Like most vegans, we SuperVegans love to get our feedbag on! So on a cool night in the not-so-distant past, Cathy, Livi and I headed over to V-Spot, where owner Danny Carabano fed us dish after dish of the delectable tidbits V-Spot now offers at groceries and health food markets all over town. Here’s how it went down.
Black Bean Empanadas: black beans, plantains, scallions, vegan cheese, salsa inside
Livi: This is so good and filling—I wish I was home so I could fry it up! It’s amazing, like what you’d get at a restaurant. Really, really good.
Cathy: It’s good that this is a light, golden brown; you can pan-fry it and not worry about it burning or darkening too much. Unfortunately I can’t try this because I think there’s cilantro in it, and I’m allergic. And I wish the salsa indredients were listed on the label.
Roseann: This was super tasty, and the salsa was just spicy enough. The piece I got didn’t have a whole lot of salsa in it, so it was a little dry, but I really liked it.
Empanadas Colombianas: seitan, potato, carrot, onion, cilantro, corn, Latin spices, salsa inside
Cathy: I wish I could try this, but again, cilantro!
Roseann: This was a little spicy for me—what can I say? I’m a wimp when it comes to heat. But it was definitely tasty.
Livi: This is delicious, though I think the black bean one is better. It’s mystery meaty—like, What am I eating? Oh, I’m eating beans. I would definitely buy and eat both again.
Breakfast Empanadas: organic tofu scramble, tempeh, cheese, veggies
Cathy: This is my absolute favorite thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner! It’s my favorite thing on the whole menu, whether I eat in or out. It’s so nice, it has more flavor than a plain old veggie one—it’s stuffed with everything!
Roseann: The first bite was a little too smoky for me, but wow, was this empanada moist! And talk about flavor—everything but the kitchen sink is in here, and it works!
Livi: What’s not to love??? Danny makes the best empanadas I’ve ever had in my life! The empanadas are awesome. V-Spot really does them right!
Organic Quinoa With Curry Kale: ginger-flavored quinoa with sautéed coconut curried kale, chickpeas and Thai spices (gluten-free)
Cathy: I don’t love curry, but this was good. And it has only 5 grams of fat! You get kale and the superfood quinoa.
Roseann: I’m not a curry fan—in fact, I pretty much hate it—but this was mild and tasty. And it’s pretty healthy, which is nice as a lunch option.
Livi: This was good!
Sesame Tofu With Quinoa (served cold) & Sesame Tofu With Brown Rice (served hot; available in the restaurant only): tofu, broccoli, onion, toasted sesame, quinoa or brown rice. The sauce is added to the tofu after it’s cooked in the quinoa version; the sauce is put in the pan and cooked with the tofu in the rice version (both are gluten-free and agave-sweetened)
Cathy: This is good but sweet—if you don’t like sweet sauces, don’t order this, though it is sweetened with agave, which is lower on the glycemic scale. Either one I’d enjoy hot or cold—they’re much better than the vegan macro lunches you see everywhere; they’re complex, interesting, fresher. I like that the hot one’s wet; the moisture can get sucked up by the grains in the package. The way the rice dish is described, I expected it to be gingery, but it’s not. It tastes like sesame seitan, but it’s tofu; it’s sweet. And the container feels heavy! The box for the quinoa version says one serving is 12 ounces, 327 calories, 15 grams of fat, 648 milligrams of sodium. It’s not fair that the quinoa one has so much fat! I never would have thought about that.
Livi: This is good, definitely above average, 6 on scale of 1 to 10. I really like the hot dish—I love it, actually—because I don’t eat cold food often. I like that quinoa is a superfood; that’s cool. If I’m hungry, I could see myself eating the whole thing over the course of a shift!
Roseann: The quinoa dish is good, sweet and very light. But the brown rice version has more flavor and is a little spicier, which normally I’m not a fan of, but it works here.
Avocado BLT: tempeh bacon, avocado, cabbage, vegan mayo, whole wheat bread
Livi: I like the creaminess of it—it tastes indulgent! And I’m a secret cabbage eater, so this is delicious. It also tastes like there’s a lot of fat in it. This is my favorite thing here, something I’d definitely eat outside the restaurant. And it’s organic. It’s so effin’ good!
Cathy: I don’t like cabbage, but this is one of my favorite things here. And you can save money: Instead of going to a restaurant, grab a sandwich. And it’s different—no tomato or lettuce to make it soggy. It does have 11 grams of fat, though.
Roseann:This sandwich is great, and I’m not normally a sandwich eater (nor a fan of mayo, real or imagined). It’s slightly sweet, with a very creamy texture. And if there’s avocado in something, you can always count me in! I love this. I would definitely buy it for lunch.
The Vietnamese Sandwich: teriyaki seitan, cabbage, carrot, cilantro, chile paste, vegan mayo, whole wheat bread
Cathy: I can’t try this because I’m allergic to cilantro, but the seitan looks thick!
Roseann: Like the BLT, this is one generously sized sandwich. And while the meat is thick, the cabbage gives it crunch, and the sauce is slightly sweet & spicy (I especially like the sweet part). I’m not a big sandwich fan, but I thought it was pretty good.
Livi: I don’t like it—the meat was too thick, chunky and dense. It wasn’t appealing to me.
Organic Whole Wheat Lasagna: Daiya mozzarella, soy meat sauce, basil, authentic marinara
Cathy: You can pop this right in the microwave, and the layers don’t even get messy when you take it out! I feel like you could totally fool someone with this, like in a bad Stouffer’s commercial—Oh honey, look what I made for dinner! It’s nice to be able to get good lasagna—it’s comforting and reminds you of family; it’s savory, meaty, and really good. Plus they use whole wheat, and it’s very saucy but not mushy. It’s even saucy in the container, so it won’t dry out. This is a great option as opposed to Amy’s; it’s not overly cheesy.
Livi: This is delicious! It would be nice if there were more veggies in it, but that’s just my personal preference. It seems homemade; I love the taste and texture, and it is very saucy. I love that it’s not too cheesy too. Fuck you, Amy! This is awesome!
Roseann: This is really filling! Heavy in good way, and the cheese is great. I like that they use whole wheat too, and the sauce is good. But what can I say? Nobody makes sauce like my mom did. It’s a little sweet for me.
Broccoli Croquettes: potatoes and broccoli on a bed of kale
Note: The Croquettes were sold out when we were at V-Spot, so Danny got some to me at a later date.
Roseann: Unfortunately, Livi and Cathy weren’t around to give me a hand with these—boy, did they miss out! I think these are my favorite of all the retail products: rich, creamy potato croquettes, with just enough crust to give a slight crunch, and broccoli to add flavor and veggie benefits. They’re hefty, so you really feel like you’re eating something, and the kale adds that serving of leafy greens we all tend to forget about. I love, love, LOVE the croquettes!
So how did we feel about our experience overall?
Livi: It’s all really good, solid food, and I’m glad I tried it, because now I know what’s in stores. But my mouth is too full for me to say much else!
Cathy: I like that the nutritional info is easy to read, it’s marked kosher, there’s an expiration date, etc. V-Spot’s really evolved. When they first opened, they were doing everything; now they’ve refocused, and their food is solid. I liked it all! And I was happy to see the variety of options—Asian, Italian, American. But I’d like to see them bring in more sandwiches! A chicken cutlet hero and chicken parm? Wrap it up! And Livi’s right, now that I’ve tried everything, I’d definitely buy it. What I’d like to see is some new stickers, maybe with allergy information and heating directions, and definitely the salsa ingredients for the Black Bean Empanadas.
Roseann: I liked everything a lot, and I absolutely loved a few things. They’re reasonably priced (we found the empanadas at Back to the Land for $2.69 and the Avocado BLT for $4.99; we found the Whole Wheat Lasagna at Perelandra for $5.89), and my husband takes one of these to work for lunch pretty much every day now. Convenient, affordable and delicious—not bad, V-Spot!
Note II: All of V-Spot’s retail products can be eaten cold, but they’re all designed for the microwave (although the empanadas are at their best after a spin in the toaster oven). The products arrive on shelves in Manhattan on Wednesdays and Brooklyn and Queens on Thursdays, and they’re in stores for up to a week. Some of the places where you can find V-Spot’s retail items are Back to the Land, the Park Slope Food Coop, Associated, Perelandra, Dekalb Market, Pine Box Rock Shop, Life Thyme, Integral Yoga, East Village Farm, Natural Frontier, Health Nuts, Commodities East, the Westerly, Gary Null’s Uptown Whole Foods, and even JFK Airport!