Just because I am busy in my last month of training for a full marathon doesn’t mean I have given up eating, nor being vegan. On the contrary – I have become an eating machine. I just don’t have the time to write down and photograph, let alone blog, all of the great fuel that has been giving me super veggie energy as I pound out my long runs. I have been cooking at home and dining out and as I spend hours on roads and trails I think of creative recipes and places to eat. Let me tell you, over 12 – 20 miles gives you a LOT of time to think and vegan food is almost always on my mind.
Other the the super vegan fueling option provided by Hammer Nutrition for my long runs, I want to quickly share some new local dining options that I hope to eventually review in full. Although this won’t be detailed, I don’t want to delay from sharing these new State College delights so that more people can support and enjoy them.
This week, Lemongrass opened at 432 E College Ave. This Vietnamese Cafe has a focused menu of Pho (noodle soup), Bun (vermicelli noodles with savory dressing), Com Tam (rice platter with savory dressing), and Bahn Mi (sandwich). There are vegetarian choices for each and the portions are immense. The ingredients are fresh and prepared as you wish in front of you. Do ask for the vegan broth in the Pho and choose tofu as a protein option in any of the items to make for a great veggie feast. The staff was caring enough to check and double-check that we were vegan when preparing all of our dishes. The place has a grab-n-go feel to it but has plenty of seating even in an upper loft. Very nice and filled my ever aching void post 12 mile run.
Similar Vietnamese cuisine with a warmer sit-down environment is provided by Pho11 at 146 N Atherton St. I can’t say enough about this kind and attentive staff, that checked on every menu item we had questions about. Vegetarian Salad with Tofu was vegan and large enough to share. We also got vegan menu items, Vegetarian Vermicelli with Tofu and the Lemon Tofu (Fried tofu prepared with fresh cucumber, radish, carrot, onion & celery). This was a nice meal we had back in April and I waited to be able to compare it to what Lemongrass had to offer. I would say Pho11 is better for groups and relaxed dining but you can’t beat the freshness and portions of Lemongrass.
A total culture shift but still right in downtown is the new Joie de Crêpe. I know all of you hard core strict vegan types just raised an eyebrow when you read “Crêpe”. Before you blow by this paragraph remember this blog is for vegetarians and this little nook has vegan crêpes! They also can use Tofutti cheeses, offer a savory vegan sauce option, plenty of sweet fruits, spreads and the like. It is tucked way downstairs at 428 E College Ave. and has even more ever changing menu items if you are vegetarian.
Opening today is yet another carb loading option option for me at the chain Noodles & Company. Vegetarians have tons more options at this place so take a look at the nutritional breakdown for all of their menu items if you want to know the details (check the allergens columns). Last time we were in Pittsburgh we found that we could eat the Japanese Pan Noodles and Indonesian Peanut Sauté but I see a few vegan salad options too.
For literally the icing on top, don’t miss *ndulge Cupcake Boutique. This one takes just a little more foresight (vegan cupcake orders take 72 hours advance notice) but is well worth it! We placed a special order for vegan Coconut sCream cupcakes to share with friends from Green Street Vegetarian Club and they were beyond splendid!
With so many more people being sensitive to vegan and gluten-free needs, you have no need to walk more that a few steps in downtown State College without finding another impressive vegan choice or two. We will be traveling more beyond Centre County in the coming month to make the final decisions for the 2012 Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards in the categories of best Portobello, Veggie Burger, Soup, Salad, Chili, Specials, Ethnic Restaurant, Vegetarian Restaurant Best Restaurant and Peoples Choice. If you want to nominate a place or menu item to be considered for any of the mentioned categories, please leave a comment below or email to PennsyltuckVeggie@hotmail.com. See the map below to know the entire region we cover.