Vegan Dining in Santa Fe

It's easy to find delectable vegan fare in Santa Fe!

If your New Year's resolution is to eat a healthier diet by going vegan in 2019, you're living in the right place. Santa Fe has plenty of spots offering vegan fare, which generally is devoted to a variety of whole plant foods (veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds), though raw-food vegan diets are popular and several other vegan varieties exist.

The vegan diet omits any animal products, and that means eggs and dairy along with meat. Its intent is to avoid animal cruelty and exploitation in food, clothing and any other related product or practice. The diet can promote weight loss and a lower body mass index because the higher dietary fiber content can leave you feeling more full than a non-vegan diet does.

Last week's Gourmet Girl talked about a predicted food trend for 2019 in which plant-based entrées take center stage. That's great news for vegans as well as vegetarians and even those on a gluten-free diet and you can already find such dishes in restaurant around town. So let's take a look at some revered Santa Fe restaurants where you'll find delectable vegan fare. In some places, you can order vegan dishes right off the menu and in others, you can request substitutions, swapping out meat and dairy with fruits and vegetables, for instance, and asking to keep cheese out of a salad.

One of the most popular Santa Fe spots serving vegan fare is Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen, which offers vegan items for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as dessert. “We have so many vegan options,” says co-owner Soma Franks. One of her favorites, “and I don't even have to think twice,” she says, is the chile relleno, a roasted poblano chile pepper stuffed with quinoa, mushroom and zucchini and served with roasted tomato sauce, creamy cashew cheese and a side of black beans. “It's far and away my favorite and vegan or not, it's the best,” she says.

For lunch, Franks recommends the Buddha Bowl. “There are lots of other choices but as far as bestsellers, our Buddha Bowl is far and away in the top three,” she says. “It's made with sautéed kale, brown rice, nori seaweed, pickled radish, avocado and sprouted watermelon seeds, lightly tossed in a spicy ginger garlic tamari sauce and topped with sautéed tofu or tempeh At Sweetwater, it's worth saving room for vegan desserts. “The vegan chocolate cream pie is a good reason to come in all by itself,” Franks says. It's crafted with coconut cream, dates and coconut sugar, both for sweetening and a crust made with organic cacao and dates.”

Franks has noticed a definite growth in the number of vegan diners at Sweetwater. “It's a huge part of our business and definitely increasing,” she says. We also serve gluten-free and paleo fare. People are becoming more and more conscious of healthy eating.”

At The Teahouse, savor a vegan wrap stuffed with marinated and roasted tofu, tomatoes, bell peppers, arugula and cucumber, accompanied by an aioli made with mustard instead of mayo. You can order it for lunch or dinner. Pair it with a side of Castelvetrano Olives— those bright green Sicilian olives even olive-haters love—or roasted Brussels sprouts dressed up with a balsamic glaze. After your meal, relax with a cup of exceptional tea, choosing from some 150 fine teas from around the globe. Try a flowering tea, such as Tiffany Rose Melody. The blend of marigold and amaranth blossoms, rose notes and grassy green tea will whisk you far from our wintery weather to a serene, summery landscape, if only in your mind.

Vinaigrette is a popular salad bistro, where it's easy turn a non-vegan salad into a vegan option, making minor substitutions. The Asian Chopped Salad, though, is all ready to roll for vegans, a blend of chopped Napa cabbage and rice noodles with julienned red bell peppers, scallions, shredded carrots, cilantro and peanuts.  It's all tossed in a zippy vinaigrette dressing with miso and ginger and then garnished with crispy noodles. Not just good, but good for you.

The vegan diet has become so popular that you can find at least one dish devoted to it at many upscale restaurants around town. For instance, Geronimo's elegant menu offers the Garbanzo Bean and Eggplant Croquette, an entrée of Italian squash ratatouille with crispy artichoke hearts and romesco sauce. At Eloisa, some small plates perfect for vegans, including Mestizo Gazpacho, a medley of yellow tomato, cucumber, Xerez vinegar and pumpkin seed pesto, and a Guacamole Layer Cake with Crisp Tortilla Chips, featuring Hass avocado, corn, tomato, cilantro and serrano chiles. For a vegan entrée, the Acequia Madre Vegetable Tacos fit the bill, with tortillas florales (heirloom white tortillas pressed with flowers), roasted cauliflower, watercress, mushrooms, pickled radishes and curry salsa.