Before ecoRDN returned to Pittsburgh from NYC living we made a list of all the many vegan-friendly food hubs to visit upon return to our glorious city and Spak Brothers topped the list. Spak forged a path not many dared back when they first opened their doors. Sure Pittsburgh has seen a vegan-friendly boom over the last five years, but before that boom the vegan scene was practically crickets. There was the dope East End staple Quiet Storm, the Southside Zenith with their epic brunch and all-vegan dessert, however pizza and wings were not yet on the menu. Thus enter the Spak!
Update: Loving Hut sadly is no more. As of Summer 2017 Loving Hut closed their doors. Buffet, no more. (sigh)
“Loving Hut is created with a vision that all beings can live in peace, love and harmony with each other and the planet. Loving Hut chain restaurants are newly opening around the world. It is an invitation to gourmet cuisine made with wholesome, vegan ingredients, and it offers an accessible starting point for those making the noble transition to a plant-based diet.”
(During this article’s genesis, Onion Maiden had yet to open their first brick-and-mortar and had primarily shared their amazing wares via pop-ups and the like. However, now they have their very own shop located at 635 E Warrington Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15210!!! More reviews to follow…)
It’s not often ecoRDN dines out, we are thrifty and enjoy cooking so much that most of our food consumption happens within the comforts of our hobbity domicile. We practice mindful eating so are in-the-zone for most meals in regards to the balance of protein to carb and vegetable ratio. Thus when ecoRDN does decide to check out a new eatery we don’t feel bad about eating comfort foods with a little extra in the way of heavy and/or unbalanced offerings. Sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable, and on the occasion in mention, our intro to the amazing world of Onion Maiden, we downed dawgs and tots with carnivalesque gusto to a backdrop of blazing metal and classic punk.
ecoRDN loves to take walks that end in plant-based foods being shoved in our gobs. One of our favorite walks has always been from the city of Pittsburgh, crossing the Highland Park bridge to get to the quaint little town of Aspinwall. Before 2012, living in Pittsburgh, the walk would take us to the Waterworks Mall. There we often read or drew in Barnes & Noble while getting jacked on coffee with no vegan fare around but a lowly protein bar or snack from Marshall’s or TJ Maxx. My how times have changed! Aspinwall now has an amazing all vegan restaurant, Randita’s, offering lunches Monday through Saturday and weekend dinners Friday and Saturday. They also have a food truck located at Aspinall Riverfront Park.
The excitement of one’s change of environment often takes a backseat to the actual move itself, because anybody who has ever moved knows moving is the work of grotesque, nefarious forces. In perfectly illustrated irony we at ecoRDN realized we took more gear than was necessary to NYC when we left Pittsburgh in late-August 2012, the unfortunate realization of this happened while packing to move back to Pittsburgh three years later.
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity (none of it blogging) as our followers may have noticed. ecoRDN picked up and moved back to our home city of Pittsburgh, PA after 3 1/2 years of big-apple living. It’s been bittersweet as we love both places equally, but differently. Let me discuss some of the New York highlights since our last post…
ecoRDN first heard about Sweetgrass Grill‘s plant-based brunch offerings after a cool post by We Bike NYC‘s riders who planned a bike & foodie trip from Manhattan to Chappaqua along the S County Trail (with a rest stop in Tarrytown for brunch). With plans already made that weekend ecoRDN was unable to attend and decided to map out an alternative trip on a nearby trail system, The Old Croton Aqueduct, and go on foot instead of bike.
Since 2002 midtown’s famous Bryant Park has hosted New York City’s annual holiday bazaar Winter Village, a seasonal outdoor marketplace stuffed to the eyes with cocoa-craving holiday awesomeness, free ice-skating and ample attention paid to plant-based peoples.
If you’ve ever seen the Palisades loom over the Hudson in the late fall bright afternoon sun you’ve seen a living work of art. That view from the window of a Metro-North train instilled both a sense of reverie and adventure as ecoRDN hit the northern rails toward Kingston, NY with hopes of uncovering an abundance of plant-based foods worthy of their stunning backdrop.