30 January 2013

mystic celt.

mystic celt has always been a favorite of our group, simply because it's fun. there's always a rowdy crowd there late at night ... and it's super close to our apt., located right in the heart of the southport corridor. 

i would categorize mystic celt as a bar & grill. but instead of always testing out the bar aspect ... last weekend, we tried out the grill. aka food instead of always drink.  

after i let our server know that i was vegan, a manager came over to discuss options. he let me know that they are working on a vegan menu (yay!) and gave me a few options of what i could eat. i was most interested in doing a pesto pasta or a veg wrap ... so we decided to combine them.

here's what i had ... 

pesto veggie wrap :
summer squash, asparagus, misc. bell peppers, onion, avocado & pesto 
w/ baked & seasoned waffle fries. 
not going to lie ... was still feeling the effects from the night prior. and this hefty meal was actually the perfect cure. the grilled veggies were delish, the avocado fresh, and the pesto light & flavorful. #winwinwin. 

but if i'm going to be completely honest, my favorite part was the baked waffle fries. here's how it went down ... the manager found out there is no longer a vegan fryer. that's okay, i'm used to that. skip the fries. but wait! "i can put them in the oven and bake them for you." yes, the fries were super yum. i mean, who doesn't love a seasoned waffle fry? but mostly, i just thought it was so so so so so nice of him to offer to bake the fries for me. in all my vegan eating days, that has never happened. so again, mystic celt gets another big #win in my book. 

i can't wait to see what their vegan menu turns out like. looking forward to another trip! 

27 January 2013

cabo san lucas, mexico : maca.

post #4 of 6 ...

if you are vacationing in cabo san lucas, mexico ... you absolutely must go to maca, a new (only 6 months old!) restaurante & taberna española. maca features "tapas, kebabs, mediterranean & spanish dishes ... all accompanied by wines from the world." ok, amazing. here's why ... 

1. our server was sooo nice. when i asked about non-meat, non-dairy, etc. etc. items, he said, "oh, you are vegan? good for you!" and then proceeded to cut strips of meat off a cured pig leg. but that's okay. he knew what a vegan is and, therefore, is quite awesome. 

2. the owner of maca is sooo nice. he chatted with us for a while ... recommended a few menu items ... explained a bit about their fantastic wine selection ... & sang us a lovely spanish ballad. ok, not that last thing. but still, he was just such a nice guy. 

3. the restaurant aesthetic is seriously beautiful.

4. and most importantly, the food is delicious. i'm talking authentic spanish food level delicious. in place of menus, all their offerings are listed on chalkboards ... because their menu changes extremely frequently since all their ingredients are local & organic. loves it

here's what i had ...

various pans & tomato/garlic spread :
tomato/garlic spread really brought me back to my study abroad days in madrid. so delish. please note -- it was obvious which of these breads were not vegan ... egg wash, stuffed w/ cheese ... i just stuck with the dry french bread. still so tasty with the tomato/garlic.

steamed artichoke :
normally comes with lemon butter.
it's no secret that i love me some artichokes. this was no exception. it was literally steamed to perfection ... the leaves were sooo tender. i might go so far as to say this is the best artichoke i've ever had at a restaurant. (at a restaurant. at home, my mom makes the best vegan stuffed artichokes around. no joke.)

vegetable paella :
as you may recall from my post on misiones de kino ... 
see below.
post-paella : 
again, 'nuff said.
and yet another best (!!!) ... hands down the best paella i've had to date ... including in spain. perfectly cooked, fresh veggies, overall flavor exactly as you'd want it in paella. 

it's safe to say that maca is my new favorite restaurant south of chicago. and let's be honest, that covers a lot of ground. it's a definitely a must-try place ... so get down to cabo san lucas just to go to maca ... now

23 January 2013

southport grocery & cafe.

breakfast is hard for vegans. well, for this vegan. even in my meat&dairy-eating days, i was never a big fan of brekkie food. so now? i reeeeally don't like it.

brunch? brunch i like ... simply because of the "unch" part.

the southport corridor has a plethora of brunch places ... i mean, every bar basically has a weekend brunch. but, there is one place i have been wanting to try since we moved to the area 3 1/2 years ago ... southport grocery & cafe, where "comfort food is the name of the game … our own modern twist on the classics."

the reason i hadn't been to southport grocery until now? their wait times are insane. no, seriously. actually insane. on this freezing saturday, we had an hour and fifteen minute wait ... i get it. it's a small place. makes sense. they are just so damn popular! 

anyway, here's what i had ...

veggie sandwich :
roasted beets, cucumber, tomato,  field greens, & smoked onion spread on sienna bread. no herbed cream cheese or provolone ... & fruit salad w/ vanilla vinaigrette. 
 perfect veggie sandwich-ness. at first, i was hesitant about the smoked onion spread, but it added a great flavor. the roasted beets were also fantastic.
none of the side options were vegan, except for the fruit salad w/ vanilla vinaigrette, which i was secretly happy about because how delicious does vanilla vinaigrette sound? so delicious. and it was. you could really taste the light vanilla flavor. awesome. 

our server at southport grocery was also awesome ... she checked on a bunch of items to determine if they were vegan. (mainly the bread ... but we also asked if the infamous cupcake pancakes were vegan just for funsies ... answer : they are not.)

the other interesting bit of information is that even though they have cray wait times, they also have fancy ipad system ... you give them your name & number ... and then are free to do whatever you'd like. and they'll text you when it's time to grub. genius!

i'll say that southport grocery is definitely my new fave brunch place on southport. check it!

20 January 2013

cabo san lucas, mexico : la galeria restaurant.

post #3 of 6.

i'm the kind of vacationer who likes to do a lot of things when i travel. so after a day poolside, i was ready for a night out.


luckily, we were headed to the cabo san lucas marina ... imagine lots tons of restaurants ... and therefore, tons of people trying to get you to come into their restaurant. a touch overwhelming. oh well.

we had pre-planned to go to la galeria restaurant ... where chef rodrigo cabeza de vaca "has created his own style that mixes thai with maya, italian with aztec, french with poblano and japanese with mexican."

it's true. the menu is huge ... and quite eclectic. but the best part? they have a whole vegetarian section. with many dishes easily adaptable to vegan.

here's what i had ...

gourmet bruschetta :
cherry tomato tossed with garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil over homemade baked bread.
this was literally the best bruschetta i have ever had. i don't know if it was the fresh tomatoes & basil on top ... or the fact that the bottom was soaked with balsamic & olive oil. (actually, it was the balsamic & olive oil.) delish. 

veggies grill platter :
farm selected vegetables, grilled with a touch of rosemary, along with charcoal roasted garlic, tossed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
this is your basic vegan dish. sauteed veggies in a light balsamic vinegar sauce. that's not to say it wasn't tasty! i had already filled up on the amazing bruschetta, so a lighter dinner was perfect.

i'm assuming that many of the restaurants on the marina are similar in that their staff speak perfect english ... it's definitely the most touristy area of cabo ... so this was an easy peasy place to confirm vegan items. and it's fun location makes it a definite stop for vegan cabo-goers. 

16 January 2013

zachi.

i am not lying when i say that i drive past zachi, a little mediterannean place near the corner of southport & belmont in lakeview ...  every.single.day.

"zachi means tasty ... it's as simple as that." zachi's website made this post pretty easy ... because the food at zachi = tasty. really. as simple as that. ha.

furthermore, josh called to verify vegan-osity and the person he spoke with knew what that meant with no explanation. double win for zachi!

here's what i had ...

a variety of zachi items :
counterclockwise (cause that's how i roll) : falafel, hummus, baba ghanouj, baby pita, chili pepper sauce.
falafel = fresh & crispy. perfect.
hummus = something about this hummus made it amazing. it was sooo good. maybe light on the tahini or something like that? i have no idea, but it was so good.
baba ghanouj = same thing. just sooo light & delicious. 
oh, and i really loved the smaller size pitas that everything came with. 

i've said, "let's try zachi!" to josh about 1,000 times. so finally ... we did! and i can't wait to go again. you should, too. 

13 January 2013

cabo san lucas, mexico : misiones de kino.

post #2 of 6 from cabo san lucas. 

yet again ... we will not feature mexican food, just yet. our second stop in cabo was misiones de kino, "where mexico and little italy meet for a true culinary experience." fa realz. i know, mexican + italian doesn't sound so great. but it is ...

misiones de kino is lovely. when you pull up, you may wonder where you are. from the curb, it's doesn't look all the special. but once inside, the actual restaurant is adorable & staff are all very very friendly.

here's what i had ...

linguini pasta : 
linguini topped with capers, plum tomatoes, kalamata olives ... sub olive oil instead of gorgonzola cheese sauce.
no comment on delicious-ness ... see next photo ...

post-linguini :
'nuff said.

here's a bit of a disclaimer. when in mexico ... i didn't always fully explain "hey, i'm vegan." i did more, "i don't eat meat, cheese, milk, eggs, animal products." just easier. but, in this instance ... i did not ask if the pasta was vegan. i made an assumption. and in explaining the animal products bit, our server did not comment on the pasta ingredients. so again, i made an assumption. 

here's why ... in mexico. not homemade pasta. pretty certain it was vegan pasta, as most regular pasta is.

so there you have it. misiones de kino is lovely. tasty food, kind staff, great atmosphere. check it.

09 January 2013

adobo grill.

only i decide i want mexican food three.days. before i leave for vacation in mexico. oh well. so off to adobo grill (located on wells in old town) we went.

although, it actually may not come as a surprise ... in writing this blog, i've noticed that i go through phases of food types ... spring was mediterranean, summer was italian, fall was sushi ... winter? winter is clearly mexican.

anywho, i had been wanting to try adobo grill for some time ... so when a groupon popped up, i had to grab it.

here's what i had ...

salsa & jicama chips :
smokey salsa & crisp jicama (for the gluten-free patrons)? delish. and as we know, i do love dietary awareness. so having a special gluten-free menu (even though i'm not gluten-free) is just so nice. 

guacamole :
famous guacamole, prepared tableside!
love me some tableside guacamole. sooo good. 

veggie enchiladas :
peppers, black beans, tomatillo salsa. no mushrooms. no sour cream or cheese.
the typical vegan mexican plate ... it normally came with butternut squash & mushrooms, but since i don't like mushrooms ... we did a sub for sautéed peppers. yuuuum.

adobo grill is a great place for vegans ... when i was explaining to our server that i don't eat meat, dairy, any animal products, yada yada ... he said, "so you're vegan?" why yes, kind sir, i am! so not only is the food great ... their staff is also fantastic ... !!!

side note : it's right next to second city ... so if you're looking for a place to grab a bite before a comedy show, it's the perfect place

06 January 2013

cabo san lucas, mexico : nicksan.

hello, lovely veggies! hope everyone had a lovely holiday season ... let the 2013 year of eating begin!

we'll start this year off a little differently ... as you may or may not know, i recently ventured down to cabo san lucas, mexico for a little r&r. and i found six (yes, six!) restaurants that could easily accommodate vegans. some knew what a vegan is, some didn't ... and some i didn't even try to explain. but i will say that it was a very successful trip in finding vegan eats. 

anyway ... our first stop : "stylistic sushi & seafood dishes" at nicksan, a japanese restaurant located right near the downtown/marina area. 

i know what you are thinking, "really? first post from mexico is sushi?" why, yes it is. here's what i had ...


green salad :
mixed organic greens with sesame seed dressing. 
this is your run of the mill japanese green salad. quite delish. 

vegetable roll
carrot, broccoli, avocado, asparagus, cucumber.
again, a very basic maki. what i will say is that the broccoli and carrot added a great little crunch to the roll, which you don't always get with the usual veg. a vegan staple ... easy & reliable. 


let's be honest. sushi is pretty much always a safe bet when it comes to vegan eating. and nicksan is no exception. a worthy stop for vegans in cabo.