Las Vegas, NV, USA
Food style: Globally inspired street food
Veg Scale: 100% vegan, GF labels
Part of town: “Old Downtown” East Fremont District
After a disappointing visit to the Wynn’s $50/person buffet – Steve Wynn became vegan with a focus on raw cuisine about 5 years ago and thus added vegan options at all of his restaurants – I was determined to discover the real vegan scene in Vegas. After all, Paul Graham created an entire blog (now moderated by Mindy) that is now the guidebook “Eating Vegan in Vegas” so I knew it was out there. Finding vegan and gluten free options on The Strip at places like Hussong’s Cantina (home of the original margarita) and their sister restaurant Slice of Vegas Pizza, both located in The Shoppes at Mandalay Place, was uplifting but comprised mostly of processed faux meats and cheeses and not the plant-based cuisine I was hoping for.
Enter the vegan oasis known as the Fremont East Entertainment District, part of the original downtown Vegas (Fremont Street) from back in the days when The Rat Pack frequented historic landmarks like The Golden Nugget. Across from Container Park, a hip new open-air shopping center built out from old shipping containers and large modern art installations, sits the 3-month-old gem known as VegeNation. Outfitted with large, cozy wooden chairs, walls supporting lush greenery and vegan Recycled Propaganda art, and troughs of vegetation hanging from the ceiling, their fresh vibe conveys a local activist quality that will make both the native and the visiting vegan alike feel at home. The enclosed outdoor patio offered an opportunity to enjoy the fresh air, but after walking over 5 miles in 105 degree Fahrenheit, Chris and I opted for the cool relief of the A/C indoors.
We began by cooling our palettes with the rich refreshment of Chocolate Thunder (GF), one of their fresh smoothie options. Comprised of cacao, peanut butter, banana, chia seeds and kale, we chose to toss in some hemp protein for good measure. Thinner in consistency than most smoothies, the richness of the chocolate combining effortlessly with the other ingredients made for a surprisingly filling beverage. To be honest, they were so delicious that splitting one wasn’t enough and we ordered a second. It took me back to fond memories of the first delicious protein shakes I made at the beginning of my vegan journey.
Chris and I then split The Greek salad (GF), a fresh mixture of romaine lettuce, raw kale, cherry tomatoes, crisp cucumber, crumbled blue corn chips (for the GF version), slivers of red and green bell peppers, zesty red onion and cashew feta made by the local company Virgin Cheese. The waitress suggested that we sub their Goddess Dressing (GF), a creamy avocado blend, for the standard vinaigrette, which she felt was more vinegary than necessary. Her suggestion was channeled by the vegan goddess herself as it added a satisfyingly creamy feel to every bite that would have otherwise been missed. The only thing absent for me was some kalamata olives, but the incredible flavor and texture of the feta blew any complaints out of my mind! Hand made by Las Vegas local, Jodi Page, Virgin Cheeses are based with raw cashews soaked in fluoride-free water and virgin coconut oil blended with different fruits and herbs to make their small batch artisan flavors. I had the pleasure of meeting Jodi in person, as she happened to be visiting the restaurant to share her latest creation, vegan Brie, with the owner and chef, Donald. I highly recommend checking out her incredible variety of offerings and ordering some for yourself if you can’t make it out to Las Vegas.
Next up was a heaping portion of their Pho-King-Delicious soup (GF). Despite what many may think, it is pronounced “fah” rather than “faux”. So yes, if you’re blushing, you’re saying it correctly. Keep in mind that all pictures of the food Chris and I enjoyed at Vegenation are split portions! This dish could easily have been split three or four ways, though after tasting it you won’t want to share! Swimming in a savory mushroom broth that has a nice kick to it were crisp bean sprouts, Miracle Noodles, baby bok choy, shiitake mushrooms with perfectly cooked stems attached, carrot slivers and delicately seasoned tofu cubes. The spice was a nice sinus cleanser, sending me to the bathroom to flush my nose as it was running like a tap. Momentarily indisposed, I was thus able to enjoy the handwritten notes and pictures sketched out on the chalkboard walls lining the single-stall restroom.
The soup was super filling and the broth and seasoning made it very satiating. So much so that I didn’t even crave my usual dessert. That being said, their post-meal offerings including many gluten free options like Chocolate Tacos (GF), Carrot Cake (GF) and Brownie A La Mode (GF), are enough to bring me back again on their own! These desert desserts are no mirage and I’m sure I’ll be returning soon enough, albeit in digs more like the eco-resort Element near Red Rock Canyon so I can hike off those inevitable guilty indulgences.
I am an actor/writer/content creator based in Los Angeles. I travel extensively both as the host of the new vegan food travel show The Road Less Eaten and on my own. This blog will chronicle my journey around the globe as I hunt down all the vegan options in every part of the world, no matter how big the city nor small the town.
Copyright © Ally Iseman 2016. I own my awkward. Thanks for enabling me.