Photos by Evie Carpenter
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When I hear the word “vegan” I immediately think of a diet limited to raw vegetables and bland food substitutes, but after eating at the sister restaurants Green and Nami, my opinion has made a 180-degree turn.
Located on 7th Street past McDowell Road, the eco-friendly Green and Nami stand side by side in two trendy refurbished houses. Green offers dinner options and Nami offers coffee and dessert.
Green is a bright, open-air space with walls made of vintage car doors and wood panels. I approached the circular counter and looked at the menu to see what I would find appetizing. Surprisingly, I found a variety of options on the menu from salads to flatbread pizza. Also, there was a gluten-free menu highlighting the items that could be suitable for those with gluten free needs.
My friend and I ordered artichoke gratine, orecciette pasta, the Mexicali burger and two drinks to share and it came out to be a little under $30 for the two of us.
After paying, I grabbed a number and waited for the friendly staff to bring out the food. The appetizer arrived in a few minutes. I expected a typical spinach and artichoke dip, but instead the appetizer looked more like chips and chowder. The chips, warm and salty, were great to scoop the creamy, seasoned artichoke dip. The taste of the two was oddly addicting. Then the entrees arrived and filled all the space at the little table. The Mexicali burger landed on one side and the pasta on the other. The burger patty was bright red and made of organic garbanzo beans. It was topped with hummus, vegan mayo and a spicy chipotle sauce. It tasted nothing like a traditional hamburger, but it was delicious in its own right. The flavors were bold, spicy and fresh combining together for a satisfying and filling vegan burger. The Mexicali came with a side of thyme fries and was my favorite part of the meal. The fries were not greasy but instead light with an herb seasoning.
The other entree was the orecciette pasta, earlobe pasta topped with homemade tomato sauce, fresh veggies and meatballs. The pasta with the sauce and vegetables was great, but the meatballs were a little dry and lacked flavor. And the dish had another interesting topping, a cheese-like substitute that looked like an egg white. It had a fluffy texture and was flavorless. It was a mystery why it was there on top of the pasta. There was plenty of food left to take home so my friend and I packed the carry-home boxes with everything but the cheese-like substitute.
I did not need to get dessert, but Nami was only 10 steps away. I walked into the quaint coffee shop with modern furniture and perused the chalkboard menu. The drink options were traditional coffee shop offerings like lattes or mochas with choices of soy, rice, coconut and hazelnut milk at no extra charge. My go-to drink is a chai latte and Nami made me one of the best I’ve ever had.
Now to the best part of the day: dessert with options like oatmeal cream pies, winkies (a twist on the Twinkie), cupcakes. These desserts are addictive in a way that may cause me to gain 10 pounds in a month. One of the most popular is a dessert called tSoynami, a soy ice cream mixed with an array of goodies. My friend ordered the cookies ‘n’ cream tSoynami that contains Newman’s chocolate O’s and organic chocolate. Then I ordered a MASH tSoynami, a mystery combination of baked goods. The tSoyonami maker did a great job on the mystery creation. She used white chocolate macadamia nut muffins, caramel sauce, strawberries and whipped cream. Swirls of sweet, creamy goodness with a touch of fruity tart strawberries. The last dessert was a chocolate strawberry mini cupcake. I could not tell the difference from a traditional cupcake. The cake was moist and the icing with its cute heart was a rich milk-chocolate flavor with a hint of strawberry. Nami is a great treat for anyone whether a vegan or not.
I would go back to Green and Nami to see what other vegan delights I could find.
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