Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Best vegan restaurants in Bloomington

<p>A burger and nachos from The Owlery and an acai bowl from Soul + Juice are set out on display. </p>

A burger and nachos from The Owlery and an acai bowl from Soul + Juice are set out on display.

Eating vegan, vegetarian or gluten free diets can be stressful and hard work when living on your own. Luckily, here are three restaurants in Bloomington that can work for all three of those diets. 

The Owlery

The only all-vegetarian establishment in Bloomington, The Owlery has been selling southern comfort food since 2011, according to manager Mitch Duncan. This restaurant specializes in vegetarian comfort food, vegan baked goods and craft beer from Indiana. 

The restaurant's name, The Owlery, was based on the owner's love for “Harry Potter” — the owlery being the place owls were housed in Hogwarts. 

When going to The Owlery, I tried the vegan chips and queso as an appetizer that was also heavily recommended on Yelp, and the chicken sandwich and the jerk tofu tacos as entrees. The sandwich and taco both came with a side. I picked both the sweet potato and regular fries. 

The chips and queso were very delicious. The flavor hints at chipotle, which I believe added to the overall taste, which vegan cheese alternatives need. The dip was also topped with scallions, adding a nice crunch mixed with the silky texture, which I think was a nice combination. 

My favorite dish I tried was the jerk tofu chicken tacos. It was sweet and spicy with apple slaw and a creamy cayenne-lime sauce all on a corn tortilla. The chicken sandwich was, to my surprise, a great imitation of a regular chicken sandwich. 

This sandwich was nothing compared to Chick-Fil-A, but a great option for people with vegan or vegetarian diets. Although the chicken itself did not have much flavor, the dish comes with different sauces to add on. I just added ketchup. Having another condiment on top added the flavor it needed. 

Soul + Juice

“Respect. Sustainability. Authenticity.” are the core values of the establishment Soul + Juice, which follows Dr. Sebi’s teachings in support of using a plant-based, alkaline diet. The restaurant uses spelt flour rather than all-purpose flour. Soul +Juice believes that it is difficult for the body to process unsprouted grains. This means the food is also gluten free. 

When going to Soul + Juice, I first noticed the beautiful environment with paintings on the walls and the trendy furniture arranged throughout. The staff was welcoming and very helpful for recommendations. I ordered the pumpkin waffles and Strawberry Sunrise bowl. 

The pumpkin waffles had a slightly strange flavor, but the pumpkin taste was there. They used agave sweetener rather than maple syrup and it was topped with pumpkin seeds, apples and cinnamon. The flavors had a nice balance and added great texture all together. However, I thought they were a bit excessive with the pumpkin seeds. 

The Strawberry Sunrise bowl was the star of the show. The flavors were beautiful together with the taste of strawberry and hint of orange. Inside the bowl was strawberries, banana, almond milk, coconut yogurt and orange juice. On top they added strawberries, bananas, raspberries, granola and cocoa nibs. The granola and cocoa nibs added a really good mix of textures contrasting with the smooth and creamy smoothie. 

Avers Pizza

With a whole other section on the menu for vegan pizzas, this pizzeria impressed me. While it did not have specific signature vegan pizzas, the whole menu was based on a build-your-own model that was quite impressive. It had three vegan sauces outside of a classic marinara: barbeque, cilantro pesto and buffalo. It also has 20 veggie topping options to add on the pizza not including the vegan cheese. 

It has breadsticks that are vegan as well and come with two vegan sauce options: tomato or cool garlic margarine. I ordered a pesto pizza with sun dried tomatoes, banana peppers and mushrooms. I also ordered a pizza with marinara sauce, spinach, green pepper and mushroom and topped both pizzas with vegan cheese. 

The pesto pizza was delicious with the toppings and the pesto added a hint of spice. The marinara sauce was also very tangy and savory and would be good with any topping. The vegan cheese was a bit mushy but besides the texture, the flavor was similar to real cheese. My recommendation would be to either go light on the cheese or maybe no cheese at all. 

Overall, the food from all of these places was delicious and I highly would recommend them for anyone with dietary restrictions. These restaurants are all very accommodating. 

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