Very Vegan-Friendly in Louisville, KY - Pt. 1 - Will Travel For Vegan Food
NOTE: I’m not currently in Kentucky! My blog posts are about eight weeks backlogged. Please check out Instagram (wtfveganfood), Facebook, and Twitter for more up-to-date news. Also, if you’re wondering where I’ve already been, what restaurants I’ve visited, or where I’m heading next, please click here to check out the Schedule page. :)
*** *** ***
To the best of my knowledge Kentucky does not have a fully vegan restaurant. However, I have a couple of vegan buddies in Louisville and they promised excellent vegan eats at a number of vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurants. I decided to check it out and ended up staying for nearly a week. It helped that I had a free bedroom all to myself for a while too. Hehe. Hard to pass up!
I’ll start with the more well-known vegan-friendly restaurants that are located on the hip, Highlands area/Bardstown Road. Here you’ll find plentiful tattoos, skinny jeans, coffee shops, and an Urban Outfitters (huh?).
Roots – ~75% vegan
1216 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, KY 40204
Roots offers Pan Asian style meals and shares a spaces with its more casual sister restaurant, Heart & Soy (which we’ll get to in a minute). Despite looking relatively upscale with its simple, clean decor, Roots is quite inexpensive and the servers were dressed down in their own styles.
Photo by Samuel Hartman, The Nail That Sticks Up
I’m a sucker for vermicelli so I ordered a bowl of the Vermicelli Rice Noodles – lettuce, cucumbers, sprouts, fried shallots, peanuts, and lemongrass tofu. In addition I had a small bowl of their Pho – traditional Vietnamese noodles; and for dessert had a piece of Roots’ Chocolate Peanut Butter pie. I loved that the pie was quite thick and creamy but not too rich in flavor. The chocolate cookie base of the pie was wonderful. The pie as a whole reminded me of a grown-up peanut butter cup but ten times better. It was definitely the highlight of the meal, though I enjoyed everything I had.
On another day I stopped by Heart & Soy, which is considered the more casual “fast food” version of Roots, though the food is quite similar. They are literally right next to each other, sharing not only an address but a main entryway door as well. Rumor has it the sweets on the Heart & Soy side are more abundant and varied.
Heart & Soy – ~75% vegan
1216 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, KY 40204
The H&S area is set up cafeteria style. You order at the counter and they call your name (or maybe it’s a number) for you to go pick up your tray of food. You also bus your own table when you’re finished.
I started with H&S’s spring rolls with peanut sauce. They are definitely some of the best spring rolls I’ve ever had. The way that they’ve integrated mint is so delicious, and their peanut sauce is outstanding – a bit sweeter than I’m used to, but oh so good. I also ordered the Pad Thai – make sure to ask for the vegan version! It was great.
A really cool thing about H&S is their GIANT tofu making machine. They keep it enclosed behind glass but you can clearly see it. I’ve never seen anything like it before. They call the owner of this contraption, “The Mother of Tofu.” She had come out, while I was eating, to ask how the meal was. Very nice!
Photos of tofu machine by Samuel Hartman, The Nail That Sticks Up
Next up is one of the most popular restaurants in Louisville. They’re open late (until 2AM some nights) and while they do serve meat they’re one of the few restaurants that offer a unique selection of vegan items.
Ramsi’s Cafe on The World – ~40% vegan
1293 Bardstwon Rd
Louisville, KY 40204
I had gone for one of their brunch buffets and could’ve sworn that I took some pics of that delicious meal. Alas, I can’t find those particular photos. I do remember some great biscuits and gravy and this crazy delicious dessert cake thing. Not sure why they serve it at brunch but I’m not one to complain about sweets at the breakfast table. :) Having said that, I did snag a few pics of the meal that I shared with some members of the Louisville Vegetarian Initiative.
Here we’ve got Ramsi’s vegan Foccacia – housemade Italian flatbread with herbs and extra virgin olive oil, topped with vegan pesto, tomatos, and tofu “feta.” It was AWESOME! I also had their housemade falafel with tomato and cucumber relish in a classic pita. Yums.
Believe it or not this is the best of a series of attempts to get a picture of the group of us who had lunch together at Ramsi’s. Hehe :) If you’re ever in Louisville definitely check out the Louisville Vegetarian Initiative. They’re a super active group of local vegans who host “veg challenges,” post recipes, restaurant reviews, and put on local veg-focused events.
One of the first days that I was in Louisville, Sam from the Louisville Vegetarian Initiative, met up with me for lunch at Zen Garden. If I recall correctly Zen Garden was one of the first and longest standing vegetarian restaurants in Louisville. Neat-o!
Zen Garden – ~90% vegan
2240 Frankfort Ave
Louisville, KY 40206
Oh sugar! I just realized that I didn’t take any notes on the food here. It happens. The food was good though!! Blergh! We obviously have some summer rolls and sushi there with the middel two pictures. If any of you know the names of the other two dishes, please do chime in! Thank you!! :)
Mid-week in Louisville I drove over to the University of Louisville area for lunch at Green Leaf. It appears to be one of the only vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurants near campus. Thankfully I visited during the summer, while most students were off campus. But based on the location I’m guessing parking nearby would typically be quite a chore.
Green Leaf - 90% vegan
309 Cardinal Blvd
Louisville, KY 40208
The set up here kind of reminded me of a Loving Hut. It’s an order-at-the-counter establishment, and they call your number when the food is ready. Green Leaf is heavy on the mock meats and nearly everything on their menu can be prepared vegan.
I had the Crispy Sesame Chicken – tender pieces of crispy vegan chicken on top of a pan-fried vegetable mix of red onion, green bell peppers, carrots, and broccoli tossed with sesame seeds and a sweet ‘n’ spicy sauce. The spicy aspect of that is quite mild. I liked this dish and found that the customer service was stellar.
One of the things I’ve come to enjoy most while traveling is finding the best internet cafe/coffee shop to do my writing in between driving and eating. Most of the time I can find a decent place with soy mochas and free wifi. But every now and then I learn about a little gem that may also sell, say freshly pressed juice, or have big squishy chairs (oh man, I can’t wait to tell you about this one place in Kansas City!), vegan food or snacks, and other fun stuff that makes settling for a few hours, or even a few days, more enjoyable.
Louisville has no shortage of coffee shops, a couple of which I’d like to highlight for you! :) The first is Heine Brothers Coffee. They’ve got over ten locations throughout the area and they carry vegan wraps and snacks from Morel’s Vegan Food Truck. Around the time that I arrived in Louisville Morel’s had stopped functioning as a food truck but was still making deliveries to the Heine Brothers Coffee locations. I did try one of their wraps the first day I arrived in Louisville and it was absolutely delicious. If you’re ever in need of coffee and a great vegan snack, swing by one of the Heine’s (also fun to say).
The coffeehouse that I spent the majority of my writing time at was Highland Coffee. Not only is Highland Coffee plentiful in the way of coffee, skinny jeans, and tattoos, but they also carry a handful of vegan sweets.
I much prefer almond- overs soy-milk for mochas, so I was thrilled to learn that they carried almond milk AND some of the best little vegan treats I’ve ever had!
Look at this little guy! Eeehehehe!! This is Highland’s Peanut Butter Bite. It looks like a teeny cupcake but the consistency is more like cheesecake. It’s so, so, so, so good. It was incredibly challenging to not order ten at a time. Honestly, one of the best little morsels of vegan goodness I’ve ever experienced. DO WANT.
This is Highland’s vegan Chocolate Bundt Cake. It was surprisingly moist and has chocolate chips THROUGHOUT the entire cake. OMG, yes. I couldn’t get through an entire one though because it was so rich. Definitely plan on sharing this one, though you probably won’t want to after the first bite. ;)
More to come on Louisville!