The new year is ripe for resolutions and new goals; if one of your resolutions happens to focus on reducing your meat consumption, congratulations! Not only are you doing a great service to the environment, but you're also opening up your palate and imagination to a variety of truly delicious and satisfying meat-free options. Here are a few suggestions to help kick-start your year:
Mac 'n Cheese Kolache from Sinfull Bakery: Should it be a secret that these vegan kolaches from Sinfull have been the main driving factor in getting me to the farmer's market the past few weeks? Their savory kolache offerings of late have generally featured a scoop of vegan mac 'n cheese or alfredo pasta alongside a dollop of caramelized onions or a few chunks of vegan sausage tucked into a lightly sweet and squishy kolache dough. Sweet kolaches are also on offer—think apple pie, stuffed with deeply caramelized apples. Get to the farmer's market early to snag one—the newish location of the Urban Harvest Farmer's Market is at at St. John's School, 2752 Buffalo Speedway, every Saturday from 8 a.m. - noon.
Thai Tofu Lettuce Wraps from Thai Bistro: Every time I drive down 59, spotting Thai Bistro's storefront from the freeway awakens a craving in me for their lettuce wraps. This dish is a veritable platter with piles of lettuce, shredded cucumber, carrot, mint leaves, vermicelli, and a trio of sauces (peanut sauce, lime-chili fish sauce, and a sweet chili sauce) meant to accompany the blocks of deeply flavorful tofu that could easily be enjoyed solo. It's kind of like a deconstructed vermicelli bowl, heavy on the vegetables. Perfect virtuous January fodder that still manages to be filling and delicious.
Impossible Burger, vegan style at Hopdoddy: Yes, you can have your burger and have it be meat-free too. Hopdoddy isn't the only place in town where you can get the Impossible burger, but it is a great option where you can order it paired with a vegan bun, a melty slice of dairy-free cheese AND a side of hot honey sweet potato fries (really the main reason to go to Hopdoddy and never leave). With Hopdoddy locales in Rice Village, River Oaks, Vintage Park, and the newest locations in Citycentre and Baybrook, there's no shortage of Hopdoddys and no excuse to not give this burger a try.
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Pumpkin Pasty from Tea & Victory: I had never come across a pasty in Houston (except in my imagination thanks to Harry Potter) until board game cafe Tea & Victory opened. Let me tell you, it was better than I ever could have imagined. A thick, flaky, golden dough encases a number of fillings, including a pumpkin puree, and the dough is perfectly toothsome and so, so rich. It's served steaming hot, perfect for those odd cold-ish winter days. Most dishes, including these pastys, are made in-house, and flavors will rotate seasonally.
Turkish Hummus at One Fifth Mediterranean: On a cold night in December, our waiter suggested that we skip past the regular hummus (served with green tehina) and the daily hummus (with butternut squash) in favor of the Turkish hummus ("it's served hot, so it's good for the cold weather"). Hot was almost an understatement—the hummus was served in a scalding mini cast iron pan, positively drenched in garlic-infused brown butter. It's a small but decadent portion, and it's served with the fabulous, elastic pita that is one of my favorite things about the current iteration of One Fifth. Paired with a few other small plates like the muhamara, a roasted red pepper, feta, and walnut-based dip, the pickled cauliflower, crispy rice, and a handful of salatim, and you have a fully satisfying meal.