I spent this past weekend in New Orleans for my second Rock n Roll Half Marathon Relay. I love New Orleans, but had a really hard time finding good vegan food when I was there last March. This time, though, thanks to an acquaintance who lived in New Orleans and a little deeper digging on the internet, I ate excellent vegan food all weekend! Most of my trips tend to revolve around food and the vegan food in New Orleans was delicious and many times very unique.
On Friday night, we arrived in New Orleans around dinner time and went directly to Carmo in the Warehouse District. They describe themselves as a tropical cafe “built upon the rich, multi-cultural culinary influences found throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America, Gulf South, and beyond. West Africa meets Europe meets Latin America meets Southeast Asia in dishes that feature top-quality, local ingredients, as well as exotic products from around the globe.” Most items on their menu can be made vegan and/or gluten free if needed. I personally had the Broken Noodle Salad and Acaraje which is black eyed pea fritters stuffed with a spicy peanut cashew paste and served with a house made hot sauce. Both dishes were excellent and I especially love the peanut cashew paste.
On Saturday, we got a late start and headed towards to the French Market which has been in New Orleans since the late 1700’s. As a touristy, historical place, this was a very cool experience. We ate breakfast inside the Market at the Meals From the Heart Cafe. This was a quaint little place with a cafe counter and more tables in the Market for eating. Nicky and I both had the vegan, whole wheat blueberry pancakes. We could see the cooks in the back making everything from scratch, so it is real “home” cooking keeping heart health in mind. They even served clementine oranges while we waited on the food. It is hard to find vegan pancakes in a restaurant and these did not disappoint! Plus, the service was super friendly!
That afternoon, after picking up our race packets at the Convention Center, we made our way to Uptown New Orleans and ate at Magasin Vietnamese Cafe on Magazine St. There was about a half hour wait and it was totally worth it! They had several vegan options on the menu including Pho Vegan, which I ordered. The soup was loaded with fresh veggies and fresh tofu. The broth was delicious!
That evening we had to troubleshoot a little. We originally were going to eat at Lola’s but after being told there would be an hour wait, we crossed the street to Santa Fe Tapas. We were told that the vegan options were limited at that location, but if we went to the location on St. Charles St. we would have a full vegan menu. So, we made the short trek to Santa Fe Tapas on St. Charles and it was definitely worth the trip! We had to ask for the separate vegan menu which had an extensive selection. The owner of this location is personally vegan and has taken great pride in creating their vegan menu. They also host a vegan brunch every Saturday, which I will definitely be eating the next time I am in NOLA. For dinner this time, though, I had the the dirty rice balls as an appetizer. They were probably the best thing I ate the entire weekend! My main course was tamales topped with lots of veggies and vegan cheese. Nicky had the veggie burger, which she liked, and is one of the things that they are known for.
On Sunday after the race, we made our way to our final NOLA meal at Feelings Cafe. This place has a lot of history and is part of the first plantation land granted for private ownership by the first New Orleans settlers. They had a separate vegan menu, as well. Nicky and I shared a combination plate with Mushroom Boudin (only in NOLA can you find vegan Boudin), Mushroom and Quinoa cakes and Beet Salad. All three dishes were excellent!
Overall, I was very excited to have found so many delicious vegan options in NOLA. So often I end up eating a salad or grilled veggies that it was refreshing to have full menus to choose from. I am looking forward to trying the other restaurants that were on my list that we didn’t have time to get to on this trip. There will be next year, though, because this will be an annual girl’s trip for the Rock n Roll race.
Nicky and I represented team PlantFit in the Half Marathon Relay. I ran the first leg, which was just under 8 miles, and Nicky ran the last 5 miles or so. It was a very windy, cold start, but quickly warmed up as we started the race through the Garden District. It was much more crowded this year, so I spent much of the first 4 or 5 miles trying to weave through the crowd and dodge potholes. The streets are definitely a challenge and my ankles feel it today!
I came in at 1 hour and 5 minutes to hand over the “baton” to Nicky. She gets to run the second leg through the French Quarter, which I haven’t gotten to see yet since I have only ever run the first part. She came in with a strong team finish of 1 hour and 52 minutes. Not bad for a girl that has had two ACL repairs in one knee. We finished in 6th place overall out of 115 female relay teams. Next year, we are hoping to run the half marathon together. Nicky’s knee will be the deciding factor there!
Has anyone had any tasty vegan dining experiences in New Orleans? If so, please share!