Dining Guide: 3 vegan eats that don’t break the bank in Tampa Bay

This post comes from Deborah Bostock-Kelley. Deborah is a food writer and is going to highlight some great vegan and gluten-free eats for us. I am asked all the time about vegan food, but it isn’t my specialty so I am very excited to have her writing for us.

It’s hard enough to find restaurants when you are following a gluten-free lifestyle, but throw meat, dairy and egg-free into the mix and you would think your eating-out meal options would be limited to salad, salad and, yes, more salad.

For most chain restaurants, that option is sadly true, but surprisingly in Tampa Bay, individually-owned gems are making healthy living – vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free – more mainstream, affordable, and available to an appreciative public.

With the help of the Now Find Me Gluten-Free, Happy Cow, and Vanilla Bean Vegetarian/Vegan restaurant-finder apps, my husband and I have been able to navigate this lifestyle to find several delicious options on the weekends through restaurants that can accommodate.

3 vegan eats to start your trip around Tampa Bay

Here are the first three restaurants to dip your toe into the animal-products-free lifestyle:

1. Thai Legacy

Photos via @michaelsalamey

First and foremost, the family-owned Thai Legacy, is hands-down the best Thai Restaurant for vegan options. Open for just two years in February, from the complimentary puffed shrimp toast with chili dipping sauce to an every-visit order of the huge bowl of lemony Tom Yum Soup, (family-sized because we love the leftovers) to the Pad Thai or Drunken Noodles or scratch-made red and green curries ranging from mild to I-can’t-feel-my-face hot, the separate Vegan menu offers nearly 30 different options – appetizers, soups, fried rice, noodles, curries, specialty meals and desserts.

Our favorite, Veggie Pad Thai, is incredibly flavorful stir-fried rice noodles with diced tofu, sweet radish, beansprouts, and crushed peanuts. It’s cooked in a mouth-watering, homemade, vegan Pad Thai sauce. Owner Preeda Saeiab always make you feel welcome and her chef, son Perry makes sure you leave with your belly full and taste buds happy. 120 North Parsons Avenue Brandon, FL 33510. (813) 685-8005. thailegacyrestaurant.com

2. Loving Hut

Loving Hut is a staple to the vegan community on the USF college side of town. Every menu item is affordable as the founder wants healthy vegan food accessible for everyone. We visit for their monthly buffet (usually the first Saturday of the month) featuring soups, salads, summer rolls, spring rolls, pasta dishes, sandwiches, veggie dishes and desserts that are always changing.

The restaurant features appetizers, salads, vegan chick’n wings, shrimpless shrimp and fishless fish, as well salads, burrito wraps, sandwiches with staples like French fries and vegan mozzarella sticks. While my husband gravitates to the sandwiches and wraps, as the soy substitute is not gluten-free, I enjoy the spring rolls and creamy potato kale soup with vegan cream cheese or the delectable Beyond Meat Burger without the bun. The large menu can please even the most finnicky of palettes. 1905 East Fletcher Avenue Tampa, Florida. (813) 977-7888. lovinghut.us/tampa/

3. Rawk Star Café

At Rawk Star Café it may seem odd that a restaurant would not have an oven, but it makes sense when you realize everything you eat there is raw. If you are what you eat, you are super healthy raw vegetables masquerading as burgers, pizza, spaghetti, and chili and you taste incredible.

Peanut, wheat/gluten, and soy-free, Rawk Star Café serves only organic, raw, and living vegan cuisine. From powerhouse smoothies, Mother Kombucha on tap, Bulletproof Coffee, eggless egg salad, collard leaf wraps, and salads to Rawghetti, a Raw Burger, Raw Pizza, a Raw Chili plate, and many types of raw desserts and sweets, there is something to tempt even the strongest meat-atarian.

My absolute favorite, the Raw Chili plate, is loaded with fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, carrots, celery, shiitake mushroom, red bell pepper, and jalapeno and cayenne for heat. It’s served over a bed of thinly chopped zucchini, and then topped with a macadamia nut “sour cream,” fresh tomatoes, and house-blended Prama Sprinkle. Despite normal, non-supersized portions, you do not leave Rawk Star Café still feeling hungry. The high nutrient food leaves you feeling full longer. 4011 Tampa Road Oldsmar, FL. (813) 855-0007 rawkstarcafe.com

Next time, we’ll visit Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant, Ray’s Vegan Soul, and Halelife Bakery.

About Deborah: Deborah Bostock-Kelley is a busy restaurant reviewer, Broadway World theatre critic, playwright, producer, director, actress, children and young adult author, reporter for Groove Magazine, Seedling Magazine UK and Tampa Bay News & Lifestyles Magazine, and owner of The WriteOne Creative Services, a graphic design, web design, and copywriting company. As the philanthropic side of her company, she founded Life Amplified variety showcase in 2013 to give back to her community and was recognized in February 2016 as Bay News 9’s Every Day Hero and in May 2014 as FoxTV’s Hometown Hero. Life Amplified CONNECTIONS Broadway Tunes for Project No Labels is at Stageworks in June 2019 is her 13th showcase. Winning a 2017 Theatre Tampa Bay Jeff Norton Dream Grant, in January 2018 she wrote and produced the 2018 Broadway World award-winning (Best Actor & Best Actress) production, A Necessary Conversation (with Peter Nason) about bullying/gun violence/mental health with a community talkback at the Straz with proceeds going to Moms Demand Action, Tampa Chapter. The show has been expanded and she is directing later in 2019. Her one act plays have been performed in competition at Carrollwood Players, Tarpon Arts and Tampa Bay Theatre Festival. She also runs a blog about her gluten-free and vegan journey. www.dkvk.fun.

Advertisements

Congrats to Katie! New giveaway: Flamestone Grill $25 gift card

Katie is the lucky Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza gift card winner! She writes a blog called She Likes Ruffles, He likes Truffles. You can follow her on twitter @SheLikesRuffles. Congrats again!

———-

Don’t despair if you didn’t win the gift card. I still have many gift cards and freebies to giveaway in coming weeks. We’re going to start it off today with a $25 Flamestone gift card giveaway. Here is a little information about Flamestone in case you unfamiliar with it: “FlameStone is a casually sophisticated American Grill that places an emphasis on cooking with nature’s most basic elements: Fire & Stone”. We use natural cooking techniques such as grilling over an open fire or preparing our guacamole using lava stone, to give our food exceptional flavor and taste”. Checkout their website, urbanspoon, and twitter.

This contest will run until Wednesday, August 3rd 2011 at 11:59PM. Just like the previous contest, you must comment below with your contact e-mail in order to be eligible to win and the winner must reply back within 3 days of winning as well.

There are a total of (4) entries you can receive in this contest. Here is how to enter:

1) Follow Carlos Eats on Foodspotting. If you don’t have an account you can easily Facebook connect and make one in seconds. Foodspotting is used to tag photos of food to restaurants. If you want to know more about Foodspotting read my blog about it.

2) Tag my Facebook fan page and let me know what your best meal this summer has been. Summer is sadly drawing to an end soon. 😦

3) Subscribe to Carlos Eats via e-mail and I’ll check and verify if you’re on.

4) Reply back to me on Twitter and tell me about a restaurant I have been missing out on trying that you love.

Remember your odds are increased if you do all four entries, but you can still have a chance without doing all of them as well. Good luck!

Chocolate Sunday Part III

Read Chocolate Sunday Part II

We made a stop to the Watercolour Steakhouse and Grille booth to try their chocolate covered shrimp.

The chocolate shrimp has to be one of the weirdest mixes I could imagine (next to bacon of course), but it was actually pretty good. LATimes Food Twitter had a ball with it earlier today on Twitter. The shrimp tasted like cocktail shrimp, I’d probably like to see this tried with fried shrimp (oh the thoughts that are going through my head at the moment) but this was a nice tasting. We were one of the lucky ones because the crowd cleaned out their supply about halfway through Chocolate Sunday. Watercolour was also handing out $15 gift cards for dinners of two or more. They have live lounge entertainment on the weekends as well.

You can checkout Watercolour online at http://www.watercolourgrille.com

Watercolour Steakhouse and Grille on Urbanspoon

Kilwin’s was present. Their booth didn’t have many things to sample. They were featured on my blog just the other day when I was writing about Chocolate Sunday.

The Melting Pot gave out the sample (pictured above) with a toasty marshmellow, strawberry, and brownie to be dipped in chocolate. It tasted great..makes me really want to visit The Melting Pot. They were swamped with visitors at their booth. I have never been to the Melting Pot, but my friends always talk about it. My friends say that the Melting Pot also has excellent burgers? I never knew!

Melting Pot on Urbanspoon

Viktoria Richard’s Chocolates is chocolate made into art. A cool gift for a date or an early Valentines Day present, the chocolate almost doesn’t look real because of how well designed it is. There are a variety of flavors available from Coconut to Wild Berry Pino Noir. New flavors are developed throughout the year. Retails stores are in New Port Richey, Clearwater, Tampa, and St. Petersburg and you can also shop online at http://www.vrchocolates.com/.

Their booth did not seem to have any samples, but they were selling boxes of chocolate (one of which Justin bought). The prices of the boxes ranged from $10-$15.

Affordable chocolate bars were available as well.

You can find Viktoria Richards Chocolate on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Viktoria-Richards-Chocolates/146304192046521

The Pie Factory and Toucan’s Coffee House booth was full of tasty looking pies. They were giving out samples which tasted pretty good. The Pie Factory has been around since 1990 and is family owned. They are happy to work with customers for custom creations as well. You can visit The Pie Factory online at http://www.piefactoryfl.com/

Continue to Chocolate Sunday Part IV

Chocolate Sunday Part II

Read Chocolate Sunday Part I

Costco had a booth and was selling a number of things as well as giving away M&M’s and various chocolate goods. All the sweets we tried at their booth were great. The last time I went to Costco was over ten years ago, but maybe it’s time to make a trip back there. Their Marketing Rep, Debbie Butterfield, was very friendly and personable.

Costco Food Court on Urbanspoon

A veterans help booth was nearby serving ice cream and candy.

Pupcakes Etc. was selling cannolis that looked tasty at Chocolate Sunday. They are known for selling dog treats and have a handy guide on their website about why certain foods are bad for your dog. Pupcakes was founded after the owners dog died and the owner decided that her next dog would have a natural diet. A baker for over 30 years, the owner transitions into cakes, treats, and cookies for pets. You can find out more on their website at http://www.pupcakesetc.com/

Treats for Troops is an organization that sends care packages to American troops. They were giving away free Hershey’s chocolates at their booth, but they’re cause truly moved us so we decided to donate some money. Treats for Troops ships 6 TONS of care packages every week. Postage bills run from $35,000 to $60,000 per month. Donations and supplies for troops are at an all time low after the holidays and Treats for Troops has organized a “Ziploc bags full of goodies” drive for Troops. You can help by filling a gallon size Ziploc bag with items for the troops or by passing them out to anyone willing to contribute. The deadline is February 15th, 2011. There are plenty of other ways to help out if you want to get involved just visit their website.

You can find more information online at http://www.treatsfortroops.info/

This booth was advertising a meet and greet with some stars. The chocolate at this booth was superb! We decided to head outside for a breath of fresh air after this.

Play 98.7 was outside. They are a new radio station in Tampa Bay playing Top 40s music (minus the Rap). They were giving out free prizes if you name a Top 40s song (that wasn’t a rap song)…it was hard for me to do on the spot, but I eventually won a lanyard.  They gave out some free stickers too.

Our next booth was The Vine Restaurant and Wine Bar. They stock over 400 different bottles and serve over 50 different types of wine by the glass. The Vine only serves Meyer Natural Angus Beef, their Duroc pork comes from the award winning Vande Rose Farms of Iowa, and they use natural fresh American Cedar Springs Lamb.

Their free sample was a chocolate and bacon mix that was amazing. If Adam Richman would have been there, he would have mentioned something about God being great. The bite certainly left me wanting more and I may have to make a trip out to this restaurant in Lutz sometime.

You can check out The Vine online at http://thevinebar.net/

Vine Bar on Urbanspoon

Continue on to Chocolate Sunday Part III