Living Vegan In Charlotte, NC – Easy Vegan Recipes – Vegan Restaurant, Product, and Cookbook Reviews

A Vegan's Adventures in Uptown Charlotte – Week 3 – Monday and Tuesday

Zizi’s Awesome Vegan2Go Food Truck – Popping Up Multiple Places

Where does time go? I really wanted this to a be a standard weekly PSA feature – because there are so many vegan options in Uptown Charlotte! But what can I say, times flies when one is stressed out to the nth degree and constantly talking oneself out of flinging oneself out of fifth story windows – when one is facing multiple challenges creatively.

Monday

Brought my own lunch. Hey, transportation to/from Uptown Charlotte or parking is EXPENSIVE, so a girl can’t do lunch on the street beat EVERY day!

Tuesday

Previously, I’d noticed food trucks located near the Hearst Tower, so I struck out that way. I was delighted to see a little red truck – maybe my new favorite, Marathi Masala? Those ladies rock, and rock hard.

It wasn’t, but it was something just as good or even better that made me laugh with joy – Zizi’s Awesome Vegan To Go!

Zizi’s Former Storefront

For those of you who are new to Charlotte or a plant-based lifestyle – or are not familiar with Charlotte at all – Zizi’s was one of the very first vegan restaurants, opening in 2009! Zizi’s pre-dated Charlotte’s “Big Bads”Bean, Fern, Living Kitchen, and Nourish.

Previous to Zizi’s, I can only remember the long-ago Catherine’s – an all-vegetarian place related to Fenwick’s if my recall is correct. Contrary to local legend, this place was not named in my honor and in fact had nothing to do with me – aside from the fact I ate there as much as I could afford to. I may or may not have had a shot named after me at a certain purple nightclub – but that is a different crazy story, children, for another time and another post.

There was also Peaceful Dragon, which at one time offered vegan food in addition to martial arts classes.

The first time I walked into Zizi’s, I was awed and overwhelmed by all the choices. At the time I was a wannabe vegan – and used to salad, salad, SALAD or Charlotte’s then-ubiquitous black bean burger. To see I had some 50+ all-vegan choices – I nearly broke down in tears.

Over the years, I tried most items on the menu and found my own personal favorites. I always liked that Zizi’s was a mix of faux meaty, junky food favorites as well as tofu, tempeh, lentil burgers, black bean burgers, avocado subs, falafel, and many more items that didn’t try to resemble meat at all.

Sadly, Zizi’s closed its storefront location two years ago. The lovely Veltree Vegan is there now, serving up scrumptious vegan soul food, but I have missed my Zizi’s!

Mostly Harmless

Which is why I scampered across North Tryon with a lunatic grin on my face. I may have even busted a dance move or two.

No one noticed. This is Uptown Charlotte. Where street people wander around talking to themselves all day (although, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate the homeless from business people in their business casual wear walking around and talking on their Bluetooth).

Also – again – this is Uptown Charlotte, where some banker goes crazy and temporarily loses their sh*t at least once a week. As long as you lose your sh*t in a mostly harmless way, no one cares.

And, that’s me. Mostly harmless.

Mostly.

Up at the food truck, I waited in line and perused the sign. Of course, it was shorter than Zizi’s original restaurant menu, but was still a balanced mix of options. (Three faux meat sandwiches; three veggie sandwiches; two platters; a meal salad option.)

A middle aged man in a suit and trenchcoat and a too-tight tie, obviously a fellow banker, not the type you’d immediately peg as a vegan, stopped to talk with me. “Wow! I wish I had seen this before I had lunch! Do you know anything about Zizi’s?”

What? Someone was asking for my opinion and Charlotte history? I am that rare mythical unicorn – a Charlotte native. I gave him an earful about Zizi’s and Charlotte’s history and vegan options. He left with a smile on his face, far more info than he’d bargained for, my website keyed into his phone, and a hug.

I then strode up to place my order and totally fan-girl-gushed. Zizi/Chef Mer seemed a little scared but happy to meet a long-time customer and fan. He told me he’d been really surprised and pleased by the response he’s been getting in Uptown Charlotte. He had not thought Zizi’s (or any vegan establishment) would be so well received Uptown, and planned to add more Uptown dates. (And Zizi’s has indeed made more return visits to Uptown, but usually at 800 West 5th Street, not North Tryon. Insert cusswords here.)

I ordered the Philly Cheese Steak, because I’d missed it. It’s just this incredible combo of seasoned saitan, grilled onions – lots of ’em! – and “cheese” sauce. Cheese sauce was probably mostly Vegenaise, but ya know what – Vegenaise makes me happy.

It was $10, a little more than I typically want to pay for lunch from a food cart, but worth it because:

One, really hard to find anything else similiar uptown. (If there’s another all-vegan food truck or another vegan Philly Cheese Steak uptown, tell me where. Please.)

Two, it’s a lot of food. Serving sizes are generous. I saved half my sandwich for dinner.

Three, sandwiches come with a good-sized order of seasoned fries or a hefty side salad. Most street cart items are a la carte and do not come with sides. You rarely find “all that AND a bag of chips” on the streets of Uptown Charlotte … that bag of chips might cost you an additional $2.00. And, usually, things are not “all that”. They’re not even “mostly that” or “kinda sorta that”. So, at least with Zizi’s, you actually do get “all that, plus fries or a salad.”

Four, since it’s totally vegan, zero worries about cross-contamination!

Now, My Criticisms!

Ya’ll know I am going to give them; I don’t believe in giving anyone a free vegan pass. A lot of peeps get VERY upset with me about that; I prefer to think I am helping push people to excellence. Also, wouldn’t you prefer I be honest? Someone you can trust (at least about vegan food)?

My criticisms for Zizi’s Awesome Vegan 2 Go Food Truck are very small.

One, Zizi’s is very low salt. This is really more of a caveat than a criticism. I can do low salt when it’s a “healthy whole food,” but when it’s some sort of naughty cheat mock meat junk food – naaaw, I want my junk food to be salty as well as greasy. I want the whole damn sinful delicious experience.

So, just a word if you are wanting the full naughty cheat mock meat vegan treat – a small sprinkle of salt works wonders to elevate things.

My biggest criticism is Zizi’s is not as good as they could be about posting their schedule on their website, Facebook site, on Vegan City Charlotte, in emails

As long as I’m working uptown, I will be stalking the Zizi’s Awesome Vegan 2 Go Food Truck . And, Zizi’s, I’ve got some really good stalking skills, just ask – oh, nevermind who – but I’d really prefer you just make it easy. We’d all be happier that way – you, me, and the banker guys in too-tight ties!

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VegCharlotte - Living Vegan in Charlotte, NC by www.VegCharlotteNC.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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