Vegan food is fast on the rise in the Twin Cities. For what was once an issue for many, the rise in availability of quality vegan meat substitutes and the willingness of chefs to help take the “farm-to-table/sustainable dining” concept to its natural conclusion has lead to a substantial increase in meat-free dining options all across the Twin Cities allowing vegan diners more options than maybe they’ve ever had.
At St. Paul’s, Tongue in Cheek, vegan cuisine has been something they’ve been dabbling in for a while, but they’ve recently announced their intentions to up their game. Chef Leonard Anderson plans on adding 4 vegan small plate options to their menu in an effort to help draw in more vegan diners. These small plates are designed to help add emphasis to their rotating vegan entrees, which they’ve implemented over the course of the past year. To the folks at Tongue in Cheek, this is a logical extension of their commitment to sourcing humanely raised, sustainable products.
“Vegan dishes are a natural extension of our dedication to humane farming,” said Ryan Huseby, general manager and co-owner, “more diners are choosing a plant-based diet and we want to provide a place where herbivores and omnivores can enjoy a fun, unique, and delicious meal together and everyone can still feel good that even the meat dishes were responsibly sourced.”
While Tongue in Cheek may be embracing vegans, they certainly aren’t alone in their pursuit here in the Twin Cities. One of the major contributing factors to the increase in vegan offerings stems back to last years opening of the Herbivorous Butcher, the first full-fledged vegan butcher shop in the United States and just so happens to be located in Northeast Minneapolis. Since they’ve opened their doors, they’ve been helping to supply Twin Cities restaurants with a variety of vegan based meat and cheese alternatives in order to help satisfy their vegan guests.
While Tongue in Cheek sometimes uses Herbivorous Butcher made products for their vegan menu items, J. Selby’s has recently made huge internet waves with their interpretation of a classic Big Mac, which makes use of vegan “beaf” patties and cheese made by the folks at HB.
J. Selby’s is an entirely “plant-based eatery” which opened to much fan fair in St. Paul this past spring. Initial demand was so high, they had to temporarily shut down the restaurant after opening in order to reassess their process and hire more staff just to keep up. Many of their other menu items also revolve around products from the Herbivorous Butcher.
Other restaurants have also embraced HB products in interesting ways. Northeast Minneapolis’, Pizza Nea, has fully embraced the vegan products for their menus and allow for a variety of substitutions at a slight upcharge. Other restaurants who have taken to serving products made from HB include Red Stagg Supper Club, French Meadow Cafe, Aster Cafe, and the Howe Daily Kitchen & Bar.
Genuine demand for vegan items on menus is clearly on the rise and Twin Cities restaurants are stepping up to “meat” the challenge. What was once something that was difficult to get in restaurants without having to ask for off menu items, it’s now becoming something proudly listed on menus across the Twin Cities and many diners couldn’t be happier.