Boudin. Etoufeé. Jambalaya. Muffulettas, Po-Boys.
These are just a few of the numerous absolutely mouthwatering dishes associated with New Orleans cuisine, and one of the biggest reasons why so many people from around the world flock to the city to satisfy their gastronomic urges.
Now before you Vegetarians and Vegans start to feel left off of the plate, you’ll be happy to know that the Big Easy does have a wide array of outstanding restaurants that cater to your every plant-food penchant!
Located on Prytania Street a couple of blocks off St. Charles Avenue, Seed not only uses only the finest purely natural, local, organic ingredients, but embodies a mission “to grow a fresh and sustainable dining experience grounded in New Orleans taste.” They also go well beyond living and eating from farm-to-table by using solar panel energy, menus made from recycled materials, and compost for their vegetables, among other sustainable practices. It shows not only in the food, but in the love and care they bestow upon the building and customers that’s apparent once you cross over the threshold.
For starters, my dining companion and I had the Artichoke Cakes: artichoke, hearts of palm, roasted corn, red pepper, green onions, garlic, gluten-free panko, and a buffalo drizzle; and the Southern Fried Nuggets: made with deep fried tofu and chickpea flour, and served with your choice of dipping sauce - agave mustard, cashew queso, barbecue, buffalo, or garlic aioli.
Other apps included their cooked and raw spreads. The latter included carrot ginger, Puttanesca, ranch, and walnut taco crumbles, the former encompassing Creole cashew cheese, hummus, garlic aioli, and chickpea salad.
All are sizeable, flavorful and really set the stage for the fantastic entrées to come.
Among the chef designed salads there’s the Creole Zucchini Wraps, artfully created with shaved zucchini, Creole cashew cheese, spinach, sprouts, seasonal greens, guacamole, toasted pumpkin seeds, and Sriracha sauce; and the Mango + Kale Salad with kale, mango, chopped pistachios, and miso maple dressing. Delish!
Your carnivore friends and family will love the food as well, none of which they would have known was vegan if they hadn’t looked at the menu! A perfect example of this is the Seed Gumbo made with a traditional roux, okra, green and red peppers, collard greens, and mushrooms, and you could add spicy seitan for a little extra kick.
Who says plant-based means no flavor or imagination? Order the Southern Fried Po-Boy and you’ll do a complete 180°. It’s made with fried tofu, light chickpea flour breading, lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo, and Po-Boy bread.
Panko fried eggplant, whole wheat spaghetti, tomato basil sauce, and shredded spinach makes up their scrumptious Eggplant Pomodoro; house-made seitan, bbq sauce, and slaw on a whole wheat bun flavors their BBQ Sandwich; and the Toasted Coconut Wrap comes with toasted coconut chips, lettuce, tomato, garlic aioli, and Lavash bread.
My friend and I almost fought over the last spoonful of the special Yellow Coconut Curry – brown rice, carrots, potato, kale, red, pepper and eggplant – good to the last drop!
And yes, the desserts are just as incredible - raw ice cream with seasonal fruit, raw cupcakes, beignets and chocolate mousse - Oh My!
Almost all of their offerings are soy-free, and the menu clearly indicates which are raw and/or gluten-free as well. Imagine eating this way every day, and you can see how your life (and health) will change for the better!
Just because you’re currently in the Crescent City doesn’t mean you can’t simultaneously sojourn throughout the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Central and South America, the Gulf South, West Africa, and beyond – no passport required - at Carmo: A Tropical Café and Bar.
Using these multi-cultural culinary influences, the proprietors have created an eclectic and traditionally inspired menu that will please vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike using fresh, local ingredients grown with love.
Live is too short, so let’s start with their changing daily desserts, all vegan, first.
There’s the pecan chocolate cake, Caribbean banana cake, zucchini chocolate chip cake, and my new fav, the apple pecan coffee cake, served with your choice of dairy or vegan vanilla ice cream.
The Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread), also available vegan, is amazing, as is the Carmo Salad made with rice, pineapple, avocado, almonds, cashews, raisins, cucumber, green pepper, smoked ham, and cilantro tossed with a citrus mango vinaigrette. It’s available with vegan ham too and served on a bed of organic lettuces.
For a taste of the "Golden Land," try the Burmese Tea Leaf Salad – delicately fermented tea leaves mixed with dried beans and peas, cabbage, chilies, tomatoes, sesame seeds, crispy shallots, and peanuts, and served with or without dried shrimp.
The next time around I will definitely try the Sashimi Creole, fashioned with the daily catch (or avocado) and seasoned with house-made Creole seasoning and lightly torched, dressed with ponzu sauce, cashews, and almonds (my mouth was salivating from across the room!). The Tiradito Sashimi incorporates again, the daily catch or avocado, sliced sashimi-style, then dressed with aji amarillo pepper sauce and garnished with toasted corn kernels called canchitas.
Carmo also serves a variety of Banquette Breads—crispy Armenian bread topped with Havarti cheese and other select toppings then broiled—in delicious varieties including the Creole (Havarti, shrimp, scallions, onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes), the Maqaquito (bananas, cinnamon sugar and Havarti), the Vietnamese (rice noodles, smoked chicken or tofu, red onion, chili sauce, lettuce, cilantro, mint, peanuts, and Sriracha sauce), and the Plain (Havarti cheese and scallions). All of them, like the majority of the menu items, can be made vegetarian or vegan as well.
And don’t leave without trying their house specialty, the Acarajé, a tasty black-eyed pea fritter stuffed with vatapá (a cashew peanut coconut paste), shrimp and salsa fresca. And served with our own special hot sauce. Yee-ow!
Extra kudos go out to Carmo’s sustainability focus which has earned them certification as the only restaurant in Louisiana to be certified by the organization Seafood Watch, as well as the only three-star rating in the state by the Green Restaurant Association.
The Green Fork
For good healthy food on the go, pop into the Green Fork.
Also located on Prytania Street (there are also Green Forks in Metairie, Covington and Prytania), they specialize in creating delicious and nutritious fresh juices, smoothies, and “Take Aways,” the latter encompassing spinach and hemp proteins, almond butters, cashew milk, dates, a variety of fresh salads and vegan entrées, and several varieties of bottled cold brewed coffees and teas.
Their juice list is extensive, with plenty to choose from and let love-up your body like The Thoughtful - cucumber, fennel, mint, parsley, romaine, celery, and lime; Faith - grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime, pineapple, and ginger; Compassion - cucumber, celery, romaine, kale, spinach, cilantro, line, and pineapple; and Miracle - kale, cucumber, tumor group, romaine, and lemon.
If you need something a smooth out your day try one of their amazing smoothies. Healing comes with kombucha, seasonal berries, vanilla, ginger, agape, pomegranate, acai juice, and goji berry. For Laughter, it’s organic cold pressed coffee, nut melt, vanilla, hemp protein, and coconut sugar, while your focus on Serenity means mixing banana, almond butter, coconut water, mango, bee pollen, hemp protein, vanilla, and honey.
For those truly desiring to live clean, the green fork will customize a three-day Juice Cleanse Feast for you, designed to expedite the removal of toxins from your body, promoting a healthy balance from the inside out.