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.