Vegan Munching in Miami

Being a vegan, the availability or scarcity of plant based food when I’m travelling can make quite a big difference to my experience of the trip. Thankfully, it isn’t too difficult to find vegan food in Miami.

I did a lot of research before I went, mainly using the app HappyCow which shows vegan restaurants at whatever location you type in, and I had noted that a lot of vegan places in Miami seemed to be a bit fancy and/or expensive and/or focusing on salads and green smoothies instead of the more filling and carbohydrate-y types of things I like to buy from a food outlet.

I was staying in a Latino neighbourhood, so if you find yourself in one of these and it doesn’t seem to have any restaurants that aren’t Cuban/Dominican/Honduran etc., have no fear, you can still eat something. In my experience, they are unlikely to understand what vegan means, so it’s best to just ask for salad (ensalada), rice (arroz),  squashed and fried plantains (tostones) and refried beans (frijoles). It will look something like this:

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Personally I would only really buy it if I had no other choice, as it’s not particularly exciting, but at least you get to sit in a legit local spot to eat it, your money is going to a small business, and there’s probably some nice hot sauce on the table to make it more exciting.

If you’re staying somewhere that doesn’t have a proper kitchen but has a microwave, it’s good to note that you can buy pouches of refried beans in the supermarkets and put them in the microwave. Cheap vegan protein!

I can’t wait any longer to mention my new favourite takeaway ever: Della Bowls. This is a build-your-own-bowl place operating out of a storage container in Wynwood Yard. You order at the counter and it has seating available if you want to eat there. You can pick one thing from each column on the menu shown below, or for $1.50 more you can pick a combination of two from each column instead (I did this).

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The reasons why Della Bowls became my Miami obsession (I literally ate there about 7 times in a week) is because 1) everything has so much flavour, especially the sauces, 2) you actually feel full after it for quite a long time, 3) there is so much choice on the menu and 4) it’s so healthy so you don’t feel bad for eating it at all. I can’t actually remember what this combination was, but here is my first ever Della Bowl. Look at that pesto!

della

A bonus about Della Bowls is that they sell ice lollies (“popsicles” as they call them there) made from nut milk and fruit etc., with no added sugar, meaning that for once in my life, I could actually buy one (I don’t eat sugar so this is normally an issue). Here I am living my best life at Wynwood Yard with my ice lolly:

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Another place I would like to mention is Naomi’s on the outskirts of Little Haiti. I found this by trawling the Instagram hashtags for #miamivegan and similar things. It’s a local Haitian restaurant on a street corner in a part of town that may be considered slightly unsafe or slightly “hood” by some people (but don’t let this put you off).  This is it from the outside:

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It isn’t a vegan restaurant at all, but as you can see from the menu below, there are (surprisingly) some labelled vegan main courses. To order, you go to the window that has the food on the other side, out in big metal containers, and you basically shout and point at what you want. The woman who served me was an old Haitian lady, and I don’t think my pronunciation was quite good enough for her, as some Haitian people who were waiting to order had to help us out with the communication. (Obviously this is all part of the experience though). This is the menu…

naomi

Once you’ve managed to communicate what you want, you go to the next window and pay through the bars. These prices are very good for Miami, by the way. They give you the food in a styrofoam container (sorry Mother Nature) and then you could either take it home or go into their garden which is accessed through the door on the same street near the paying window.

It’s actually a huge garden with loads of wooden tables and chairs and some cool decorations, and even some papaya trees growing. When I was there, they were in the process of building what looked like a stage, presumably so they could put on music events and things there. I think it’s going to become more popular once it’s finished.

Anyway, this was my food. I got rice & peas, legume (TELL THEM YOU WANT THE VEGAN LEGUME BECAUSE THERE IS ALSO A MEAT ONE!), pickelies (kind of like Haitian spicy slaw) and fried ripe plantain (“banan douce” if they don’t understand you). The portion was big enough to feed a small monster, but I did actually finish it all somehow. It was very tasty and the garden was a really chilled place to eat.

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Thanks to Instagram again, I ate at another legit local place called B&M Roti. I actually got there on the free ‘trolley’ but I’m not going to explain how, because it was a bit of a challenge. Feel free to email me if you need that information. Anyway, this little gem is actually just a Caribbean corner shop with a takeaway kitchen at the back and a few tables in the corner. This is it from the outside:

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To order, just walk to the back until you reach this menu next to the kitchen door, and the lady will come out and ask what you want:

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As you can see, most of the menu isn’t vegan. I had a veggie roti which actually had soya in it as well as veggies. I ate in the shop and it was interesting just people-watching, as quite a few people passed through to order lunch and chat to the owners. There was also a resident cat and a few Bob Marley pictures on the walls.

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The roti was decent (not the best one I’ve had in my life or anything) but it was definitely worth it just for the interesting experience.

There isn’t anywhere else that I thought deserved a special mention, but there are loads of fully vegan places in Wynwood, and you can also eat vegan very easily and quite cheaply at Chipotle (I did this when I was in the mall).

A few vegan places I wanted to check out but didn’t have the time (so maybe you could look them up and go) include: Mana Life Food, Konata’s Restaurant, Vegan and Juice, The Happy Vegan Bakers, and Choices Cafe. Please leave a comment below if you go to any of them!

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