Planning a trip around the country has plenty of details that need to be worked out. One of which is the small matter of food. While it may not be too much of a concern to most people, as a gluten-free vegan who is also allergic to nuts, it was near the top of the list. I’ve always had food allergies, some of which have come and gone (such as chocolate, thank goodness), while others I only recently discovered I was allergic to. Thus worry about being able to eat something has pretty much always been a concern to some degree. (A memory forever emblazoned in my mind is a grade school teacher yelling at me for throwing my snack away. Said snack, a trail mix of some sort, had peanuts in it, which I am allergic to. I didn’t know their were peanuts in it at the time, I just knew that I was having trouble breathing and that I felt horrible shortly after starting to eat the snack. My teacher decided to add Catholic guilt on top on my health problems. Thanks for that one, Mrs. J)
Anyway, in respect to food, doing this trip in 2014 was much easier than doing it 10 years ago, or really anytime in the past. I have to give special thanks to the folks behind Happy Cow. Their site and app were indispensable, especially in places such as South Dakota. In the end I found many delicious places and so here are my favorites from each place I stayed. Thanks to all of these wonderful places for keeping me well fed and happy. Sorry for not including pictures of food, I’m just not that kinda person. (However for this post it clearly would have been helpful. Oh well.)
- Ethos Vegan Kitchen – Hands down my favorite restaurant in Orlando. I had the blackened tempeh this time around and was not let down.
- Rhapsodic Bakery – Vegan bakery. Cayenne pepper dark chocolate cupcake. Done.
Greensboro, North Carolina
- Crafted – A fancy taco shop, they had numerous vegan options and corn tortillas for gf. All I remember is that what I ordered involved potatoes. And that I wanted to eat a dozen more of then.
- Terrace Dining Room (TDR) – Once an eagle, always an eagle. TDR is the dining hall at my alma mater, American University. I had not been back for nearly a decade and was afraid I would be disappointed but nothing could even farther from the truth. Since I left they had added in a dedicated gf section. I didn’t realize quite how spoiled I was with TDR until I went to dining halls at other schools. One semester at AU I was accidentally given an unlimited meal plan. That time period is also known as the greatest five months of my life.
- Chicago Diner – Possibly my favorite restaurant of all time. Vegan milkshakes that are out of this world.
- Tamale Hut Cafe – Just outside of Chicago, Tamale Hut was a needle in a haystack, hiding in a nondescript strip mall. Every day they make a certain number of vegan gluten-free tamales – call in the morning and reserve some and you’re good to go.
- Amitable – Vegan Korean Buddhist restaurant. Kimchi soup. Incredible.
- Falafull – A Chipotle-like restaurant based around falafel. You get one trip to the food bar and with so many vegan options it was more than easy enough to make it count.
Rapid City, South Dakota
- Saigon – I didn’t expect to find anything in Rapid City, but stumbled on this one via Happy Cow. We were the only two in the place when we went. The waitress was a vegan herself and was more than happy to point out what I could eat. Cheers, nice waitress.
San Diego, California
- Native Foods – A chain, I had seem them in Chicago but never went there. Turned out I should have because their kale bowl was superb. Plus, for my birthday they sent me a $10 coupon.
- Plumeria – I don’t remember what I had, other than it involved pumpkin and wheat free vegan chicken. Enough said.
- Paradise Yogurt – One of the few soft-serve places that have vegan options other than fruity sorbet. Also, you pay by size, not by weight. Big plus.
San Francisco, California
- Papalote – Vegan mole. So much food. So good.
- Himalayan Kitchen – After flying for 6 hours and subsisting on a Vega bar and an airport seaweed salad for the day, this place was exactly what I wanted. Curry. Rice. Yes, please.
- Peace Cafe – A small, hippie place, simple vegan food done well.
- Z Pizza – A chain, they can make any pizza with a gf crust, have vegan cheese and several of their specialty pizzas are vegetarian to begin with.
- Loving Hut – Food is always better when there’s some sort of unclear cult-like thing going on. Loving Hut for the win.