It ain’t easy being green… especially when it comes to eating green. (We’re looking at you, vegans!). And this is especially true when it comes to dining out; in fact, be honest: sometimes you’d probably rather eat nachos by yourself at home than have to deal with asking “what are your vegan options” when at a restaurant with a big group of friends. Right? Right.

Well, vegans, time to rejoice: Armature Works’ Heights Public Market has dropped a menu for the majority of its vendors just for you, and I tasted each and every one. And while, admittedly, I’m not vegan (sorry, steak is just too damn good) — I can say without reservation that every single item on this hit list made me at least consider it for a split second. That’s how delicious they all are.

Behold, the tastiest HPM vegan options everyone can now be green with envy over.  Check out the full menu here.

Hemingway’s – Black Bean + Plantain Burger
I was downing this delectable veggie burger before vegan ever became trendy. Well, maybe not, but Hemingway’s black bean and plantain patty is both incredibly tasty and hearty; when paired with the homemade Cuban cole slaw and spicy aioli, it has all the makings of a sweet and savory delight. It’s served in full “burger” glory complete with a bun Yucca fries, naturally — but in the attempt to be extra healthy, I ordered it in bowl form. And you know what? I may never go back. If want to switch it up, Hemingway’s “Make Your Own Cuban Bowl” — with green options like sauteed lime green beans, plantains, arugula salad, black beans, and mojo quinoa — can be made vegan as well.

Empamamas – Flower Power Empamama
After always opting for Tampa Girl, I finally tried their signature vegan empanada packed with roasted cauliflower, quinoa and spinach served with Buffalo aioli. And now I know why it has won so many awards. It’s absolutely amazing, and officially my new favorite one on the menu. There I said it.

Zukku – Buddha Bowl
While I obviously can’t guarantee this, I feel Buddha himself would have been vegan — especially if he had access to Zukku’s Buddha bowl (also available in burrito form). The spongy tofu is loaded with a cornucopia of veggies including asparagus, roasted corn, edamame, wakame, and avocado (duh) before being doused in ginger dressing. Yes please.

Ava – Pizza Marinara
When it comes to pizza, I prefer simplicity — so going vegan at Ava didn’t feel like I was depriving myself. The no bells and whistles pie is layered with fresh flavors from tomatoes, sea salt, olive oil and oregano.

Graze 1910 – Vegan Only Bowls
Similar to Hemingway’s, Graze lets you get crafty with your vegan options by choosing from a hefty lineup of options for its “Vegan Bowls”. Think everything from a mixed green “Base” with cranberries, quinoa and maple pecans to toppings like toasted corn, broccoli, and their signature 1910 slaw.

Butcher n’ Barbeque (BnB) – Spiced Watermelon Salad
Who would have thought, a butcher with a vegan side! Don’t get crazy, meat is still front and center here, but what’s more Summer than a refreshing watermelon salad? Plus, BnB’s version kicks the classic version several notches by pairing its juice melon Thai basil and fresno chiles.

Swami Juice – Green Tortuga Bowl
Side note: I just found out vegans don’t eat honey. For some reason I thought bees were exempt from this, but I was sorely mistaken. That still left me with plenty of (essentially all) options at Swami Juice, as all juices, shots, smoothies and acai bowls without this divine nectar are fair game. The Green Tortuga Bowl adds a heavy dose of green thanks to kale paired with strawberry, blueberry and coconut water.

Astro Ice Cream – Spacetopia
Get ready to get super pumped: vegans don’t have to skimp ice cold confections from Astro ice cream. The made-to-order creation uses its “out of this world” vegan and lactose-free ice cream made with almond milk, and stacks it with whatever toppings and fruit you want (strawberries are always a solid choice).

Steelbach – Avocado + Fennel Salad
Ok, so Steelbach isn’t an official HPM vendor (it’s a full-service restaurant in the front of Armature Works) , but we’re going to let that slide due to deliciousness of its avocado + fennel salad. I can’t tell if it’s the avocado, pistachio, key lime, quinoa, mint or chili oil that makes this salad so addicting — but I’m going to say it’s all of the above.

Stay Awesome…and Vegan!  

By: Liz Newman