Welcome to Meatless Miami

Dear readers, I'm excited to announce that the awesome team at Choices Cafe are taking over Meatless Miami. Expect great things! Don't be a stranger and swing by Sweat Records now and then for a vegan latte.

Cheers, Lolo (@LKRMIA on Twitter and Instagram
)

Choices Kitchen

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711 NW 27th Ave. / Miami / 786.953.6053

Vegetarian-friendly: 100%
Vegan-friendly: 100%

OK, so maybe we're a bit biased, but this place is the bomb dot com. 100% plant-based? check.  Sustainable practices such as composting food waste and a bag-share program? check.  Gluten-free goodies and raw treats too? check. Organic marketplace to get your shop on after you enjoy your meal? check.

Choices Kitchen is the offspring of Choices Cafe. Here, the daily plate (which is a steal at $12) includes an entree, a salad, a cup of soup and unlimited organic iced tea. The venue is spacious and open - much unlike the flagship Brickell location which could be a BIT crowded at times. The plate of the day is posted on their website, and includes anything from comfort foods such as mac n' cheeze or tacos, to raw delights of pesto zucchini noodles and walnut pate. After your done eating, browse the organic marketplace showcasing rare finds such as organic, gluten free cereals to soy-free 'soy sauce'. And don't forget to bring your own bag, or take one from the 'give a bag - take a bag' bucket next to the cash register! 

Word on the street is they will be offering the FULL Choices menu by August 2014.
  

$
ChoicesKitchen.com


-Review by Lori

Blue Collar

★★★★
6730 Biscayne Blvd. / Miami / 305.756.0366

Vegetarian-friendly: Yes
Vegan-friendly: Yes

Blue Collar (in the former American Noodle Bar spot) serves new-school American comfort food and excels in veggie-friendliness.  They also have thoughtful, cute touches like thermoses full of Panther coffee and paint buckets to chill your bubbly.

On to the food!  Their "Veg Chalkboard" is one of my favorite options in Miami: a massive list of 20+ veggie and carb sides that can be purchased individually for $4 each, or you can get four of them for $14.  I am a Brussels sprouts aficionado and their caramelized ones don't disappoint.  


Blue Collar also has a house-made veggie burger which I believe is vegan.  For the non-vegans their Mac (with cavatappi, trugole, chedder and parm) and Chanuka Latkes are to die for.  Note: this place is popular, and TINY.  Don't come in a large group, and if you're more than two head out early or late to ensure a seat.    

$$
bluecollarmiami.com


-Review by Lolo

Yard House

★★★★
320 San Lorenzo Ave. / Coral Gables / 305.447.9273
601 Silks Run / Hallandale Beach / 954.454.9950


Vegetarian-friendly: Yes
Vegan-friendly: Yes

At first glance, Yard House could easily be mistaken for just another upscale sports bar (after all the one I went to is in Merrick Park, one of Miami's schmanciest shopping centers).  However, all it takes is one solid read through the menu to realize that someone there knows what's UP.

One word: Gardein.  They have an entire section on the menu dedicated to dishes featuring this fantastic meat substitute that's winning vegetarian and omnivore fans alike (my omni boyfriend is obsessed), featuring everything from Sliders to a BBQ Chicken Salad.  You can also have any of their burger variants with a Gardein patty instead of meat.  

Yard House sets a great example for modern restaurants.  Why NOT carry a substitute protein, now that they're readily available and often less expensive than actual meat?  There are huge movements dedicated to "Meatless Mondays", being a "Weekday Vegetarian", and so on, so it's great to see a growing chain like Yard House leading the way.  They also have a squillion beers on tap (to find out which ones are vegan, check Barnivore.com).

$$
yardhouse.com


-Review by Lolo

MAOZ Miami Beach

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1657 Washington Ave. / Miami Beach / 305.534.MAOZ [6269]

Vegetarian-friendly: 100%
Vegan-friendly: Yes

We've already posted that there is a MAOZ in Boca but we're so excited because now there's one right on South Beach!  It's on Washington just across from the Fillmore so here's hoping they stay open late(r) for post-concert munchies.

The premise of this Amsterdam-originated chain is simple: they serve up crispy falafel, either in a sandwich or on a salad.  You can start with "premium" add-ons (avocado, feta, hard-boiled egg), and/or just deck it out at the Salad bar, which has everything from roasted veggies to tabbouleh, salsa and sauces.

Maoz also has Belgian fries, daily vegetarian soups, reasonably-priced fresh juices, and great graphic design.  It's CHEAP too, $5.95 for the sandwich, $7.95 for the salad, with combo deals available.  They also cater so keep that in mind for your next event.  Hoping to see many more of these pop up around South Florida!

maozusa.com

Woodlands Indian Cuisine

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4816 N University Dr. / Lauderhill / 954.749.3241

Vegetarian-friendly: 100%
Vegan-friendly: Yes

Guest review by Emerge Miamian Sara Yousuf
 
Woodlands is a fully-vegetarian Indian restaurant and their menu is enormous!  Appetizers, sides, soups, dosa (super thin stuffed crepes), uthappam (lentil and rice cakes), house specialties, dinner specials, pullavs (rice specialties), curries, breads and desserts.  No dessert is priced at over $3.50, and each one would rival those made by my Indian-born grandmother.  
 
I had a delightful daal served with rice and raita for a mere $6.50!  A giant set meal including, coffee or tea, soup, an appetizer, a main dish, and various other treats goes for $13.50, and is probably enough to fill you up and provide you with lunch for the following day.  A vegan can easily order a satisfying meal from Woodlands' array of daals, samosas and soups (anything with paneer, and many of the kormas will have dairy in them).  The spicy "rasam" soup was the best, I never wanted it to end!  Also, the samosas were wonderful and the potato and pea filling was perfectly seasoned.  They were fried to perfection, and served VERY hot with two types of chutney.  Surprisingly, the coffee is also fantastic.  There are hints of spice in it, and it is served steamed (with milk in it) and frothy on top.  
 
My main critique is that the ambiance doesn't feel like a fine Indian restaurant.  At the same time, I appreciate the fact that the prices are so low, and I imagine that if the place was spruced up, the prices would increase as well.  I'll take my restaurants affordable, delicious and slightly dive-y.  The service however, is fantastic.  It seems like every employee has a personal stake in your experience there, and every waiter makes sure that each table is happy.  Recommended!

Choices Cafe

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379 SW 15th Road / Miami / 305.400.8895

Vegetarian-friendly: Yes 
Vegan-friendly: 100%

I know I took forever to add Choices but they've become one of the best vegan spots in Miami (in the old Om Garden space in The Roads).  They've got a huge menu of juices, smoothies, salads, sides, wraps, burgers, tacos, sandwiches, stews, pizza, burritos and beyond.  On weekends they do customizable pancakes which are fantastic (who knew a savory kale and onion buckwheat pancake would be so damn good?) and literally everything I've tried there has been delicious, savory and not overprices as some veg places can be.  

The place is called Choices because you can eat any "style" from completely raw to hearty cooked food, and everything there is vegan.  The staff are great and they throw vegan-related events too.  Highly recommended!

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Cafe Prima Pasta

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414 71st St. / Miami Beach / 305.867.0106

Vegetarian-friendly: Yes 
Vegan-friendly: Somewhat 

[Full disclosure: I was invited to a dinner here on the house.  As always, my reviews remain unbiased.]

Italian restaurants are vegetarian-friendly by default: noodles and tomato sauce, what could be easier?  However, finding something delicious to eat beyond eggplant parmigiana is less common.  Cafe Prima Pasta is trying to change that with their "Veg Out Tuesdays" six-course vegetarian tasting menu, as well as a regular menu of vegetarian options (though I believe you need to specifically ask for it when you go).

The tasting menu was great, a full review of it can be found here.  My personal favorites of the night were the Grillata (an insanely perfect plate of grilled vegetables), the zucchini rolls with sun-dried tomato and arugula, and the fiocci alla pera (pasta "packages" filled with cheese and pear).  Some items on the main menu are vegan-able, and they were very accommodating to requests.



It's a cozy, dimly-lit spot perfect for a date, the service was impeccable, and they have a renowned early bird special.  I seriously can't wait to go back just for the Grillata... Recommended!

$$
primapasta.com

Darbster

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8020 S Dixie Hwy / West Palm Beach / 561.586.2622

Vegetarian-friendly: Yes
Vegan-friendly: Yes


Oh Darbster, how I wish I lived closer to thee. Several months back my friend and I made a pilgrimage to West Palm Beach to eat at the much-heralded vegetarian bistro Darbster (okay, and South Florida's only H&M).  To fuel up for our shopping excursion we hit Darbster first.  It's a cute little indoor/outdoor spot located next to a canal, and the menu is a smorgasbord of creative, veg-ified comfort food dishes (like palm cakes made with hearts of palm instead of crab cakes).  The prices are reasonable and everything looked so good it was hard to pick.  Here's what we ate:


Chicken Caesar wrap

Steak sandwich with a side of mac & cheese

Raspberry cheesecake!

All the food was delicious - for real delicious, not just "delicious for veggie food" - and the cheesecake was amongst the best I've ever had.  Judging by all the updates and photos on their Facebook page, they seem to be doing well.  Here's hoping to a long future for them, and perhaps one day another location further south!

$$
darbster.com

Copper Chimney

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18090 Collins Ave / Sunny Isles / 305.974.0075

Vegetarian-friendly: Yes
Vegan-friendly: No
 

Review by David Rolland of pablochiste.com

I'm a sucker for the all you can eat Indian buffet, but sometimes I get myself in trouble challenging the elasticity of my stomach. Copper Chimney an Indian restaurant in Sunny Isles provides an interesting alternative. They have a buffet on Sundays for $16.95, but on weekdays from 12-4pm they offer a lunch special  for $12.95.  The only problem for vegans is that the six vegetarian options all have dairy as ghee (clarified butter) is a common ingredient in Indian cooking. Fortunately the server spoke to the cooks and they are able to offer several vegan options. The dinner menu was filled with even more vegetarian entrees (many of which were priced at $12), but again if you are vegan you must specially request your food not to have dairy.

Copper Chimney's atmosphere is very fine, but unfortunately when I went there a bachelorette party took up the dining area. So we were seated outside where the servers were good natured, very attentive and glad to accommodate my picky vegan requests.
 

When the food came I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the serving. The portions are quite generous, but fixed so you don't eat so much that you need a wheelbarrow to take you out. I ordered the mushroom masala which was cooked in a savory tomato sauce. The lunch special also included an equal sized "side" of vegetable masala which had a tasty blend of carrots, peas, cauliflower, and broccoli. There was a fresh spinach salad with a pomegranate dressing, a pakora (which is a fried dumpling), a piece of nan (flat bread), and spiced Basmati rice. All the ingredients were quite fresh. I asked for medium spice which was actually quite mild, so fans of heat should not be afraid to request their food as spicy. But even without that extra kick the food was flavorful enough  that I am excited to make a return lunch visit and hopefully there won't be a bachelorette party, so I can enjoy the restaurant's ornate decorations.
 
$$
copper-chimney.com

El Vato Taco & Tequila Bar

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1010 South Miami Avenue / Brickell / 305.523.6449

Vegetarian-friendly: Yes
Vegan-friendly: Yes

El Vato Tequila and Taco Bar
is an oasis of casual, veg-friendly Mexican food in the bustling Mary Brickell Village area.  The interior is modern LA/Mexi style with skulls, glitter, graffiti, low-riders and loud music.  

The menu consists of the basics (enchiladas, burritos, and so on) but they explicitly state that anything on the menu can be made vegetarian or vegan because they actually stock veggie crumble AND Daiya cheese!  I couldn't remember the last time I'd had a gooey, melty quesadilla so I ordered one and the Daiya definitely did the trick.  It was fabulous and my non-vegan cohorts agreed.


Their guacamole is fresh and all the food is very reasonably priced, but I do wish their drinks were a touch cheaper–or stronger.  I'm a lightweight when it comes to tequila and two $13 margaritas didn't do it for me (I'll have to look into their happy hours...). For just eats though, El Vato is a great option.

Vegetarian Restaurant By Hakin

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73 NE 167 Street / North Miami / 305.405.6346

Vegetarian-friendly: Yes
Vegan-friendly: Yes

Review by David Rolland of pablochiste.com

It's funny how vegan is still considered a bad word. I've been ensured by Hakin (the owner of Vegetarian Restaurant By Hakin) that every item at his restaurant is fully vegan, but like many establishemnts in South Florida it seems that using the five letter v word in his restaurant's title could scare off more prospective customers than it would bring in. Fortunately on a Thursday afternoon the restaurant had a nice crowd.

The erasable markerboard shows what's available on the ever-changing menu and behind the display case you can see what the day's dinner plate looks like as well as other items on the menu like the Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, the fruit pancakes or the veggie wrap. Don't let the exhibition fool you, the food is made to order and you will wait a bit for your food, but the servers are friendly and willing to talk the faults of the Miami Heat with you as you wait.

I was told Tuesday's barbecue rib plate is the dinner to get. But I still enjoyed Thursday's offering. For $8.95 I got some delicious faux meatballs, a slightly too salty fake beef stew, great lentils with a complimentary vegetable rice, and a fresh green salad with a homemade mango vinaigrette sauce.


For dessert I tried the tiramisu for $5.95. This was extremely rich, but left me a little unsatisfied as my previous foray in their $3.95 coconut cake had. The only flavor in each cake was excessive sweetness. They were pleasant enough, but I don't feel the need to order either item again on what I hope to be countless returns to this fine vegan restaurant.

Apple A Day

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1534 Alton Road / Miami Beach / 305.538.4569

Vegetarian-friendly: Yes
Vegan-friendly: Yes

Review by David Rolland of pablochiste.com
 
This is not a place to bring a hot date. Apple A Day is after all a cluttered health food store in a strip mall with very few seats that are not stools, but for a working person looking for a great vegan meal it is hard to beat Apple A Day's $7.50 soup and sandwich deal. The soup which is always vegan and changes daily usually contains an eclectic mix of quinoa, lentils, and various vegetables. This past time I went I was treated to a slightly spicy curry vegetable soup.
 

The sandwiches (which are actually wraps) are filled to the brim and heavy enough that many people take half of it to go. I enjoyed a barbecue seitan sandwich whose chewy presence shared room in the wrap with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and hummus. Other vegan sandwiches include barbecue tofu, curry tofu, falafel, and veggie burgers. There's an eclectic mix of condiments on the counter to flavor your sandwiches including giant bottles of Annie's salad dressings.
 
Even though I'm a slave to routine and always hit the soup and sandwich deal. Apple A Day does offer other vegan options including various salads, a full juice bar, and other deli items such as spiced chickpeas and vegetable dumplings. If you have a sweet tooth though, you'll have to search the aisles and check the ingredients to see which cookies are vegan.