Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

Bandidas Taquiera

Vegan-friendly

Cuisine: Vegetarian
Tofu puffs: 3 out of 5
Price range: $$
Times visited: 5
Location: 2781 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m. – Midnight; Brunch daily until 3:00 p.m.
Contact: http://bandidastaqueria.com/

Veganized Huevas Rancheras - Bandidas

Veganized Huevas Rancheras

We first discovered Bandidas back in early 2009, a few months after they first opened their doors on the Drive. After having discovered a huge number of vegan-friendly brunches in Portland, we were pretty darn excited to find out about an all-vegetarian Mexican-style brunch spot right here in Vancouver.  Be warned, however, that if it’s the weekend and you have your heart set on brunch, you’d better show up when they open or be prepared to wait awhile (and maybe even wait outside, regardless of the weather).  Bandidas’ is immensely popular and is nearly always packed, especially on the weekends.

There are quite a few brunch spots in the city, though not too many of them are all that vegan friendly or offer decent vegan options. (Yes, we know about The Perch, and of their vegan brunches – we plan to check them out very soon.) Unlike many brunch spots we’ve been to both in and outside of Vancouver, Bandidas is one of only a very few that offers brunch 7 days a week. This is pretty fantastic since anyone visiting Vancouver can be assured of having a warm and satisfied belly any day of the week.

Vegan French Toast with sausages and bacon - Bandidas

Vegan French Toast with Yves sausages and bacon

For vegans, pretty much any dish on the brunch menu can be veganized, with eggs being replaced by a butternut squash and organic tofu scramble and Yves veggie bacon strips and sausages available as side orders. They also use Daiya in any dishes that call for cow’s milk cheese. We’ve tried their Huevas Rancheras, The Hicks Benny, and the Breakfast Burrito, most of which are all delicious and all made using fresh, house-crafted corn tortillas.

The best thing of all about Bandidas is that they have not one but two explicitly vegan options on their brunch menu: The Vegan, a scrambled tofu plate with veggies, pinto beans, and ranchera sauce, and Vegan French Toast.  While we have had better French toast elsewhere, we’ll take the French toast at Bandidas since it’s all we can get in Vancouver. (Again with The Perch – we’ve heard they *might* have a vegan French toast option at their Saturday brunches, and if they do, we’ll let you know.)

Bandidas used to craft an almost amazing house-made vegan sour cream, which we would have liked even more if it weren’t for the fact that they used a vanilla-flavoured soy milk to make it.  We’re told that the recipe was difficult to make consistently, and now they use a pureed tofu and lemon juice sour cream with their vegan offerings.  They also offer honey butter for their vegetarian customers, with an so-so vegan alternative being made with margarine and sugar.  Even though the servers at Bandidas are pretty quick to make the switch between vegan and non-vegan condiments, be sure to ask for the vegan “honey” butter when you order corn bread (yes, the corn bread is vegan too!).

Breakfast Burritos with Daiya - Bandidas

Breakfast Burritos with Daiya

Brunch aside, Bandidas also offers tempting lunch and dinner options.  They’re fully licensed, featuring a bar stocked with several local wines and brews. For the teetotalers and straight edgers, there are organic teas, organic coffees, and virgin drinks, including our favourite: Ella’s lemonade, served in a mason jar just like many of their other beverages.

We like their Los GLD nachos so much that Bandidas’ creation has forever changed how we make nachos at home.  We’ll admit that we haven’t been to there so often for lunch or dinner, though we have had the Ronny Russel and the Leona Gayle hand tacos. We have to confess that we like the hand tacos at La Taqeria better, although the hand tacos at Bandidas are decent nonetheless.

One of our only complaints with Bandidas is about the Mexican rice that accompanies the tacos and enchiladas.  Every time we’ve had it both the rice and the garlic used in the rice have tasted something akin to stale. We’re not sure if this has changed since we’re pretty hesitant to try anything with the rice in it again.

There used to be a much-coveted window table with two rocking chairs.  Sadly, the rocking chairs are no more, though additional seating has been added in the already cozy restaurant. There is also bar seating available with a view of the kitchen. And, Bandidas is kid-friendly!  There’s even a ramshackle bookshelf by the entrance with various papers, magazines, puzzles, story books and novels for both adults and kids.

The Vegan - Bandidas

The Vegan

Another thing we really appreciate about Bandidas is their love of bike culture. With an oft-crammed bike rack out front and vintage bike decor in the restaurant, Bandidas rides the sustainable line by using pedal power in lieu of a company car or truck. Although we haven’t yet seen it yet, they’re said to have a custom-built bike trailer they use to transport the restaurant’s food and equipment. And if you don’t ride a bike, Bandidas is easy to get to by bus or Sky Train.

Because Bandidas’ has a fairly small kitchen, their made-to-order food can sometimes take a bit of time to arrive at the table. Be patient with the servers, who are amazing in handling a very busy bunch of tables. They’ve always been nice, and are really good about checking to see if you’re happy and that you have everything you need.

Bandidas is the only place that gives us a reason to be up and out of the house before 10 a.m. on a Sunday and travel all the way across town with growling bellies. We hope they’re here for a long time to come, and to this we have to say ¡Bandidas de larga viva Taqeria!

Muffintop Corn Bread - Bandidas

Muffintop Corn Bread

 

Sejuiced

Vegan-friendly

Cuisine: Vegetarian
Tofu puffs: 2.5 out of 5
Price range: $$
Time visited: Nearly a dozen
Location: 1958 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver
Hours: Sunday & Monday, 9:00am – 6:00pm; Tuesday to Saturday, 9:00am – 8:00pm
Contact: http://www.sejuicedvancouver.com/

Outside Sejuiced

Sejuiced

You might be asking why we’ve been to Sejuiced so many times if we’re giving it only 2.5 tofu puffs? Well, because it’s so close to our apartment it’ll do the trick for when we’re really busy or simply too lazy to cook. After all, Sejuiced is better than some restos we’ve been to, vegan or not.

Having frequented a similar restaurant in Toronto called Fresh, at first we were excited to find Sejuiced. With some of the same items on its menu that Fresh has (and maybe not so coincidentally the same names for a few of the smoothies Fresh used to serve), Sejuiced seemed like it had promise. And really, it’s a pretty good place to go if you’re looking for simple, healthy food (minus the cheese, eggs, honey, and milk they also serve). Our appreciation of Sejuiced went up a few points recently when we discovered they were offering the one vegan cheese that could launch a thousand grilled sammies – Daiya cheese! But if you’ve ever been to Fresh, then you’ll have to knock down your expectations a few notches, because Sejuiced just isn’t there yet in both quality and tastiness.

To preempt the stuff we’re not so keen on, we’ll start with what we do like about Sejuiced. If you’re on the go and have nary a crumb for breakfast, their scrambled tofu breakfast wrap is delicious and filling (just beware of the ketchup – they make their own and put honey in it too).  Their burgers, like the Thai burger, are decent, especially if you’ve overloaded on sweets and other junk and have a craving for something that won’t make your insides groan with revolt. Their Power House yogi bowl is good, though it could use a bit more sauce over the brown rice. The grilled cheese and veggie sandwich is delicious with Daiya (remember to ask for vegan cheese instead of the cow’s milk cheese), and it’s perfect on a rainy day with a side of steamy soup.

Inside Sejuiced

Inside Sejuiced

Now, the biggest issue we’ve had with Sejuiced is the chalkboard and print menus. For some time after we started visiting there, there were no print menus that we ever saw, only a chalkboard menu. This means we never knew to avoid the ketchup in the scrambled tofu wrap. Of course, now that we know, we order the wrap sans the honey. However, we wish that they’d just get a ketchup without honey. We’re pretty certain it isn’t so hard to find a supplier with a decent vegan ketchup. Making this change would mean that a few more of the menu items could be vegan. Be sure to check out the print menu for items marked vegan, as the chalkboard menu is not marked as such and can be misleading. Also, a few of the smoothies have honey or other non-vegan ingredients in them, so be sure to read through the ingredients and ask to have your smoothie made vegan-style.

Another issue we have with Sejuiced is the salads that accompany the burgers. There aren’t any fries on the menu, which is actually a refreshing departure from standard menu fare. Instead, Sejuiced pairs their burgers with a too simple baby greens salad with a few slivers of sweet bell pepper and a Green Goddess-style dressing that seems like it has a little too much apple juice in it. We’ve been to far too many restos where the “salad” offered is a very sorry excuse for something that could so easily be better. And while Sejuiced steers clear of the dreaded iceberg lettuce salad, they really could benefit from putting a little bit more effort into their greens, as well as offer at least one other kind of salad dressing for those who aren’t into the sweetness of their current dressing.

Power House Yogi Bowl - Sejuiced

Power House Yogi Bowl

The menu offerings are pretty simple. There are rice bowls, wraps, soups, sandwiches, breakfast items, and desserts from local purveyors such as the lemon-vanilla Chi Cake created by Alan Munro, the rich chocolate-covered bliss balls and hearts from Sweet Cherubim on Commercial Drive, as well as a chocolaty Nanaimo Bar. There’s never been anything vegan on the menu we haven’t liked, though there is virtually nothing Sejuiced offers that couldn’t be made at home and likely for a cheaper cost. But the appeal is that Sejuiced makes everything for you, and if you’re not inclined to cooking in the first place, then you’ll appreciate what they have to offer.

As you can see from the photos here, there is seating for two at a bar table just outside the front window of the restaurant. The inside is very small with seating for a maximum of 14 people.  And there’s not too much line up or waiting room for those waiting for takeout.  Luckily, we’ve never seen it so busy at Sejuiced that we’ve had to wait for a table, and many people seem to be content with taking their orders to go.

If you happen to find yourself out and about on 4th Avenue with a grumbling tummy, then head over to Sejuiced for some nourishing, uncomplicated food.

(Oh, and we appologize for the lack of food photos – as it often happens we forget to take pictures of something before we eat it.)

Vegetable Soup with Grilled Daiya and Veggie Sammich

Vegetable Soup with Grilled Daiya and Veggie Sammich