The holidays are a tricky time: With all of the heavy food that seems to be passed around the family table, it’s hard to find healthy things to eat. From Thanksgiving until the end of the year, all bets are off as far as sticking to any kind of healthy eating regime goes. Throw in a couple of holiday parties and midnight turkey sandwiches, and you’ve gotten to a point where you’re craving something on the lighter side. Sweet Soulfood, located at 1025 N. Broad, is serving up delicious vegan soul food, cafeteria-style, to put you back on track this holiday season and all year long.
Old favorites with a new twist
Owner Chetwan Smith decided to go vegan after suffering from hypertension and migraines. Feeling a bit isolated after changing her eating habits, she decided to open Sweet Soulfood and serve up vegan versions of the soul food that she loves. The goal of Sweet Soulfood is to serve all of your favorite foods with a vegan twist in a way that everyone will enjoy them — not just veggie lovers.
What we ate
I’m always trying to eat well myself, but I seem to sometimes gravitate toward heavier food, especially during the holidays. I’m not averse to vegan food and I think that it has come a long way since the early days of tofu and rice cakes. I was eager to stop in and try some homemade vegan cuisine for myself at Sweet Soulfood. I like that the food is laid out cafeteria-style, giving you the opportunity to look over the offerings and find something that appeals to you. At the hot bar, you can get up to four items, so I decided to go all out and really treat myself. I got the mac and cheese, chicken fried cauliflower, okra gumbo, and greens.
I have to mention the portions here are extremely generous — my four items were $15, and this was easily enough for two meals or even to share. I dug into the chicken fried cauliflower first, mainly because I was so intrigued and I had never had anything like it in my life. WOW. Any hesitation I had about being able to enjoy fried cauliflower went right out the window! This was fantastic — big pieces of cauliflower lightly battered and fried. There’s no mistaking that it isn’t chicken, but if you’re craving that yummy fried crunch, this is a must.
Next up was the mac and cheese. I’m not sure how they get it so creamy, since real cheese isn’t involved, but I loved it. It had that good “chew” that you expect from mac and cheese and it was so good that I actually forgot that it was vegan.
The okra gumbo was excellent and even had some non-meat sausage in it, which was quite tasty and reminded me of a leaner meat sausage. The roux was on the milder side, but it was packed with flavor and, after a few bites, I didn’t miss the meat. I really like okra, but if it isn’t your thing, you might want to skip this, as this dish is packed with okra as its main bulk.
Finally, I dug into the greens, which were seasoned well and flavorful. At first, I was afraid that I was going to miss having bacon and ham in the greens to add that extra fat, but Sweet Soulfood’s version was so good that I didn’t even think about the fact that it was meat-free.
The rest of the menu at the restaurant is extensive with items such as sweet potatoes, red beans and rice, portabella mushrooms and gravy, eggplant lasagna, stuffed bell peppers, corn bisque, jambalaya, bread pudding and more. It also has a salad bar and serves up wraps, soups, fresh juices, vegan ice cream and other vegan desserts. Also, Yelp just declared Sweet Soulfood the best vegan restaurant in Louisiana, so you know that you’re in good hands. If you’re looking for a big vegan spread at your next party, Sweet Soulfood also does catering!
In a city that is known for delicious, maybe not-so-healthy food, Sweet Soulfood absolutely fits in and stands out. As a gal who does enjoy her meat, I finished my lunch feeling completely satisfied and excited that I had leftovers to enjoy later.
Even if you don’t plan on going full veggie anytime soon, Sweet Soulfood is a great place to enjoy a wholesome lunch.
Price point: $15 or less, depending on number of sides.