Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurant/Dining Help Thread

Discussion in 'Disney Restaurants' started by Plasticletters, May 24, 2010.

  1. DaymanX

    DaymanX Mouseketeer

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    For a late dinner tonight, we ate at Via Napoli at Epcot.

    Some people scoff at the price for pizza here, but I *love* the super authentic old country-style of their crust. In fact, it's rare that I'm excited to eat a pizza that doesn't have soy cheese or Daiya, but I was really looking forward to eating here again after a great meal during last year's trip.

    We got the house-style salad to start, which had a nice mix of olives, mushrooms, and red peppers. Then I got the Funghi pizza, which had two kinds of mushrooms, but hold the cheese.

    If Via Napoli had Daiya or Follow Your Heart as a vegan option, I'd easily give it a 9 or a 10, but as it stands, if you love pizza and want a different experience than your local pizzeria, Via Napoli is a Disney dining "must-do." I give it a 7!
     
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  3. nancy drew

    nancy drew DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for the recent vegan dining reviews! Keep them coming! We will be visiting MK and Epcot this winter, and I always stress about where to eat. We had a great meal at Teppan Edo (? The place where they cook your food on the grill at your table?) last year but I have no idea where else to go or what to eat at MK.

    Any experience with Kona or breakfast at Ohana? I can't get a good dinner time reservation at Ohana, so maybe breakfast or just going to Kona is better? Would love to hear about any dining at the Poly! Thanks!
     
  4. VeganCupcake

    VeganCupcake Almost an Expert

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    Nancy Drew --- my son is a big Stitch fan so we have eaten at Ohana for breakfast a few times. I have had Chef Stephen, Chef Julie, and Chef Alejandro for breakfast and all 3 made me the same delicious thing every time I went. Vegan Mickey waffles with a tofu stir fry (tofu with potatoes and veggies) and fruit. It is one of my favorite meals anytime we go! And the atmosphere is so relaxed compared to other character meals I love that it is all you can eat and they bring the food to you. At Kona I have had no problems for breakfast or dinner as well. :-)
     
  5. nancy drew

    nancy drew DIS Veteran

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    Thank you! I love hearing about good experiences! If you had to choose between breakfast at Ohana or dinner at Kona, which would you choose? Character meals are nice, but we might not really have time for it since we are only going for a weekend.
     
  6. VeganCupcake

    VeganCupcake Almost an Expert

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    Personally for food alone I would pick Ohana all the way as a vegan. Kona was good but all I was offered was vegan waffles with fruit. I like having a variety of food to try.
     
  7. nancy drew

    nancy drew DIS Veteran

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    Have you done dinner at both? Sorry for all of the questions!!!! Can you tell I obsess a little? ;)
     
  8. DaymanX

    DaymanX Mouseketeer

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    Today we ate lunch at Sunshine Seasons at EPCOT. We got the vegan stir fry, which had Gardein breaded chick'n with an orange sauce and noodles.

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    I think Sunshine Seasons is one of the best places to use a Quick Service credit for a great vegan meal as is, and the Gardein chik'n is a nice upgrade from the previous tofu and broth selection.

    My only gripe is that they have an amazing dessert selection but there's nothing vegan. I was able to get an espresso with my dessert credit, but it took a bit of convincing the cashier to do it.

    I'd say it's a 7, which is pretty good for a Quick Service meal--and if you feel like I'm giving a lot of high ratings thus far, it's probably because we're starting with places we've dined at before and already knew they were good. :)
     
  9. DaymanX

    DaymanX Mouseketeer

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    We were originally going to eat at 1900 Park Fare with Chef TJ at the Grand Floridian next Tuesday. However, I stopped by today to make sure Chef TJ would be working then, and I found out he was leaving on vacation *this Sunday.* I frantically made a dining reservation for this evening, because we were sad at the thought of not experiencing his cooking this trip. We showed up early and were seated right away--we even successfully skipped getting a photo in front of the painted castle at the beginning!

    Chef TJ had a few other allergy tables to deal with, but he came out smiling and we mentioned how much we loved our meal last year and how we rushed to get in tonight once we learned he was leaving on vacation soon.

    He walked us through the buffet and told us to get something to hold us over if need be, but he'd take care of us. As I'm sure many of you know, he is such a nice guy and very funny!

    One thing to note: the 1900 Park Fare buffet has improved for vegans as it is. There is now a build your own pasta station, a few salads, vegetables, vegan bread, and a few other options. If you ever eat here and Chef TJ has the night off, chances are you will do alright--in fact, we may come back later in our trip to sample some of it. Hopefully TJ will keep doing his custom meals though, because I rarely have seen other chefs on Disney property take such pride and joy in trying to impress you.

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    The first dish was a selection of house made chips with a fresh guacamole containing sweet onions and lightly drizzled with sriracha. We ate this very quickly.

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    Up next was grilled romaine with a delicious balsamic glaze, some red pepper sauce, purple potatoes, and caramel corn--yes popcorn--sprinkled on top of it. This was incredible--he did something similar for us last year, and I asked my wife, "why haven't we been grilling romaine this entire past year?"

    A woman at the table across from us came up and asked us where we got that, and we had to explain that it was made custom for us because we are vegan. She looked quite jealous. :)

    The sauce on the romaine was so good that I went and got bread to mop up what was left on the plate. Chef TJ came back as I was finishing up that way and seemed both impressed and amused that I liked it so much.

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    After that was a plate full of spring rolls. They were smaller than the kind he made us last year, but there were more of them. Very good!

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    This was followed by a palette-cleanser of sorbet with cranberries and vegan cheddar.

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    The main course was a mix of deep fried tofu and vegetables with tempura asparagus and crispy rice noodles on top. I purposefully took the above photo with the drinks in the picture for scale, because the platter was HUGE and spanned the entire length of our table. We were getting full, but powering through eating this wasn't much of a challenge. It was so incredibly good!

    When this was brought out, that same woman looked even more envious and the Fairy Godmother character came by our table and almost broke character admiring the dish. I gave her a save and said that Chef TJ is working with magic in the kitchen. She agreed and even called her handler over to admire the dish!

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    Finally, TJ brought us out two dessert towers. One chocolate and one with sorbet, both stacked with fresh fruit and a pineapple base. The chocolate one even had halved Tofutti Cuties in the tower.

    We chatted with TJ for a few minutes and thanked him profusely for the amazing meal. We also wished him a great vacation--he's going on a Disney Cruise. We said that we'd see him next year and shook his hand. I even asked if I could get a photo with him an he happily obliged. He is so incredibly nice!

    Anyhow, do I even need to give this a rating? TJ sets the standard. He is a perfect 10 in my book and both last year's meal and this one rank among the best I've *ever* had anywhere (and I've had a lot of meals). It's also amazing to me that we got this meal covered under 1 table service credit each on the dining plan. Where we'e from, an upscale multi-course meal like this would easily cost $100 per person, so yeah, this was an incredible value as part of the dining plan (even more so since we got free dining this trip).

    If you're at Disney and are a vegetarian or vegan, need something gluten-free, or just want an amazing meal, dining with Chef TJ should be your top dining must-do!

    PS. I feel like we should start a Facebook fan page for Chef TJ or something to show our appreciation. Also, a centralized way to know if he moves restaurants again or when he's away would probably be a great additional resource to have.
     
  10. DaymanX

    DaymanX Mouseketeer

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    Today we started with lunch at Le Cellier inside EPCOT's Canada Pavillion.

    I've read for years how hard it was to get a reservation at Le Cellier, and checking just over 24 hours out I was able to find two times available for lunch (when it's only 1 Table Service credit, at least until 2013).

    I loved the interior of the restaurant, and my wife enjoyed her non-vegan dish (salmon). However, I was disappointed that the potato gnocchi on the menu couldn't be made vegan and the quinoa cakes from the dinner weren't even offered as an option.

    Instead my server talked with the chef who offered to make a vegan Apple Risotto for me.

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    It tasted good, though a bit sweet, but the portion size was generous. However, to me risotto is a side dish and not a full meal.

    While waiting, I was also sad when told that none of the three breads brought to our table were vegan.

    Dessert was a nice surprise though. The apple-pumpkin sorbet and pumpkin peanut brittle were vegan. The sorbet was a bit grainy, but tasty.

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    I'm sad to say that for a vegan, Le Cellier rates a 4. You could get by if you were accompanying someone else who wanted to a fancy meal, but you wouldn't get the wow factor associated with the restaurant's reputation. It wasn't bad by any means, and it certainly was accommodating, but I defintiely expected more.
     
  11. DaymanX

    DaymanX Mouseketeer

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    We tried to go to Pizza Planet at Disney's Hollywood Studios for a bite this afternoon, but we talked to the manager who told us they no longer have a dairy-free pizza option.

    I think she *may* have been wrong, but she said that the Amy's crust had dairy in it and they had some other crust with egg in it. Strangely, she did say that they had soy cheese though that they could add to one of these crusts.

    If anyone else has luck or knows what to order there that is vegan, please let me know, but this was a weird and confusing five minute conversation that left me frustrated.

    Note: The manager did offer to make me a salad to make me a meatball sub, hold the cheese. Then, when I explained to her what being a vegan meant, she did offer to make me a salad.
     
  12. DaymanX

    DaymanX Mouseketeer

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    After striking out at Pizza Planet, we went to Backlot Express at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

    I ordered the veggie sandwich, minus the cheese, and on the whole wheat cibatta roll (instead of the asiago roll it normally comes on). The cashier was quite helpful and nice, and we were able to do the whole transaction without involving a manager or the allergy binder. There was no vegan dessert.

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    The bread was dull and flat tasting, and the vegetable mix of mushrooms, watercress, red pepper, and tomato was kind of bland and lacking in flavor. There was no sauce on it, and there were no interesting additional toppings to add (just standard condiments, no topping bar).

    I'd give this meal option a vegan rating of a 2--and that's mostly because there were french fries involved. Still, there are much better Quick Service options, though there seem to be few places to choose from at DHS.
     
  13. DaymanX

    DaymanX Mouseketeer

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    After dinner, we went to try the newly available Frozen Kirin draft beer at EPCOT's Japan Pavillion.

    Basically it's a Kirin Ichiban beer with an ice cream-like frozen beer topping to keep it cool.

    According to this article, it's available at the Kabuki Cafe and Tokyo Dining, but I got mine at the little drink stand across from the main store.

    What is really cool though is that EPCOT is the only place to get this variety of frozen beer in the continental United States. The attendant said it is already quite popular (due to the buzz about it online).

    A quick Barnivore search showed that Kirin beers are vegan, so I was really excited to try this.

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    The topping tasted like frozen foam, and I think I would have really enjoyed having more of that. I like pale beers, and it was my first time having a Kirin (or any Japanese beer for that matter). It actually tasted comparable to most US-made pale beers I've tried before.

    I'm sure some beer afficianados might have stronger opinons about this, but if you're looking for something different and fun in an alcoholic beverage, I think it's worth spending $8 on to try it.
     
  14. DaymanX

    DaymanX Mouseketeer

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    For a late-night meal, we finally tried Tangerine Cafe at EPCOT's Morocco Pavillion.

    I was torn between ordering a vegan version of the vegetarian platter or a falafel wrap, and went with the latter (minus the yogurt sauce with dairy in it). I also got a side of hot sauce.

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    The falafel patties tasted baked (not fried) and like they'd been out for awhile (they had a really big tray of them). The pita bread was good, and the lettuce was crisp. The hot sauce was tasty, but wasn't really hot at all.

    I don't want to go off on a falafel rant here, but maybe I'm spoiled having repeatedly been to Falafel's Drive In San Jose, CA--a place widely regarded as being one of the best falafel stands in the United States (and featured on a few Food Network shows like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives). But here's what I've noticed: places with falafel balls are the best, because they're usually deep fried; if a restaurant uses patties, they're usually baked and not as good or crispy--that was definitely the case here.

    Anyhow, the falafel wrap itself was just alright but not super satisfying--for comparison, I recall that the falafel wrap at Animal Kingdom Lodge's Quick-Service restaurant Mara was better when I had it last year.

    However, the sides it came with at the Tangerine Cafe were really good and definitely made the meal for me. The lentils tasted great and the couscous had cinnamon and raisins in it. The staff wasn't all that helpful, so I just assumed that the baklava wasn't vegan and let my wife have mine.

    I've seen positive reviews of the vegetarian platter here, so maybe I'll try that next time. But as it stands, I give the falafel wrap plate a vegan 6 rating.

    Tangerine Cafe is worth trying if you want to spend a Quick Service credit at someplace other than Sunshine Seasons or you already used up all your snack credits at the Terra Booth. :)
     
  15. cavepig

    cavepig DIS Veteran

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    We just ate Tusker House the other day for lunch and I was very worried the food would be overly spiced (like curry spiced or wierd spices) and lo and behold I LOVED IT because the food wasn't overly wierd spiced.

    I didn't like some mango chutney or a tofu dish - both tasted wierdly spiced.

    The chef said only the yellow rice dish wasn't safe for vegetarian because of chicken broth.

    Tons of veggie options - It was soooooo good! I highly recommend!!!!
     
  16. DaymanX

    DaymanX Mouseketeer

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    Haha. Those spices aren't considered weird in most of the world! Curry is yummy and I love both that tofu dish and the mango chutney.

    But yes, any restaurants with an African or Indian influence might be a bit too adventurous for some eaters with less exotic tastes. :)
     
  17. DaymanX

    DaymanX Mouseketeer

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    After reading about it on the "Special Dietary Needs Vegan Tip of the Month" post, we went way out of our way today to visit the Roaring Fork at the Wilderness Lodge to try the Mediterranean Quinoa Wrap.

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    My guess is that the author ate these back when they made them fresh, but they don't anymore. They weren't even on the posted menu, and were instead tucked away in the cold packaged foods sections (though the date on the package did show that it was made today).

    I had expected what had been described as "the best vegan quick service entree on property," and instead got cold, mushy quinoa in a bland, dampened wrap.

    I didn't even finish it--that's how disappointing it was. I also wonder if the author has tried many other vegan quick service options on Disney property, because even fresh, I can't imagine this beating out Sunshine Seasons or the falafel at Mara.

    I give this a 2, and unless they go back to making them fresh, I think you can skip trying it.
     
  18. DaymanX

    DaymanX Mouseketeer

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    After striking out last year and arriving when they were closed, today I *finally* got to sample Babycakes at Downtown Disney.

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    I got a cookie crumble donut and a french toastee cupcake. They were both really good, though not quite the best I've ever had in either category; Whole Foods back home has amazing vegan doughnuts and my wife makes recipes from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World"). The portion sizes were also a bit small, but I do, intend to use most of my remaining snack credits there.

    Still, for vegan desserts on property, I reckon that Babycakes can't beat. They also have a very large selection and I really liked what I got today. For that reason I give it a 10.

    Babycakes at Downtown Disney is a definite vegan "Must-Do!"
     
  19. nancy drew

    nancy drew DIS Veteran

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    Is Babycakes also gluten-free?
     
  20. princessallegra

    princessallegra They call me Mrs. Disney

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    Yup! They also some some spelt options which aren't. But most of their products are gf/df/ef. And they use agave to sweeten.
     
  21. cavepig

    cavepig DIS Veteran

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    I didn't know how else to phrase it, but I know they aren't really wierd, just not my thing....that's why I was very happy with the food.
     

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