I will be the first to admit....
I am not the first person to recommend a vegan restaurant and it hasn't been my first choice when choosing where I personally want to dine...well, that is, until now. We were invited to visit Green Seed Vegan, a plant based eatery located in the Museum District, a while back and I can tell ya...I had no clue what we were getting ourselves into. It had been on our list for a while, and even though it had received high praise from the likes of the Houston Press, we just were not in a rush to get there. Why? Well, when it comes to a vegetarian based "diet", I can easily roll with punches. Being a girl that grew up with a garden in the backyard and raised solely on fresh fruits and vegetables, having a plate that zeros out the meat is super easy and welcomed. However, vegan?
Yes, vegan. Where your diet can include absolutely nothing that is derived from an animal.
After making my way into the cute building, I immediately browsed the menu. My interest tweaked and my heart softened. My previously held feelings were slowly drifting away as I came across items such as the Garden Fresh Panini, which is hand pressed and served with seasonal vegetables, roasted peppers, spinach, and cheese. Or, the Illy Cheeseteak, that trades out the beef for portabella mushrooms and adds caramelized onions and vegan cheese for good measure. And when I laid my eyes on the Sweet Potato Fries and the Cauliflower Nuggets, I was ready to order so the eating could commence. The uncertainty around the foods being served in a vegan restaurant did cloud my vision, but now I was excited about my first vegan experience! By the way, the cauliflower nuggets are a personal favorite of Houston Texan Arian Foster, so I knew they would be all that and then some.
I started ordering everything on the menu! Before I was complete, I added a sampling of their freshly squeezed juices (from Green Seed Vegan's own "Innerg" line) and smoothies. Having been through a 3 week cleanse earlier in the year, I had became very fond of juicing and wanted to see what owners Matti Merrell and Rodney Perry had up their sleeves. If you are really into juicing, they also offer a three day juice program for $99 that is worth a try. Matti also makes her own tempeh, and unlike many versions, their tempeh is soy free and made with garbanzo beans instead of soybeans. The use of the garbanzo beans adds to both the nutty flavor and the texture; think veggie burger. This can be found in several of their paninis including the Latini (chipotle garbanzo tempeh with avocado, cilantro, tomato, and chipotle aioli) or the Tosh (maple jerk garbanzo tempeh with grilled plaintains, spinach, and jerk aioli).
Biting into the Garden Fresh panini released the creamy cheese. It was full of flavor and the colors were just as inviting. The slight sweetness from the roasted red peppers really made this dish. Sampling of the elixirs and smoothies proved to be the right choice. When made well, these are not only great for you, but give you that extra boost in your day that some foods can't provide. I would come here for the smoothies any day. The Notyo Salad (walnut sunflower chorizo, cheese, avocado, pico, cashew cream, and cilantro limon over microgreens) was something I would order again. The greens were crisp and the toppings blended well without overpowering each other. Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of the Illy Cheesesteak. I can't quite put my finger on it, but maybe I was mentally expecting something else. I still think it is worth a second try. And last but not least, the Sweet Potato Fries were perfection (sweet, tender on the inside, and crispy on the exterior) and the Cauliflower Nuggets are award worthy. They are like Lays Potato Chips - you know how hard it is to eat just one!
I am impressed by anyone who had the ability (and community support) to turn one of Houston's first (and only) vegan food truck business into a brick and mortar. The lines are still out of the door on weekends and they have a consistent lunch crowd. For those that are already living the vegetarian and/or vegan lifestyle, this is definitely a place to check out! They have something really special here and this is an opportunity to experience something new. What Matti is putting together is creative, tasty, sourced locally, and downright good for you. For those that are on the fence on whether or not to try it, I say give it a go. You may not fall in love with everything on the menu, but you will find something that keeps you coming back for more, even if it is just for those damn cauliflower nuggets!
Green Seed Vegan
4320 Almeda Rd.
Houston, TX. 77004
Urban Swank did receive a complimentary tasting, but the opinions expressed are our own.