After a brief stop in Beaver, Utah, and a hike through Zion National Park, we're on to Las Vegas. I love the overt nature of Vegas, where every desire is straightforward and honest, and people know what they want. I want some good vegan food, and this city doesn't disappoint.
I'm eating loads of fresh stuff from the cooler still, and piling plates high with fruit and salad from the city's many buffets, but I'm happy to enjoy indulgences like vegan doughnuts and melty sandwiches. Here's some of what Las Vegas has to offer.
This unassuming donught shop is housed in a strip mall a few minutes from the Las Vegas strip. About 80% of the doughnuts are vegan, and the owners are happy to point out the shelves which hold them. With simple favorites like tiger tails, maple bars, apple fritters, and doughnuts filled with cool soy cream, most people don't guess they're vegan. And you'll be surprised the prices are just like any "regular" doughnut shop; put Ronald's in downtown and fill it with hipsters, and the doughnuts could easily command $5 each. I can't say enough good about Ronald's; some people visit Vegas simply for this place, and there's no question why.
Here's a quick video of my daughter eating her first doughnut. It's funny, how reverent we are, as if passing down an ancient ritual. But food can definitely be a spiritual experience, right?
vegan-friendly doughnuts and pastries, $
4600 Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89102
This family-owned sushi bar is such a treat, I visited three times during my stay in Vegas. The owners are knowledgeable about vegan diets, and happy to recommend their favorites from the extensive vegetarian menu. Even the tempura is vegan. With choices like the Kimpira Gobo Roll (seasoned burdock root, ohba, and spicy goma sauce), the Spicy Satoimo Roll (spicy taro root with cucumber), or the Kanpyo Maki Roll (seasoned gourd), this isn't your typical carrot-avocado-cucumber vegetarian menu. Try the Yakisoba or Ramen for a bowl of comfort, or the Miko's Special (spicy satoimo roll, futomaki, tempura roll, spinach hand roll, green beans hand roll, potato teriyaki, kimpira and hijiki). At less than $15, this sampler is the perfect introduction to excellent vegan Japanese.
vegan-friendly Japanese, $$
500 E. Windmill Ln. Ste. 165, Las Vegas, NV 89123
Go Raw Cafe
I have an instant aversion to any restaurant that serves Sour Dream or surrounds words like cheese and beans with quotations, but I really wanted to like this place. With two locations, these cafes inside raw retail stores provide Las Vegas with plenty of living food options. Their menu is full of classic, comfortable dishes like burritos, salads, pastas, and burgers, and I order the Mexicali Toast (Mexi pate, guacamole, salsa, sour dream, and hemp seeds) and the Traditional Pizza (buckwheat crust, “almond cheese,” basil pesto, marinara, veggies, and “walnut sausage”). The dishes are fine, but when you eat lots of raw food, you begin to want inventive stuff like Pepita Lime Apple Tiers (tart apple layers filled with pepita lime cashew cheese, jalapeno, and cilantro) and Persian Chia Pudding (chia-based rice pudding with rosewater, cardamom, and pistachios).
Umm, sorry. That was a shameless plug for my book; it features both recipes.
Ahem. I can't resist a cool glass of coconut water, so I order a large. It's delicious. When it's time for dessert, there are layered pies and cheesecake. Nothing really tempts me, so I skip it. I just can't stop thinking about Ronald's Donuts.
Go Raw Cafe
raw vegan cuisine and retail, $$
2910 Lake East Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89117
2381 East Windmill Lane #18
Las Vegas, NV 89123
Red Velvet Cafe
With it's decadent interiors and clean lines, this sweet cafe has food to match. The menu features panninis, pizettas, daily specials, and plenty of desserts. Nearly everything can be made vegan, and it's wonderful to browse a bakery case and see vegan on tags for Red Velvet Cake and Orange Cream Torte. The Veggie Tuna Melt and Veggie Ham and Cheese are great for a quick snack. If you're staying longer, try the Vegan Taco Salad (basic but good) with Molten Chocolate Cake for dessert. Skip the baked fries and have a salad instead; it's a nice way to balance all that soy cheese and sugar, which Red Velvet still manages to make you feel light and healthy after.
Red Velvet Cafe
vegan-friendly bistro food and desserts, $$
7875 W. Sahara Ave. Suite 103 / 104, Las Vegas, NV 89117
In Vegas, I'm staying at the Palace Station (a ridiculously--and fantastically--reasonably-priced place at the edge of the strip), and the Aria, a luxe, super-techy new hotel located in City Center. Can I tell you how much I adore this place? Rooms feature computerized temperature, media, and lighting controls, and it's all green-built with recycled and renewable materials. And I could wax poetic about the bathrooms for the next five paragraphs. But I'll spare you.
G shares her mama's fascination with a well-stocked bar.
If you're a vegan with a famly, a great option for accommodations is the Vdara, a non-gaming hotel with suites featuring gourmet kitchens and plenty of space. The best thing? Deluxe sized hair and body care products by Aveda. When you're accustomed to bringing toiletries (most hotels feature animal-based amenities), it's a pleasure to find vegan products waiting for you.
Now off to Los Angeles, where I look for vegan options at Disneyland...!