Bloomington is a very vegan friendly town

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By: Crystal Hallwood

Crystal Hallwood/Flavor 574

I recently found myself in Bloomington for the weekend. After checking restaurant reviews on tripadvisor.com, I started surfing menus. Then I got excited.

My new dilemma was that I had more options available than I had meals to eat. A happy and unusual problem for a vegan.

Friday night I headed to Upland Brewing Company in downtown Bloomington. I ordered a pint and the tofu tacos and eagerly waited. A trio of tacos arrived, tender flour tortillas, brimming with pico de gallo, red cabbage, fresh chimmichurri sauce and the best tofu ever. Really.

As a vegan, I was slow to embrace tofu. I’ve learned ways I like to prepare it, but it’s not like I crave tofu. Or ever say the words, “You know what sounds good? Some tofu!”

This tofu was not white, but darker in color, which piqued my curiosity. I chatted up the bartender and he told me they add vegetables to it to give it a bigger flavor profile. Whatever they do, they do it well. I plan on figuring it out in my kitchen over the next couple of weeks.

It was flavorful and tender, but with plenty of texture and bite. Tucked in with the freshness of the pico, the cabbage and the chimichurri, this tofu was bursting with flavor. It is, hands down, the best tofu-anything I have ever had.

I also felt it was a reasonable price, at $8.95, and it was a full meal for me.

Saturday morning I went to the next spot on my list, Soma Coffee. It’s a petite coffee joint located on the lower level of a complex that also houses The Laughing Planet, which was my lunch destination.

Soma has a hip college vibe, with chalkboard menus, busy décor and a bit of an urban feel. The menu has a variety of coffees and non-dairy milks and a nice selection of vegan muffins.

I bought a morning glory muffin and a coffeecake muffin. They are dense, moist and slightly less sweet than their non-vegan counterparts, but I like them that way. One muffin and a double espresso kept me full until lunch.

I came back to the building to visit Laughing Planet. This brightly painted happy space has a variety of wraps with a ton of vegan options. I chose the Cuban, with brown rice, black beans, salsa, sweet potatoes, plantains, barbecue sauce and seitan.

It was huge. It was affordable. It was good.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit all of the restaurants with strong vegan options. Had time allowed, The Owlery would have been next. I’ve eaten there before and it has a nice variety of vegan sandwiches and entrees. 

Bloomington offers a beautiful campus and walkable downtown, and a plethora of vegan options.

For more tales of dining vegan in Michiana (and beyond) from Crystal Hallwood and her fellow meatless maven Rama Ganesan, subscribe to the Vegan at the Bend email newsletter.
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