What I like to call benchmark foods are dishes, desserts, sandwiches, etc. I use to gauge a restaurant or city’s vegan suitableness. For example, Does a town have a falafel place. No? Shit hole, etc. My standards are quite high, I’ll admit. 12 years of veganism and 250+ restaurants later has taught me a lot about quality in foodie world.
So, my benchmark foods are:
That crispy golden ball of ground chickpea and herbs/spices gets me every time. It’s my #1 craving. It’s best when you have a salad bar where you can add your own toppings, like roasted cauliflower, pickled veggies, and tahini sauce. The perfect Falafel starts with fluffy pita bread that encases the falafel and fixings like a soft shell taco, a nice tomato, cucumber, and red onion salad, mixed greens, roasted cauliflower and liberal amounts of tahini. I haven’t been to Israel yet, but my favourite falafel so far has been at Mediterranean Avenue in Seattle Westlake Centre.
If you don’t know about this sandwich, it’s a gift from the dogs (transposition of the g and d on purpose). It starts with a (preferably) marbled rye, layered with corned beef, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing, melted swiss cheese, and grilled on both sides. Of course, this is far from vegan, but since it is a dogsend, many people have veganised it in various ways. Most often it’s made as a tempeh rueben, but faux corned beef wins for sure.
Cheesecake has always been my favourite dessert, and since I became vegan, It’s been a mission of mine to find the best vegan cheezecake. So, I make sure to order a cheezecake when it’s available at a vegan restaurant.