A funny thing happened last week. There I was, ready to hit ‘publish’ on a week and a half’s worth of deep thoughts, silly thoughts, and edited photos from my time in Las Vegas, and cue the Debbie Downer music. My saved revisions vanished and my feedback from WordPress consisted of their twitter account favorite-ing my distressed tweet. I uttered one of my rare curses, took a deep breath, recalling the lack of a miracle the one other time this had happened ages ago (and one I had desperately taken to the support forums for), and went about my day. And here we are, one week later, another soy latte in front of me and Vida Vegan location scouting trip behind me, reflecting on Vegas’ vegan scene and event options. That, and with a new contract gig now in my hands (not VVC-related, for the record) highly anticipating affording an actual meal at one of those fancypants restaurants, many of which we did take private tours of, at the Wynn, Encore, Mandalay Bay and elsewhere on our next visit. Trust me, we ate a lot of peanut butter on multigrain bread in between all our meetings.
Truly, it was the lavish, Wynn-led, vegan dining buzz that caught my attention when my cohorts expressed their interest in location scouting Las Vegas for future Vida Vegan events. I’d been years ago for an old job and the highlight was a dinner at P.F. Chang’s. Ronald’s was the must at the time, one of the few stops for actual vegan, yeasted doughnuts in the US, but an impossibility on that short trip without a rental car (you know, or a license or actual interest in driving). Of course, Ronald’s remains a vegan sweet spot, so to speak, and one I finally made it to. Its Instagram geo-tags show stoked vegan road trippers from all over, holding yet another big pink box, and I can totally see how it blew vegans minds throughout the past decade (especially in an era of P.F. Chang’s and salad bar buffet dinners).
So, here’s to a little more photo essay and a little less talking.
We hit up:
- Ronald’s Donuts 4600 West Spring Mountain Road
- Bar + Bistro 107 E. Charleston Blvd. Ste. 155,
- Garden Grill at Fresh52 Various, here’s the schedule
- Whole Foods Market Las Vegas Blvd 6689 Las Vegas Blvd
- Nacho Daddy 113 N. 4th Street
- Sunrise Coffee 3130 E Sunset Rd
- Red Velvet Cafe 3200 S Las Vegas Blvd
To be honest, the cupcake was a little heavy on the shortening and an odd vanilla taste bordering on the artificial, but the bathroom photoshoot remains a highlight.
Off to our first of two trips doing “research” at Ronald’s:
For once, I think I made the right ordering decision.
Setup, smartphone, bite, smartphone, bite, continued.
The following was part of a series of cutesy motivational cards inside one of the UNLV bathrooms:
And then there was a lot more location scouting, palm trees and damn clear, desert skies.
…because you can’t keep Team Vida Vegan HQ out of visiting Whole Foods wherever they go:
This small cup of soup was a very budget business trip-friendly $2.99!
Someone else probably thinks that looks appetizing, right? I was tempted by the Vegan Jalapeno Mac & Cheese, which is a combo I’ve been seeing more and more of lately. We also tried a lovely quinoa vodka.
Next up, we have a Vegan Drinks-style Meetup at Bar + Bistro (since the actual Vegas Vegan Drinks has been on hold). The vegan-friendly restaurant and lounge is located inside a rad building that’s part art studio, gallery, yoga space and community center.
The crispy plantains were seriously my favorite part of the meal.
Things I do not comprehend: surprise tortilla crusts. Okay, we were in the Southwest, but the appearance took away so much of my much-needed mental preparation for sharing this d-cheese pizza. Fortunately, I followed my sole slice with a glass of wine. On the plus side, it was crispy and better yet, my heart beats for Thai basil.
We also shared a trio of Vega mini sliders:
I’m thinking the ‘Vega meat’, which was listed elsewhere on the vegan items, including a taco and stuffed pepper, was starring one ancient grain or another. It didn’t seem to go over largely that well at my table, but I enjoyed the taste over texture, and would be curious to try it in a taco.
Real talk, the Shot Show (in addition to an antiques weapons show with guest Tom Selleck at the Riviera) was in town during our scouting trip, and many site visits including some rather mesmerizing scenes.
A welcome sight and a sign of change…
My favorite of the trip:
These tacos, an affordable and fresh pair for $7, were easily the most flavorful and memorable meal of our trip.
Of course, I always bring my dear J. Legume back a little something something when I’m out of town:
Sunrise Coffee was our last stop for one more meeting before heading to the airport. It’s been quite some time since I’ve purposely traveled to a strip mall for coffee, with the Long Island suburbs so far behind me, and this place was a great gem. Vegan food, appreciation for Joey Fatone and Michael Cera on their tip jar, and coffee poured in charming mason jars.
The only thing I would have liked even more was a tray of fresh Ronald’s for dipping. Note to self (on the internet) for the next visit.
And check-mark, I didn’t play once, as much as even the airport tries to lure you in one more time.
Xan Confections, from Irvine via Las Vegas to Portland:
And that’s that, until dates are announced for the next two to three years of Vida Vegan events. WE’RE SO CLOSE. For that matter, I’ve nailed the missing draft problem and blame it on non-saving Wordpress windows left open when my Chromebook closes. I had every intention of polishing up and sharing this photo essay during our Austin trip, but there was simply no spare time during what became Operation: Meetings & Tacos, galore.