New Orleans is a great city for eating and drinking, but “vegan” is definitely not one of the first words that comes to mind when you think of the NOLA food scene. In late January, I spent a few days in the Big Easy to celebrate my dear friend Lisa’s wedding and to enjoy a quickie vacation. (Unfortunately, I brought some rain along with me so it wasn’t exactly the warm, rain-free vacation I had hoped for.) It was my first visit to NOLA in 10 years and my first since going vegan, so I watched The Vegan Roadie’s New Orleans episode, turned to my good friend Google, and put together my New Orleans vegan eating itinerary.
Carmo was not on my radar at all until I watched The Vegan Roadie’s NOLA episode. At this tropical, fusion cafe, there are two versions of the signature rico open face sandwich. The traditional version features wild boar (yikes!), but the vegan version features meatless crumbles and vegan cheese on top of grilled plantains with a generous serving of sweet, tangy rico sauce. We also shared the Creole-seared avocado as an appetizer. A little more sear on the avocado would be nice, but the combo of avocado and ponzu sauce is one I’ll have to remember.
Breads on Oak
I can’t tell you how many people have recommended this cute bakery on Oak Street. It was a little out of the way and almost didn’t fit into the itinerary, but I’m glad we squeezed this one in. Breads is an organic and incredibly vegan friendly bakery. I loved the muffanada, their vegan interpretation of the classic muffaletta sandwich, featuring smoky tempeh bacon, olive salad, and veggie provolone on a good ciabatta bun. The Egg McVegan is another good one with a fluffy biscuit and vegan BEC. It’s too bad I did not have a second stomach for more sandwiches, but we got their organic vegan king cake to go.
Commander’s Palace is a New Orleans landmark with iconic stripped awnings, spacious courtyards, and top notch service. It is not a vegan restaurant. In fact, if you peek at the sample menu on their website, there’s absolutely nothing vegetarian on there. However, brunch at Commander’s Palace was part of the wedding celebrations, and I was pleasantly surprised that the kitchen was able to whip up vegan dishes upon request. The mushroom gnocchi makes my mouth water when I think of it, and the seasonal veggie plate was hearty and flavorful.
The Sneaky Pickle
Our Lyft driver described The Sneaky Pickle as a hidden gem and was surprised that we had heard of it. I have The Vegan Roadie to thank for that. The fried tofu and buffalo cauliflower salad is one of those dishes where you can get your veggies while enjoying a little bit of fried goodness. Oh, and that mac and cheese! I’m kinda fussy when it comes to vegan mac and cheese, but this one was so dang good, we got a second order to go. It made a great late night snack, and this is a rare vegan mac and cheese that can be easily reheated without messing up the texture of the sauce.
Seed is pretty much The New Orleans Vegan Restaurant. From gumbo to po boys, to crab cakes and beignets, Seed serves up plant-based versions of classic New Orleans dishes. Just because you’ve vegan, doesn’t mean you have to miss out. #whatatimetobealive We visited Seed twice to make sure we got the full experience. My favorites were the gumbo with seitan, Southern fried tofu nuggets, and artichoke cakes. I’ll be doing a separate feature on Seed with a full rundown of all nine dishes we tried — stay tuned!
For a quick bite before exploring Audubon Park, we stopped by Dat Dog where you can build your hot dog and go wild with toppings. Their veggie dogs are Field Roast sausages: Spicy Chipotle, Italian, Smoked Apple Sage. I opted for the Field Roast Spicy Chipotle with caramelized onions and blackberry sauce. Dogs, fries, beer, sunshine… so much yes!
When you need break from all the indulgences of New Orleans, pop into Max Well to eat the rainbow. Max Well just opened in January, and everything about this place screamed Los Angeles. Every bowl is fresh, vibrant, and Insta worthy. How fun are the old school floppy disk coasters?! You can build your own bowl by picking a salad, protein, and dressing. I chose well with the California salad, lentil kitchari, and cucumber avocado dressing.