Column: Pensacola offers vegan variety

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Column: Pensacola offers vegan variety

by Holly MacNaughton

How do you know if someone is a vegan?

They tell you.

So, I’ll tell you. I’m a vegan.

I haven’t always been a vegan, and sometimes I do miss a good ‘ol juicy steak. Most of the time, we vegans are completely at ease with our food intake choices and we can have willpower when faced with choosing between a plate of momma’s succulent fried chicken and baked tofu with roasted vegetable lettuce wraps.

I choose the lettuce wraps every time.

My choices get a little more difficult when faced with the challenges of ordering off a menu at a restaurant. I love to eat out with my friends and family. As you can imagine, being a vegan makes my restaurant destination choices somewhat more challenging.

Not to mention, I don’t want to be the “one” who dictates where we eat because of my self-induced dietary needs. Within my quest to become a better vegan, comes a similar but probably a much more arduous quest to search for local cuisine that satisfies my biological necessities of squelching hunger, but also finds a satiation of taste when dining out.

As a tourist destination, Pensacola has some great places to eat out, even for those who choose vegan.

End of the Line's Olive Tapenade on a warm toasted baguette topped with roasted red peppers, garlic and melted vegan cashew based mozzarella and Parmesan cheese with a bowl of Black Eyed Pea vegetable soup. Photo by Holly MacNaughton
End of the Line’s Olive Tapenade on a warm toasted baguette topped with roasted red peppers, garlic and melted vegan cashew based mozzarella and Parmesan cheese with a bowl of Black Eyed Pea vegetable soup. Photo by Holly MacNaughton

Enter the small but fierce restaurant, End of the Line Café, located at 610 East Wright St. Owner Jen Knight has operated End of the Line Café for nearly eleven years. The café has an extensive menu with wallet-friendly prices. Everything on the menu is priced between $2.00 and $8.00. Not bad for a penny-pinching, wallet-watcher like me.

The atmosphere is cool, too. I enjoy hanging out with my friends over lunch, grabbing a quick appetizer with a latte, or cozying up at one of their tables to study. I’ve seen a great deal of business meetings conducted at the End of the Line Café as well. This place is perfect for everyone.

So, what about the food? The very first time I went to End of the Line Café I ordered the Olive Tapenade on a warm toasted baguette topped with roasted red peppers, garlic and melted vegan cashew based mozzarella and Parmesan cheese with a bowl of Black Eyed Pea vegetable soup, and washed it all down with a creamy Chai Tea Latte.

Instantly, I became a fan for life!

Don’t forget to ask about their homemade vegan soy free cheeses. They are simply delicious.

It’s not entirely about being a vegan. You don’t need to actually be a vegan to enjoy a vegan restaurant. According to Knight, End of the Line Café is all about the cuisine.

“Think of it as not so much as health food but as a different cuisine. What I always tell people is sometimes you’re going to go out for pizza, sometimes you may go out for Mexican food, and sometimes you can just go out for vegan food,” Knight said.

Another option for vegetarian and vegan cuisine is Sluggo’s.

Sluggo's Lentil Patti Melt Burger. Photo by Holly MacNaughton.
Sluggo’s Lentil Patti Melt Burger. Photo by Holly MacNaughton.

Sluggo’s opened its doors in 1990 at 101 South Jefferson St. They boast an eclectic menu featuring a Grilled Black Bean Burrito, a Lentil Patti Melt Burger (my favorite), or a Panhandle Tofu, which is nori wrapped and grilled with soy remoulade served with cheesy grits, cole slaw, salad and cornbread.

Sluggo’s has a relaxed and inviting atmosphere, cool music, and a friendly staff slinging you pleasing drinks and yummy grub.

I enjoy a good lunch at Sluggo’s once in a while, and I can’t wait to enjoy that Lentil Patti Melt or Zucchini Cakes with a nice cold dark cherry soda, but Sluggo’s also boasts a fun night life. Go for the food, but stay for the company and certainly the drinks.

Whatever types of foods you’re into, vegan cuisine is definitely worth a try.

So, forks up, and don’t hesitate to put a little vegan in your life.

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