A Professional Vegan's Guide to Las Vegas
The City of Lights is home to a thriving vegan community and an array of delicious, plant-based eats.
To celebrate VegNews naming the Top 10 Best Vegan Cities in America (found in our May+June 2017 issue), we asked our favorite vegans to explain why their winning town should be atop every meat-free traveler’s list.
Las Vegas may have earned its “Sin City” nickname, but that isn’t the only defining factor of this desert oasis—there is a blossoming community in this dusty valley that is filled with compassion. Over the past two decades, the vegan scene in Las Vegas has slowly grown from the progressive Go Raw Cafe (rest in peace, we miss you), to just shy of a dozen vegan restaurants and literally hundreds with vegan options. For a desert town that can be seen in its 135.9 square-mile-entirety from atop The Stratosphere, that’s not too shabby. The best news? Our vegan dining world continues to thrive and grow larger all the time. So, get ready to book those tickets to Vegas and commence eating all the vegan food.
Top 3 vegan eateries …
1. VegeNation: Offering vegan street food from around the world—GMO-free, mostly organic, and locally sourced—VegeNation offers a wildly diverse menu that will please any palate. Conveniently located downtown and open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus weekend brunch (hello, Chicken and Waffle Pop-Up special), every trip to VegNation is filled with fantastic eats like their drool-worthy chicken pot pie gnocchi. Not only that, but the restaurant regularly hosts workshops such as how to come up with “damn good ideas” or how to do your part to save the world. Vegan and environmentally-conscious? Yes please!
2. Go Vegan Cafe: This off-strip casual spot is all about the food—with an all-day breakfast that boasts pancakes, fruit-covered waffles, and tofu scrambles, as well as gluten-free muffins. They also offer an entirely raw menu, plus a variety of veggie burgers, sandwiches, pizza, and even a large Mexican menu, making a spot you definitely don’t want to miss.
3. Violette’s Vegan: Also located just off the strip, Violette’s Vegan serves up a mix of comfort food and healthier fare, and even has a juice bar complete with wellness shots. This artsy, colorful eatery recreates favorite omni dishes like Beef and Broccoli, Mac and Cheese, Nachos, Buffalo Wings, and more, so it’s the perfect spot to bring non-veg friends who want to try something new. Don’t miss out on the Sassy Wings or the fresh homemade donuts.
Top 3 non-vegan restaurants with vegan options …
1. Panevino Italian Grille: The view of The Strip at Panevino is the second reason to head here. The first? The massive plant-based menu created by general manager and plant-based nutrition expert Vincenzo Granata, which features plenty of gluten-free and oil-free options to fit all dietary preferences. This spot is traditional fine dining, so be prepared to pay Strip prices, but also be prepared to relish in the delicious entrees, like the organic pesto and mushroom risotto or Vincenzo’s gluten-free organic quinoa shells in a creamy mushroom sauce.
2. The Pizza Company: This tiny pizza joint located across from the McCarran International Airport is a vegan favorite. While finding vegan pizza in town isn’t too hard, thanks to the many fast-casual pizza chains that offer Daiya as an option, the locally-owned Pizza Company takes it a step farther. We’re talking soft and chewy garlic knots with homemade non-dairy ranch dressing, strombolis, homemade tiramisu, and of course, pizza. They’ve got Daiya, but also offer a delicious homemade ricotta to top off their pies.
3. Any restaurant at Wynn or Encore: It’s impossible to narrow down a favorite vegan-friendly restaurant at Wynn or Encore because they all have fantastic vegan options. It’s a requirement to offer veg options courtesy of owner Steve Wynn, and brought to life by renowned vegan chef Tal Ronnen. From a steakhouse to Asian restaurant, any spot at these two Strip hotels is worth a visit. If you’re not a fan of Gardein, head to Jardin at Encore for whole food options that don’t exist at the other restaurants on the property.
Favorite vegan item in Las Vegas ...
I’ve had a lot of veggie burgers in my day, but the best one I’ve ever had—anywhere in the world—is at Panacea. The Ultimate Burger is filled with plant goodness—buckwheat, lentils, and farro, with a crunchy quinoa crust. The burger consists of a double patty sandwiched between mustard- and ketchup-slathered buns and melted cheese, making it (by far) my favorite vegan item in town.
Ultimate vegan meal ...
Obviously, my ultimate vegan meal includes The Ultimate Burger at Panacea, but it would start with vegan gyoza at Blue Sea Sushi and Izkaya, a half portion of the Live Forever Salad—Alenik Style—from The Pasta Shop Ristorante and Art Gallery, and then move over to the The Ultimate Burger. Finally it would wrap up with either the Hostess Cupcake at Panacea (filled with rich cacao) or a cinnamon roll from the all-vegan Cinnaholic loaded with icing and toppings.
First-stop for a visiting vegan friend ...
When a friend is visiting, we head downtown to VegeNation, preferably early Sunday afternoon for brunch in order to catch live music, two-for-one Bloody Marys, and vegan chicken and waffles—likely followed by a brownie sundae.
Top three vegan desserts ...
1. Panacea: The Hostess Cupcake recreation is oh-so-perfect and nearly all of their desserts feature a superfood. Plus, they’ve got dessert specials like the lemon tart I am obsessed with, topped with berries and edible flowers.
2. Ronald’s Donuts: This Chinatown spot offers two entire rows of vegan donuts, from glazed to soy-cream filled. If you’re looking for a fried dough fix, this is your spot … but you’ll have to bring cash; they don’t accept cards.
3. Vegan Bites Bakery: We’ve got barely any brick-and-mortar bakeries in town, so getting desserts isn’t always instant gratification. Thankfully, Vegan Bites is here to serve up cupcakes, brownies, cakes, and more sugary sweetness. Bonus: it’s all organic.
Favorite non-food activity ...
Everyone always asks me what there is to do if I don’t like spending time on The Strip (spoiler alert: unless locals work there or are eating there, we don’t hang there). Las Vegas is so much more than the resorts and I love to show people all of the beauty which surrounds our town in the form of day trips from Las Vegas. My favorite non-food activity is to go out and explore the nature surrounding us, like hiking in Red Rock or Mt. Charleston, or simply to go on a drive out into the desert.
Vegan king and/or queen of Las Vegas ...
There are so many people in this town doing amazing, incredible things for the vegan community. There’s Chef Stacey Dougan of Simply Pure (an all-vegan restaurant) who helped put Vegas’ vegan dining scene on the map when Bill Clinton stopped by for a bite to eat and their photo went viral. Chef Donald Lemperle from VegeNation and his creative director Kelly Bennett created a vibrant downtown restaurant that brings together the community. Carrie LeBlanc, founder of Compassion Works International works double-time also running Vegas VegFest. Ina Mohan organizes the annual Health, Healing, and Happiness conference that brings in renowned speakers and educates people on the health benefits of going plant-based; and so many more. The vegan community is thriving in Las Vegas.
One amazing vegan thing in Las Vegas every city should have ...
The Ultimate Burger from Panacea. C’mon … it’s seriously that good.
Diana Edelman is the vegan behind Vegans, Baby, Las Vegas’ online guide to vegan dining and life in Las Vegas. She is also a freelance writer and vegan dining columnist for Vegas Seven and works with restaurants to help them reach their vegan potential via events, social media, branding, and more.
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