I haven’t been able to take a break since I started Vegan in Wyoming back in August. This week has been an amazing breath of fresh air. I have been able to get out of town for a few days and experience some amazing vegan food! I am currently writing this from San Antonio, TX. It isn’t at all what I expected, but the food has been really good.
When I think of a big city, I think of New York. With a city of over 1 million people I expected it to be super crowded with a lot of tall buildings. This was not the case at all. It is really spread out like Denver or Phoenix, which kind of got annoying because the resort I stayed at was super far from everything. This meant that I had to take an Uber everywhere and it could be up to 45 minutes of travel time before I got my lunch or dinner. For the most part, the travel time has been worth it.
The first night we tried a place called Green Vegetarian Cuisine. The only non-vegan thing they had there was dairy cheese. We tried the fried pickles, and the nachos. I really liked the fried pickles. They were super crunchy, which kind of blew my mind. I guess that’s what happens when something is actually fried. The nachos were good, but not great. I didn’t love their queso. It was almost like it wasn’t blended enough and there were a few chunks in it. I did like how they used black beans in their refried beans instead of regular pintos, though. I had a Mediterranean bowl and it was good. It was a ton of food, and I actually ended up taking leftovers (that NEVER happens)! The falafel were very crispy and the kale salad was one of the best I have ever had! I decided to splurge on some desserts and ended up getting a peanut butter cupcake, a pecan brownie, and a magic cookie bar (graham cracker crust, coconut, pecans, chocolate chips, and caramel). The cupcake was average. The frosting was super light, but it didn’t have a very strong peanut butter flavor. It was covered in peanuts which helped, but there wasn’t anything special about it. The brownie was amazing! It was probably the best vegan brownie I have had in my entire life. The edges were slightly crunchy, while the middle was incredibly chewy, soft, and fudge like all at the same time. The magic cookie bar was the best for sure! I love desserts like that, the combination of everything is pretty much perfection! The restaurant gets different bakery items delivered everyday, so I definitely lucked out with the brownie and cookie bar.
For lunch the next day, I decided to try a place that had some grab and go stuff. I wanted to take some things that I would be able to eat back at the room. I went to a place called Munch On and Beyond. It was a lot smaller than I expected. Honestly the store itself wasn’t at all visually appealing. There was a fridge with some food and beverages in it and a freezer with literally nothing in it. I was really questioning my decision at that point, but I didn’t really want to go anywhere else because I had already paid $15 for an Uber to take me there. They were a vegan and gluten free place. I ended up getting a variety of items from there because portions looked pretty small. I got an African peanut stew, spaghetti squash pasta, a pasta salad, a spinach mushroom sauté, and mini cheesecake bites. Everything I had there was really good. I loved the dressing on the pasta salad and the African peanut stew was amazing. The cheesecake bites were good. They seemed a lot creamier than the ones I make, but they didn’t have quite as much flavor. I did like how they made them mini though. I also got a juice there. It was actually kind of weird because they had these juices on a lower shelf in the refrigerator, and I really wanted one of those. For some reason they weren’t for sale and I was confused to why they would have them out if they weren’t selling them. Anyway, I got a beet/pineapple/celery/carrot juice because that was the only one they had. It was good, but I wished they had more options. I had a lot higher expectations for that place, but the food was actually good, so I can’t complain.
That night, we went downtown and went to a vegan restaurant called Señor Veggie. This place was the only mandatory place for me. I knew I wanted to go here from day one. It was a vegan Mexican restaurant just off of the Riverwalk downtown area. It was pretty empty when we got there, which surprised me. I was actually glad it was slow because I was overly hangry and wanted food in my stomach ASAP. We shared the poblano corn fritters and they were a great! They were piping hot and I destroyed the roof of my mouth because I couldn’t wait (unfortunately this happens more than I like to admit)! It was definitely worth it though. They were so light, but incredibly crisp on the outside. The inside was crazy fluffy and amazingly tender. They came with a chipotle mayo that added a little heat. I still can’t get over how amazing they were. I loved them so much, I probably could have eaten the whole order myself without a single regret! I decided to order the jackfruit molé plate, partly because I knew it would be an Instagram friendly thing (sigh and eye roll because Instagram has literally ruined my life), but also because I didn’t think I could stomach something fried or sandwich like after that appetizer. The molé was probably the best I have ever had. It was served with black beans, brown rice (cooked with spices), warmed corn tortillas, and salsa. Everything was incredible, but I have to admit the best thing wasn’t even something I ordered. There was this smoked seitan in the carne asada wrap and it had such a great smoky flavor. It was probably the best flavored seitan I have ever had. I had the tiniest bite, but it was pretty life changing. For dessert I managed to stomach a horchata donut. It was the only dessert they had left, since it was later in the night, but I didn’t care. I have been craving a donut for months, so I knew I wanted one. They make all of their desserts in house, which I really appreciated. The donut was good, it was a little dense, but it was still very good and wasn’t too dry or crumbly. The flavor was good, and the little kid in me really appreciated the rainbow sprinkles! I really enjoyed the whole experience there. Our waitress told us that people will seek out this place and they get people from all over the country. I can definitely see why!!! It was by far the best meal I had.
Earlier I mentioned my donut craving… There is a vegan catering/wholesale bakery called “Cake Thieves”. They make these super creative donuts and they look delicious. They don’t have a store front though and the only way to get them is by going to one of the few coffee shops that sell them or by placing a minimum order of one dozen donuts. About a week ago I tried to order donuts from them and they never even replied to my message. The frustrating thing is that all of the messages showed that they read what I had sent and their Facebook pages says that they typically reply in an hour. I understand they may be busy, but not even receiving a reply letting me know they couldn’t fill the order was upsetting. I personally wouldn’t be able to let a message from any one of my customers go unanswered for longer than a few hours. I would be afraid of upsetting someone, especially when trying to grow a business. It has taught me a lesson though. Even the little orders and sales I make matter. The relationships I have with each and every customer I have is extremely important whether they buy one cupcake at an event or they order dinners every week. That is something that is very important to me. I never want to get to the point where I don’t know my customers or to where things become impersonal. Luckily, right now Vegan in Wyoming is small enough that I don’t have to worry about that. I know that it will gradually grow, but I always need to hold that standard or else it will grow into something that I am not proud of. It is always good to be reminded of why I do what I do, and this showed me something I hadn’t even thought of.
For our last lunch we tried this cafe called Pharm Table. It was lighter food, but it was absolutely amazing! I did some research and the founder of the restaurant was a chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio. They had a lot of Macrobiotic and Ayurvedic foods, and it was all organic. I could definitely tell that the quality of ingredients and the detail that went into each dish was far superior to most restaurants. I had the quinoa tamal bowl. It was incredible! All of the flavors were really bright and went together well. It was seasoned perfectly and had a good balance of acid, spice, sweet, and salty. It was just the right amount of food too. I didn’t feel disgusting after, but I was completely satisfied. Even though the meal itself was enough. I had to try their desserts. They were right up my alley. They had a cocoa/acai cashew cheesecake, a chocolate chili truffle, a brownie bite, and a turmeric espresso energy bite. All were great and just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. For dinner, we went to Green Vegetarian Cuisine again. It was good, but way too much food.
Vacation mode will be over soon! It has been nice to leave the stove for a little while and have other people cook for me. It has also been nice enjoying weather before returning to WY, or as I like to call it the tundra of death… I’ll be back just in time for me to fill a couple Thanksgiving orders, which at this point I am actually looking forward to. I have left this week inspired, motivated, refreshed, and more than anything full!