Vegan Tour of Pittsburgh

Living in the northeast-midwest-Great-Lakes-region of the US (huh?) has its benefits. Little does the vegan world know that there are pockets of stunning vegan communities, restaurants, and shops hidden all throughout the country. A few weekends ago my mother and I took an overnight trip to Pittsburgh, PA for some retail therapy and mother-daughter goofing around time.

The 2 hour trip was mostly motivated by the draw of the fabulous IKEA, which is always an afternoon of fun. I couldn't walk away without grabbing some vegan caviar! So strange... but I will soon attempt some sort of tasty bite with this topping - anyone ever tried it before? Recipe suggestions??

After IKEA we went downtown to scope out an omni grille I had researched, which boasted a modest selection of vegan fare. I was enticed by the promise of yummy seitan wings, although when we were presented with the dish I was disappointed. My mom said that the chewy texture of the "wheat meat" was off-putting and I agreed. Plus, they were dredged in cornmeal, fried, and then covered in BBQ sauce - the combination didn't make sense to my taste buds. Perhaps the hot sauce version would have been better, but I doubt it.

Following the wings was their lentil burger. They were out of the vegan buns and so it was served on dry wheat toast. And dry it was. This burger was... interesting. It probably would have fared better in meatloaf form with a tomato glaze of some sort, it wasn't that great on a sandwich. Plus the square shape reminded me of Wendy's burgers! Creepy. All in all, the Double Wide Grille was not a place that I would enthusiastically try again.

Afterwards we spent a few hours walking around a quaint artistic district of town, including vintage clothing shops, one awesome hippie shop, local coffee places, and other interesting stops. The weather was kind to us and we enjoyed having nowhere to be and no time constraints.

Dinner was an obvious choice: Loving Hut! I appreciated there being an all-vegan joint close to our hotel. Loving Huts are found all over the place, yet they allow each location's chefs to create a distinctive menu.

This was found on the ceiling in the dining room!

I loved the wall decals - they covered the space with inspirational veg-conscious quotes.

Being intrigued by the "drumstick" appetizer, I had to try! It was a mixture of mushrooms, veggies, and soy protein wrapped and fried with a plum dipping sauce. See also: mom's wontons in the background. She approved!

This feels so... wrong?

Not wanting to miss the opportunity to finally try soy shrimp, I ordered the "Spicy Cha Cha". Although, I didn't realize that the shrimp would be fried; I was expecting a stir-fried dish with sauce over rice and had already gorged myself on a jumbo fried drumstick. Most of what you see turned into leftovers as my belly protested! Still: very yummy.

On the way out I fell under the spell of the dessert case... You mean I can have anything? You mean I can have EVERYTHING?! Such tough decisions.

Two walls covered in notes from happy customers!

Chocolate cheesecake. Nom.

Cookies & cream cake. Extra nom.

Three different kinds of doughnuts: pumpkin, s'mores, cookies & cream. Yum!

That night my fried food coma turned into a sugar coma as I tried bites of all of my desserts. My mom and I snuggled down with a movie before passing out after a long day of awesome.

The next morning, after dyeing my mom's hair (so girly!) we packed up and headed back downtown for brunch at the vegetarian Quiet Storm. My mom got a creamy frittata and I ordered the "hangover hash": potato hash with soy chorizo & veggies, and a curried tofu scramble. I also ordered a side of steamed kale because, holy shit, I needed some green!

As we drove home I realized how close we were to The Flaming Ice Cube in Boardman, OH. We had to stop! The original location has a large shop to the side with all sorts of goodies. We browsed for a while, my mama picked out some lovely earrings, and I ordered the "Mediterranean panini" to go. Creamy artichoke spread, kalamatas, tomatoes, spinach... yes. Yes. Lovely last meal of a lovely trip.

I wish I could go on a mini-vacation every weekend with my mama. :) Where have you been on a mini-vay-cay that was too much fun??

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