St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago!

In an effort to post more in the “JVL Travel” category, I bring you the overdue highlights of my (very vegan) trip last month to Chicago! Yes, this is from St. Patrick’s Day…better late than never, right?


Each year I travel with my bestie for a fun girls weekend over St. Patrick’s Day weekend and for 2014 we selected Chicago! (In 2012 we went to Savannah and in 2013 we flew to Boston.)  We travel to watch the parade, wear green, eat, drink and pretend we are Irish for the weekend.  It makes for a fast paced, super-fun girls weekend and I get to try restaurants in new cities that are on my vegan bucket list.


Day 1: I arrived on Friday and our first meal was lunch at the 100% vegetarian restaurant, Blind Faith Café.  It is located in Evanston’s Chicago Avenue/Dempster Street shopping district, within walking distance from Northwestern University.



The menu was extensive and it was hard to make a decision! Here is what we had between the three of us: Vegan Wonton Soup ($4.50), Fried Dumplings ($7.50), Spinach Lentil Salad ($7.50) and the Vegan Mexican Breakfast Plate ($12.45)





Deciding on dessert was equally hard with a case like this on display (over half of it was vegan)! We finally settled on the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Raspberry Sorbet ($7.50).



After lunch we did some shopping on Michigan Avenue and visited Millennium Park.  Seeing the famous outdoor sculpture, Cloud Gate (a.k.a “The Bean”),  was on my must do list and it didn’t disappoint!







Afterwards we didn’t really have a plan for dinner, but Thai sounded delicious.  So after reading several reviews on the various Thai restaurants in the area (thanks to our cell phones), we took a taxi to Star of Siam.  We shared the below: Fried Tofu ($4.75), Veggie Tempura ($7.75), Mussaman Curry with Tofu ($7.75) and a rice noodle dish that I cant remember the name of ($8.25)





Day 2: The St. Patrick’s Day Festival!

We woke up and arrived early to see the river be dyed green! It gets is emerald green color from 45 pounds of vegetable dye.  They say the ingredients are not harmful to the thousands of goldfish that make up a large percentage of the river’s fish population. I hope not because it was a beautiful site!





The parade started at noon and we secured a great spot on Columbus Drive!









Satisfied that we had seen enough of the parade, we decided to explore on foot. It’s amazing how many large-scale outdoor pieces of art there are in Chicago!





It wasn’t hard deciding on lunch as Native Café was on my must visit list!  I told the employee at the cash register, “I want whatever your favorite item is.”  The result, the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger: thinly sliced Native Original Seitan, melted cheddar, caramelized onions, and crispy Native Bacon on a bun slathered with BBQ sauce and ranch dressing, romaine, carrots, onions, and tomato. Topped with crunchy battered dill pickle chips. ($9.95)




After lunch we explored some more!





Eventually we found ourselves taking an elevator ride up to the top of the John Hancock Observatory!  We were seated at the best table we could have wished for, a corner window table on the 96th floor with a perfect view looking down Michigan Avenue!  Admission to the top is free as long as you buy an overpriced drink at the Signature Room Lounge.



After some late night pub hopping (for some much cheaper drinks) we ended up at Hash House, Twisted Farm Food.  It was not really vegan friendly but they did manage to whip up this vegan hash for me with mushrooms, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and fresh spinach.  The portions at this place are huge (this could have fed a family of four)!


Day 3: Although I had an afternoon flight and was pressed for time, I decided that I could squeeze in breakfast AND one hour at the Art Institute of Chicago before heading to the airport.  I am an art history major, so this was pretty important to me. I wanted to try The Chicago Diner soooo bad, but I also wanted something located closer to the museum due to my time crunch, so I opted for Karyn’s Cooked.  I ordered the Homestyle Breakfast ($10.95) and the Potato Pancakes with lemon-dill sauce and applesauce ($6.95).






With a full belly, I took the subway to the Art Institute of Chicago. I called ahead of time to ensure that the museum coat check would hold my suitcase for me (as I had already checked out of my hotel), which they did!  It worked out perfectly!



The museum has a “What to See in an Hour” list that contains their favorite 12 pieces. In my 57 minutes I was able to see six of them: Seurat’s A Sunday on Grande Jatte, Monet’s Stacks of Wheat, Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Richter’s Woman Descending a Staircase, Charles Ray’s Hinoki and Jackson Pollock’s Greyed Rainbow!



I was also able to see many other famous pieces by artists that are important to me: Warhol, Calder, O’Keeffe, De kooning, Motherwell, Kline, Rauschenberg, Rothko, Lichtenstein and Stella. Unfortunately, my memory card filled up as I entered my most favorite part of the museum – the Impressionism wing.  I was out of time anyhow, so it is probably a good thing, or I may have missed my flight.



I had an amazing “taste” of what Chicago has to offer in my short two and half days there. I cannot wait to return to the Windy City soon!

Jaxsons Night Market – A Vegan Preview!

Tomorrow night is the inaugural Jaxsons Night Market and I couldn’t be more excited for all of the vegan options!  Founder, Mike Field, created this evening market to bring people downtown and to celebrate the culinary culture of north Florida.  It’s put on by locals, for locals (or as Mike says, “by Jaxsons, for Jaxsons”), and it is sure to draw a huge crowd!

The corner of Main and Adams Street (the Burrito Gallery parking lot) will be transformed every third Thursday of each month from 6:30-9:30pm.  In addition to all of the various food and produce vendors, you can enjoy alcohol too at the beer garden (hosted by Intuition Ale Works)!  Artisan vendors, local farmers, local craft beer and the best street food vendors around…where else can you find all of this in one setting after getting off work in downtown Jacksonville?  Parking is free and pets are welcome.

Here is the link to the event page for the inaugural event tomorrow.  Two things are essential: Arrive hungry and bring lots of money to fill that empty belly and your reusable produce bag!


Here is a list of just some of what Jaxsons Night Market has to offer us vegans:

Heart & Seoul is a 100% vegan Korean food truck out of Gainesville!  They offer tacos, dumpling and bibimbap and specials like nachos and coconut milk mac & cheese.  I had never heard of this food truck before, so this will definitely be my first stop! DSC_2434

Dig Foods will be serving up a variety of seasonal vegan pizzas with fresh veggies from Down to Earth Farm!  I cant wait to try the Chinese Broccoli White Bean pizza with Nasturtium that Sean has planned. DSC_0300

Community Loaves will be selling their vegan sourdough artisan breads!DSC_0717

Sunrawise will be selling all seven varieties of their vegan artisan hard cheeses.  I know I will be stocking up on these at Jaxsons!  Glenn and Kathy hope to eventually incorporate a juice bar into their table at Jaxsons too. DSC_2484

Fresh Jax is famous for their hot sauces and vegan dark chocolate strawberry cookies!  Rumor has it, Chef Johnny Vines will be doing a vegan rice dish demo at the Night Market.DSC_2429

Gastro Gnome makes amazing vegan shortbread!  Owner, Robert Field, is one of the nicest people ever.  Make sure to grab some of his fresh fried gnome caps and hummus, the chipotle and the pesto varieties are both delicious!  He will also feature a falafel wrap and pearl pasta salad tomorrow.DSC_0975

The Hyppo = vegan popsicle heaven!  They aren’t all vegan (although I hear from a very reliable source that they will be very soon), but the vegan flavors are always clearly marked.  The spicy strawberry datil (dipped in vegan chocolate) is my favorite! DSC_2467

Down to Earth Farm produce is a favorite of mine at RAM.  I love their fresh veggies and local tempeh.  They are also a recent winner at One Spark 2014, so make sure to congratulate them at Jaxsons!DSC_0445

Meteor Street Produce can normally be found at the Beaver Street Farmers Market.  They specialize in 100% organic local produce.

The Jaxsons Night Market is not to be missed!  Lets keep the momentum from One Spark 2014 alive, come out and support this awesome downtown event.


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The Ice Plant and St. Augustine Distillery!


I finally made the short trip from Jacksonville to St. Augustine this weekend to try The Ice Plant for the first time!  I was accompanied by my good friend and fellow blogger, Heather, of Outside the Den.

Haven’t heard of The Ice Plant until now?  Then check out their website and this video for more info!




The restaurant and bar are housed in an old ice plant (hence the name) and as you ascend the staircase to the second floor, you immediately feel transformed to the turn of the century!
Don’t forget to look up or you will miss the massive original bridge crane on rails, once used to lift and load massive blocks of ice.


If you are with a small group, I suggest you dine at the bar instead of a regular table! That way you can see the mixologists in action, including the ice making!


We just went for drinks, or so we thought…


The Brooklynite ($8) was my favorite! I substituted agave for the honey and it was amazing!





Like spiked punch? You can order an entire punch bowl (Fish Camp punch or Just for Life punch) to share with your table! $50 (8 servings).


With everyone raving about their cocktails and awesome ice (and rightfully so), I just kept asking myself why have my friends failed to also mention the amazing menu here?  I was so excited when I saw some vegetarian items printed and after a few questions to the bartender, I quickly discovered they actually have some extraordinary vegan options at The Ice Plant!


The veggie burger (sans the avocado dijonaise). ($11)


 One of the best vegan burgers I have ever had! It’s accompanied by your choice of hand cut French fries (with homemade ketchup) or a house salad.


Mushroom Risotto with Tamari Broth (sans Parmesan cheese). ($13)

It’s not everyday you can find a place that can (or is willing to) “veganize” their risotto recipe. My complements to the Chef!


The appetizer section features Soft Pretzel Bread (sans truffle cheddar fondue, sub plain Dijon mustard). ($6) *Do not order these if you do not consume honey, other than the honey the pretzels are vegan.


There is also a Fall Market Salad, with Basil Vinaigrette ($7) on the menu, which we are saving for our next visit. With all of the quality farm to table vegetables they have on hand, I’m fairly certain the chef could even make you an off menu vegan special if you just asked.


The Ice Plant does not open until 5:00 p.m., so arrive early and tour the St. Augustine Distillery attached to the other side of the building.  It’s free and very educational! (You also get to sample the Florida Mule made with their Florida Cane Vodka!)

The first bourbon to be produced in Florida since prohibition! Be patient though as the bourbon has to age another four years before it will be bottled.


They do however have the Florida Cane Vodka for sale! ($28 for one, or $50 for two) Made with locally grown sugarcane from KYV Farms!


Learn more about the St. Augustine Distillery on their Facebook page.


Pisco’s Peruvian Restaurant (Southside)

Have you ever had authentic Peruvian cuisine?  Until today, we hadn’t either!

A few days ago I saw a post from a fellow JVL Instagram follower; it was of a picture of her meal with the hashtags: #delicious #peruvian #food #happiness #plantains #rice #frenchfries #veggies #spices.  The picture showed a dish that consisted of assorted vegetables mixed in a yellowish sauce with french-fries (french-fries of all things) and a side of rice.  It looked amazing!  I was intrigued!  I wanted it!  But I was certain she was on vacation and it was from another city.  It just couldn’t have been local.  Could it?  Luckily it was tagged at a place called Pisco’s Peruvian Restaurant.  Once I discovered that it actually was in Jacksonville, I knew I must try it immediately!


Pico’s Peruvian Restaurant is family owned/operated by the Adriano’s and located off Southside Boulevard.  Unbeknownst to me, Pisco’s has been serving the Jacksonville community their delicious Peruvian flavored dishes since 2006!  When our waitress told us this, I was so embarrassed at the fact that I have driven down Southside a million times over the last eight years and NEVER even knew it was there!  It is located so close to some of our other favorite vegan friendly spots near Tinseltown: Toss Green, Farah’s Pita Stop Café, Mellow Mushroom Jax, etc.   How could I have never noticed it?  How come no one has ever told me about it? Regardless, it is now one of my new favorite restaurants and I will make up for the lost years by eating here often.  Very often.


Upon arrival you get complimentary Cancha – Peruvian Roasted Corn (corn, oil, salt).


They sell four types of Peruvian beer from the Andes! Cervezas Importadas ($4.00)

They also sell domestic beers ($3.75), assorted wine ($ varies) and Sangria ($4.45 a glass or $11.00 pitcher).


These imported bebidas (drinks) caught my eye as I have never seen them before! ($2.50)

The Chicha Limena (Chicha Morada) is a purple corn soda.  I haven’t had a soft drink in years, but couldn’t resist capturing a photo of them.


Instead of the Peruvian soda’s we opted for the Limonada en jarra ($5.00).  It is a giant pitcher of fresh, made to order, limeade (water, sugar, juiced limes, put in the blender).  We got almost six servings out of this pitcher.  I will order this every time I come!


I got really excited when I saw a designated Platos Vegetarianos (vegetarian section) on the menu; that is always a good sign for a vegan.  Our waitresses, Yesenia and Karina, were very friendly and super patient with all of my vegan probing questions regarding the menu.  Karina told me it was no problem, “my mom is the cook.”


Tallarin saltado: Stir fried red onions, tomatoes, peas, carrots, Peruvian corn, cilantro and spaghetti. ($10.15)


Arroz chaufa: Peruvian style stir fried rice with green onions, (sans eggs), soy sauce, peas and carrots ($9.55)


Vegetables saltados: Sauteed mixed vegetables with onions, tomatoes, cilantro and French-fries served with rice ($10.15). This is the dish that I saw on Instagram that started it all.  Don’t let fried French-fries mixed with veggies scare you, it really is amazing!


They have some great side items that are vegan too.


We tried the tostones fried plantains ($3.95) and the Sarsa criolla onion salad ($3.75). 

We decided to mix the two together, creating this JVL special appetizer above.


If you like heat, then this is the sauce for you!  It is made fresh from Peruvian dried hot peppers.  Karina explained that the color changes depending on which family member makes the “hot sauce” that day.  She said it rotates, sometimes it’s orange, or red or green, and then she giggled.


Seriously, the portions are HUGE!  This could have fed a family of 6.


I love being able to find something sweet for dessert, most places usually don’t have a vegan option. These Maduros sweet plantains ($3.95) hit the spot!


They sell herbal teas and other items like maca powder by the front counter. ($3.00)


A friend of mine just spent ten days exploring Peru this past December and she said it changed her forever!  It will be a few more years before I can check Machu Picchu off my bucket list, but at least I can have a little piece of Peru (right here in Jacksonville) in the meantime.

There is a link for a 10% coupon on their website too (good for Mon-Thursday only)!

4131 Southside Blvd, Suite 101 & 102

Jacksonville, FL 32216

(904) 646-3888

Their Facebook page says they have live music on Saturdays from 6 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Kale Cafe & Juice Bar – Daytona Beach, FL

I love to travel.  Sometimes I travel not for the destination, but just to try new restaurants (I mean I even own a “Will Travel for Vegan Food” shirt)!  So when I heard from a friend on Facebook (thank you Francesca) that a new 100% vegan restaurant in Daytona Beach just opened, I knew a quick daytrip was in order!

Midtown EcoVillage’s Kale Cafe Juice Bar & Vegan Cuisine is pretty awesome!
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A planter of assorted kale greets you at the front entrance! Kale 18

Kale Café Juice Bar and Vegan Cuisine is owned by husband and wife, Camille Holder-Brown and Omar Brown.  They are the founders of Midtown EcoVillage, a non- profit grassroots organization advocating healthy lifestyles, environmental sustainability and community solidarity through education, advocacy, and services.  Prior to opening the café they built a loyal following of customers at the local farmers market, where they sold their vegan Caribbean food and smoothies twice a week.  So when the time came for them to open a permanent location, they launched their kickstarter campaign last fall and had lots of supporters!  Over 100 backers pledged $20,525, making their dream of their juice bar and vegan café a reality.  Two months later it opened its doors on November 30, 2013.

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The menu at Kale Café rotates daily, but usually includes Caribbean vegan food like brown stew tofu, sautéed cabbage, brown rice and peas, curry chickpeas and jerk vegan chicken.

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On the weekends you can enjoy brunch items like wraps, pancakes, potatoes and scrambled tofu.  Sometimes Camille even does a Raw Plate!

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Lunch plate ($10): Brown Stew Tofu with Cabbage and Pumpkin, Roasted Curried Potatoes and Kale Salad.

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Lunch Plate($10): Mac & Sheese, Rice and Peas, Millet Salad and Kale Salad.

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Side order of Mac n’ Sheese!

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A giant batch of Camille’s gluten free millet tabouli.

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They make everything in-house!  The only exception is the vegan cupcakes, which are provided by Delectable Delights.

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 The cupcake flavors today: Mocha and Pumpkin ($2.50 each).

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Don’t miss the juice and smoothie bar, it’s a real value! Our two smoothies were huge and only $5.00 each.

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Omar in action at the juice bar!

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Our Small Green Stuff Smothie ($5): Kale, Mango, Banana, Ginger, Pineapple & Apple Juice!

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I think the secret is the fresh juiced apples they add to the smoothies.  Delicious!

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My Small Berry Bliss ($5): Blueberries, Strawberries, Pineapple, Banana and Apple Juice!

In addition to serving healthy food, Kale Café also has fun entertainment like live reggae music, spoken word, jazz, family disco, movies, cooking classes and gardening workshops.  Peek into the back of the building as it is a huge space.

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This is a cool place and just a one hour drive down I-95, go try it out soon!

116 N. Beach St.

Daytona Beach, Florida 32114

Phone (386) 872-5097


The Daytona Beach Vegetarian Society  meets at Kale Café once a month for their gathering!

Three F(x) Ice Cream & Waffles (Baymeadows)

20140104_140729It was chilly today, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying ice cream! Have you tried Three F(x) Ice Cream & Waffles yet? It’s located right next to our favorite spot in Baymeadows, India’s Restaurant.   The three F’s stand for fresh, fruit and fun treats.  The waffle part of the name actually refers to a fish shaped, Japanese street food called Taiyaki. They offer sweet or savory flavors which are made to order after you pick one of over a dozen fillings. Unfortunately for us we had to pass on these adorable waffles since the batter isn’t vegan. 20140104_140753

However, if you want fresh vegan ice cream made right in front of you, then you are in the right place!

Three F(x) has a 5 step ordering process:

Step 1: Pick a size! Small ($4.65), Medium ($5.55) or Large ($6.95)

Step 2: Pick a flavor! (Nothing artificial & no preservatives)

Step 3: Pick your dairy! (They offer both Almond and Soy milk)

Step 4: Pick your toppings! (2 regular or 1 fruit is included in the price)

Step 5: Pick your container! (paper cup or waffle cone)

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I chose Vanilla (not realizing the almond milk was already vanilla flavored). But if you select a fruit flavor, you are getting actual fresh fruit mixed with the milk in a blender before they freeze it. Nothing artificial here!



I selected a small vanilla almond milk ice cream with Oreo and coconut topping in a paper cup, then watched the magic begin!  They pour the vanilla flavored Silk almond milk into a super thin layer onto a large metal disk built into the counter.  It’s an “ice pan” that freezes the liquid to below -35° F, turning it into a solid in seconds.  Then it is scraped and molded into an ice cream consistency with two metal spatulas.  Next comes the topping part, which is more like the mix-in part as they actually chop the toppings into the ice cream.  Finally, they carefully scoop it into three perfect ice cream shaped balls. 20140104_135114




My small vanilla almond milk ice cream with Oreo and coconut topping in a paper cup! ($4.65)


Like their Facebook page so you can see the “special flavor” offering each week.


 Don’t forget to get a punch card while you are there! You can get a free one after you purchase 9, where they will then add your card to their wall of famous patrons.


We just happened to look up from our table and saw the words, Go Vegan on this card.  Looks like Lars was here just two days ago lol.

 Three F(x) Ice Cream & Waffles

9802 Baymeadows Road, Jacksonville, FL 32256

(904) 928-9559

Mon – Sat: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Sun: 1:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Best of St. Augustine: Vegan Coffee Edition!

Jax Vegan Love has compiled this list of fantastic coffee locations to help you keep warm this winter while visiting the oldest city in the nation!


Did you know that St. Augustine is listed as one of National Geographic’s top ten places in the WORLD to see holiday lights?  During their Nights of Lights, the 144-square-block historic district twinkles with almost three million bulbs (each white, per city ordinance). So what are you waiting for? A day trip down to St. Augustine makes for a perfect Saturday outing!

The Kookaburra: 24 Cathedral, Suite 100

Coffee: Bold Bean Coffee Roasters of Jacksonville, FL

Non-dairy options: Soy, Almond, and Coconut Milk (no upcharge)

Notes: Outdoor seating (2 small tables). Kayler and Mary-Ashley are awesome baristas, super friendly, passionate and knowledgeable! They provided amazing customer service!


Kookaburra had the best Iced Pumpkin Latte in St. Augustine! Their Sumptin’ Pumpkin ($4.35) is made with pumpkin puree from scratch with cloves, cinnamon, ginger, homemade vanilla and coconut milk. (Available Oct-Dec only)


Vegan snacks! They will soon be making their homemade version of a Larabar!


 If you call a day ahead, they will even make you a Vegan Aussie Pie (with no egg wash)! Looks like a mini pot pie full of veggies in a coconut milk curry sauce! ($5.05)


City Coffee: 1280 N. Ponce de Leon Blvd

Coffee: Jayells Coffee Company of St. Augustine

Non-dairy options: Soy and Almond Milk ($.65 cent upcharge)

Notes: Outside area (four tables). Couch lounge area inside. They have the best Iced Chai Latte ($4.15) we tried in St. Augustine! We chose almond milk and it was delicious.



City Coffee had the best London Fog ($3.90) yet: Mighty Leaf Organic Earl Gray Tea with Steamed Soy Milk and Homemade Vanilla Syrup.



Vegan snacks for sale at counter! They also sell Hugo’s Muffins.


Dos Coffee & Wine Bar: 300 San Marco Avenue

Coffee: Convive Coffee Roastery of St Augustine, FL

Non-dairy options: Soy Milk ($.50 cent upcharge)

Notes: No outdoor seating but don’t let the exterior fool you, it is really cool looking inside! They have live music on the weekends and offer beer & wine. Dos also has a small food menu (salads and hummus) and vegan health shakes with rice protein ($4.50 to $5.75)!


A prior auto parts store; we were in love with the interior and all the wood paneling!


Cute decorative touches make this a neat spot!


Fresh flowers on every table!


The Orchid Vanilla by Tea forte is such a unique flavor!


Hot Mocha (with vegan chocolate and soy milk) ($4.50)


The Florida Room: 39 Cordova

Coffee: Sweetwater Organic Roasters of Gainesville, FL

Non-dairy Options: Soy and Almond Milk (no upcharge)

Notes: Located in the rear of The Floridian, is their own backyard bakery, beer garden and coffee shop. Casual counter service with inside or outside seating by our favorite Bartender/Barista Matthew!


Secluded outdoor patio seating (with space heaters), bar seating inside.


Six local beers on tap and chocolate vegan croissants, what more do you need?



Lots of vegan pastries: Two types of cupcakes and original and chocolate croissants!


Matthew will make an awesome drink! Below is the Bee Sting “veganized”: Cayenne infused espresso with cinnamon with agave sweetened almond milk ($4.50)


Juniper Market: 56A San Marco Avenue

Coffee: Jayells Coffee Company of St. Augustine

Non-dairy options: Almond Milk (no upcharge)

Notes: No outdoor seating. Juniper Market has some vegan lunch items too. Sweet Potato Falafel, Roasted Vegetable Sandwich, Muesli and Happy Trails Cookies. On Wednesday nights they have vegan “take and heat dinners” for 2 or 4 servings.



Yard Bird Café: 117 King Street

Coffee: (to be updated: local but don’t remember which roaster)

Non-dairy options: Almond and Coconut Milk (no upcharge)

Notes: Outdoor seating! Several vegan items on the menu including a breakfast burrito with avocado and black eyed pea hummus. Closes at 3pm, closed Mondays.



Most all of these places have a punch card, so if you frequent St. Augustine often, make sure you ask for one to earn a free coffee!

Stay tuned, as JVL will have a “Best of Jacksonville: Vegan Coffee Edition” coming soon!

The Cafe at the Cummer Museum

The Café at the Cummer located at 829 Riverside Avenue

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When was the last time you were at the Cummer Museum?

If you’ve driven by recently you probably noticed the newly renovated exterior and parking lot. Another change is the expansion of the Café (see the red umbrellas below).  After hearing nothing but great things about the new staff, the amazing patio and the expanded menu, I was excited to try it out!

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Vegan Bruschetta ($6): Balsamic perfection with baguettes from The French Pantry

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Vegan Potato Leek Watercress Soup (cup $5, bowl $7)

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Kale Salad with golden raisins, Marcona almonds, red onions and lemon thyme vinaigrette ($8)

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Trio ($10) You pick three from: Napa cabbage slaw with pumpkin seeds, fruit, orzo (sans cheese), house salad (sans cheese) or baby blue salad (sans cheese and pecans). Both of their salad dressings are vegan, the lemon thyme vinaigrette is amazing!

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Vegan and GF Quinoa stuffed Portobello mushroom with corn, black beans, guacamole and a roasted tomato sauce. Spice it up with a side of Sriracha! ($9)

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The food was delicious, fresh, and vibrant! All the soups are scratch made and change often. This a great spot for those that work downtown! Open for lunch and (on Tuesday evenings only) for Tapas Tuesdays. Admission to the museum is NOT required to dine at the Café. However, if you’d like to enjoy the art, the Cummer Museum is free to explore on Tuesdays from 4-9pm and on the first Saturday of every month.

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Completely renovated with a dozen tables outside under the canopy of a beautiful Live Oak (and another dozen tables inside as well for bad weather days).  If you are looking for a great spot to enjoy a cup of local coffee, they proudly serve Bold Bean Coffee and even offer almond milk as a non-dairy creamer (no additional up-charge).

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When you arrive, ask for Kevin to be your server! He is awesome (and has been vegan for eight years) so you’ll be in good hands when ordering and “veganizing” items.

Thank you Jennifer (and staff) for a great lunch today!

Check out Jennifer’s other page, The Chef’s Garden Catering & Events.

The Flying Iguana Taqueria & Tequila Bar “Veganized!”

DSC_0407Jax Vegan Love tried out a brand new restaurant this week, The Flying Iguana Taqueria & Tequila Bar at 207 Atlantic Blvd, Neptune Beach, FL! I was joined by my good friends, Caron from Folio Weekly Bite Club, and Heather from Outside the Den. I was there to sample all things vegan, they were there to write on everything else.

Upon arrival, we had the pleasure of meeting the owner, Al Mansur, and you could see his enthusiasm of the grand opening beaming from his face.  (If the name Al sounds familiar, that’s because he owns seven Al’s Pizza locations across Jacksonville, one of which is right across the street from Flying Iguana!) He acquired the hundred year old structure earlier this year (where the old Sun Dog Diner once was), and completely converted it, at the cost of almost two million dollars.

A few days before, I had reached out to the restaurant through their Facebook page to see what vegan options they could offer.  I was assured that the chef had me covered  so I felt confident that it wouldn’t just be a lame “modified salad” kind of night. The Chef did not disappoint!

Prior to the opening of Flying Iguana, Josh Agan was the Executive Chef at bb’s in San Marco for the last three years.  Chef Josh visited our table and I gave him a high-five for the unexpected tofu “crema” sauce he prepared especially for my arrival!  The menu has items that can easily be veganized, however if you call the day before and give Josh a “vegan heads-up”, he will try to prepare homemade substitute sauces for you like he did for me.  Although it is not on the menu, he informed me that they also have tofu and even tempeh in the kitchen that they can offer if you request it.


The cocktail menu is quite extensive at the Flying Iguana! Their website boasts “Jacksonville’s largest tequila selection” with over 100 varieties in stock. The bar juices all the citrus for their cocktails daily and also makes their sour mixes in-house too.  You can taste the quality ingredients and fresh fruit with each sip. There were so many choices but we finally settled on these three drinks:

THE FLYING IGUANA: Don Julio reposado tequila, Agavero Orange, Cointreau, agave nectar, fresh squeezed lemon, lime, and a splash of house made sour mix.

WATERMELON BLISS: A refreshing margarita made with Maestro Dobel Reposado Tequila, agave nectar, fresh watermelon, cucumber, lime, and lemon.

STRAWBERRY DREAMS: Made with fresh, muddled strawberries, basil, Beefeater Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, topped with lemon lime soda.


First course: Guacamole & Chips – tableside demonstration ($9)


Appetizer: Esquites – chargrilled Mexican street corn with chipotle tofu “crema” ($4)*



Main Course: My Vegan Taco Trifecta!

(Left to Right)

Plaintain Maduro – black beans, plantains, ginger purple cabbage slaw, tofu “crema” ($4)*

Roasted Potato – grilled corn salsa, fresh guacamole and shaved radish ($4)*

Farm to Taco – locally sources veggies simply roasted with avocado, pico de gallo and chipotle tomatillo salsa ($4)*



Dessert: Unfortunately they do not offer any vegan deserts at this time. Below are Caron’s Stuffed Churros ($7). Although I could not share  in her churro heaven, I did admire the clever presentation and the recycled paper plate liner.



Although the Flying Iguana had only been open one week, the service was perfect! The staff was courteous, knowledgeable and attentive and the interaction between the front of house and the kitchen was perfectly in tune.

Thank you again Jessica Thomas, Al Mansur and Chef Josh Agan for a great evening!

* Editors note: Some of these vegan items were created in anticipation of my arrival. Vegan sauces and vegan taco requests could vary from those above depending on what veggies the kitchen has prepped. Advance notice to the Chef is suggested and be sure to tell them that Jax Vegan Love sent you!