If you think vegan food only consists of brown rice, lettuce and tofu, you’re wrong. These days, vegan options are far from boring. Before I became a full-on vegan (vegetarian six years ago), I was all about the rich comfort food. Fried chicken. Juicy crab legs. Macaroni and cheese. How could I resist?
Turning to a plant-based diet was definitely a blessing in disguise. Not only do I feel better from the inside out, it pushed me to try all sorts of restaurants in town. And since November is National Vegan Month, I encourage you to give creative, cruelty-free a try. From ethnic dishes to popular American staples, you won’t really be missing out. In fact, you’ll be treating your taste buds and expanding your horizons at the same time.
If these foods tickle your fancy, read my other vegan foodie article here.
Get fancy with French cuisine
Who says you have to have to eat caviar and escargot for fine French dining? At MGM Grand’s L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, herbivores and “herbi-curious” diners can enjoy vegetarian dishes that can also be made vegan. La Ventreche, a tuna belly confit on a young vegetable gelée dish, can be prepared without the tuna and the gelée can be made with agar-agar (a seaweed derivative). Other menu options include L’Amuse-Bouche, a vegetable fondant topped with a delicate avocado cream and agar-agar; Les Legumes, confit of Mediterranean vegetables with fresh mint in a cannelloni; and a variety of animal-free soups and salads. Magnifique!
How can anyone resist the rich, gooey, savory taste of cheese? Located inside Mandalay Place, Slice of Vegas offers pizza with a Daiya cheese alternative. You’ll be surprised how this “cheese” melts and stretches. Even my omnivore friends give it high praises. Not only can you order pizza with faux cheese, but you can also get your hearty “meat” fix with Gardein protein, a line of plant-based food that has the authentic taste and texture of lean meat.
In addition to flavorful salads, you can also enjoy the Meatless Meatballs dish, tender vegan meatballs with fresh marinara sauce and melted Daiya mozzarella cheese. Other hearty selections include Veggie Faux Pie (right) made with Daiya cheese and a hearty mix of vegetables; BBQ chicken pizza, featuring savory sweet barbecue sauce, Daiya mozzarella topped with Gardein chicken, red onions and chopped cilantro (I’m drooling); the Meatless Meatball pizza, made with fresh tomato pizza sauce layered with Daiya mozzarella and sliced Gardein meatballs. Finish your meal on a sweet note with the restaurant’s vegan chocolate cake made with a creamy peanut butter frosting.
If you’re in the downtown area, make a stop inside Pop-Up Pizza inside the Plaza hotel. The pizza is so tasty that I walked all the way from Fremont East to the Plaza just to get my pizza fix. It’s definitely worth the walk! Pop-Up Pizza’s signature vegan pizza, The Soho, features Daiya vegan cheese and roasted vegetables. The artichokes are amazing and even the crust itself is tasty. You won’t see anything left behind on my plate. Pop-Up Pizza also offers vegan chocolate or vanilla soft serve ice cream.
Located inside Mandalay Place, vegans can enjoy savory Mexican food without the meat, lard or dairy at Hussong’s Cantina. Start with the roasted cauliflower ceviche, a mixture of roasted cauliflower marinated in lime and jalapeño served in a Baja mix of cucumber, red onion, tomato and cilantro or the Romelia salad (pictured right). Cheese lovers can munch on quesadillas filled with Daiya cheese and a choice of Gardein chicken or beef crumbles, pico de gallo and grilled corn; Baja-style veggie tacos with guacamole, breaded zucchini, tomatillo-avocado salsa and cabbage mix served with Mexican red rice, Daiya and beans. The restaurant’s fajitas come with a mix of sautéed vegetables topped with Gardein chicken strips and served with pico de gallo, Daiya rice and beans.
Vegan at Wynn Las Vegas: A “Wynn-Win” situation
Thanks to Mr. Steve Wynn, diners can enjoy vegan menus at both Wynn Las Vegas and Encore properties. The dining options and price points are limitless. I was blown away with Wynn’s buffet — the made-to-order pastas station. Sauces include Alfredo (with cashew cream) and vegan Bolognaise. At Zoozacrackers, you can get a complete meal for $9: Gardein “cheese” burger, crispy fries and a chocolate shake. Now that’s what I call a happy meal. The Country Club features vegan crab cakes so realistic, that a seafood lover can’t even tell the difference. Since every restaurant features vegan options, it’s easier to decide what cuisine you’re in the mood for. Check out this list of Wynn and Encore restaurants. When you call to make a reservation, the hostess should be able to tell you the special menu.
Vegan food with a zing
If you like food with flavor, check out the Cuban-inspired Pura Vida Bakery and Bystro, located in the downtown area. Chef Mayra is always changing up the menu, so it keeps things fresh. Recent additions include Chick-un Salad Pit, Cuban puff pastries, Bahama Tofu (curry coconut with tofu and rice) and Jerk My Noodle (jerk-spiced tofu with elbow macaroni). Make sure to save room for the carrot cake with melon cheesecake and citrus-fusion drizzle. Divine.
Vegan Asian persuasion
If you’re a fan of Chinese food, this place is worth checking out. Located in Chinatown, Veggie House (5115 Spring Mountain Road) has all your favorites – vegetarian and vegan style. A few of my favorites include the vegan barbecue pork, shrimp topped with walnuts and a creamy dressing and the Mongolian beef. The ramen noodles are ideal for a cold, rainy day. The restaurant’s vibe is so serene, so it makes it all the more pleasant to eat here.
Since there are so many vegan spots in town, you’re in luck. And who knows? National Vegan Month can turn into a lifetime of a plant-based, fun and healthy choice for you. If that sounds too drastic, at least you’ll know vegan food is worth the celebration.
(Main photo courtesy of Pura Vida Bakery and Bystro.)