GoVeg.com declared Asheville, North Carolina the most vegetarian-friendly small city in America. I recently had a chance to check out Asheville’s vegan options, and while I found plenty of health food, I’m definitely still glad to be a spoiled New York vegan.
My first stop was Rosetta’s Kitchen. Rosetta’s is one of those places that buys local, composts, and recycles… but unfortunately, they don’t seem to have put too much effort into the actual food. I got their signature dish, peanut butter tofu with mashed potatoes and kale. Everything lacked flavor, and the tofu was particularly egregious: plain cubes of tofu with some peanut flavor on the outside. Damn those hippies and their tofu cubes; I didn’t know anyone out there still ate like this. (On the plus side, the portions were huge, and their mac and cheese was quite good. But nothing makes up for those lame-ass tofu cubes.)
Next up was the Laughing Seed Cafe, which totally rocked. It’s like if you merged Angelica Kitchen and Candle 79: innovative daily specials, a mix of ethnic-inspired dishes, and fancy gourmet quality (plus, good selections of both caffeine and alcohol). I got the pakora appetizer (with ingredients that change daily), a delicious multi-mushroom soup, and the Pacific Rim Seitan entree. I seriously wanted to come back here every day and try the entire menu; unfortunately the prices were also at New York levels.
I was quite excited about the Early Girl Eatery‘s breakfast; I actually managed to drag myself out of bed by 11:30am in order to try their scrambled tofu. Unfortunately they seemed to have forgotten the “scrambled” part; they served me a mix of cubed tofu and green peas! I mean, it was spiced well, but on what planet does this count as “scrambled”? Is it a special New York innovation that we’ve discovered how to serve tofu in non-cube forms? Within walking distance of my apartment, Sacred Chow, Kate’s, Counter, Organic Grill, and Curly’s will all scramble you up some proper tofu; perhaps they should take this knowledge to Asheville and reveal to them the joys of tofu in its non-cube form? (Hint: scrambled tofu picks up flavors way better when actually scrambled!)
Just add beer.
Anyway, Early Girl has some tasty vegan sandwiches on its menu (I recommend the avocado and sprout), so all was not lost. Just watch out for those damned tofu cubes.
And finally, while it’s not especially vegan-friendly, I’d recommend a stop at The Bier Garden. They’ve got a great beer selection (plenty of which are vegan) and free Guitar Hero 2; seriously, what could possibly be more fun than getting drunk on good beer while rocking out to Them Bones?
I didn’t have time to check out every vegan option in Asheville, so if you’re planning a trip, make sure to check out AshevilleVeg.com. Let us know your Asheville vegan recommendations in the comments.