Greetings! I hope a delectable weekend was had by all, and your week of classes (college students out there) or work (the sad working folk…jk) starts splendidly.
I just returned earlier this evening from an extended weekend trip to the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area to firstly, drop off my brother for his freshman year of college, and secondly, to visit my good friend Melanie, a native to the area.
Melanie and I have been attempting to coordinate for what seems like the entire summer for my visit to her neck of the woods. Being the overachiever that she is, she had our weekend planned to a tee. She had been researching all the best vegan spots in the area all along to ensure I had the best vegan-fied Virginia Beach experience. Everyone I would excitedly tell about my planned VB trip and the vegan adventures it would probably entail would naturally ask if Melanie was vegan too. My response: Nope. She’s just a really good friend that cares a lot. 🙂 These are the type of people you want to keep around, folks.
My family and I left Thursday morning for Norfolk and headed straight to my brother’s university.
We moved him in Thursday evening, finished settling him in Friday during the day, and I met up with Melanie Friday night for dinner and the start of our V(egan)B weekend together.
Friday night’s dinner was at Luna Maya, an AMAZING very vegan friendly Mexican restaurant in Norfolk right off Colley Ave., the street of restaurants.
Yes, Mexican restaurants are usually pretty easy to order a vegan meal, but this place sets itself above the rest. It offered vegan quesadillas, multiple vegan burritos, vegan enchiladas, etc. We ended up ordering their chips, guac and mojitos to start, as we heard rave reviews on both. After a highly difficult decision, I chose the vegan enchiladas as my entree. Everything was to die for (but cruelty free of course!). Luna Maya is hands down one of the best Mexican restaurants I have ever been to, and that’s saying a lot coming from this Mexican lover.
The next amazing meal of my trip was Saturday’s breakfast, spread out through out the morning. Our first stop was Bad Ass Coffee, a Hawaiian themed coffee shop right next to the Old Beach Farmer’s Market, a favorite of Melanie’s and equipped with vegan, gluten-free, and paleo goodies galore. I ended up getting an almond milk iced latte. Amazing.
We then made our way over to the farmer’s market, and discovered My Vegan Sweet Tooth. This is an all vegan bakery that began online by two sisters local to the area. My Vegan Sweet Tooth has everything from cookies to cakes to donuts to sweet breads and any other bakery good you could imagine. They have recently expanded to a store front, but are still consistent farmers market vendors. Although I’m usually not one to be about high fat, high sugar foods, Melanie highly encouraged I splurge on this treat weekend. I picked up some of their Apple Cider Donut Holes, and they were highly enjoyed by myself and all who I shared with.
One of the sisters, Renee, manning the booth was extremely helpful as we asked for suggestions on other vegan places in the area to go, perhaps even for dinner that night. She gave us an array of options, and ones that Melanie somehow didn’t even seem to catch on the internet during her time of intense researching. It’s undoubtedly refreshing to meet other vegans. It just makes my heart happy.
Next on our morning breakfast time venture, we headed to Zekes Beans & Bowls.
This place is a local favorite, known for their acai bowls. Melanie is well aware of my obsession with smoothie bowls, and how they serve as my latest and greatest breakfast staple, so she figured this spot was ideal. She was very right. We both got the PB&J bowl fixed with whatever toppings we liked. The base is acai, banana and soy milk, and my toppings consisted of coconut, almonds, and granola. Melanie also added strawberry and banana.
After our tummies were stuffed with deliciousness, our next venture of the day was the beach! We crossed the street from Melanie’s big girl apartment complex to Chick’s Beach, a rather low-key, local beach area. It was a bit overcast, but we still enjoyed our time in the sun, sand and waves. It’s so crazy to me still that this is Melanie’s normal. I always associate beach with vacation, but I love the switch up of lifestyle there. The way of living is a lot more laid-back, slower-paced and seemingly overall happier. The D.C. area peeps could take some pointers from the Virginia Beach residents.
Next on the agenda was Saturday evening dinner. After taking into consideration Renee’s vegan suggestions, we headed to Yard House. YH is apparently a chain, and may even be in the Northern VA area (have not met with my good friend Google quite yet). Regardless, it was fabulous! We were drawn to this place because of their Gardein menu.
Like I’ved mentioned on many occasions, I’m not really one to base my diet around processed faux or high fat vegan foods in general, as health is my #1 priority. BUT every once in a while I think its okay to splurge and try something new. I had never actually had vegan chicken before, so this was my chance! Melanie and I split vegan firecracker chicken wings. Is she not the best? I then ordered a vegan chicken rice bowl for my entree. SO much food.
I haven’t had actual chicken/any meat in over two years, so to me, this tasted pretty darn close. Melanie agreed it was very tasty. Gardein chicken is definitely not something I plan on adding to my diet, but I’m happy I got the chance to try it. It’s so fun to experiment with all the vegan foods out there. There really is a vegan parallel to any non-vegan food. There’s no saying it’s good for you, but definitely a lesser evil than the animal-based version.
Our last vegan foodie stop of the trip was Sunday morning’s breakfast. This is the meal I had been anticipating the most all weekend — Yorgo’s Bageldashery.
This Norfolk based New York style bagelry is well-known for their abundant vegan options. There were vegan breakfast sandwiches, all other vegan sandwiches, daiya cheeses, non-dairy milks and vegan baked goods galore. After another painstakingly difficult decision, I decided on The Peterman breakfast sandwich.
Wow. Never would I have thought I would be eating a breakfast item so closely resembling non-vegan breakfast staples of my past with such impeccable flavor and consistency. I enjoyed it with a delicious soy latte. I was a VERY happy camper.
After our breakfast, Melanie and I met up with my parents, who had been staying in a hotel in Virginia Beach as a little mini vacation. Before my parents and I (minus the little bro…tear, tear) began our trek back to Northern VA, I had to take them back to Zekes! My mom and I got acai bowls and my dad got their famous watermelon juice and a greek pita sandwich.
All were left quite satisfied. Thank goodness too, because our road trip back was much less fulfilling. Our 3.5 hour trip turned into a 7 hour adventure. Thank you 64 and 95 traffic!
All in all, this weekend was totally vegan-mazing. Big shout out to my fabulous friend Melanie, the self acclaimed Vegan Whisperer ;). She says she “did it for the blog post,” but I think that secretly that big heart of hers wants to go vegan. Only time will tell (mwahaha?)!
Chow for now.