There are some vegans who believe they should only associate with other vegans and eat only at vegan restaurants. Friday night usually finds them home alone, eating quinoa and watching depressive documentaries on factory farming.
Needless to say, I am not one of those vegans.
Weekends will find me having fun with my friends – some vegan, some vegetarian, some reducetarian, some omnivore.
And no matter what the activity – Carowinds, bowling, festivals in the park – I always find vegan food to eat.
Last Friday was no exception – a night with my friends at The Comedy Zone at NC Music Factory, seeing master hypnotist Rich Guzzi.
(BTW, everyone needs to see a hypnotist show at least once in their life. Rich Guzzi is one of the best and one of the funniest.)
Let me explain how comedy clubs work. Unless the performer is a very top comedian (say, one of the Wayans), he/she typically cannot charge top prices or sell out seats. Therefore, the comedy club will frequently offer free/discounted tickets and make the bulk of their money from the sale of drinks and/or food (the classic, “two drink minimum”).
In the case of Charlotte’s Comedy Zone, the club “shares” a kitchen with the restaurant upstairs, Texicali, so they also offer a limited menu of mostly appetizers and a few entrees. If you’re there with a free ticket, they ask you purchase $6 worth of food or drink.
If you’re a vegan there for the late show, you’ve probably already eaten dinner and just want a drink and maybe some nibbles. You’ll be fine. Lots of vegan beers – although I’d recommend a Yuengling in a glass bottle ($4) over a warm, flat Blue Moon in a plastic glass, served without orange garnish ($5.50). As for nibbles, The Comedy Zone offers chips & salsa ($4) and chips & guacamole ($8). There’s also a “Basket-O-Fries” on the menu, topped with bacon, cheese, and chives ($9), so likely you could order a basket of plain fries. I’d ask the cost, first, to be sure they don’t charge the same $9.
(Vegetarians – as usual – have many appetizer options. They include the above vegan choices in addition to chips & queso, cheese fries, onion rings, and fried mozzarella sticks.)
But what if you’re a vegan there for the early show? You may not have had a chance to eat dinner beforehand (especially if it’s a weekday). There isn’t a single vegan or even vegetarian burger or sandwich on the menu (not even Charlotte’s trademark “black bean burger” offering). Your only entree option as a vegetarian or vegan is – HOUSE SALAD! Mixed greens tossed with peppers, onions, tomatoes, and shredded cheese – hold the cheese, please! Your only vegan dressing choice is Lime Vinaigrette.
I wasn’t thrilled at that option. Nor were the three vegan males at our table.
HOWEVER, I had organized a meetup at The Comedy Zone for my VegCharlotte Meetup Group several years before. When I asked if there were any additional vegan items we could order off the Saloon menu, I learned from Tracy that wasn’t a problem – that the restaurant prepared all of The Comedy Zone’s food and beverages.
I shared this with the waiter.
His initial response was they didn’t allow that anymore; Saloon had closed and there was a new restauant, Texacali, operating in its place.
In utter desperation, one of the big vegan guys asked could they roundup something vegan … anything vegan … for him to eat?
The waiter left to talk to his manager and came back with several Texicali menus. Turns out The Comedy Zone will make exceptions to accommodate those with special dietary needs or restrictions.
To be honest, there wasn’t much on the Texicali menu, either. Same gauc and salsa. A different salad. But also … grilled portobello mushroom tacos, with queso fresco, guacamole, and cilantro ($3.95). We ordered these sans queso. These portobello soft tacos were surprisingly tasty – even more so if you peeled your taco open and added some of the pickled onion and other vegetables served in a small cup on the side.
However, the tacos were very small. A lady might order two; a healthy gentleman might want to order three (or more).
It’s always smart to eat dinner beforehand. Admittedly, this is easier on a Saturday or if you’re seeing a late show.
Vegans will be fine for drinks and light munchies.
If you need “real food,” The Comedy Zone will try to accommodate you if you have a special dietary need or restriction. This does not mean everyone at your table can order from the Texicali menu – just those with special needs.
Don’t be euphemistic and say you’re plant based or vegetarian. In the first case, the kids working the tables are not likely to know what “plant based” means. In the second case, the manager is likely to point out the array of heavy vegetarian appetizers on the standard Comedy Zone menu.
Be considerate. Let’s say you’re dining with three vegans and a couple of omnivores. To make the waitperson’s life easier, all vegans should place their order at the same time, if possible.
The Comedy Zone makes an exception for you once, but not twice. (They let us order off the Texicali menu once, but wouldn’t take an additional order from one of our vegans for more tacos.) So, if you’re hungry, you might want to order several tacos. You won’t get another chance.
Finally, have fun and enjoy life! Don’t stay home crying into your quinoa because you’re afraid you won’t be able to find vegan food to eat. It’s possible today to find good vegan food just about anywhere – including The Comedy Zone.