heady notes of turmeric and coriander.
Vegan Frito Pie, Local Foods
Determined to get your junk-food fix albeit in a cruelty-free fashion? Local Foods’ vegan version of the traditional frito pie combines chili made from Impossible Burger meat, pico de gallo, at least two heavy ladles of its luscious vegan queso, and (I estimate) a half a bag of Fritos. Healthful? Doubtful. Delicious? Hell yes.