But last night, they had a Cooper-Young Vegan Dishcrawl! Cooper-Young is an artsy, walkable community in Midtown (and it's home to our best vegan restaurant, Imagine Vegan Cafe). Our Dishcrawl ambassador Kim invited me to come along, and of course I answered with an emphatic "Yes! Yes! Yes!"
The night began at Imagine, where Kristie (owner/cook) served up hefty sample plates of a few of their most popular dishes — Beef Tips Over Rice, Gumbo, and Eggplant Parm.
But we had to find room for more because there were three more stops on the crawl! Next, we walked down to the very corner of Cooper Street and Young Avenue for a meal at the new-and-improved Cafe Ole — Cactus Fries with Adobo Sauce, Chickpea Tacos, and Citrus Stuffed Avocado.
Everything on this plate was just out of this world. Cafe Ole is an old Midtown Tex-Mex joint that, over the years, hasn't exactly been known for having the best food. Great margaritas! But the food was just meh. But the place was recently sold to new owners, and they've hired a chef who is shaking things up. These vegan dishes aren't on the menu yet, but I hope he adds these, especially those tacos!
Next was Ink Lounge. This is a fairly new restaurant in the old Melange/Dish/Cortona space (the spot has been a million things over the years). I don't think they're particularly vegan-friendly normally, but they made us a special meal — Red Quinoa and Radish Salad, Sweet Potato Fries with Mushroom Sauce, and Tofu Caprese.
I was quite thankful for the small portions by this point because, as you might imagine, I was stuffed! My tablemates, none of whom were vegans as far as I know, seemed to really love the Tofu Caprese. The tofu was marinated in a balsamic vinegar, and it was heavenly. The cherry tomatoes and basil were so fresh. One lady commented that she'd been meaning to try quinoa, so this was her first time.
Finally, we ended the night back where we started — Imagine Vegan Cafe. That's because they offer the best vegan desserts in town! My friend Stephanie (and no, I'm not biased ... her stuff is just amazing) bakes Imagine's desserts through her Swell Baked Goods company. She made us Chocolate Pie with Raspberry Coulis.
OMG! Definitely my favorite course of the night. Tender crust, rich creamy chocolate, soy whip, and a tart raspberry sauce. I was definitely way too full for this, but that didn't stop be from downing the whole slice while I chatted with my tablemates (one vegetarian and one omni) about Orange Is the New Black.
This event was so much fun! I'm so thankful that a non-vegan group would organize a vegan dishcrawl, and I loved seeing all the omnivores really enjoy their meat-free meals.
Here's the Dishcrawl website to see the list of future events for Memphis. Or non-Memphians can search by city to see if there's a group in your area.