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Purple Porch makes it easy to eat local

We have a local gem tucked into the East Bank neighborhood of South Bend that has a little something for all foodies. It does organic, it does local, it does gluten free and if I bothered to go, you know they are dishing up vegan food, too.

Purple Porch Co-op is more than a small local grocer/co-op (and they are open to anyone and everyone, no membership required).

The shop does a great job sourcing local products and produce (farm to fork), but there is also a great little café there, along with a small but well-stocked grab-and-go area.

The grab-and-go area is my version of vegan fast food. You can grab some fresh-made pre-packaged salads, curried cashew butter, quinoa salad, coconut water, etc.

And on the way out the door, you can also purchase some vegan dark chocolate if you have a little sweet tooth that fresh fruit won’t satisfy. Or, head to the freezer and grab some vegan ice cream.

The café is in the front corner of the grocery. It’s a do-it-yourself environment, where you grab a tray, your utensils and plates and then wander over to the food.

Thre’s a petite salad bar, two soups daily (nearly always one vegan option), a breakfast burrito (which you can get with meat, vegetarian or vegan) and another entrée option or two.

I enjoy variety, so I couldn’t help but get a little bit of everything. I started with half of the vegan breakfast burrito, which was piping hot and loaded with potatoes, red peppers and corn, among other more subtle ingredients, wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.

Then I moved on to the tropical coconut soup. This was subtle to begin with – a hint of cream from coconut milk, mild curry flirting in the background, texture-rich with garbanzo beans, rice and chunky tomatoes – but finished with some surprising and lingering heat.

Next up: salad. You can build your own, or compile tastes of salads already prepared for you. I went the latter route and had a little kale salad blend, followed by some quinoa, some tabouleh and then, my favorite, a deconstructed hummus — which features chickpeas with red onion, parsley and a tahini dressing.

If variety is the spice of life, this petite place could well have you covered. They mix it up by changing the soups and featured entrée daily.

I wouldn’t call it inexpensive, but quality never is. For two people to share a bowl of soup, a breakfast burrito and a nice variety of salads, without beverages, it was about $20. What a great way to eat local and shop.

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