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Category: travel (page 1 of 14)

Final roundup of vegan food in Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico is super vegan friendly. As I covered in my two previous posts, resorts are not your friend but Kaxapa Factory definitely is. This post will cover all the rest of the vegan food in Playa Del Carmen, at least the food that went in my mouth.

First, you need coffee. Well, I need coffee. Yeah, there’s a Starbucks. Yay. But there’s also a local chain called Ah Cacao Chocolate Café. They’ve got soy milk and a couple of things marked vegan right on the menu.

ah cacao menu playa del carmen

We were there in June, so it was HOT and the Espresso Frappé was the perfect foil for the heat. It’s three shots of espresso, sugar and ice blended on up. It’s not overly sweetened like a Starbucks drink and it’s so good you’ll want to just drink them all day. But don’t unless you want to start vibrating on your own.

vegan espresso frappe

The other vegan drink on the menu was sipping chocolate. It’s a little shot of melted chocolate. It’s perfect after a meal when you want a little something sweet. We definitely had a few of these during the trip.

vegan sipping chocolate

When we moved place into our little hotel in town, we gained a little kitchenette, or at least a mini fridge, a sink, a hot plate and a blender. We weren’t really going to cook, but saved a little money by having breakfast in the room most days. So we headed out to the health food store DAQ to pick up cereal, milk and bananas.

There’s a little cafe in the corner of the store called La Ceiba de la 30 that had veggie options so we had lunch there. I had a couple of burritos. It wasn’t a memorable meal, but it also wasn’t memorable for being bad. There are many tastier options, but will do if it’s convenient.

la ceiba de la 30 menu

vegan burritos

We ate at Bio-Natural a couple of times. They have plenty of vegan options on the menu. And there’s a tiny health food store next to it about the size of a single car garage. The first thing I tried was the falafel pita for lunch one day:

falafel pita

And then another time I had this quinoa salad with their house cashew cheese. By the way, most of these places make fresh juices so we usually got in on some of that.

fresh juice

quinoa salad

Another place we went a couple of times was La Senda Restaurante. This one is 100% vegan so you can eat all the things. The first time we went, I had some enchiladas and Kevin had the tofu tacos. I think the white stuff is their cashew cheese.

vegan enchiladas

IMG_1017

Our next visit, I tried the mango jicama ceviche which was outstanding. It’s also pretty easy to recreate at home. I need to do that again soon. And then I got a burger of some kind, chickpea maybe. I remember it being falafel like. It was okay, but it was crazy filling. The side salads that came with the dishes were always outstanding.

mango jicama ceviche

vegan burger

The last morning we decided to have breakfast here because we heard about this thing. Yes, that’s strawberries and bananas wrapped up in an oat pancake and drizzled with chocolate.

oat pancake

So good! While we were there this pulled up with a delivery. Cargo bike is how a lot of deliveries are made in Playa Del Carmen and I think that’s pretty awesome.

cargo bike delivery

And the last restaurant I have to tell you about in Playa Del Carmen is Babe’s Noodles & Bar. They have a number of noodle, rice and salad dishes that can be made vegan. I had the Vietnamese salad. I liked it and might’ve gone back, but it’s not my first choice of food when in Mexico.

vietnamese salad

Whew! That’s about it. Hopefully this will help fellow travelers find vegan food in Playa Del Carmen.

Vegan Venezuelan food in Playa Del Carmen

Eating vegan in Playa Del Carmen, Part 2

Once you get outside of a resort, the vegan options in Playa Del Carmen improve immensely. I’ll round up the rest of the options in a future post, but this one restaurant deserves a post to itself.

Kaxapa Factory is a short walk from the center of town. It is a small space with an outdoor patio owned by a Venezuelan family that makes fresh, authentic Venezuelan food, including vegan Venezuelan food. Lots of vegan options. It was so good that we went pretty much every day.

Naicel and her father are usually handling the front of the house. Both are a joy, but if you are vegan, Naicel will probably help you because her English is better. They are also not afraid to stray from the menu and make substitutions, so you can totally build your own meal. Now, let’s get on to the food porn.

The first thing I tried was a Patacon. It’s like a sandwich with fried green plantain discs as bread. I think this one was filled with tofu, avocado and black beans. Yeah.

vegan patacon at kaxapa factory

And these were some tostones with tofu. This was just my taste. It was a bigger appetizer that was shared.

tostones

And here’s a look back at Kaxapa Factory. That’s Naicel in the doorway and her father in the back with the cap. Her mom does the cooking.

kaxapa factory interior

Next visit, Kevin and I both had the soursop drink. Our first visit, Naicel’s dad gave us samples of all their house made drinks.

soursop drink

And this time, I got their namesake, a Kaxapa. It’s a pancake made by pounding a special corn into a batter. Mine was full of stir fried vegetables and tofu.

vegan kaxapa

Oh hey, look, we’re back again, chowing on fried.

tostones appetizer

And this time, the Venezuelan lemonade to drink.

Venezuelan lemonade

And finally, time to have an arepa! This one is filled with black beans, avocado, tofu and sweet plantains.

vegan arepa

And, we’re back again. This time I’m getting up on another Kaxapa.

vegan kaxapa

Naicel felt really bad that they didn’t have any vegan desserts. So she set about making one for us at home. On our previous visit, we saw her randomly head out to the street and hop in a cab. She came back about 15 minutes later. She said she had a vegan dessert for us at home but forgot to bring it. She took a cab home to get it and then didn’t have her key with her. OMG! Seriously, this is how nice these people are.

So this night, she had the chocolate mousse she had made. It was a lovely sweet touch to the end of the meal. But she wasn’t done with dessert experiments.

vegan chocolate mousse

Oh yeah, back again! Can you blame us? This time I had the hibiscus drink.

hibiscus drink

And this is the appetizer we got when Kevin said “surprise us”, mini Kaxapa with toppings. I didn’t take a pic of my main this time, so it must have been a repeat.

mini kaxapa

When brainstorming vegan dessert ideas with Naicel, we decided she should try filling their empanadas with fruit. Both are things they already had on hand. So this last meal at Kaxapa, we had mango (I think) filled empanadas that were absolutely perfect.

vegan fruit filled empanadas

 

 

 

Eating vegan in Playa Del Carmen, Part 1

As I mentioned in a previous post, Kevin’s company does this reward trip, usually every June, and we get to go. Free trip, woohoo! This year’s trip was to Playa Del Carmen. Mexico. His company chose an all-inclusive resort as they are wont to do, Royal Hideaway Playacar. This one is also adult only, which was a nice bonus. Also, we got to go with our friends Ken &  Leigh again.

Before I talk about food, here are a few photos from around the resort.

Our room:

royal hideaway playacar room

Kevin playing beach volleyball

beach volleyball

A couple of bird friends at the beach

seagulls on the beach

These little guys, agouti, were everywhere. We called the scrabbits because they were like half squirrel and half rabbit.

agouti

Now, on to food at the resort. I emailed ahead and was assured there would be plenty of vegan options for us. The reality when we got there was a little different though.

It was lunch time when we arrived. So we settled in then headed to one of the cafés. There was an arugula quinoa salad on the menu that came with hummus and pita. Well that sounded reasonable! Except it was very, very small. A side, not a meal. So we ended up eating a bunch of fries and chips & guacamole until we were full.

quinoa arugula salad

Dinner was with the company and all arranged ahead of time. It was a buffet for everyone else, and then we were brought separate plates. On the buffet, there were a few appetizers we could get into:

chips guacamole jicama salad

No such thing as too much guac, I suppose. That jicama salad was a nice surprise. And this was our dinner: a bunch of veggies and a portobello mushroom cap. I’m glad there were appetizers.

vegetables and portobello mushroom

The next company dinner, they took us over to the buffet to show us our dish, all covered in cheese. Yay. So they put something together in the kitchen that was basically the same as what you see above presented slightly differently.

more vegetables

Some beans would’ve been cool, but it just wasn’t meant to be I suppose. The staff also seemed pretty confused about the whole vegan thing, despite the assurances I had via email. They clearly had it confused with gluten free. *sigh*

Now breakfast, breakfast was pretty awesome. The hot foods were pretty much off limits, but they had vegan cereals, soy milk, fruits and a make your own smoothie bar. Grab a bowl, throw a bunch of stuff in it, including peanut butter, and the dude will mix it up for you. Or they had a smoothie of the day. Right on.

smoothie

I’ll admit, it was pretty awesome to chill under a cabana while a regular supply of cold adult beverages were brought right to me. But it was in no way worth what it costs to stay in a place like this.

margarita

Don’t worry, there’s plenty of delicious vegan food in Playa Del Carmen. It just wasn’t at this resort. But we were only here four days. So look for future posts full of tasty bits that we ate when we finally got out of the resort.

Eating Vegan in St. Thomas

Almost every year, Kevin’s company has a reward trip to some tropical destination and usually at an all-inclusive resort. In 2013, that location was St. Thomas. Kevin and I had been to St. Thomas before as a cruise stop. While Matt and Danielle got to eat Rootsie’s food, we went scuba diving. We were a little sad about it because Rootsie’s was THE vegan food to get in St. Thomas and apparently it was fantastic. And now he’s not cooking anymore. Sadface. But, his sons do have a food truck. Sadly, we saw the food truck once from an excursion van but never got to actually get food from it. More sadface.

Back to the all-inclusive situation. We’ve been in a few of these resort situations now and they generally aren’t super vegan friendly. The breakfast buffet is usually fine. But after that it often devolves into piles of fried. This time was no exception. And the resort was not close enough to anything to walk, so it was a fairly expensive cab ride to get away from the resort. But we did it anyway to eat some non-fried food.

Barefoot Buddha is a little coffee shop that serves food. Very vegan friendly. And it’s right along where they dock the cruise ships and close enough to walk. They have non-dairy milks for coffee drinks and a couple of tasty options each day that are vegan. We went here a few times. Here are the Coconut Curry Chickpeas over brown rice:

vegan coconut curry chickpeas

And this was a ridiculously tasty coffee drink, something like an Almond Joy Latte.

vegan almond joy latte

If you’re staying in a place with a kitchen or just want snacks, there’s a health food store a couple of “blocks” from Barefoot Buddha and on the same side of the street. It’s in Happy Cow. They have a small juice bar in the back. Snacks are painfully expensive, but sometimes you just need them.

The other place we checked out was Natural Livity It’s a juice bar and carry out Ital place. I thought they might have closed, but Happy Cow shows them as still open, so you may or may not find this place open if you try to go there. They had the typical sorts of Ital dishes on the hot bar but their specialty is a cashew mac & cheese that is fantastic. But they don’t do it every day, so you just have to get lucky on that. Here’s my shitty picture of the hot bar:

natural livity hot bar st. thomas

Other non food items at the resort, lots of iguanas!

iguana in St. Thomas

iguana in St. Thomas

And some dranks happened, at least for me. I still don’t drink nearly enough for it to be worth it to pay for all-inclusive.

fruity cocktail

So eating vegan in St. Thomas goes much easier if you plan to be near the vegan food and not tucked away in an out-of-the-way resort full of fried.

The quickest trip to Asheville for vegan eats and nature

About eight months after the bakery opened, I had to get out of town, even if just for one night. So Sunday after we closed, we zipped home, grabbed a bag and the dog and headed to Asheville.

We were staying at the Aloft Hotel which allows dogs. Not just allows, but caters to them with treats, toys and beds. Tak, of course, slept IN the bed because that’s what she does. Here she is enjoying the view of the pool we wouldn’t be using in February:

Tak enjoying the view at the Aloft in Asheville

Sunday night, we ate at Laughing Seed Cafe and I’m embarrassed to say that I completely failed to take pictures. We were exhausted and I totally didn’t think about it. The food was delicious though, I promise.

The next morning, we had breakfast at The Green Sage downtown which was just a short walk from the hotel. First up, gotta get in that caffeine:

coffee at the green sage asheville

Then I had the vegan version of the Green Sage Plate, tofu scramble, kale, a biscuit with mushroom gravy and sweet potato home fries:

green sage plate

After we fueled up, we went to enjoy some easy trails at The North Carolina Arboretum. I like to walk by water, so we picked a trail by a creek. Tak also enjoys the water.

Tak enjoying the North Carolina Arboretum trails

After all that walking, we earned a big ol’ lunch at Rosetta’s Kitchen. Kevin has brought me back food from Rosetta’s but I hadn’t ever actually eaten there.

We started with the Tempalo Wings:

rosetta's kitchen vegan tempalo wings

Yes, they’re as good as they look. Since I’ve had the peanut butter tofu before, and actually have the recipe and make it often, I went for a tofu avocado wrap. But I think Kevin got the peanut butter tofu, because someone had to.

tofu avocado wrap at rosettal's kitchen

Did I leave room for cake? Damn straight I did! I think this is some kind of peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake. I also had a glass of Buchi, they have it on tap. I’m not sure how it escaped being photographed.

vegan cake at rosetta's kitchen

And after this, we waddled over to French Broad Chocolates and bought pretty much everything they had that was vegan, bars and made on site. Because, vegan chocolate.

Sadly, that was all we had time to do. Next time I’m definitely going to try Plant. If you ever visit Asheville, there’s plenty of vegan food. All you have to do is check Happy Cow, like we vegans do, and plan your gluttony.

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