High Places

Mary Pearson

Mary Pearson, back in the day. Photo by Nate Dorr.

Rob and I are both vegan. We have been for years, since way before we met each other and started High Places. We spend a lot of time on the road, and with our diet, we have to put a little preparation and thought into where and what our next meal will be. It has been cool to watch how animal-product-free food has grown in popularity, acceptance, and availability in the States and elsewhere since we started the band in the summer of 2006.

There are some good references out there for the traveling veg. Healthy Highways is a classic book that lists vegetarian-friendly establishments in the States. We keep a copy (I think we actually have both editions) in our van at all times. Another amazing resource is happycow.com The night before we get to a new city on tour, I check that city's Happy Cow listing. The site has grown a lot in popularity over the years, so it is now fairly trustworthy and up-to-date. Rob and I are rarely disappointed. Here are some of our favorite eateries and markets we've discovered over the years, in no particular order:

Columbus, OH

Pattycake Bakery (3009 N. High St.): ALL VEGAN. In Ohio…what? This place is adorable and our muffins were great. And I'm a bit of a muffin connoisseur. I rarely compliment a muffin. Rob had a pumpkin walnut muffin and I had a banana nut muffin. I also got some sort of chocolate molasses cream cupcake that was great, and Rob had some incredible cookies of several different varieties. They make wedding cakes and you can also order online.

Hal & Al's (1297 Parson Ave.): Again, wha? All-vegan kitchen at a bar? Total bar food. We had hot dogs with lots of stuff on them and a side of macaroni and cheese (fake cheese. I don't have to specify things like that, right?). And they served Bell's beer on tap from my hometown of Kalamazoo, MI. Super nice women working there. They even moved another table out to the patio for us.

Eugene, OR

SeQuential Biofuel Station (86714 McVay Highway): We love to stop here on our way to or from Portland. This is a crazy gas station that will make you feel as though you have entered a parallel universe where gas stations are not depressing but instead wonderful places where you wouldn't mind spending lots of time, and where the employees seem genuinely excited to see you. This place has a living roof and recycling bins. Organic soda is in the soda machine.. They sell fake jerky and loads of vegan snacks and baked goods (Vegan donuts! The holy grail of vegan junk food!), in addition to having a café that makes great sandwiches and salads.

Seattle, WA

Café Flora (2901 E. Madison St.): Seattle is one of the easiest places (in the world?) to find vegan food. There's the Thai buffet at Araya's, my favorite donuts at Mighty-O, Hillside Quickie's awesome sandwiches, etc. etc. But I wanted to mention this place because no one had ever told me about it, and it's definitely worth a recommendation. We went here on a lark because we were looking for a weekday brunch spot to celebrate Rob's birthday. The interior is everything you could hope for in a Pacific Northwest establishment. Lots of wood and light and plants and a water feature… We had very nice tofu scrambles and they put a candle in Rob's cinnamon roll. I thought this place ruled. I love a good, mellow brunch spot. They serve alcohol too.

Los Angeles, CA

We live in LA now, so I could go on and on listing good places to eat. Here's a quick list of some of our favorites:

Rob loves Astroburger (zucchini fries!), Viet Noodle Bar, vegetarian Vietnamese sandwiches (báhn mì chay) from KG Bakery, M Café de Chaya, Hugo's Tacos (their soft-serve is vegan), the soy-based ice cream at Scoops, and Cruzer Pizza.

I love Juliano's Planet Raw, Vietnamese Soy Café, soy granitas from Urth Caffé, Flore (The Salad was aptly named. It is THE quintessential salad. I try to recreate it at home all the time), and veggie tacos from Señor Fish.

Denver, CO

Hi-Dive (3 South Broadway): It's not often that a venue offers bands in-house food that is much more exciting than a veggie burger and greasy fries. After a long drive that included a snow-blocked freeway, we were super hungry when we arrived at the Hi-Dive. The menu here ruled! So many vegan options! And having a choice of many condiments is something I always appreciate. We'd eat here even if we weren't playing a show. We heard whisperings of dairy-free ice cream nearby, but I think the ice cream place was closed for the night at that point.

Minneapolis, MN

Can someone explain to me why there is so much mock duck in Minneapolis? That stuff is all over the city! We had some at Triple Rock Social Club (629 Cedar Ave.)

Toronto, ON

Urban Herbivore (64 Oxford St.): This is one of my favorite restaurants of all time. I could eat a salad and a cookie here for lunch every day. I can't quite explain what makes it so awesome, but trust me that it is.

London, UK

Saf (152-154 Curtain Road) Raw food in England? Woot, woot! The lasagna was great.

Paris, France

Paris might be the most difficult place Rob and I have ever been in terms of finding food we can eat. Luckily, there's this:

Mi-Va-Mi (27, rue des Ecouffes): Located in le Marais, this is the best falafel you will ever eat. The falafel is small and greenish, and there is eggplant and a fantastic tomato sauce on the sandwich. Don't be fooled by the place across the street! This place is the best! But if you don't believe us, you are allowed to sample the falafel outside the restaurants to judge for yourself.

Lisbon, Portugal

A Colmeia (Rua de Emenda 110): We knew very little about this place, except that it was very close to Galeria ZDB where we were performing. It is a very charming macrobiotic café on the third floor of an old building on a small, quiet street. They offer several vegan entrees and side dishes each day. We had a great strawberry cheesecake-like dessert the first time we ate here. We went back the next day!

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