I like to call myself a convenient vegetarian.
As in, “Jake’s brothers left two containers of Leeann Chin oyster wings in my fridge and someone’s gotta eat them.”
I eat a lot of eggs and cheese and also some seafood. I guess that makes me a lacto-ovo-pescatarian, but who wants to put labels on things.
Recently at work, I found one of my favorite vendors offering two dishes in our cafeteria. I ordered the vegetarian one.
“Are you a vegan?” she asked as she plated my meal.
“Oh no, I’m not a vegan,” I responded, perhaps a little too quickly, but only because I was hoping they brought some yogurt sauce they could splash on top.
“Do you have a problem with vegans?” she playfully asked?
“OMG NO I LOVE VEGANS,” I replied.
There is something fun about going to a restaurant where everything is vegetarian (and in these cases, vegan).
I didn’t know what to expect at J. Selby’s.
The menu offers many vegan takes on fast food classics such as burgers, fries, chicken sandwiches and Taco Bell Crunchwraps. There’s also a selection of bowls and sandwiches.
Customers order their meals ahead online or at the front register. Even when I arrived for an early dinner, the restaurant buzzed with a steady line. It’s clear that people show up for vegan food.
Menu prices include tips and the owners offer employee benefits. Sandwiches and wraps include your choice of fries, tots, chips & salsa, spicy slaw, a side salad, or cup of soup/chili, making them a pretty good value.
Jake chose the Spicy Peanut Stir Fry ($15) with purple cabbage, shitake, bell pepper, snap peas, broccoli, carrots, onions & baked tofu. The person who took my order said it wasn’t very spicy and that the kitchen couldn’t make it spicier. She did offer to include a side of red pepper flakes which I declined since I was taking it home.
To its credit, the stir fry bowl tasted so good that I wished I ordered my own. The sauce had a little kick and a balance that leaned more tangy than sweet.
I came for the Buffalo Chickin’ Wrap made with soy curls. When they said they were out, I fumbled around for a second choice.
“CrunchWrap” flew out of my mouth and I felt instant regret. I feared gooey, vegan soy chorizo and “cheeze.” I also forgot to check my bag and realized they forgot the side of $3 guac (I emailed, asking if I could just add a side of guac on my next visit and they quickly offered a solution).
We both enjoyed the well-constructed CrunchWrap. The beans, soy chorizo and cheeze didn’t taste strange at all. I liked the crunch and freshness from the marinated cabbage mix inside. If someone didn’t tell me it was vegan I wouldn’t have known.
Something else unique about J. Selby is that they offer a “Community Bowl” meal where diners pay what they can ($5-11). You can also buy $5 tokens to purchase community bowls for others.
Reverie’s restaurant opened mid-December in the Powderhorn neighborhood of South Minneapolis.
I loved the breakfast bowl I got from Reverie’s food truck last summer so much I included it in my 2019 bests
Just like J. Selby’s, Reverie is all-vegan. Customer also place their orders at a centralized register. The space is cheerful. Beverages include coffee shop drinks made with homemade nut milk, beer, wine, sodas, a shrub, and kochuchas,
My heart was set on ordering the Lemongrass Tofu Tacos – unfortunately, they were out on this evening. I tried to quickly pivot to my second choice. The employee suggested the cauliflower tacos which I declined, having prepared cauliflower the night before.
Instead, I ordered the Berbere BBQ Sammie ($11) with homemade seitan/mock duck, sautéed peppers and onions and garlic aoli. Sandwiches and tacos come with a light arugula salad. Reverie offers many of the sandwiches and tacos as rice bowls, too.
Overall, the sandwich is a winner. I liked the soft bread, the chewy, thinly-sliced seitan, and sauce. I tasted more BBQ than berbere. The sauce reminded me of an ultra flavorful sloppy joe.
I took home the Burger ($13) with potato wedges (+ $3) and Mojo Smoked Brussels Sprouts for Jake. The veggie burger patty wasn’t my favorite but is sizable and filling. I still prefer veggie burgers to Impossible/Beyond patties. I liked the sweet and savory flavors from the kimchi aoli, smoked onions and rooibos tomato jam. It reminded me of a meatloaf sandwich.
The crispy potato wedges and aoli are worth the upgrade. We also liked the smokey brussels sprouts.
In conclusion, I enjoyed visiting both restaurants will return. I know that seitan won’t necessarily scratch the itch for someone who wants sirloin but I think that most everyone will find something that they really enjoy.
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