Part I: The Restaurant
A few weeks ago I posted an article from the New York Times entitled “Yes, Healthful Fast Food Is Possible. But Edible?” Vegan2Go, Gainesville’s only all-vegan restaurant, answers with a resounding YES! Vegan2Go, which opened in November 2012, is basically a take-out establishment where you order at the counter – from the owner David Tran. David’s wife is the chef and David also brings you the food when it’s ready. And the food is great. There are four small tables if you choose to dine there, but while we were there most of the patrons got their food to go. There is a large menu on the wall and pictures of several of the menu items. In addition to vegan, there are soy-free, gluten-free and raw vegan choices.
I asked David a few questions about the menu. These are his responses:
- What are the most popular dishes on the menu?
- Rice curry and rice or noodle combo #2
- Quinoa salad and raw cheesecake (healthy and raw items)
- Summer rolls (starter)
- What would you recommend a non-vegan order?
- Ginger onion chicken, BBQ skewers, Drumsticks
- What is your favorite item on the menu?
- Quinoa salad and summer rolls
Dan and I wanted to sample several of the menu items (having so many choices makes it hard to choose!). For starters, we got the summer rolls, sesame BBQ skewers, and the Drumsticks. I’ve had summer rolls before, but these were both crisper and fresher tasting and came with a nice peanut dipping sauce. Dan LOVED the BBQ skewers (his tip is to combine them with the Jasmine rice), although they were a little cold for my liking. The drumsticks really looked like real chicken, complete with a fake bone. They were very good as well, though if there had to be a winner between the two “meats” it would be the skewers. We also had a Strawberry Smoothie (strawberry, banana, agave nectar and almond milk) which came in a cute carryout ready cup with a plastic seal to prevent spillage. It was awesome. Dan has already mentioned a few times since that he wants another smoothie.
For entrees, Dan chose the Noodle Combo #2 which includes a spring roll, summer roll and vegan ginger onion chick’n. The noodles are vermicelli style with carrots and lettuce. The spring roll is fried with a filling of jicama, soy protein, mushroom, mung bean, carrot and cabbage and comes with a sauce that has mango overtones with some heat. It tastes just as you would expect it to at any other restaurant, except it’s vegan. The vegan chick’n is delicious, and Dan couldn’t decide whether he liked it or the BBQ skewers better. I picked the Specialty Curry Rice which consists of curry, carrot, soy protein, potato, sweet potato and coconut milk over Jasmine rice. The Jasmine rice is flavored with turmeric and together with the curry is fantastic (it is also good heated up again the next day). We enjoyed both entrees but for our personal tastes would recommend the rice over the noodles.
We ended with both the lemon and chocolate raw cheesecakes. While both flavors were amazing, I have to confess: I am a chocoholic and swooned over every bite of the chocolate cheesecake. I did not know you could make fake cheesecake taste so good! Dan and I had quite the battle over each bite. The cheesecake ingredients: raw cashew, organic coconut, organic hemp seeds, organic agave nectar, medjool date, and Himalyan salt. They also have strawberry. Now I feel like I can have cheesecake and not feel guilty about it later :)
Overall, there are so many options it’s tough to decide what to order – not something I’ve been used to recently. The choices were nice since they satisfied both ends of the vegan eating spectrum. Dan’s favorite items were all the meat substitute dishes (particularly the BBQ skewers and the vegan chick’n) and the jasmine rice. While I liked the meat substitute items, I preferred the curry and summer rolls. We both loved the smoothie and cheesecake. I look forward to going to Vegan2Go again and trying some of the other soy-free items like the Quinoa Salad, Spring Mix, Pumpkin Soup and Mango Avocado Salad.
This restaurant is a great option when you are in a hurry, don’t want to cook, want something healthy and plant-based but don’t want to spend a lot of money. I also recommend it for take-out. However, if you do choose to sit at one of the tables to eat, I advise you to strike up a conversation with David (more about him in Part II). You’ll be happy that you did.
Ratings from a plant-based eating perspective (1-5 scale, 1=Terrible 5=Excellent)
Ambiance: 2 Service: 5 Choices: 5 Taste: 5 Overall: 5
**UPDATE: I like Vegan2Go so much, I chose to have it for my birthday during a picnic lunch. The to-go containers and utensils make it perfect to bring on a picnic without having to do the food preparations myself. Dan had some of the same food we sampled on our first visit but I tried a couple different items: the Avocado Smoothie (avocado, banana, agave nectar and almond milk) and the Quinoa Salad (quinoa, bell pepper, chickpeas, parsley, cucumber, tomato and lemon juice). Both were perfect on a warm summer day in the shade. The smoothie was creamy and the salad light and refreshing. I of course ended the meal with the cheesecake :)