Vegan in Virginia Pt 1: Lotus Veg, Phoenix Garden Veg, & Ipanema
The drive from Washington DC to Virginia wasn’t too bad at all. However I did notice that Gerty’s brakes were feeling a bit funny, I was having to pump the brake pedal in order to get enough traction to fully stop. I’m thinkin’ that’s not a good thing. So, when I arrived at the first VA restaurant on my list – Lotus Vegetarian – I decided to take Gerty in the next morning to get her looked at. In the meantime, let’s start with Lotus! :)
Lotus Vegetarian – 99% vegan (there are 3 items on the menu that contain dairy)
13872 Metrotech Drive
Chantilly, VA 20151
I arrived in the evening, maybe an hour or so before they were getting ready to close… snapped this quick pic of one of their walls, in the back, on my walk to the restroom. The art in Lotus is pretty cool. The restaurant has a cool vibe too, simple, comfortable, and cute.
I was pretty tired this night so I didn’t take many notes about what I had. But I know that I liked it! I ordered the Spring Rolls (surprised?) – wrapped with cabbage, organic carrots, celery, potato, and soy protein; and the Vege-Chicken with Cashews – diced soy protein sautéed with sugar peas, zucchini, organic carrots, jicama, white mushrooms and cashew nuts in brown sauce.
My fortune cookie fortunes were pretty great too. Had to share. :)
The next morning I took Gerty into the docs and learned that she needed a new brake line thing-a-mah-jigger. Eight hours later, she was good as new and we were on the road to Richmond.
Phoenix Garden Vegetarian – 100% vegan
7103 Brook Road
Richmond, VA 23227
While Phoenix Garden is technically in Richmond it does feel like it’s sort of on the outskirts of town, off a busy, main road.
This place is pretty cool, they’ve got a banquet hall, a bar, and seated dining. After talking to one of the owners for a little bit I learned that they had only been open for about six months, at the time, so they were in the early stages. The very nice woman that I spoke to noted that it’s been tough but the local veg community is very supportive of their restaurant. I hope they stick around because I really like their food!!
I started with the Summer Rolls – fresh mint leaves, crushed nuts, lettuce, tofu, and cilantro made for an awesome combo of flavor and softy vs. crunchy in every bite. The peanut sauce was great too! I also had one of their more popular dishes, the Vegetarian Noodle Soup (AKA Pho). It was awesome! Just salty enough with great fillings like tofu, mushroom, onion, and more. MMmmm!!
I was “talked into” trying their Funnel Cake for dessert. I’d never had funnel cake before and this one brought me right back to County State Fair…haha…it reminded me of old fashioned fried dough. Plus it fulfilled all of my fried food needs for a week or more. Deelish! ;)
Next up was dinner at Ipanema – one of the longest running veg establishments in Richmond. This restaurant is also near Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) which is also where all of the other Richmond-based veg restaurants/food carts were scattered around. This place is closer to campus than the other restaurants so parking was a little challenging. But once I secured a spot I popped over to check it out.
Ipanema – 80% vegan
917 West Grace St.
Richmond, VA 23220
Located in a dive-ish bar, at garden level, I got the impression that Ipanema is more of a late evening affair. The outside is super cute and the service was great.
I enjoyed the BBQ Jackfruit Sloppy Joe with a side of sesame kale. The kale was super, super delicious and served cold. Just the right amount of spices and saltiness to satisfy my taste buds. I’d never had Jackfruit before. It’s sweet! I like that they used it in place of Tempeh or another would-be meat substitute. It tastes better (IMO) and is obviously healthier than a traditional version of such a sammy. The slaw, atop the Jackfruit, was fantastic too!
Have you been to any of these restaurants? What did you think?
The rest of Richmond is next! :)
We live in the Chantilly area and love Lotus! In fact, we just got back from Friday night dinner out and, as always, enjoyed it very much. The spring rolls are great (we each got one), and we tried the radish cakes which were satisfyingly warm and tasty. We couldn’t begin to eat all of our entrees (lettuce wraps for me, kung pao for my husband) but that’s okay because we brought half of each entree home for lunch tomorrow. It really is a great little restaurant and we recommend it unreservedly!
I can’t believe you missed Sunflower! They’ve got to be the number one veggie spot in Northern VA (in Vienna and Falls Church). If you come back, you must go there! Also good is Amma, an all vegetarian Indian place, right near Sunflower in Vienna.