Vegan BLT – The Cove, W. Cypress, San Antonio, TX

San Antonio’s The Cove wears many hats. It is a car wash. It is a coin laundry. It is also a locally owned and operated eatery that began as an ice cream and hot sandwiches amongst those operations and expanded into a full-fledged restaurant offering everything from fish tacos to homemade vegan dishes. The ambiance will be either your greatest detriment or biggest complement — my meal was eaten amongst peers at a picnic table just outside the eatery’s back doors, between the car wash and a playground.

For a vegan, especially one who has never enjoyed the sticky guilt of bacon, a well-made, filling BLT can be Heaven. The Cove’s offering sports tofu bacon topped with an organic spring mix and tomato, as well as the Texas standard, chipotle mayonnaise. The bread is cut from a fresh, rustic loaf. It was exceedingly simple, as you may have gathered from the photo, and would’ve been an excellent experience were it not for two important points — one, that the ratio of tofu bacon to sandwich was not substantial, leaving me hungry, and two, the price point of nearly nine dollars. This is surprisingly expensive for a restaurant wedged into the side of a laundromat, especially when you realize the advertised fresh cut fries are not vegan, and you’re stuck with a fun size of Sun Chips.

Vegan sandwiches without french fries are like birthday parties without cake. It is inexcusable for a restaurant with a fresh garden and the slogan “Eat Well, Live Well” to prepare their fries in an unhealthy manner. I digress, as this is not a french fry review, and reiterate that the sandwich was pleasant, if not ultimately satisfying.

The Classic – green Vegetarian Cuisine, North Flores Street, San Antonio, TX

The Classic, vegan sandwich at Green Vegetarian Cafe, San Antonio, TX

green Vegetarian Cuisine & Coffee came to San Antonio in 2006, and remains the area’s only totally vegetarian eatery. Searching Texas for a high quality vegan sandwich outside of the Keep Austin Weird ideological bubble can be challenging, but green chef Mike Behrend prides himself on being the exception, boasting on the restaurant’s website about how he is “anxious to show people just how good vegetarian cuisine can be.”  green’s name is purposefully in lowercase, and Behrend grows everything he prepares in a garden in its front yard; two things that should appeal to vegans.

A restaurant that has been in operation for only five years may be making a dubious claim by labeling their signature avocado, cucumber and sprouts sandwich as “The Classic.”  The sandwich, served between two slices of delightfully thick whole wheat bread, walks a fine line between disappointment and satisfaction, offsetting a misrepresentation of ingredient portioning with a delicious taste that can hardly be described.  Listing avocado as the primary ingredient was the first misstep, as avocado exists only as a textured spread and rendered almost non-existant by a heavy dose of chipotle mayo.  Sprouts dominate the body of the dish, bound up and twisted, pushing the bread so far apart that the presentation seems open-faced in spite of itself.  My dining guest was unable to enjoy the sandwich because of this, referring to it as “nothing but sprouts.”

Despite these criticisms, I found myself enjoying the sandwich more and more as it continued, and while the avocado and chipotle mayo began confusing themselves with each other, I found their mingling intoxicating.  As a vegan, I sometimes share my colleague’s skepticism in regard to fake or “false” meats.  Because of this, a mouthful of sprouts became a journey, offset once and again by the crispness of a homegrown cucumber.

The final verdict on the sandwich is a positive one, though green’s definition of “classic” seems positively niche.  As a related note, I enjoyed mashed potatoes as an unconventional side dish, choosing it from a list of choices; however, I was disappointed to find that many side staples, such as french fries and onion rings, were only available at an increased price.  Perhaps a sense of propriety should be grown alongside the sprouts.