Thursday, April 28, 2016

Oyamel, DC #3

Jose Andres' restaurant, Oyamel, is a fantastic lively Spanish restaurant in the heart of Penn Quarter. On this particular Thursday night, we were seated in their newly expanded area.

We started with the chips and guacamole. It always makes me feel better about paying $13.50 for guacamole if they make it live in front of me! Ha! This time the guy spent five minutes making the guac, then sprinkled cheese on top to finish it. Ack! I told my server I was vegan, so even though I felt bad, they had to make it again. So, we got two shows for one price!

I ordered a spicy margarita as well. This is a place that knows how to make margaritas.

I also had the Huatape de Hongos -- locally foraged mushrooms sauteed and served over a herbaceous masa sauce of cilantro, epazote, and jalapeno. It couldn't have been more flavorful or cooked any more perfectly than it was.

I also had the Frijoles Rebosero, a bean dish made with heirloom rebosero beans, fresno chiles, and seasonal vegetables in a mulato chile dressing. It was really hearty and rich with great seasoning.

Yet another good time at Oyamel. Although we were in and out in an hour as we had to go to the theater, we truly enjoyed it. The food was great, pricey, but great. The service besides the mess up on the guac was great as well. And the atmosphere is always lively. The highlight of the night was seeing Jose Andres in person for the first time ever.

Previous reviews
April 10, 2013
December 6, 2011

401 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 628-1005

Oyamel on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Busboys and Poets, DC #6

I know, I know -- I write about Busboys all the time. Hey - I live next door to them so I just can't help but check out all their new offerings. At this point, Busboys and Poets needs no introduction. They are a hip internet cafe-style, poetry venue that serves great food and lots of vegan options. So just go there already.

They have a new Mezze Platter that combines a lot of goodness all in one. It features their great hummus, babaganoush, and tabbouleh with whole wheat pita. The tabbouleh is about as perfect as it can get.

For my entree, I wanted to order my usual Tofu and Quinoa, but the dish is now called Quinoa and Mixed Vegetables. I figured they improved on the dish, but I gotta say, I miss the fried tofu. It was a tasty mix of asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, roasted butternut squash, and zucchini, but they should put the tofu back in this dish.

We also ordered the Vegan Pizza with the vegan pepperoni, which is a classically good dish.

To end a great night, we went with the warm brownie and coconut ice cream. To die for. This rich, warm chocolatey brownie was loaded with chocolate chunks and served with delicious ice cream. I could eat this every night.

No surprises here - the food is always good, atmosphere lively, and service sufficient. It's my go-to in DC.

Previous reviews
February 11, 2015
May 12, 2014
July 12, 2013
November 21, 2012
February 28, 2012

Busboys & Poets 
2021 14th Street NW 
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 387-7638

Busboys and Poets on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 22, 2016

Estadio, DC #3

It had been a few years since I'd been to Estadio, that trendy Spanish restaurant in the heart of Logan Circle, so now seemed like just as good a time as any to give it another shot. Headed up by Haidar Karoum who is also in charge of Proof, this chef keeps the menu of food and wine fresh and exciting. It's never a dull moment at Estadio.

My friend and I headed over to the restaurant around 6 p.m. on a Tuesday hoping to snag a seat. Voila! That plan worked! We were seated at the seats facing the kitchen so we could watch them in action, which is always fun.

They are known for their wine list and I can't say I've ever had a bad glass of wine here. On this occasion, I started with the Garnacha Blend, Vall Llach, Priorat (2012), which was a nice light wine. Later, I tried an unusal Listan Negro, Suertes del Marques, Tenerife (2013) that I loved!

Estadio is all about small plates so we ordered a bunch to share. The server was super helpful in marking up our menus indicating what was vegan, vegan optional, and not. She was great. We stared with my favorite -- the Blistered Shishito Peppers in olive oil and salt. They were cooked to perfection and sprinkled with rock salt -- they were so good.

Next, we tried the Crispy Brussels Sprouts. Wow! These were so unique! They were made with caramelized onions, pine nuts, and currants and likely flash fried, then covered with spice. They were sweet and rich at the same time.

Roasted Wild Mushrooms were also cooked to perfection as they were meaty and firm, yet perfectly cooked with parsley and garlic.

We also had the bread, which was incredibly good.

Lastly, we ordered a Bocadillo, or little sandwich. The Escalivada was made with Grilled Vegetables and Black Olive Puree. It was really good as well.

The service was pretty good, but at one point our server didn't come around for a while and we became anxious to find her. Other than that, she was pretty attentive. The plates ranged from $4 to $9, so pretty reasonable. And the food was really, really good. Best of all is the lively atmosphere. It's just a fun place in a nice setting. Other options include Grilled Scallions, Sauteed Kale, Patatas Bravas, Fried Eggplant, Spinach Salad, Olives, etc. There are lots of vegan options. Highly Recommended.

Previous Reviews
June 19, 2013
March 2, 2012

1520 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 319-1404

Estadio on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 7, 2016

City O' City, Denver

My first visit to City O' City, a vegetarian restaurant in Denver was about five years ago. This lively restaurant/bar is a go-to destination for vegetarians and vegans in the city, but little did I realize how popular it was. They expanded into even more space and on this Friday night, there was a 45-minute wait.

This place has a lively atmosphere with several bars and table seating. The exposed ductwork and minimalistic decor make for a relaxed setting. We were finally seated at a high-top table. Unfortunately, after a week in Colorado Springs, I was beginning to get altitude sickness and wasn't feeling well. So, I just ordered a ginger kombucha on tap.

To my dismay, they were out of the Kimchi Stew that I wanted so I went with the Udon Noodle Bowl and I'm glad I did. I seriously wasn't feeling well and this hit the spot. Filled with a tasty carrot ginger broth, this bowl was loaded with mushrooms, bok choy, fennel, shallots, jalapenos, thai basil, and fresh noodles with daikon, pickled carrot, tofu, and sprouts.  The tofu was a sub for the egg that is normally in it. I absolutely loved this dish!

Their menu has tons of other vegan options from omelettes, waffles, pasta, and soups to sandwiches and small plates.

Unfortunately, this is a short review because we just had a little to eat and then left due to my headache. The experience of waiting so long wasn't great, but the food certainly made up for it. The bowl was $13 so it was priced right and the service was okay. I think you should come here for good food with friends and have dessert too because I remember how good it was the last time.

City O' City
206 E 13th Avenue
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 831-6443

City O' City Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Leaf, Boulder #2

Leaf is the best vegetarian restaurant in Boulder, Colorado. It's actually one of the few left in this city filled with athletic individuals. Everyone assumes that Boulder would be filled with lots of vegetarians, but my vegetarian friend who lives there says that ain't so. He finds it difficult to find vegetarian food and/or friends despite the sometimes obsessive attitude towards fitness in this city.

I have fond memories of the meals I've had at Leaf in the past. It's a vegetarian restaurant that's very vegan friendly. The decor is the same as it was when I was there over four years ago. The Mooi Random lights still hang from the ceiling creating a contemporary look and feel with exposed brick walls and light wood tables. I liked the open feel and the warmth from the floor to ceiling window on the street side.

I started with a Bag End, which is a cocktail made with Bulleit Bourbon, Fonseca Bin, 27 port, maple, and Bilbo's Bitters. So good.

My friend, Corey, was starving so we started with three small plates! The Buffalo Cauliflower was by far my favorite. This buffalo sauce encrusted cauliflower was served atop a "blue cheese dressing" that tasted like a tahini sauce with sliced celery and grated carrots. Yum.

We also tried the Avocado Tartare -- a tartare with an avocado base topped with marinated and dried crimini mushrooms, and cucumber-orange pico de gallo. Scoop some in an endive leaf and you are good to go. This one was okay, but not nearly as good as the cauliflower.

For my dish, I ordered the Mushroom Burger, which is a burger made of portobello mushrooms, quinoa, and walnuts served with Daiya vegan cheese, pepper jelly, and pickled red onions. It was hearty and good, but I think it needed more sauces or more seasoning. The salad it was served with was great -- with sunflower seeds, sunflower sprouts, and pickled onions.

It was a lazy weekday lunch and the service was attentive. The burger was only $10 and the small plates $7 so relatively cheap. I must say that this restaurant didn't blow me away the way it did on the first visit -- the food was good, but not great. I'll definitely be back, but am hoping they'll add some more exciting dishes to their menu soon.

Previous review
August 17, 2011

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant
2010 16th Street
Boulder, Colorado 80302

Leaf Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Burrowing Owl, Colorado Springs

According to Wikipedia, the burrowing owl is a small, long-legged owl found throughout open landscapes of North and South America. It is one of only two owls that are social, hence the name of this cute, new, vegan bar in Colorado Springs called The Burrowing Owl! With such a cute name, how could anyone pass up the chance to eat and have drinks at the Burrowing Owl?!

The inside of this place had so much character. The tables were shellacked slabs of wood with big wood benches and there was a hodgepodge of differently colored barstools at the bar. The drink menu is extensive with everything from cocktails in jars, shots, shots, wine, and beer. Me and my friends tried a couple of cocktails. I went for an odd one -- Squash Yo Beef! It was made with Benchmark Bourbon, Squash, Cayenne, and Agave Nectar. The squash made it interesting. The best drink we had was The Mother made with Benchmark Whiskey, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Agave Syrup; oh, and a cute big ice cube. Delish!

The menu is simple bar food with many items being a variation on others. Everything is vegan so no worries here. One of my friends is allergic to soy, gluten, and many other things. I was so impressed with how nice one of the owners was in trying to identify what she could eat. We started with the Dips with Seasonal Vegetables. This came with watermelon radishes, purple beans, pears, and carrots with kale walnut dip, spicy peanut dip, and white bean rosemary dip. I loved the kale and white bean dips the best. There was also a lovely jalapeno jam!

After that, I orders The Slopper. This was an open-faced sloppy joe made with beans, chili, relish, queso, mayo and red onions. It was bar food and I enjoyed it.

My friend got The Messy Sloppy - yet another sloppy joe with Worcestershire mayo, pickles, queso, and slaw on a gluten-free bun.

My friend with the allergies had a wonderful Potato Soup.

More than anything though, it was the fun atmosphere and being in a vegan bar with friends that made the night. Other options include nachos, salad, tacos, and burritos. When I asked why the menu wasn't posted, they said they were still trying to figure out what to keep as they were still new. Everything is around $5-$8, even the drinks, so you really can't go wrong.

The Burrowing Owl
1791 S. 8th Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
(719) 434-3864

The Burrowing Owl Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Rice & Spice, Moreno Valley, CA

While in Perris, California, we headed out to have a nice Thai meal at a little place called Rice & Spice in Moreno Valley. It looks like a little house from the road. Inside, it's a small, simple joint with Thai artwork and not a lot of flare.

We had a large group of nearly 20 so we took up most of the restaurant...and probably annoyed the regulars. They were extremely accommodating stating they could make almost any dish vegan. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending upon how you view it, they didn't serve alcohol, so I just had water.

We started with a Garden Roll, which was your typical rice paper roll with veggies and tofu served with a mustard sweet and sour sauce. The rolls were large and filling.

For my entree, I went with the Bai Kaprow, a spicy Thai stirfry made with green peppers onions, red peppers, and fried tofu in a savory sauce with brown rice. I really enjoyed it.

We also ordered some veggie tempura that was greasy, but good.

What was interesting about the menu was that the starters pretty much cost the same as the entrees -- everything was $6 - $8 each. With no alcohol license, I don't know how they make much money. But, for these prices, the appetizers are a tad bit overpriced and entrees are super cheap so I guess it evens out. Given how much service we required, I thought they did a great job. And I love how accommodating they were to my dietary preferences. I'd recommend this as a great place to go in Moreno Valley.

Rice & Spice
22720 Alessandro Boulevard
Moreno Valley, CA 92553
(951) 697-1222

Rice & Spice Thai Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato