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!

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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.

SUPPORT LOCAL!

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One Spark 2014: The Vegan Low Down!

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Jacksonville, are you ready for five days of art, innovation, music, science and technology?  One Spark 2014 is just around the corner!  Creators from across the nation will gather here April 9-13, 2014 to showcase their best ideas for a chance to access $310,000 in crowdfunds and cash awards, 3.25 million dollars in capital investments and direct contributions from more than 150,000 attendees and backers around the globe.  Attending and voting is completely free, just make sure you do your part and register!  Voting is a vital part of making One Spark a huge success as EVERY vote puts money in the creators’ pockets.   Don’t understand the whole crowd-funding concept, no worries just click here.

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Scared you won’t be able to find any vegan food at One Spark? Think again!  Sean and his crew from Dig Foods will be serving up their 100% vegan/organic grub daily from 11:00am-10:00pm during the entire festival.  You can find them in the food village (Laura Street between Bay and Forsyth). Check out their One Spark menu below and be sure to watch their Facebook page from April 9-13 for their One Spark daily specials:

  • maple mustard seitan
  • spaghetti squash with creamed kale
  • raw lettuce wraps
  • samosas w/ spiced aioli and green pea coulis
  • spicy rundown soup with rice dumpling

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A new addition to One Spark this year is the Beer Village!  An entire block of Adams/Main Street will be dedicated to Intuition Ale Works Craft Beer.  (They are our favorite local craft beer and I couldn’t be happier about this!) Tickets for the One Spark Beer Village will be sold onsite for $5.00 each or $20.00 for five tickets, with ticket redemption going towards the purchase of Intuition Ale Works.  Beer Village is sure to be a cool place to hang out, enjoy specialty craft brews and enjoy great live entertainment with featured musical performances by One Spark creators.

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JVL has combed through the 100+ creators for One Spark 2014 – here are some of our favorites:

Sally Ann #20520 Sally Ann makes super cute things out of recycled materials.  Her dream is to open Jacksonville’s only sewing lounge! In the meantime, you can find her and her little red vintage trailer at RAM on Saturdays. She just announced that she will only use 100% vegan materials from now on!   That gets my vote!

Fresh Jax #20076 Fresh Jax took 8th place last year at One Spark 2013!  They are back this year and raising funds to make their dream of opening their vegan restaurant/yoga studio in the Mandarin area by end of year!

1,000 Trees Jax #20926 Ideas for Us wants to plant 1,000 native trees in Jacksonville in one year. Enough said.

Girls Gone Green #20336 We love them for No Meat March, VegJax Dining Guide and the Northeast Florida VegFest!  The GGG wants funds to expand beyond Jacksonville and host a Southeast Conference!

Down to Earth Farm #20353 Down to Earth Farm is one of my favorite produce vendors at RAM. They sell organic tempeh in addition to their awesome veggies.  They want to create a community kitchen to teach fresh veggie cooking classes with their funds from One Spark.

Floating Free #20572 A cool concept that will make great use of out Exchange Island (one of the only uninhabited islands in the middle of an urban city of our size in the U.S.) Ideas for the island include a kayak launch, bike trails, zips lines, primitive camping and swimming.

Chomp Chips #21015 I love Chomp Chomp!  They have so many tofu options and their curry flavored chips are tasty too!  They want to expand and have their chips available at other places around town. We’re down with that.

Gastrofest Jacksonville 2015 #20026   Gastrofest Jacksonville aims to bring us a kick ass food festival in 2015 to show off our culinary cusine! (Including lots of vegan options!)

Project Atrium #20196 As a co-founder and photo contributor to the Jax Mural Project, this one is a no brainer for me!  Shaun Thurston is an amazing artist that paints murals all over Jacksonville; I cannot wait to see what he creates for MOCA.

B.E.A.K.S Educational Center #20661 BEAKS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation & care of injured wild birds & the protection of our environment. I have taken many wild birds that I have rescued to them and they are fabulous.  They are raising funds to expand their educational center and outreach.

Dragon Boat Festival #20596 I was actually the team captain for the LPS (my former job) corporate dragon boat team at the inaugural Dragon Boat Festival in 2013.  I would love to see this event return to Jacksonville again in 2014.  It was a lot of fun…who knows, maybe we could put together a vegan team for the next one if so.

Scott Jones School of Dance #20882 (Yes, it’s a shameless plug as this is personal…this is my son’s dance studio.)  If you have ever wanted to return the favor to JVL for all  of the posts we share with you, then this would be a great way to do that (by voting for Scott Jones School of Dance). Funds from One Spark will go towards new music equipment and dance choreographers.

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The creators I listed above are awesome, but don’t take my word for it…make sure you pick up a One Spark Guide (available this week in Folio Weekly) or search through them online here.

A huge thank you to all of the venues that are accommodating the numerous vendors this year!

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We are so lucky to have such a cool event in our city! I volunteered many hours of my time last year at the event and I loved every second of it.  I hope you come out to enjoy all it has to offer too, at least for one of the five days (if not for all five of them).  One Spark is completely free to attend and to vote, but if you want the ultimate experience, then check out the All Access Pass.

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Be One Spark! VOTE!

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!

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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.

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

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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).

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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.

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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!

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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.”

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

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

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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!

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They have some great side items that are vegan too.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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

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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.

http://www.piscosrestaurant.com/

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

Website http://www.kalecafejuicebar.com

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

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!

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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!

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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)

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

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 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)

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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.

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

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

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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)!

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

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Cute decorative touches make this a neat spot!

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Fresh flowers on every table!

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

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

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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!

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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

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

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Main Course: My Vegan Taco Trifecta!

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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)*

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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.

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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!

Jax Mural Project Announced!

Jax Mural Project: About Us

Jax Vegan Love has a huge announcement! After months of hard work, the Jax Mural Project launched today! The project is a collaboration between Jessica of Jax Vegan Love, Caron of Jax Truckies, and Heather of Outside the Den. Basically, we love art and wanted to create a database of the numerous local murals that can be found across Jacksonville as a way to record this sometimes fleeting art style.  We also plan to create some bike routes to encourage others to seek these pieces out themselves! Please contact us if you know of a mural or an artist not included in the project so we can add it.

There is street art all over our city! Go find it!

Please make sure to include #jaxmuralproject on any images you take!
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We had so much fun capturing hundreds of pictures! In fact, we had so many just from CoRK that it needed its own album! Here are some of my favorite images:

Jax Mural Project / Jacksonville, Florida

Jax Mural Project / Jacksonville, Florida

Jax Mural Project / Jacksonville, Florida

Jax Mural Project / Jacksonville, Florida

Jax Mural Project / Jacksonville, Florida

Jax Mural Project / Jacksonville, Florida

http://outsidetheden.com/jaxmuralproject/

https://www.facebook.com/JaxMuralProject

Deborrah Hoag (Founder NFVS)

We are so excited to spotlight our very first JVL interviewee, our friend and fellow local veg community member, Deborrah Hoag!

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Deborrah is the original founder of the Northeast Florida Vegetarian Society (NFVS)! Founded in June 1999, Deb and her original ten members would meet at Manatee Café in St Augustine. Over the last fourteen years the group has grown drastically due to social media and now has over 750 members! The group still continues to meet at Manatee Café once a month but they also meet on the first week of each month in Jacksonville. You can find them rotating between two locations: Farah’s Pita Stop Café and Masala Indian Cuisine. If you would like to attend an upcoming NFVS Meetup, then just log on and RSVP on their page. Don’t forget to also check out the NFVS facebook page. If you want to meet Deborrah in person, you can find her at the NFVS table at the Riverside Arts Market on the first Saturday of each month.

After she played hostess at the September edition of the Northeast Florida Vegetarian Society Meetup, JVL sat down with Deborrah and asked her some questions.

Please tell us about yourself:

I’ve been active in animal/vegan/environmental advocacy for 20+ years locally, nationally, and internationally. When I served on the Jacksonville Humane Society board, I proposed the policy change toward no-kill. And the Northeast Florida Vegetarian Society had the vision for and partnered with The Girls Gone Green and Saving Animals via Education to begin the annual Northeast Florida Veg Fest tradition in 2010. In my “other” life, I am an editor, trainer, writer, and coach for UNF, FSCJ, companies/organizations, and individuals. And in my totally spare time (did I say spare?!), I sing with the Jacksonville Symphony chorus; am on the board of the Wildlife Rescue Coalition of Northeast Florida; play on the vegan trivia team, PlantStrong; travel when and wherever I can; play tennis; and share my home with a furry, “felonious”  family of found felines.

How long have you lived in Jax?

30 years.

How long have you been veg?

I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years, vegan for the last 20 years. Being completely vegan is an ongoing process that started for me when I heard PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk refer to cheese as “liquid meat.”

What’s your favorite local spot and what veg item do you order?

I love Farah’s Pita Stop Café (located at 3980-201 Southside Blvd). I’ve know the owners, Ida and Murad Farah, for years predating my veg life. Ida makes everything in house, including my favorite –  veggie grapeleaves! I also love Hovan Mediterranean Gourmet in 5 Points. Can you guess I’m partial to Mediterranean food?

Where/what was the best veg meal of your life?

My first WOW meal was at Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco. But Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park has topped my list now with Sheppard’s Pie. I’m a potato freak.

What is your favorite veg staple in your pantry/fridge?

Green olives. It’s ridiculous the things I add them to! I also can’t get enough of whatever fruit’s in season.

What is your favorite veg cookbook/chef author?

You’re asking me? The one who assembles but rarely cooks?! I suppose as gag gifts or in moments of delusion, people have given me cookbooks. I’d recommend Skinny Bitch series by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin.

Favorite veg blog/website?

My favorite blog is definitely Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach by Gary Francione.

Where is your favorite veg travel destination (city, hotel, restaurant, etc)?

I’ve visited Japan over the years after working in Fukuoka (largest city on the southern island of Kyushu) in the mid-’90s. I discovered amazing and abundant varieties of tofu and veggie dishes. But a little Japanese comes in handy to make sure fish flakes/broth aren’t lurking. Yasai dake onegaishimasu (veg only please)! I’ve been encouraged how available veg options are everywhere I go – even vegan versions of bangers and mash (sausage and potatoes) in Scottish pubs!   

What veg-related food, event, etc. would you like to see more of in Jax? 

I would like to see us becoming more politically active in exposing and generating awareness for change regarding local issues related to the unethical treatment of animals in Jacksonville. Specifically circuses, rodeos, pet stores/puppy mills, and greyhound racing (Race Track Rd and in Orange Park). Not only should we be more visible in the political and legal process, but organized enough to respond to local issues when they arise. For that, we need to be more unified and motivated as an advocacy community.

 If you could be any animal, which animal would you want to be and why?

Wow, I’d love to rotate my animal experience among different habitats and existences:: inhabiting the ocean as a dolphin or soaring the skies as a raptor! I love the ‘big cats’ category, but they are carnivores, so conflict of interest there! So I’d say a gorilla or an elephant. They are great examples of powerful but peaceful herbivores with a strong community/family dynamic.

What advice would you give to those going veg?

The more we learn about animal-centered consumption – factory farming cruelty, planetary and human health consequences,  unsustainability, compelling reasons mount more than ever to go vegetarian and be vegan. Also, it’s easier than ever due to all the new veg products on the market that are becoming more mainstream and are available in regular grocery stores. However, for anyone who’s struggling on the veg path, the MentorMe program here in Jacksonville is a great resource and it is completely free! 

What advice/reason would you give business owners to convince them to be more veg friendly?

It’s good business sense for eating establishments to offer menu options accommodating various dietary needs. Then mixed groups can factor that in when they’re making dining choices. Jacksonville has a rapidly growing veg community, but many people who wouldn’t identify as veg (flexitarians?) are trying to eat healthier, and would also select these items if they were available.  Adding vegan or vegetarian items to your menu is a smart choice and will make your business stand out. Whether a business is giving in to consumer pressure or offering healthy veg options on their own, they have nothing to lose – only new customers to gain. Everybody wins!

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Deb speaking to the audience at Masala Indian Cuisine at the September NFVS Meetup.

DSC_0941 My Food Plate

My plate of delicious food at Masala. The Chili Baby Corn was my favorite!

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The NFVS Meetup at Masala always features an AYCE buffet for $15 (drink included).

DSC_0933 Dessert

Masala even offers a vegan desert at the NFVS Meetup!