Friday, October 17, 2008

VeganMoFo: Mokabe's Vegan Burger


To find a restaurant menu in St. Louis that states the word "vegan" is rare. By rare, I mean two (that I know of). At this point, any LA, Portland, and Manhattan vegan readers are shaking their heads in pity and amazement, I know.

One such cutting-edge establishment is Mokabe's, in nearby South City on Grand and Arsenal. Mokabe's has a delicious vegan burger, frequently a vegan soup of the day, and various veganizable sandwiches. They also offer a Sunday brunch with vegan options. I'm an eat-weekend-breakfast-at-home kind of woman, so most often I find myself at Mokabe's for lunch. It's close to work for MD and me, so we meet there every week or two.

This week we ordered the vegan burger with oven baked "fries." The burger is surprisingly delicious considering its simplicity. There aren't a lot of fancy toppings, just red onion slices, dill chips, and the usual condiments on the side. But the burger itself is crispy and smoky, with none of the mushiness that you sometimes find in a veggie burger. It also won the Best Burger (Non-Beef Division) in the Riverfront Times 2008 Best Of Edition. And the fries are the best baked ones I've had. I truly don't miss the deep frying, which is high praise since french fries are my favorite food.

The other progressive restaurant that dares to use the "v" word on the menu is Shangri-La Diner. Both restaurants have a funky, laid back atmosphere. Whenever we join friends at Shangri-La, we all leave happier than we came, and not just because our bellies are full of good food. The place has good vibes, "upbeat" as the site says, largely due to Patrice, the enthusiastic and gregarious owner. I recently had her new Fall special, the seitan gyro, and loved it. I hope to go back during lunch so I can get a picture to post and will talk a little more about the awesome Shangri-La.

Otherwise, I hear from Alanna of A Veggie Venture that we'll have a new vegan cafe, Vegadeli, in St. Louis very soon! The website looks great. Location, not so great for me, but I'll be there to support another St. Louis business that is spunky, bold, and smart enough to offer vegan food.

20 comments:

  1. Yum, that burger looks good. I want to eat that!

    I feel lucky that I'm so close to all the fabulous vegan places in New York.

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  2. Actually for a midwestern meat and potatoes type city, I'm pretty impressed that St. Louis has as many vegan friendly places as it does. I know when I go home to Charlotte, North Carolina there probably isn't even a restaurant that knows what veganism is!

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  3. Yeah, Missouri isn't the most veg-friendly place. We have one "exclusively" vegetarian restaurant here in Columbia, and if you aren't a fan of tofu, tempeh, or seitan, there isn't much for you. But at least a lot of the other "regular" restaurants have some vegetarian options or ones that could be easily modified.

    Brett and I are going to be passing through St. Louis around the holidays, we might have to stop in at one of these places and get some grub!

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  4. Looks good. I'm sure as the trend towards health grows so will the need for restaurants that supply this type of food.

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  5. I've never had Mokabe's burger, but I do love the Sunday brunch (or at least I did the one time I actually made my way over there!).

    But more importantly--the vegan gyro at Shangri-La is fantastic!! I had it for the first time this past weekend, and wow--just wow. Patrice is knocking my socks off these days. It was vegan heaven the night we went. Lots of vegan desserts and promises of not only the vegan gyro on the new fall menu but also vegan creme brulee french toast! Yea!!

    And I'm uber-excited about Vegadeli, but Chesterfield? Odd.

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  6. mmm... meat eater I might be, but this is what I get everytime I go to Mokabe's. It's delicious.

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  7. The Royale consistantly has vegan options as well.

    I have honestly NEVER been particularly impressed with anything from Shangri La. Has their brunch miraculously become less abysmal recently? Fewer frozen veggies and Morninstar Farms frozen faux-meats?

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  8. Yeah for the 'V' word! That burger looks so good, I'm craving a burger like I haven't in a very, very long time. Might have to try to make some veggie burgers this weekend.

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  9. Alissa, I'll check out the Royale, thanks for the tip. I haven't had brunch at Shangri-La, so can't speak to that. I've had a wrap, gyro, beans and rice, BBQ pulled "pork", and the slinger, and thought all were either good or better. Part of the appeal to me is also the vibe.

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  10. Great reviews! That veggie burger looks so good! YAY for vegan restaurants!

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  11. I'm totally drooling over that burger right now...it looks perfect!

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  12. that burger sounds awesome! at least you have an option at a non-chain restaurant :P

    i have me some cravings now! :D

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  13. I wish I could order a vegan burger in a restaurant, what can I say...

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  14. Vegan burgers are one of my favorite items to order in restaurants - that one looks great! :-)

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  15. Oh, I know exactly how you feel! Memphis has one soul food restaurant that's part-vegan/part-meat. Weird, but they cook everything vegan on separate cookware....and it's really the only way a vegan restaurant would survive here. We used to have an exclusively vegan soul food cafe years ago but it closed down... :-(

    We do have a number of places that have accidentally vegan foods...like the best veggie burger at Huey's Burgers and an awesome tofu scramble at Brother Juniper's Bakery...oh, and Vegan BBQ Tofu nachos at this college bar called R.P. Tracks.

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  16. I didn't know Mokabe's fries were baked! When I had their burger, I asked if they could sub anything for the fries because I prefer not to eat deep-fried food. But they wouldn't give me a replacement! So I just got a lil burger in the basket and it cost $7! I was mad about that -- but I love their brunch, oh yes I do.

    Ahhh! Seitan gyros sound excellent. Shangri-La did not have those a month ago. Yum.

    The vegan buffet I went to was at Gokul in STL, on Page & Warson. Have you ever been? I'm not sure how many vegan choices they have on their normal menu though... Another awesome food find is OR Smoothie (www.orsmoothieandcafe.com). They have the best, best, best veggie burger. And I'm not even a veggie burger girl -- they are usually my last choice. They serve it w/ vegan cheese, which is a turn-off for me, but in this burger's case: oh my goodness wonderful!

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  17. Ruby Red Vegan, I haven't heard of Gokul or OR Smoothie! Thanks for the tips.

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  18. it is rare to see the word vegan, at the new vegan restaurant here they opted to use "pure vegetarian" and I don't blame them, the word vegan scares nonvegans.

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  19. Thank goodness you have 2 (nearly 3) restaurants with vegan options! I'm sure that makes your life easier and more enjoyable. :)

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  20. There's also new all Organic Vegan Cafe in Chesterfield, by the mall, called Vegadeli

    It's all vegan and they were just featured in Sauce Magazine. I haven't been there yet, but the word on the street is that the food is pretty awesome.

    ( Website: http://www.vegadeli.com )

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