Monday, August 16, 2010

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Deja Vu Creole Soul Food & Vegetarian Restaurant

I get plenty of e-mails from blog readers planning trips to Memphis or phone calls from out-of-town friends who'll be stopping through, and they always want to know the best place to find vegan food. My first suggestion is always Deja Vu Creole Soul Food & Vegetarian Restaurant. I would have blogged about the place much sooner, but they just opened a second location, and I wanted to check it out before doing a post.

Deja Vu has hands-down the largest selection of vegan options on any menu in the city. Although they do serve meat, the soul food joint offers about 15 vegan entrees and all the traditional Southern sides are vegan. You won't find any ham hocks in these collard greens and the candied yams are delightfully marshmallow-free. The vegan entrees range from soul food stuff like barbecue tofu cubes to pasta dishes and fried veggie-filled "egg" rolls. BTW, I love this place so much that my profile pic (the one on the right) was taken at Deja Vu over a plate of barbecue tofu.

This Portabella and Sundried Tomato Pasta is one of my faves:

The savory sundried tomatoes and meaty mushrooms give the dish a crazy-hearty flavor. It's a little difficult to stop eating when you're full because it's that freakin' good. I snapped this photo a few months ago at Deja Vu's downtown location.

Deja Vu's humble original location has been open for over a year on Florida Street in downtown Memphis. It's a teensy little place with only six or seven tables. Folks crowd in for lunch and typically have to wait for an available seat. But the second sprawling Hickory Hill location is HUGE with a private room for meetings. I believe the place used to house an O'Charley's. I finally had a chance to check out the new digs at our Food Awareness (the local vegetarian club) monthly meeting on Saturday.

I ordered this delicious Spinach and Mushroom Quesadilla:

It's a newer menu item and I was so surprised to see that it contains vegan cheese! It's especially difficult to find restaurant food in Memphis with vegan cheese. I'm not sure what they used, but it's a toss-up between Tofutti Mozzerella or Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack (don't you love playing "guess-the-vegan-cheese"?). Also stuffed inside the grilled tortilla are spinach, portabella mushrooms, and some Creole-style spices.

Almost everyone else at my table (Stephanie, Lindsey, and Jordan) ordered the Veggie Tacos:

These are stuffed with TVP and taco sauce and served with lettuce, tomato, and salsa. I was actually way too engrossed in my yummy quesadilla to ask how these were.

Other Deja Vu favorites include the Mock Chicken Salad Sandwich (which I first blogged about here), made with TVP and vegan mayo:

And I LOVE the curry tofu cubes! Not all the vegan entrees come with sides (the quesadilla does not), but when I get to choose sides, I typically spring for the grilled cabbage, navy beans, smothered okra, or green beans and carrots. I noticed on the new menu that they also offer fried plantains as a side dish too! When I have room for dessert (which is pretty much never), I opt for the vegan banana nut bread. But someday I plan to try the vegan chocolate cake with strawberry sauce.

Deja Vu Creole Soul Food & Vegetarian Restaurant has two locations: 936 S. Florida St. (901-942-1400) and 3557 Ridgeway Rd. (901-590-2221).


Rick said...

damn, good looking food! though i still don't trust TVP and probably never will...damn me for being so anal!

i love your restaurant pics. we went to a vegan brunch on Sunday and when my food came out i gasped at its beauty. my wife told me if i don't start taking pics of food soon, i'll lose some of my readers. hope not!

The Kuntrageous Vegan said...

smothered okra? That sounds sinful.

celine said...

I'll smother your okra, all right. looks damn tasty, Bianca!
also, I want someone to open a bar and call it Déjà Bu.

Jessica said...

It looks like the menu is expanding - how awesome that the food is great and they keep adding more choices! Thanks again for pointing me to this place, I never would have found it otherwise. (Until your post now, of course.)

Rikki Cupcake said...

well, if i ever go to memphis, i know where i will be eating. it all looks and sounds quite amazing!

if you want to be one of the ask a vegans from my blog shoot me an email! (: rikkicupcake@yahoo

thanks bianca! as always, you are friggen' awesome.

T said...

Gaaah, this sounds like my vegan dream restaurant, especially with the addition of plaintains to the sides. If I"m ever again in Memphis I'll make sure to check it out!

Dianne said...

Yum! It looks like pretty healthy vegan soul food, which is hard to find!

LaLa said...

Hey I'm a big fan of your blog! I am doing a segment on my blog about Vegan Success stories I would love to email interview you for the piece if you are willing. I have so followers that would really like to hear from other vegans and I thought you would be a great example! Please contact me, if you are interested.

Thanks and hope to hear from you soon,

Kris said...

Holy crap, that sounds amazing. I wish we had more vegan options for southern food here in Portland. We have a couple of places with choice dishes, but it's not really REAL southern food.

River (Wing-It Vegan) said...

This makes me want to stop being such a freaky germaphobe and start eating out! I vote for you trying the chocolate cake with strawberry sauce next time! At least I can live vicariously through you! :D

Anonymous said...

i havent tried deja vu yet, but i see i definately need to! Ive been getting my vegan fix at Fuel Cafe on Madison. They have quite a few vegan options, dips, pastas, chili, etc and have a nice selection for non-vegan cuisine too.

i just love your blog & am happy to see features on local restaurants! Keep up the great work!!

Jordan said...

The tacos were great!

I think the mock chicken salad is probably my favorite, but you really can't go wrong with any of the vegan options.

Making a meal just out of the sides is completely awesome as well.