One Hour in Alabama + One Week In Chattanooga, TN
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The completion of Florida also meant that I had successfully, after more than six months of being on the road, finally completed the east coast portion of the road trip (not including the remaining restaurants I need to go back to in NY. Oof!). It was now time to make my first northern pass back up the country through Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan.
I was surprised to learn that there is one all-vegan restaurant in the entire state of Alabama, which just so happened to be located in an area that was, at the time, on “lockdown” due to a killer on the loose.
Raw Life Foods – 100% raw and vegan
1714 West 3rd St
Montgomery, AL 36106
Eric and I drove about three hours from Pensacola to Montgomery and arrived at Raw Life Foods in the afternoon. It felt like a long drive, it was crazy hot out, and we were both pretty tired. Therefore we were less than thrilled to see that the restaurant was closed, when we arrived. To be honest, it was super difficult to figure out their hours, there was no phone number, and they are associated with a health and wellness center, which operates across the street (I think), so there was massive confusion to begin with. However, somehow we did determine that they were scheduled to be open when we arrived.
The entire street seemed eerily quiet so we chose to sit on the front porch of the restaurant and nosh on some leftovers we had from the night before. After a few minutes a woman walked up and started chatting with us. It didn’t occur to me right away that she worked for the restaurant/health wellness facility until she said something like, “I’ll get you some food, hold on.” She went inside and then emerged a few minutes later with two to-go containers full of raw, vegan food. Nice!
This woman explained that some locals were on the DL because there were some recent murders in the area and the killer hadn’t been caught yet. It turns out, a day or so later, someone had been arrested for a triple homicide. My goodness! We certainly weren’t expecting that news when we arrived. This woman hung around for another few minutes telling us about the doctor who owns the health/wellness center and also this raw restaurant. They grow many of their own organic vegetables on the property, which are used at the restaurant and for patient care. She then retreated back inside to avoid any confrontation with the roaming murderer.
So…. Eric and I sat on the porch, ate the food she gave us and then got the hell out of Dodge. The food was great though!!!
From Montgomery we then drove to Chattanooga, TN which is where Eric was living at the time. It took about four hours and I’m pretty sure we just crashed once we got in. Even though there are only a handful of vegan eats in Chattanooga I decided to stay for a week in order to re-group and join Eric on a mini juice fast.
We juiced for about two and half days before giving in to our cravings and going out for some Thai food. After that we chose to have just one meal a day and juice in the morning and evening. But it was great and Eric used juicing to successfully eliminate his addiction to coffee. He experienced uncomfortable headaches for about two days before the craving for coffee subsided. Pretty cool!
Following our very brief juice cleanse we went to Sluggo’s (yup, they’ve got two locations) for a FANTASTIC brunch!
Sluggo’s Veg Restaurant – 100% vegan
501 Cherokee Blvd
Chattanooga, TN 37405
This first picture is of one of THE best breakfast anythings that I’ve ever, ever, ever, ever had. THIS is The Daily Grind – scrambled tofu surrounded by grits, topped with spinach and a sausage thing, with toast and gravy, and just like… things. Ha.. I have no idea what all is going on here but it’s fan-flippin-tastic. It had a salty, cheesy flavor and the multigrain bread, dipped into the mashy goodness just brought it all together. Oooooh my gosh I can hardly stand to know that I may never have this dish again. When will I ever ben in Pensacola or Chattanooga again?!
Eric had a tofu scramble dish with homefries, fresh fruit, and veggies; and Eric’s friend, Alex had this incredible tempeh-stuffed waffle plate that looked crazy delicious. We were all pretty thrilled with our meals but decided that my bowl of heavenly goodness was the winner. :)
A few days later I went back to Sluggo’s for dinner. I had the Pecan Crusted Seitan – crispy, salty seitan sitting atop a bed of garlicy mashed potatoes, topped with thick, delicious gravy. This dish also comes witha side salad and I added some collards. The texture of the seitan was perfectly chewy and crunchy. Combining the seitan, ‘taters, and gravy into a single bite left a hint of spice as an after taste. It was awesome. This dish is crazy hearty and filling.
Since I chose to stay in Chattanooga for about a week, and given there is only one all-vegan restaurant in the area, Eric introduced me to a few other places that had exceptional vegan options – though none were completely vegetarian. But we were juicing and didn’t go out to eat as often as I usually do. So it worked out. As a result I had some unexpectedly delicious vegan meals at non-vegan joints.
Taco Mamacita has several vegan options and the servers seemed to clearly understand “vegan.” I don’t recall the names of the tacos that I tried but they were delicious. Oh! One of the tacos had mango in it… that I DO remember. Yumm-O! I was pleasantly surprised overall. Also, I’m also a sucker for guac… so there’s that too. :)
The Urban Stack Burger Lounge has an EXCELLENT “Vegan on Shrooms” burger – homemade vegan mushroom patty, roasted red pepper, tomato, lettuce, balsamic onions, and vegan garlic mayo. The garlic mayo is a serious gem here. And their sweet potato fries are quite amazing as well. You can also order it on lettuce instead of a bun. Choose this option and it’s easily one of the best vegan burgers you’ll have. Seriously.
The morning that I departed from Chattanooga I stopped at the Bluegrass Grill for their popular tofu scramble dish. This picture doesn’t do it justice but what we have here is the Tofu Hash – scrambled tofu, onions, peppers, tomatos, spinach, and mushrooms flavored with cilantro and lime. It was great! WARNING: this dish comes with biscuits but they contain buttermilk so be sure to ask for toast (if you’d like something bready).
Oh and one more thing, if you’d prefer to make your own meals you can stock up on fruits, veggies, and other vegan noms at Greenlife Grocery (a subsidiary of Whole Foods). I snagged this quick pic while walking through the aisles one day.
More on Tennessee coming soon (Nashville and Memphis)!