Friday, October 2, 2009

Whoa Wren on the Road: Lawrence, Kansas

One of the greatest parts of being vegan is that traveling suddenly has more purpose. Trips are taken not only to explore new parts of the world, but also to expand one's dining repertoire. For vegans, Chicago means the Chicago Diner, Los Angeles means Real Food Daily and New York City means Candle 79. While these trips are a culinary delight, it is even more rewarding when travels to cities that aren't known for their vegan options result in culinary delights- trips such as the one I recently took to Lawrence, KS and Kansas City (coming soon).

After loving the Omaha Nightmare of You and Plushgun show so much that I had to see it again, I convinced my wonderful, patient friend Alaina to drive down to Lawrence with me so I could do just that. Fortunately, we were also able to experience a treasure trove of vegan food. Our first stop was actually unplanned. Alaina wanted coffee and I wanted food, so we popped into La Prima Tazza. Not only was Alaina able to get coffee with soy milk, I was able to get the best vegan zucchini muffin I've ever had in my life. The crumbly, sugary topping was a treat in itself.
Unfortunately for you, I neglected to take a picture until it was mostly demolished.

The Casbah Market was the first place we hit up that was actually on our food itinerary. The Casbah is a vegetarian grocery store that not only sells local produce and tofu, but also houses Nice Cafe. The Casbah also sold cookies from a local vegan, gluten-free bakery called Ancient Grains. We bought the double chocolate chip cookie and the oatmeal raisin. While the oatmeal raisin was tasty, the double chocolate chip made me want to go back and get more. Very chocolatey, with a hint of coconut.

After we made our grocery selections, we wandered to the back of the store and treated ourselves to kombucha and jerk tofu patties. Nice Cafe's patties are closer to empanadas or hand pies than the patties you are most likely imagining. This means they are easy to eat and ready to be smothered in the sauces provided. Patrick of Fourth of July was kind enough to guide us through making sure the patties were vegan and provided us with excellent service and a lead on a great band to check out. Alaina and I had a long debate about whether or not it would be feasible to take some frozen patties home to share with others, but we eventually decided with heavy hearts that the patties would most likely not survive and that we would have to return with full wallets and empty stomachs.

One place that I normally stop at but chose not to (due to being full of patties) is Local Burger. Local Burger is dedicated to serving local foods and happens to be the home of my all time favorite veggie burger. It's delicately fried and made with quinoa-a combination that makes it both light and hearty. Another thing I like about Local Burger is that it can satisfy the omnis in my life, namely my wonderful father. He's come a long, long way since the days he subsisted almost entirely on meatloaf.

Another jaw-droppingly wonderful aspect of the vegan scene in Lawrence is the hot dog cart on Mass (Massachusetts Street, for Lawrence noobs). Yes, there are lips and tails hot dogs available here but there are also vegan hot dogs! I haven't had the chance or appropriate feeling of hunger to try this place yet, so I've you've been here, let me know how it is!

As far as drinks go, I must highly recommend the Replay Lounge on 1oth and Mass. Alaina and I found this spot by deciding to go in and out of bars until we found what would be "our" bar in Lawrence. Luckily, this was the first bar we stumbled into. Cheap drinks, bright colors, a black light and a tree made of fans and heaters to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winters. Also: PBR Mobile. Consider me sold. Go there.

All in all, I have never been disappointed in any of my trips to Lawrence, aside from disappointment in myself for not having gone to college there. Thankfully, I can console myself by gorging on delightful vegan foods, indulging in cheap drinks and taking in the ever lovely culture of Lawrence.

Coming next: The Kansas City portion post from this trip! Whee!


  1. Wow! I wish I would have read this before I drove through Kansas the last time, great report!

  2. i'm so glad yr mofoing big sis!
    and i have a package for you,all ready to go,in vancouver,i'm gonna get my mm to send it.i was supposed to send it 5 weeks ago before i moved---sorry!

  3. whoa(ha!a pun,cuz this is 'whoa-wren')i'm not on yr blog rollz!

  4. This post is so full of helpful awesomeness. I've yet to go to Lawrence, but travel to Kansas now and again and live in nearby Missouri, so I'll be sure to keep these places in mind. My sister lives in Kansas City so I'm excited to see what treasures you found there.

  5. @bjorked- you are now! I think I'm going to do a peanut butter post and dedicate it to you.

    @sara beth and lazy smurf: KC is super vegan friendly- highly recommended.

  6. I was there once and heard 'Back in Black' blaring from someone's car. It was amazing.