Hello my name is Andrea and I somehow talk about how my boyfriend is a vegan more than he does.
Can you believe he waited hours into our second date before mentioning it? And even at that, he casually dropped the line “So, dietary restrictions – I have them.” He then ordered a pizza with mock duck and “rinotta” – what Pizza Luce calls its cheese substitute. When it arrived, curiosity got the best of me and I ate a forkful of it which, to my surprise, tasted just fine. He managed to get a couple bites in, too, before excusing himself to THROW UP due to NERVOUSNESS of being out with such a LOVELY LADY which I just recently found out and am going to revel in and embarrass him by bringing up here also I think it’s pretty adorable.
I was initially nervous when he told me because I thought it would be extremely difficult to manage since I enjoy going out to eat regularly – plus, our ethics aren’t exactly aligned on the topic, which runs deeper than just what he eats on a daily basis. But lucky for me, Jason loves food as much as I do and is also so respectful of me and my choices, as I am of his. He doesn’t pressure me, I don’t tease him or make him feel like he creates going out for a meal a difficult task. It works. Plus I discovered a YouTube channel called “So You’re Dating a Vegan” – the inspiration for this title, clearly – created by Duncan, a vegan, and his girlfriend Liz, a non-vegan. Watching some of their videos and seeing that a couple with different diets can actually work eased my fears.
Since our second date I’ve been fairly open and up for anything when it comes to trying a bite or two of whatever he orders when we go out together. While I barely spent any time even glancing at vegan options on the menus of restaurants I’ve frequented before we dated, now I scour menus ahead of time to ensure there’s at least a couple items – minus salads because he literally does not eat anything green (love ya, honey) – he can choose from.
Let’s cut to the good stuff: The food at restaurants that actually serve both of our tastes well. Spots where we both leave feeling happy and full almost to the point of hating ourselves.
⌊ ramen kazama ⌉
Ramen Kazama has a couple of things going for it: really consistent quality and it’s near my apartment. Plus they seem to play Weezer’s Blue album on a regular basis. This used to be my regular Sunday night solo dinner spot, but when I realized they make a vegan version I had to share it with Jason. That’s how ya know you like someone.
→ What I get: Tonkotsu (pictured above) aka the South Side, made with pork bone marrow broth and slices of pork belly (extremely rich) or the Karamiso aka Magma with spicy miso broth and ground pork (deliciously spicy). A side of gyoza or karaage is also my go-to.
→ What he gets: Veggie curry with wheat noodles and edamame. They also have sweet potato noodles available, which he chose the first time and liked but prefers the wheat noodles. He’s very pro-gluten.
⌊ rise bagel co. ⌉
Rise is a relatively new favorite since it just opened a couple of months ago, but they’ve had vegan options since day one! The bagels (usual flavors: plain, poppy, sesame, salt, everything, onion) themselves are vegan, they have vegan cream cheese and sausage, plus the sandwiches they have on the menu can be modified to be vegan. The staff here is so friendly and the food has lived up to the hype for us.
→ What I get: The Artisan (egg, bacon, havarti, arugula, rosemary butter and apple mustard) on an everything bagel, and at least one more everything with chive cream cheese. I’ve also gotten the Lox (salmon gravlax, plain cream cheese, red onion, capers) and open-faced Pop Art (toasted plain bagel, buttercream frosting, strawberry preserves, sprinkles) once each but would order the Artisan again and again.
→ What he gets: Two everything bagels with vegan cream cheese. And he gets real, real sad when they’re gone.
⌊ j. selby’s ⌉
We’re pretty lucky to have a restaurant like J. Selby’s that has solely plant-based menu items – it takes all of the guessing work out of wondering what ingredients are actually in a “veggie patty” and the effort of taking off certain elements to make sometimes even a vegetarian dish vegan. He can order literally whatever he wants and what I like most is that we can share food here, which is not something I ever thought I would see as a plus but here we are.
→ What I get: The Solo – a Herbivorous Butcher beaf patty with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheeze and a side of crinkle fries. This is a pretty good stand-in for the real thing – we actually came here on a night I was craving a burger and I chose to go here for one. The pretzel and chili cheeze fries are great to share, too. Pictured is my first meal there: corn dogs and a side of chips and salsa.
→ What he gets: Everything ??? He’s ordered The Dirty Secret – their version of a Big Mac – more than once but prefers the Solo. He’s also a fan of the pretzel, chili cheeze fries, soyclones (think: vegan blizzards) and every dessert they come up with.
⌊ kyatchi ⌉
OK I’ll be very transparent in saying we have only eaten at Kyatchi together once, but it was such a nice experience and our server was exceptionally helpful and sweet so I have to put it on here. When I asked if they have vegan options she lit up and said “definitely,” sat us at a table then brought over a menu she had marked up with asterisks next to everything Jason could eat which, besides being super thoughtful, included a ton of items. This spot is a treat yoself sushi date for us but worth it.
→ What I get: The Sake pressed sushi (pictured) – salmon, slice of lemon and masago, avocado roll or that night’s specialty roll, yakisoba with scallops and shrimp.
→ What he gets: Inari (homemade deep fried tofu) and the chef’s vegetarian platter (ume shiso, kaiware, oshinko, asparagus, cauliflower, avocado roll and cucumber roll) – this was a super impressive plate of food and he was pretty stoked over it.
⌊ triple rock ⌉
I’m going to get mushy here real quick and let you know our first date was at Triple Rock. We met at the bar before I was going to catch a show by myself next door in the venue but then Jason ended up coming along since we hit it off so well. This is a place I’ve loved going to for their large portions and low prices – plus the quality is always great – before we started dating, and it’s been one of his most frequented spots, too, because their vegan menu is pretty expansive. Their happy hour deals are excellent as well.
→ What I get: A Bloody Mary, the Opa! Omelette (spinach, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and feta) that I douse in hot sauce, with their amazing home fries, an English muffin and sometimes a side of sausage. Yeah, I don’t mess around. At dinner/happy hour I’ll get their Chicago dog, fries and a beer for like $6.
→ What he gets: A guy after my own heart, he sometimes does both a sweet (vegan french toast) and savory (home fries with a side of melty nacho vegan cheese) choice. Even I dunk some of my potatoes in the cheese because it’s delish. For dinner he’s ordered the Minneapolis Po’boy which is a giant plate of home fries, onion, Cajun seasoning, soy cheese and mock duck.
World Street is probably our most-frequented spot when we go out, in part due to its proximity but probably more because we always leave happy. It’s a quick, casual spot with incredible food that nobody else is really making around here (that I know of). This is another place that caters fairly well to vegetarians/vegans, so it’s never a hassle to ask for an item to be made vegan since they’re well-prepared to accommodate it.
→ What I get: Caramelized brussels sprouts (seriously the best I’ve ever had), guacamole and chips or trio of dips as an appetizer, then the OG Chicken Yum Yum Rice Bowl or the Mexican Steak & Egg’wich (sliced steak, melted onions, avocado, fried egg, chipotle adobo and chihuahua cheese).
→ What he gets: The Bankok Burrito (flour tortilla stuffed with fried rice, secret sauce, cilantro, basil) made vegan with crispy marinated tofu. Jason doesn’t have a huge appetite at times, but he polishes this burrito off every single time.
⌊ milkjam ⌉
The best 1-2 date night spot: WSK follow by Milkjam, connected right next door. This place gets wildly busy on summer days, so it’s best to try out on off-peak hours even though, truly, there aren’t many of those. It’s not the only ice cream shop in the Twin Cities, but it is one of the only that has more than a few vegan flavors so it’s a win for us and worth a reasonable wait.
→ What I get: Cereal Killers (orange coriander milk with candied pebbles), but they have new flavors on a regular basis and I gravitate toward the fruity-based or sherbet options.
→ What he gets: PB Vs. Everybody (peanut butter banana ice cream with Oreo chunks).
⌊ etc. ⌉
There are a handful of other places we’ve gone together including:
→ Hola Arepa: They have a few items on their menu that are or can be made vegetarian/vegan. Jason really liked the black bean and sweet potato arepa and their yuca fries with chimichurri sauce. I’ve gotten the Arepa Benedict with Spanish sausage, poached eggs, spicy hollandaise, guava sauce and chicharron (pictured) a few times for brunch.
→ The Depot: This is our place to go before shows at First Avenue. He chooses the VBLT made with Herbivorous Butcher bacon and vegan mayo 99.9 percent of the time, while I go for a burger or the Diamond Corn Dog (hot dog wrapped in bacon and deep fried – not sorry ’bout it).
→ Ginger Hop: We actually both get the Udon Noodle Bowl – his with mock duck and the vegan yellow curry, mine with shrimp and green curry. The sweet potato fries are great, too.
→ Amazing Thailand: This one’s quickly become a favorite of ours, sometimes we’ll go before catching a movie at the Uptown or Lagoon theaters. Jason likes the fried tofu appetizer and pineapple fried rice with mock duck, I usually get the fried wontons and red curry or egg noodles with shrimp.
→ Masu Sushi & Robata: We may have just gone here last night because some cravings were stirred after writing about all of these places. They have a whole separate vegetarian/vegan menu (available online) so it makes ordering easy. He likes the Veggie Power and Veggie Caterpillar rolls, while I get the Rainbow and avocado rolls, and we split an order of edamame.
→ Suburb lunch spots: Jason will sometimes come up to where I work during the week and take me out for lunch. It’s sort of a struggle finding spots that suit us both in the ‘burbs but we’ve found that Whole Foods, Naf Naf Grill, Chipotle and Five Guys work just fine. We’re also no strangers to Taco Bell and Taco John’s, baby.
→ Evergreen (RIP): I would be remiss not to mention his favorite restaurant that closed a couple of months ago. RIP spicy mock duck dish that Jason ordered every single time, and those vegetable dumplings. This is me giving a shout-out to Frank on his behalf: Hope you’re doing well!
That’s all I got. That’s more than you ever asked for, but hopefully this can potentially help out other couples where one is vegetarian/vegan and the other eats whatever they’d like. We kind of figured this out on the fly and on our own. Any restaurants I’m missing that we should be checking out?