• October 26th, 2010quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), virginia beach

    field report time, and this one comes to us from a new operative located way over on the other side of the country! check out christina’s review of baladi, a middle eastern restaurant in virginia beach. this post seriously had me drooling. it’s got vegan baklava, turkish delights, and the best looking plate of hummus i’ve ever seen. enjoy!

    Attention all military families, beach travelers, those visiting PETA in Norfolk, or anyone else mysteriously finding themselves in Hampton Roads, VA: I have found a gem in the seven-cities.

    By chance one morning, I bumped into Khaled, the owner of the Mediterranean restaurant Baladi in Virginia Beach as he was delivering food to my workplace for lunch. You don’t have to pull my arm to get me to try a new Mediterranean restaurant—by the end of the workday I was dying to take that thirty-minute drive to his restaurant to scope out the falafel.

    Needless to say, Baladi has become a restaurant that I frequent—due to the superb customer service, the vegan-friendly menu, and the drool-worthy dishes. Each vegan item on the menu has a “VV” next to it, which makes me want to high-five everyone around me.

    The word “baladi” in Arabic means “local,” and the restaurant most definitely has a local vibe. The owner is ALWAYS there—taking orders, preparing food, delivering food to tables, learning customer’s names and humoring you if you try to speak mediocre Arabic with him (so what? At least I try). Baladi’s ambiance also happens to be refreshingly unique. I feel like it would have been a nice place to study during college—if there were more seating.

    The pastry case at Baladi regularly contains vegan mamool, vegan baklava, and Turkish delights. I’m the sucker that ends up purchasing so many sweets that I have leftovers for days (if you’re wondering: yes, these treats still taste amazing three days later). There is even a deal for people like me: six sweets for $7.50.

    The Jalapeno Hummus with spicy garnish is hands-down the best hummus I have ever eaten. I have no idea what “spicy garnish” is—but it is bangin’.

    Both the tabbouleh (above) and the couscous (below) are part of the mezze menu, and are affordably priced ($4.95 each!). The tabbouleh is fresh, not too lemony. The couscous is joist moist enough and has some tiny bits of green onion and tomato mixed in. A little lady, such as myself, could purchase one of these and be perfectly satisfied.

    Seriously—Baladi consistently crafts the perfect falafel. Above is the Falafel Supreme wrap (crunchy lettuce, warm falafel, hummus, tahini, and Lebanese olives on the side. Mmmm). This baby is only $7.50, too.

    This dish is a dream … thick pita bread covered in lentil soup and topped with that wonderful spicy garnish. The lentil soup here is spectacular by itself, but there is something about eating thick, soup-soaked pita bread that makes me drool a little.

    These Turkish delights turn me in to an American delight—all I’m sayin’. They’re coated with just enough confectioners’ sugar and they’re not so chewy that they stick in your teeth (in case you want to talk later).

    I grew up on this stuff as a kid. Until I was 14, I thought baklava was a staple at everybody’s Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, thanks to my Arab-American family. After transitioning to veganism I really missed baklava, so this is a great find for baklava fiends—or anyone wanting to have their taste buds tantalized with phyllo dough, rosewater, and pistachios.

    No one should ever leave here without getting a Turkish coffee. It’s always made fresh, and it’s served in the most elegant of demitasse cups and saucers. They’re so fancy that I take them up to the counter after I bus my table so they don’t get broken. I know, I know. I’m a sweetheart.

    Cute, yeah?

    If you’re ever in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, Baladi is definitely worth a visit (or five). Say hi to me when you go, I’m sure I’ll be sitting in the corner scarfing down dish, after dish, after dish …

    Baladi Mediterranean Café
    640 Hilltop West Shopping Center
    Virginia Beach, VA 23451-6139
    (757) 425-8877
    Monday through Saturday, 11am-8pm

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  • September 6th, 2010quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), norfolk

    recently on a trip to norfolk virginia, my friend and i visited a real gem of a restaurant, one i really wish was located here in los angeles: kotobuki. the ostensibly normal fish-serving sushi joint also offers an impressive vegan menu with rolls that rival any in this town. when we informed our waitress that we were vegan, her eyes lit up and she immediately began making ordering suggestions and bragging about how good their vegan sushi was.

    sapporo and a sweet potato roll

    as it was my last night in town, we decided to go out and order a ton of stuff. i started with a sapporo and a sweet potato roll, which went together quite nicely. the japanese beer was cool and refreshing, and the sushi was simple yet satisfying.

    now onto the more creative dishes…

    the hugged rolled salmon n seaweed, the peta roll, and the buddha roll

    the vegan menu at kotobuki is huge, and filled with very elaborate-sounding rolls, so we had a difficult time deciding what to order. after much debate, we settled on the “hugged rolled salmon n seaweed,” the “peta roll” and the “buddha roll”. the hugged roll, which is the top one pictured above, came stuffed with vegan salmon and avocado, all wrapped up in soy paper and topped with seaweed salad and sesame seeds. thumbs up. i really dug the seaweed salad, because it gave the roll a kind of fishy taste.

    next up was the peta roll, pictured in the center of the photo above. this roll is named after the norfolk-based animal rights organization PETA because, as the waitress explained to us, lots of staffers frequent the restaurant and order vegan sushi. the peta roll was decent, but not spectacular. it came with seaweed salad, inari, fried tofu, and steamed carrots rolled up and cut into 6 slices for $5.50. the tofu inside was tasty, albeit a little bland, so i think i will stick to the more adventurous rolls next time i visit kotobuki.

    lastly we had the buddha roll, pictured at the bottom of the photo above. we sure saved the best one for last, because this roll was madness!

    the buddha roll consisted of shiitake mushrooms, kampyo asparagus, and shiso horseradish sprouts topped with avocado and spicy vegan mayo. the vegetable blend was so inventive, and the spicy mayo was kickin’! i didn’t even miss the fake meat or tofu that is so prevalent in vegan sushi. this was by far my favorite roll, and i highly recommend it.

    after all that sushi, we were pretty stuffed, but our waitress refused to let us leave without ordering dessert. she was super proud of all their vegan options, and insisted we try the deep fried chocolate cheesecake. VEGAN DEEP FRIED CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE?! what?!?!?! i had no clue that such a wonderful thing existed. i was suddenly hungry again.

    deep fried vegan chocolate cheesecake. OMG.

    we split an order of the cheesecake, and it did not disappoint. the chunks of rich chocolate cake came covered in a thick tempura batter and fried to a crisp. genius i tell you, genius! the center was perfectly moist, creamy, and chocolatey with a tart cheesy flavor, while the outer layer was crunchy and oily. the cheesecake bites alone are reason enough to make a trip to norfolk; they’re definitely the most memorable dessert i’ve had in a while.

    overall, kotobuki gets an a+. i’ve never been to a “normal” sushi place with such an inventive vegan menu…and the food was fantastic. the service was friendly, and our waitress seemed genuinely excited that we were vegan customers. i know i’ll be back!

    721 W 21st St
    Norfolk, VA 23517
    (757) 628-1025

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  • July 11th, 2010quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), norfolk

    UPDATE 07/20/10: since the time i ate at red dog, chickette has changed their recipe and is no longer vegan. 🙁 red dog carries GARDEIN now though, so ask for that if you want a vegan option. also, someone left a comment saying the buffalo sauce is not vegan. i don’t know if they changed that as well, but double check and ask to see the ingredients.

    red dog saloon. beer, bar food, and the best vegan pizza i’ve ever eaten.

    a couple months ago, i was hanging in norfolk virginia and scoping out the meatless offerings. you wouldn’t think that such a small town would be so vegan-friendly, but i must say norfolk holds its own against other massive cities i’ve visited. the main stretch of restaurants i’d wanna visit runs along colley avenue, and within walking distance i found vegan sushi, vegan middle eastern food, 3 spots for vegan pizza, 2 vegan-friendly bars, and vegan tex mex. i can honestly say i’ve never seen so many options in such a small radius…it even rivaled the vegan strip mall.

    today though, i’m here to talk about red dog saloon. located on colley avenue, it has a huge tap beer selection, comfy seating, good music, and most importantly an impressive vegan menu. there is nothing pretentious about this place, and it’s definitely the most “normal” bar that i’ve ever eaten vegan food at…maybe that’s why i love it so much. there is absolutely nowhere like red dog in LA: a typical bar where shit gets rowdy at night and locals hang out for hours, plus a wide selection of delicious vegan food that is readily available.

    i spent less than a week in norfolk, but i wound up eating (and drinking) at red dog twice. both times i was kicking it with my friend and fellow vegan blogger sunny, and although we had complaints about some dishes, overall we agreed that red dog was super awesome.

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  • May 28th, 2010quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), norfolk

    time for another vegan field report all the way from norfolk virginia. we’ll let our resident VA field reporter steve take it away…

    I have traveled all over this country as a vegan, and I’ve never found a breakfast place quite as special as Yorgo’s. At first glance, it looks like your typical bagel shop; customers line up at the counter to place their order while cheap plates of hot food are slung out of the busy kitchen. There’s a small seating area, but most of the crowd is office workers grabbing their morning meal to-go. In an eatery like this, I’d honestly be happy just to have a tofu cream cheese option. Of course Yorgo’s has that, as well as a complete vegan menu with specialties ranging from “omelettes” and breakfast sandwiches to “cheeseburgers” and “philly cheesesteaks.”

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  • May 1st, 2010quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), norfolk

    hey everyone, time for another vegan field report from norfolk, virginia! this one (just like the last one) was written by steve….so i’ll let him take it away:

    Okay, you REALLY have to bear with me on this one. In Norfolk, VA one of the most interesting vegan restaurants is actually a place called “San Antonio Sam’s“. It’s a no-apologies Texas Grill, with pictures of cowboys on horses rounding up cattle on its website, as well as all sorts of awfully un-vegan food offerings on its menu.

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