My husband is utterly fantastic. He will eat anything, and he will like it. I improvised some barbecue sauce the other night, and by improvised, I mean completely made up. I had about a cup of Becca's leftover BBQ sauce and 3 cups of my tomato pizza sauce, so I poured them together and added junk till it tasted right. Thank goodness for liquid smoke. Anyway, so this sauce situation - could've been bad. Real bad. But he ate it on the beany, mushroomy collard rolls. And he liked it.
(He requested the alias "Captain Adventure" for the blog. I suggested "Matt." He said he liked that name. All in all, he's rather easy to please.)
Matt is so fantastic, in fact, that he's going to help me research and take pictures for us here. We started at our weekly date-night dinner. First I was like, "What do you feel like eating?" And then he was all, "What do YOU feel like eating?" And I said, "What DON'T you feel like eating?" And he always is like, "Pizza." After 18,000 minutes of this and several mentions of the possibility of staying home to watch Star Trek, we pick a place. This time it's the Midtown Global Market.
Midtown Global Market
920 E Lake St #G10
Minneapolis, MN 55407
I'm a little biased where the Global Market's concerned. Have you ever had Holy Land hummus? If you have, you'll know what I mean. I've tried to make my own hummus taste that way with the exact same ingredients, but I fail every time. I'm pretty sure it's made of pureed happiness. This is important, as vegans use hummus on sandwiches, chips, pita, pita sandwiches, salads, toothbrushes, and fingers.
I gravitate toward Holy Land every time. Matt and I often start by sharing an Appetizer Plate, with falafel, pita, lettuce, tomatoes, stuffed grape leaves, olives, baba ganouj and, of course, hummus.
100% vegan. The whole plate'll run you about $8, but if you buy a thing of hummus (that's a technical term) from the Holy Land market next door, you'll find a $2-off coupon for anything at the deli in the cardboard wrapping.
The grape leaves are wonderful. I've got a particular fondness for grape leaves. I plan on making a whole post about them one day and naming my first child after them. I love the unique lemony, dilly taste in the rice filling. Just like they do with hummus, Holy Land manages to take some very basic ingredients and put them together in a way that might as well be rocket science for all the good it does me in my kitchen.
The baba ganouj leaves something to be desired; I find it too "roasted"-tasting. It has a very smoky flavor that you may like, but it just doesn't blow my skirt up. I tend to enjoy home-made baba ganouj more. Falafel is always good, no matter what you do, because it's fried... even if it's a little bland. The olives are good, according to Matt, who actually likes that kind of thing.
The vegetarian samosas are vegan! I was so happy when I found that out, I wet my pants. For $7, you get 12 pockets of warm, slightly spicy, deep fried, crispy vegetable loveliness.
Those, plus the hummus and grape leaves? I was in heaven.
In looking at the rest of the menu, stay away from anything with meat or feta and you should be in the clear. Oh, and you don't want the tzatziki cucumber sauce, either - it's got sour cream and milk. There are vegan options in the appetizer, salad, entree, and sandwich sections of the menu. In case you happen upon the spinach pie, which is vegan, skip it. It's the texture of rubber, and ain't nothing like the perfect, flaky, non-vegan varieties of spinach pies you'll find at Greek restaurants. And FYI: the baklava is butter-free! If you're okay with eating honey, go for it.
So while Matt and I munch away on our amazing food and discuss Captain Janeway's interpretation of the Prime Directive, I find myself looking around guiltily at all the food I pass by every time I come here. I'm sure there's a TON of lovely vegan fare for people whose brains aren't addled by Holy Land. Let's investigate!
Andy's Garage: Unless you want fries and a vague "garden" wrap, avoid. Redeeming factor: this bad boy on the side here:
Ay Carumba: Out of all the Latino places here, I'd say this is the one for vegans. You can build your own burrito or bowl. It's good stuff.
Cafe Finspang: As a former Scandinavian, I'm here to tell you that this place has very little for vegans. Captain Adventure is a bit more excited about it than I am.
Grand Italian Ice: Surprise - Italian ice is dairy-free! It comes in a grillion flavors. Or 16.
Grass Roots Gourmet: They sell a lot of organic, local stuff. I'm sure it's really high quality. It's also mostly meat and cheese.
Jakeeno's Trattoria: Nada. I even checked to see if their vegetarian pasta would work - nope! There's cheese in the pesto.
La Loma: Looks like it's got potential. Some of the entrees are probably vegan, and there's always salsa and guac! [edit - see Anna's comment below. She has good news.]
Manny's Tortas: Nope. Meat and/or cheese in everything. [edit - Anna also has informed us that if you explain/beg, you can get something vegan here.]
Pham's Deli: Now THIS place is good. Whenever I come here with friends, they swing toward Pham's. It's got an extensive Chinese menu with several vegan options. Also, how fun are chopsticks? Super fun, is the answer.
Safari Express: I admit I don't know much about this place. It has a couple menu items that're full of vegetables. I'll get back to you on that.
Salty Tart: They'll give you something vegan if you order it in advance, but otherwise don't get your hopes up looking in the display case.
Mapps: I have always loved Mapps. I got a chai with soy and, as always, it was everything I've ever wanted in a chai. Spicy, not too sweet, with a hint of the black tea taste. Their soymilk is good, too - not like Starbucks', which has an overpowering flavor. Mapps is lovely and they have a super extensive coffee menu.
Then there's the market.
not quite as natural as it sounds.
So that's how you do vegan at the Global Market. Make sure you include the philosophical dissection of Star Trek and you're good to go. Boom.