Urban Vegan Kitchen
Urban Vegan Kitchen floored me. It was a wham, bam, thank you ma’am kind of situations where one great thing after the next had me eagerly rolling with the punches. Hiding from an unseasonably cold day, I ran in through the nondescript entrance into a space that voided all previous stereotypes of what a vegan restaurant would be. It wasn’t green and it didn’t smell like grass was being ground. There wasn’t earthy hippy-dippy music, no, this was the antithesis of that expectation entirely. Hanging on the white washed brick walls are black and white portraits of animals having fun interspersed with colorful paintings from multiple genres and styles and spray painted words like “dope” and “fresh”. There’s a blue velvet couch and two upholstered chairs situated by the windowed area for lounging adjacent to a row of tables for two lining the wall. Go downstairs, it’s a trip! I don’t mean that it’s particularly far away, no, it’s like the inside of the Mystery Machine kind of trip. From the nineties Space Jam styled disco dancing anthropomorphized cartoon rabbits, cats and horses that covers the staircase wall to the very retro geometrically patterned neon sofa, the “love is love, love si love” red and white mural clad bar, it’s the lounge I dreamed of in the nineties when I was too young to actually get into one. *Sigh of nostalgia*.
Now, I said I was floored. The innovative celebration of animals space is merely the tip of the iceberg. The food. The food. The food. It’s wow-factor! Not by vegan standards but by all standards. Don’t get me wrong, some of the dishes I loved far more than others but that’s to be expected of any restaurant. I literally never thought I’d utter, let alone write the following words, ready for it, “you have to go eat vegan!”. Seriously, it’s a mindf%^&. I don’t know how they did it, but their semi-sophisticated comfort food styled menu is killer—oops, well, perhaps the exact opposite of “killer” being that it’s vega, please insert the right term for me.
Their southern fried seitan Chick-un & Waffles is to die for—ugh, see there I go again. I clearly don’t have the right bank of terms for vegan food. I kid you not, this was one of the best waffles I’ve had to date and hands down the most beautiful interpretation. The combination of colors, textures, and flavors of the sautéed garlic kale, crispy Belgian waffle, maple mustard aioli, I can’t stop thinking about it. Chef Timothy Pakron, whom you may know as Mississippi Vegan if you’re into the vegan scene, has reimagined vegan food. From his kitchen comes beautifully crafted decadent dishes. By no means are they healthy, no, honestly, I had no idea you could make vegan food so gluttonous and addicting. There’s even Mac N’ Cheese on the menu. Are you with me? A dish where the star is the ooey gooey cheese is celebrated in a restaurant that doesn’t use dairy. What?! And, while it’s not the mac and cheese I’m used to, it was delicious and the cast iron skillet it was served out of was scraped clean. Do not go here if you became a vegan to be on a health kick diet of sorts. You are in the wrong place. Co-Owners Pamela Elizabeth and David Tianga created this restaurant for people who want to eat and have fun. It’s for those vegans who are still human. That sounds wrong and perhaps offensive but it’s kinda what I mean. It’s not for those looking for a symbolic experience of some higher power, it’s for those who love amazing food, perhaps became vegan for dietary reason and are looking for ways to feel like they can still go out to dinner, maybe dance a bit in the psychedelic basement bar while indulging in a fun and amazingly high end meal.