Eat the Guide: Canal Street Bistro

Hello and welcome to the NOiG series Eat the Guide!  In this series, I explore the scores of restaurants included in the NOIG Guide to Vegan-Friendly Restaurants.  You can follow along in the guide or right here on the blog, or both of course.  See previous posts here, and enjoy!

After a couple of weeks of super-low-key outings, we took it up a notch with a proper dinner at Canal Street Bistro.  Since the weather is finally getting a little cooler, we were able to walk to the restaurant - living in Mid-City has its perks. 

Appearance and Atmosphere:  Canal Street Bistro seems slightly confused.  Contained in a house the way so many charming New Orleans restaurants are, its interior is lovely and appears upscale.  There are even a couple of canopy chairs nestled into corners that would be rather fun to sit in on a special occasion like a birthday.  But the music they were playing on Saturday would be more fitting of a burger joint.  The flashing, multi-colored OPEN sign in the window too smacks more of a bar than of fine dining.  The table settings were neat and attractive, but had a distinctly summer feel to them which is a bit weird for October.

It's just as if the restaurant can't quite decide what it is trying to be.  Is it upscale or laid back?  It perhaps is trying to be both and it isn't working.  At least there are no televisions.  Before this visit I would have said go ahead and bring a (somewhat) fancy date here, but now I'm not sure.  There's nothing wrong with it per se; it just comes off as disjointed.

Hours of Operation:  If you do go out to dinner here I hope you're hungry early as they close at eight; it's more of a brunch spot.  Hours are as follows:  Wednesday - Friday 11am-8pm, Juice Bar 'till 6pm.  Saturday 9am-8pm, Brunch 'till 2pm.  Sunday 9am-2pm.  Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Service Style:  This is a full table service restaurant, including waiting to be seated.  Anticipate that brunch times will be busy.

Grilled Vegetable Napoleon
Available Vegan Options:  The Bistro seems to have given up on its old tofu offerings, which admittedly were not all that exciting.  Current vegan-as-ordered menu items include the grilled vegetable napoleon starter, the quinoa and avocado salad (the dressing contains honey but is unnecessary and can be put on the side), the sweet plantains side, and the Asian cole slaw side.  There are also a large number of dishes that are easily made vegan by removing the dairy, including:
  • roasted red pepper and carrot soup
  • guacamole
  • esquites
  • house salad
  • spinach and walnut salad
  • spinach almandine side
  • grilled squash side
  • poblano pepper side
So really, as long as you're comfortable alerting your server to your vegan needs, you can have a real feast here.

Alcohol or Espresso:  A full bar and wines are available.  Fresh juices and smoothies are also on order until 6pm.

Price Range:  Starters range from $5 to $9, salads $12 to $15, and entrees go way up from there but none are vegan.

Quinoa and Avocado Salad
My Experience:  When we arrived I was put off by the above-mentioned inconsistencies in the feel of the place.  However, the service turned our evening's experience from mediocre to excellent.  Our server Katua, taking interest in our vegan inquiries, struck up a conversation with us about veganism after getting detailed answers as to available vegan options. (Fear not - we were his only table so he wasn't neglecting anyone.)  He spoke highly of Chef Guillermo, and indeed the food did not disappoint.

We split the vegetable napoleon and the quinoa and avocado salad.  Of note, the salad is more of a quinoa and black bean plate with a sprinkle of greens and other vegetables.  It is substantial and delicious, and pairs perfectly with the balsamic-roasted vegetables of the napoleon.  We finished up with the sweet plantain side, which was just the right amount of sweetness to round out the meal.

Final Thoughts:  I'm torn.  Based on the food alone, I definitely recommend this restaurant.  It could be a great option when dining out with omni companions - though do expect that their meals will be more expensive than yours.   And I could easily be being too picky with my atmospheric complaints.  My best advice is to try it out with a trusted companion and see how it feels to you.

Sweet Plantains


Eat the Guide: Yummy Yummy

Hello and welcome to the NOiG series Eat the Guide!  In this series, I explore the scores of restaurants included in the NOIG Guide to Vegan-Friendly Restaurants.  You can follow along in the guide or right here on the blog, or both of course.  See previous posts here, and enjoy!

Last weekend Jonathan and I visited Yummy Yummy, a humble but tasty Chinese restaurant on Carrollton near Canal Street, just across Canal from Theo's and Juan's and just doors down from Brocato's.  While we typically order delivery from this economic spot, we were pleasantly surprised with the experience of dining in.

Appearance and Atmosphere:  Yummy Yummy is unassuming, the kind of Chinese restaurant that has lit pictures of the house specials up on the wall over the ordering counter.  Its booth seating area is comfy and clean, and seems to be set up to cater to the lunch buffet crowd.  This is as casual as eating out gets.

Hours of Operation: 10:30am to 10:30pm every day, except for Sundays when they open at 11.  A lunch buffet is available from 11am to 3pm Monday through Saturday, vegan options unknown.

Service Style:  Ordering is done at the counter, and most business is either for take-out or delivery outside of the buffet.  Food is brought out to your table if dining in.  Possibly my favorite aspect of this restaurant is that you can order delivery online.  It's like magic.

Family Style Tofu
Available Vegan Options:  The "Vegetarian" section is almost all vegan - just make sure that no egg is added.  Options include vegetable fried rice, lo mein, and chow mei fun; steamed mix vegetables with our without bean curd; four kinds of fried tofu; and three kinds of stir-fried vegetables.

Alcohol or Espresso: Nope.  You'll have to go down the block to the Red Door for a drink or across Canal Street to Monkey Monkey for coffee.  Or if they're closed already, up to the Bean Gallery...

Price Range:  Prices range from $3.55 for a pint of vegetable fried rice to 7.50 for the most expensive fried tofu.  This is eating out on a budget.

General Tso's Tofu
My Experience:  As usual, the person at the counter was friendly and helpful.  We ordered vegetable lo mein, Family Style Bean Curd, and General Tso's Tofu.  The food came out hot and delicious, with crispy fried tofu and perfectly cooked broccoli - such a difference from receiving delivery (though the delivered food is always very good).  We got way too much food for about $20, and both ate our fill of dinner and had lunch on the leftovers the next day.

Final Thoughts: Yummy Yummy is the best stop in Mid-City for cheap Chinese.  The tofu is excellent and makes great leftovers.  And did I mention that you can order delivery online?  Nothing could be better when you're sick, tired, or just need a treat.

Is it... tofu?


Eat the Guide: Angelo Brocato's

Hello and welcome to the NOiG series Eat the Guide!  In this series, I explore the scores of restaurants included in the NOIG Guide to Vegan-Friendly Restaurants.  You can follow along in the guide or right here on the blog, or both of course.  See previous posts here, and enjoy!

This weekend I visited one of my favorite spots in the city: Angelo Brocato's on Carrollton.  The shop was originally located in the French Quarter but relocated to Mid-City in the 1970's.  (You can still see the separate ladies' and men's entrances tiled on Ursulines Street.)  The focus of Brocato's is its Sicilian pastries and gelato, but there are vegan treats hidden here.

Appearance and Atmosphere:  Brocato's is positively charming, or maybe it just strikes me that way because it is such a favorite spot of my family.  This is certainly casual, but go ahead and take a fancy date here after dinner for a little whimsy. 

Hours of Operation: Easiest said with a picture...

Service Style:  Be prepared to stand in line for a little while to order your goodies at the counter; this is a very popular spot.  Don't let the Catholic school girls who almost exclusively staff the store pass you by - flag them down if they accidentally skip you.  Order your cookies and/or Italian Ice (see below) and collect them at the register.  Then take a seat at a cafe-style round table with darling heart shaped wire chairs.

Available Vegan Options:  Brocato's vegan options are limited but, in my opinion, worthwhile.  First of all, there are always at least three flavors of Italian Ice on hand: lemon, raspberry, and a seasonal flavor.  These are made in house and are always delicious.  Then there are a variety of hard cookies that you can take home to enjoy with your morning coffee, including Biscotti Regina (mild and covered in sesame seeds, my mother's favorite), chocolate pastines (these melt in your mouth a bit), Biscotti Inglese (slightly orange), and Scadalina (very hard and flavored of clove, also called dead man's bones).  Check the packaged foods for accidentally vegan delicacies like marzipan.  And don't skip the Roman Candy, which is always on the counter.

Alcohol or Espresso:  There is a fancy old-fashioned espresso machine here, but only dairy milk to temper the drinks with.

Price Range:  Cookies start at around fifty cents each and a scoop of Italian Ice will run you about three dollars - this is a cheap treat.

My Experience:  I just love being in the space that Brocato's is.  It makes me feel connected to my Sicilian New Orleans heritage - my grandfather loved this shop and could easily have been distant cousins with the family that has always run it.

Final Thoughts:  Go to Brocato's for a uniquely New Orleans experience.  Look at the gorgeous pastry and imagine a world where we'll have a case that looks like that full of vegan treats.  Wait in line, maybe even outside the store, because this place is iconic and extraordinarily popular.  Expect some hollering kids having a wonderful time on the family outing.  Swipe the last available table that just happens to be the one nestled by the front window.  Savor the Italian Ice, and bring home a little bag of cookies to dip in your coffee for the next few mornings.  And if you happen to be around, go by on March 19th for St. Joseph's Day and get you a lucky bean.


Eat the Guide: Theo's Neighborhood Pizza on Canal Street

Hello and welcome to the NOiG series Eat the Guide!  In this series, I explore the scores of restaurants included in the NOIG Guide to Vegan-Friendly Restaurants.  You can follow along in the guide or right here on the blog, or both of course.  See previous posts here, and enjoy!

This week Jonathan and I visited Theo's Neighborhood Pizza on Canal Street in the heart of Mid-City, just below Carrollton.  Theo's has three other locations, including two in Metairie and one on Magazine Street near Napoleon.

Appearance and Atmosphere:  Theo's is casual but nice enough to bring a date to - particularly since you'll be waiting a while for your fresh-oven-baked pizza and will want someone to chat with until it comes.  The music on this visit was a fun mix of seventies and nineties dance songs...  we may have sung along to more than one.  Quietly.

Hours of Operation: Monday to Saturday 11am to 10pm, Sunday Noon to 9pm.

Service Style:  You'll order food and drinks at the register in the back, and then choose a table and your food will be brought out.  One of my favorite details of Theo's has always been its table markers: instead of giving you a plain number or somesuch, Theo's uses pop culture icons to match tables to orders.  You never know who you're going to get.

Available Vegan Options: Pizza is the name of the game here - both the crust and the red sauce are vegan and they offer a plethora of vegetable toppings, so build to your heart's content.  (The pesto sauce does contain cheese.)  If you don't want to make the tough decisions, get the Vegan-ator.  Theo's also offers salads, most of which become vegan by leaving out cheese.  There are no vegan cheese or meat analogues here.

Alcohol or Espresso:  Theo's offers half a dozen beers on tap, half a dozen more in a bottle or can, and a number of wines as well.

Price Range:  Salads range from $6 to $10; pizzas from $10 to $20 depending on size and toppings.

My Experience: Theo's isn't my very most favorite, but I do enjoy it from time to time.  It has become my Mardi Gras Day go-to, since they are open when few others seem to be.  I tend to get the Vegan-ator, but when I noticed they now have a dedicated vegetarian section I decided to de-cheese the Arti-garlic instead.  Theo's isn't kidding about thin crust - without red sauce, this pizza's crust was almost cracker like.  Still though, it was an enjoyable pie.

Of note: Theo's Mid-City seems to be the go-to spot for gaggles of giggling middle school kids early on Saturday evenings.  Also, you may find it quite difficult to park in the area.  There are maybe three spots (in addition to accessible parking) in the lot in front of Juan's, which is behind Theo's and accessed on Carrollton so you can try your luck there; otherwise it's street parking and you may have to walk a couple of blocks.

Final Thoughts:  Go to Theo's when you're near one, don't mind skipping the cheese, and hope to have a nice long talk with your dining partners (or want to spend some quality time with yourself).


Eat the Guide: Juan's Flying Burrito on Carrollton

Hello and welcome to the NOiG series Eat the Guide!  In this series, I explore the scores of restaurants included in the NOIG Vegan-Friendly Restaurant Guide.  You can follow along in the guide or right here on the blog, or both of course.  See previous posts here, and enjoy!

This weekend I visited the Mid-City location of Juan's Flying Burrito, located on Carrollton very near the corner of Canal Street.  Every city of even moderate size seems to need its hip burrito joint, and this is ours.  They have three locations total; others are located in the Lower Garden District and in the CBD.

Juan's Mid-City.  Note the four outdoor tables.
Appearance and Atmosphere:  Juan's is somewhere between funky and raucous with a distinct punk rock vibe.  Indeed, you will almost definitely be greeted by loud punk or metal music upon entering.  This visit went a little more mainstream than usual as we were serenaded by Rage Against the Machine for the entirety of our stay.  Your server is almost guaranteed to have tattoos and/or piercings - they'll also be pleasingly knowledgeable about what on the menu is or can be made vegan.

Neon from the LGD location
The walls are painted in Day of the Dead motifs and adorned with intriguing lit sconces made of clear Mardi Gras beads that, if I'm not mistaken, come from UP / Unique Products.  If you're from out of town go ahead and get one of the cool Juan's t-shirts.  City love is cool in Nola so you could get one if you live here too, but people might think you work there.

Hours of Operation:  All locations are open 11am to 10pm Sunday through Thursday, and 11am t 11pm Friday and Saturday.

Service Style:  Full table service.  A sign in front will let you know whether you should seat yourself or wait to be seated, depending on how busy it is.  During peak dining times expect that you might wait a little while.  Tables are a mix of freestanding and booths; you can also sit at the bar.

Burritos: boring to photograph, delicious to eat.
Available Vegan Options:  Due to the nature of American Mexican food, there aren't many vegan items to be ordered directly off the menu but there's a ton that can be vegan.  Straightforward vegan options to be ordered by name include the chips and salsa, chips and guacamole, the Supergreen burrito (which comes without dairy by default, and is delicious but quite drippy), and the Wicked Garden Fajitas.

The whole world opens up, though, when you realize that you can build your own burritos and tacos.  Vegan fillings include the black and pinto (but not the refried) beans, the white (but not the yellow) rice, TOFU (oh how long we waited for Juan's to have tofu), and all manner of vegetables (including potatoes!).  There are also numerous menu items that are vegan once the dairy is removed.  My favorite burrito is the veggie punk, minus cheese, plus tofu and avocado.  Of note, Juan's now uses locally made Hola Nola tortillas.  They also fry their own tortilla chips.

Alcohol or Espresso:  Juan's has a full bar, including frozen margaritas.

Price Range:  It's a pretty cheap night out unless you start drinking; burritos and tacos range from $6 to $10.

My Experience:  I've been going to this local chain since it opened in 1997 and it hasn't changed much over the decades.  It's comforting really.  My burrito was enormous and I shouldn't have finished it but did anyway.  The unsweet tea was just the right strength.  The service was fast and pleasant.  The music was loud and angry.  In other words, we had a typical Juan's experience and it was great.

Final Thoughts: Go to Juan's if you want a good burrito, don't mind skipping dairy analogues, and enjoy some kinda loud music.  Add tofu and avocado to whatever you get.  If you go to the LGD location and it's nice outside, sit on the back patio - it's a completely different world than inside.  Go at an off time to avoid waiting for seating.


Get ready: VeganMoFo 2016 is coming!

Are you as excited for VeganMoFo as I am?  We only have to wait till November!  This year I will be talking about "A Few of my Favorite (Vegan New Orleans) Things."  What are a few of your favorite vegan treats around New Orleans?  Do tell!


Eat the Guide: Mid City Pizza on Banks

Hello and welcome to the NOiG series Eat the Guide!  In this series, I explore the scores of restaurants included in the NOIG Vegan-Friendly Restaurant Guide.  You can follow along in the guide or right here on the blog, or both of course.  See previous posts here, and enjoy!

On Saturday, September 10th, I took a visit to Mid City Pizza on Banks Street.  Having begun in a rather more humble space across the street, the pizza parlor now inhabits a spacious and attractive corner storefront and boasts some of the best vegan pizza in town.

Appearance and Atmosphere:  This is a very casual restaurant with decor inspired by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons.  Look for fun details all over the space.

Hours of Operation: 11am to 12 midnight, seven days a week, with happy hour every day from 11am to 6pm.

Service Style:  Pizza and anything else is ordered at the main counter and paid for up front; pizza is brought out to your table when ready.  This seems to be a common model for pizza restaurants around Nola.  Delivery is available in the Mid-City area.

Available Vegan Options:  Vegan options include vegan cheese (Daiya) and a plethora of veggies for pizza.  Make sure to request vegan sauce - it is always on hand but not the default.  They will probably also make you a vegan calzone, though I haven't asked yet.  On Mondays you can get a vegan red beans and rice pizza which is interesting and fun; it only comes in a small size because otherwise it would collapse under its own weight.  Check the counter for Girls Gone Vegan goodies, which are usually available and are both vegan and gluten-free.

Alcohol or Espresso:  No espresso here, but there's beer on tap and by the bottle including Abita.  There is also wine and cocktails.

Price Range:  Pizza starts at $7.99 for a small plus $1 per topping, and $15 for a large plus $1.25 per topping.  Vegan cheese adds $3 for a small and $5 for a large.  Meaning that a large vegan cheese pizza is, yes, $20.  But a large is LARGE - like, there's no way you're finishing that thing if less than three very hungry people are involved.

My Experience:  Mid City Pizza always feels relaxed and easy, and this visit was no different.  After making friends with the vegan behind the counter (there seems to be always at least one vegan working there) we settled in to chat while our pizza was being made, which takes a little while.

The pizza came out steaming hot and delicious, and paired perfectly with my Abita Amber pint.  These folks understand Daiya, and add more of a sprinkling than a thick layer of the cheese.  We also had mushrooms, red onion, roasted red pepper, and (fresh!) pineapple.  Having ordered a Large, we could of course only finish half and had the rest to snack on over the weekend.

Final Thoughts:  Mid City Pizza offers the best thin crust game around.  They also go out of their way to make sure that vegans are well-accommodated, which makes them well worth a visit in my book.


Eat the Guide: Lola's on Esplanade

Hello!  Welcome to the new NOiG series Eat the Guide!  Are y'all excited?  In this series, I will explore the scores of restaurants included in the NOIG Guide to Vegan-Friendly Restaurants.  You can follow along in the guide or right here on the blog each Monday morning, or both of course.  Enjoy!

On Saturday evening, my husband Jonathan and I kicked off the Eat the Guide project by dining at Lola's in the Esplanade Ridge neighborhood of Mid-City.  This adorable Spanish restaurant is known for its paella and its wall full of Simon paintings, and offers far more vegan options than one might suspect at first glance.

Lola's Facade
Appearance and Atmosphere:  Lola's is cozy without being cramped, and has a couple tables out front on Esplanade Avenue.  Even when full to capacity, the smallish space does not become overwhelmed by noise and is still enjoyable.  A favorite decorating detail beside the wall of Simon is the cast iron skillets hung above the open-air kitchen showing paella / fideua sizes, so that you know exactly what you're getting in to. 

Hours of Operation: Lola's is open for dinner only, from 5:30 to 9:30 Sunday to Thursday and from 5:30 to 10 on Friday and Saturday.

Service Style: Full table service.  No separate checks are offered, and parties larger than 8 cannot be accommodated.  Due to popularity, expect that you may have to wait for a table.

Garlic Brussels Sprouts
On-Menu Vegan Options: Options are astoundingly wide, and  include the vegetarian paella and fideua, the garlic mushroom appetizer, three soups (lentil, gazpacho, and ajoblanco), and the pisto and linguini entrees.  Salads can also easily be ordered without cheese.  Of note: the house pesto does not contain cheese and is vegan, as is the garlicky spread served with the bread that comes before your meal.

Alcohol or Espresso:  Lola's offers wine, beer, and house-made red and white sangria.  I was not able to investigate whether the wines on offer or those used to make the house sangria are vegan; curious parties should make good use of Barnivore upon consulting the wine list when visiting.  There are definitely vegan beers on hand including Abita.  Espresso is available as a classic meal finisher; cappuccino is also available but alas, no soy milk.  None of the restaurant's three desserts are vegan, but they are all gluten-free.

Price Range:  Starters run from $6 to $8 each; entrees start at $18 and are very generously portioned.  Two hungry adults could happily dine on two appetizers and one shared entree.

Pisto Plate
My Experience:  We had a lovely evening.  Our server was completely accommodating, indulging every one of my questions with a smile.  Despite the oncoming Saturday evening rush, service was prompt and our table so well attended that our water glasses were never more than half empty.

The food was divine and there was far too much of it: we ordered the garlic Brussels sprouts (the tapas of the day, totally vegan without modification, prepared as the on-menu garlic mushrooms are), the vegetarian fideua (like paella but made with angel hair pasta), and the pisto (two portobello mushroom caps stuffed with vegetables and served with black beans and rice on the side).  We went home with two full to-go boxes that made lovely lunches through the weekend.

Vegetable Fideua
Final Thoughts: Lola's is splendid, and is welcoming for vegans who want a nice night out.  Consider it for any date night or small special celebration such as a birthday with your closest friends.  And think bigger than paella: while it's the signature dish and is delicious, options for vegans go far beyond at this delightful restaurant.


Guard Your Grill at Kitchen Witch Cookbooks on 9/9!

Hello all!  Guard Your Grill, one of Nola's newest and most happening vegan pop-ups, will be appearing at Kitchen Witch Cookbooks on Friday, September 9th!

The shop entrance is located at 2526 Bayou Road, and food will be available from 5pm to 7pm for cash only.  Make sure to stop by, and check out the Facebook event here


Eat the Guide! A New NOiG Series.

Hello!  I come to you today with an exciting announcement.  As you know if you're a regular NOiG reader, in the spring I published an updated guide to vegan-friendly restaurants in New Orleans.  Now, in an effort to put my money where my mouth is - or maybe put my mouth where my guide is? - I am making a city-wide tour of its listings!  Specifically, I plan to begin going through the guide, in order, and dining (again for the most part) at each restaurant included therein.  Fun!

You may have some questions.

Like, How long will this take?  Given that the guide lists 90 restaurants, not including those outside of the more concentrated neighborhoods, food trucks, and pop-ups, it's going to take quite a long time.  This series is projected to wrap up in the Spring of 2018!  Right around when I'm likely to be updating the guide again, incidentally.

And, When will I post?  Every Monday morning from now until I visit them all.

And, What will I say?  Each post will have the following information:
  1. A general description of the restaurant and its overall appearance / ambiance.
  2. Its hours of operation as of the time of my visit.
  3. Its service style.
  4. What vegan options are there, and whether it specifically provides items that are soy-free, gluten-free, et cetera.
  5. Whether and to what extent it provides alcohol and/or espresso drinks.
  6. A price range for vegan options.
  7. What I ate, with pics!  And a description of my visit.
Are y'all excited?  This is our chance to really dig deep and examine many of New Orleans' vegan offerings.  I hope you're looking forward to it as much as I am.  Expect the first Eat the Guide post on Monday, September 5th!

Follow along with your own guide!  Join me for dinner maybe!  It's going to be a good time.