A Vegan’s Guide to Niagara Falls, NY

For those of you who may not know, I spent about a year in college being a vegetarian and six months of that time being a vegan. During this time, I learned a lot of neat recipes, and found many different delicious vegan friendly restaurants.

When I first went vegan I thought going out to eat would be inconvenient for me because I would be limited to a short menu and wouldn’t be able to get something I actually wanted. I am fortunate to say I found myself proved very wrong, and found several places that had the most amazing vegan food and other restaurants that were more than accommodating.

So for all you lovely vegans looking to visit the Buffalo Niagara Falls area, this one’s for you.

  1. Orange Cat Coffee, Lewiston, NY

IMG_2625This cafe is a simply vegan heaven. The reason is simple, everything on the menu is vegan friendly. The cool part? You wouldn’t really immediately know. In fact, here’s a funny story. I went here with a couple of friends (while I was vegan) to grab some coffee, sit down, and just enjoy time with one another. About half way through some of decided we had a sweet tooth and went to find a pastry to split. At the time we were completely unaware that any of the decadent cookies, scones, and muffins were vegan friendly, so we just stuck to our coffees. Well maybe a week later I happened to find out that everything was indeed vegan and my life has forever been changed. To this day, I still have yet to find a bake shop that sells a better snickerdoodle cookie, vegan or not. I dare you to go here and not indulge. Best part? A coffee and a cookie comes to less than 4 dollars… can I get an amen?

2. Mario’s Pizza, Niagara Falls, NY

IMG_3352Mario’s Pizza is located right downtown in Niagara Falls on Old Falls Street right across from the state park. Although Marios is not necessarily a vegan restaurant, the do offer the option to make a Pizza with vegan cheese. This isn’t just any old pizza either. This is literally the best pizza I have ever had. The downside is that I you are going to need to buy a whole pie if you want vegan cheese instead of just ordering by the slice. However, eating a whole vegan pizza may not really seem like a negative for most of you. What are you waiting for? Get yourself to Mario’s for the best vegan friendly pizza and eat the WHOLE thing.

3. The Griffon Gastropub

This restaurant has several locations, but the ones I have been to are located on Military Road in Niagara Falls by the outlet mall, and in Lewiston on the Main Street.IMG_1936 This restaurant makes the list thanks to its mouth watering veggie burger. I know what you’re thinking…  a veggie burger really? This is probably one of the most generic options for a restaurant to include on their menu if they want to be able to say they have vegan/ vegetarians. However, this burger is by no means generic. This burger is flavorful, and filling, and not like every other veggie burger on every other restaurants menu. I promise you, I do not mess around when it comes to delicious food. Don’t believe me, guess you’ll have to try it for yourself.

4. Brickyard Barbecue, Lewiston, NY

IMG_1907In the middle of a meat lovers paradise you’ll find another lovely black bean burger that tastes out of this world. I will say, if you are a vegan who really doesn’t like being around meat, I would not go here. Perhaps, though, you are traveling or visiting with friends whose dietary preferences range from carnivore, to vegetarian, to gluten free, to vegan… Brickyard Barbecue could be the spot for you. So sit back with friends, in a place where you can enjoy a wide variety of beers made right next door and enjoy that delicious veggie burger.. Maybe even split a fried pickle appetizers… just be cautious about the sauces.

5. Downtown Niagara Falls Indian and Halal food trucks and restaurantsIMG_2962

One thing Niagara Falls does not seem to be lacking in is Indian and Middle Eastern Food. If you find yourself wanting to be a little more courageous when it comes to dining this is the option for you. One of the favorite things to do when I worked downtown was during my lunch break I would grab a veggie or falafel gyro from the yellow halal food truck on old falls street and then go sit in the state park and enjoy my lunch or dinner. The food was made fresh right before me in the cart and came out hot and ever so flavorful. If you don’t know what something is on the menu I find the workers are more than happy to always explain dishes and recommend options you may have not tried otherwise.

6. Alz Rootz Cafe at Soma Cura Wellness, Grand Island, NY

Inside my favorite hot yoga studio in the Niagara region sits a small little cafe where serve smoothies, juices, and a small menu. I haven’t tried much from this menu but I am still obsessed with the smoothie I got from there. The smoothie contained something along the lines of banana, spinach, cinnamon, oats, almond milk, and drum roll please… sweet potato. This smoothies was as rich and delicious as the best custard I have ever had. In fact, it was so good that I literally stopped at Wegmans on the way home to buy sweet potato so I could remake something similar for myself at home.

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So if you are vegan/ vegetarian and looking for a cool weekend getaway head to Niagara Falls where you can indulge and not have to worry about feeling limited in your options. In fact, you may even notice your carnivorous friends eyeing down your vegan friendly treats.

~~han

Orange Cat Coffee Review, Lewiston, NY

Coffee shops… where to begin? I can’t think of one person who does not enjoy going to a coffee shop whether it be local or chain. Stuck right on the heart of main street in Lewiston lies a local favorite coffee shop: Orange Cat Coffee. Inside the shop or outside on the patio you can find a really cool mix of local retired regulars, students from the local universities, and friends of all sorts chatting over a cup of coffee, specialty latte, tea, pastry, or lunch item.

IMG_2625Orange Cat is the exact image that comes to mind when you think of your ideal small town coffee shop. The environment is cozy and small yet roomy with plenty of places to sit. The staff is super friendly and welcoming, knowing regulars my names yet also greeting first time customers with a smiling face, and the overall vibe of the shop is super charming with its cozy features making it an inviting place to enjoy with a group, a friend, or alone.

Orange Cat is one of those places on the main street of Lewiston that is always at least somewhat busy. I have gone in when it is easy to get a prime spot on the couch and I have gone in when I have to wait in a line out the door for coffee. Either way the shop is usually well traffic. I will make a note here that if you are going in alone and plan on sitting for a while and feel a bit awkward, the initial walk to the back area to find a spot on a busy day can be quite intimidating on a busy day being surrounded by groups of people laughing together.

So on to the food and drinks. I’m pretty sure I have mentioned Orange Cat in a post or two before but the shop features a large selection of freshly brewed flavored and regular coffees with rotating flavors, specialty lattes, tea, cookies, scones, muffins, and a lunch menu with a soup of the day and salads.

This is a place where I can honestly say I have tried almost everything and literally everything is good! My personal favorite when it comes to the pastries would definitely be the snicker doodle cookies. First off it should be noted that these cookies are about the size of your had and at least a half inch thick. I have personally found myself to be a very dedicated fan because they are soft cookies—so basically when you bite in it does not snap or crunch. It is simply just a velvety bite of sweet deliciousness and the best part is that because of the size you can enjoy longer than the average cookie. The muffins and scones are also super delicious and these usually become my go to if I am lucky enough to be here when there is a fresh batch out of the oven.

Coffee wise I usually go with one of the flavored coffees of the day simply because the prices are honestly really good. I think on the days I get a coffee and a cookie it comes to right around three dollars, which I think is extremely reasonable—especially cause I have spent at least this much on Tim Horton’s for something comparable. Recently my go to with the flavored coffee has been to mix the two flavors of regular coffee if they seem as though they may go together.

On a special day if I have a taste for something sweet or a flavor catches my eye on the latte menu I will opt for a flavored latte. Honestly I think the most interesting thing I have had here would be the latte that has I believe caramel coconut and kiwi, which I believe is called funky monkey. I initially had to get it because I was skeptical of Kiwi in coffee. This ended up all mixing really well together to make the perfect treat for my little extra need for sweet. Today I opted for a latte as my eye caught the sweet and nutty latte, which has cinnamon and almond flavoring.

Today is also the first day I am trying out the lunch menu. I decided to try the falafel salad and was honestly surprised with how inexpensive it was. The salad was 4.95 and because of this I just assumed it would be a small portion but instead the salad came out definitely a full portion that I would say would be filling for lunch.

So my meal today came to right around nine dollars for a salad and medium specialty latte and I would personally say I am quite satisfied with the price I paid. I can 100% say that this is far more reasonably priced than other local places and even than other chain such as Panera or Starbucks. As well, the taste is definitely comparable if not better than most places.

Another really cool note about Orange Cat is that everything on the menu is vegan. So all the pastries and salads are made vegan and dairy substitutes are available for coffee. This is something that doesn’t really seem to be advertised, partially because I think people freak out when they see vegan thinking its going to be ultra healthy. But here you can treat yourself to a super decadent pastry, salad, or coffee with a clear conscience knowing your goodies are cruelty free.

So If you find yourself in Niagara county and are looking for a place to go for a coffee or to sit back and catch up with friends or family, or a place to go to study or get some work down Orange Cat should definitely be on the list of places you need to try. I think the only way you could literally not like it here is if you don’t like coffee and you don’t enjoy sitting in a coffee shop. Even then—give it a try and be ready to leave with a happy heart and a satisfied stomach.

04.21.2017 Kiwi and coffee?

Kiwi, caramel, and coconut in a latte? Yes you read correctly!

Orange Cat in Lewiston does it again. Absolutely Delicious.

This morning I found myself with the need to have a little sweet indulgence, so naturally I thought of Orange Cat coffee in Lewiston, New York. Usually when I simply get one of there flavored coffees of the day, sometimes accompanied with one of their incredible cookies and muffins.

Today, however, I decided to treat myself to a specialty latte and one of there to die for cookies. This is where the title of this blog comes in to play. On there menu you will find a variety of I guess what you could say are ‘standard flavors’, however, tucked in the middle you will see one with kiwi, coconut, and caramel. Me being me, I was so curious I just had to try it! I have been loving the coconut cold brew at Starbucks and I love caramel but the fact that it also used kiwi intrigued me.

Lets just say I was not disappointed. This latte was the perfect little treat to start off a happy little Friday. As for the flavor it was a little too sweet for may day-to-day needs, however like I said today was one of those treat yourself days. The flavor is interesting because you can definitely pick up on the caramel and subtle coconut flavor, but then I think the kiwi almost brings a little extra element of acidity and sweetness—definitely not extremely noticeable but at the same time, if you didn’t have it in there I think you would definitely pick up a difference.

As far as the cookies go I really don’t think you can go wrong! I am simply so in love with their snicker doodle one that I have yet to try another. The other really cool thing about all their food is that it is all vegan. Truly, you would never know; in fact I actually didn’t order food there because I assumed it was all too good to be vegan—common misunderstanding.

All in all, Orange cat is definitely one of my favorite places to go to when I want to treat myself or just get something to brighten my day. I love going to a local owned place because you can get these little specialties such as kiwi in a latte or mouth-watering vegan goodies. If you are within reasonable distance to Lewiston, New York, you definitely need to make a stop!

Have a great day!

xxHannah

10.19.16 Hannah’s life update

Okay so the title of this makes it sound like I am about to announce something super dramatic but I am not. I just want to give a little update about what sorts of things I have been up to since, besides my post about Vermont, I haven’t blogged since Thailand.

I mentioned in the last blog that I would give a little life update and right now I am currently in the mood to procrastinate in the library before getting my work done… So here we go.

As I sort of began to talk about in the last blog, the first time I went grocery shopping by myself I made the decision that I was going to buy only vegan food and test it out for the first week- week and half. This has been something I have really been wanting to do for a while and now it just seemed to be the perfect time because I get to be 100% in control of what eat. Another mini-update… I am also living in a house off campus with 6 people, therefore I am buying all my groceries and doing all my own cooking.

The challenge with going vegan when I was at home is that I would feel bad making my mom cook something basically completely different. My family has already been extremely accommodating with me being a vegetarian; however, I think that this is just something that would be better for me to get used to on my own so I can already have most of the details figured out about what good meals are for me.

Anyways, I have made my very best attempt at eating a vegan diet for the last month and half. Yes I have messed up a couple times but I can honestly say my intention was fully there, it just so happened that after the fact I learned that “Oh, this product actually have dairy” or “Oh looks they made this with cheese even though I asked for no cheese.”

I have made some incredible dishes too and am loving coming up with new recipe ideas and such. One thing I am hoping to progress to in this blog is actually sharing things like my recipes, favorite meals, taste tests, and what I buy when I go shopping.

Ultimately I want to also start a Youtube channel and do tings such as sampling like 12 different kinds of vegan veggie burgers, which would also be accompanied by a blog post. At this point I am really open to doing whatever. I just think that this is information people sort of look for because being a vegan in college, on a college diet can be hard—especially if you are in transition and kind of have no idea what you are doing (like me).

So the next thing I’m going to be working on is, as of yesterday, I am working on doing things that make me uncomfortable. Because I really need to work on getting out of my comfort zone and breaking through these boundaries because I need to stop holding myself back. I have come to realize that anything that could potentially make me stand out in a crowd is something that makes me uncomfortable. So, I am trying out things like auditioning for solos in the acapella club I am involved in on campus. I honestly have no real intention of getting this solo, my main goal is to make it so one day I get up in front of a room full of people and my hands don’t shake and I don’t start sweating profusely.

That was the start of my mission to do things that make me uncomfortable. Yesterday when I was at rehersal I told myself, “Okay Hannah when they ask who wants to audition for the solo just raise your hand.” That is the hardest part for me. The actual action of saying I am going to do it. So I went with the group out to the other room to audition and immediately as I began to sing I could feel the shaking in my voice. After I was done I literally couldn’t get my hands to stop shaking. I really don’t understand why I get so nervous in that situation because I literally make an idiot out of myself on a daily basis doing simple tasks. Why is it that something I am actually relatively decent at makes me so nervous? Well, it just so happens that they ended up giving the solo to me, so that’s going to be a whole new battle to face next rehearsal—and an even bigger wall to break down when we perform because I know my friends want to come to the performance and maybe only 2 of them have actually heard me sing. Well, this just means I will have more probably embarrassing stories to share with you all.

Today I knew I was going to work out clothes to school so I could exercise after class and I forced myself to put on my neon pink exercise leggings instead of muted blue, grey, or black ones. I have legitimately never worn these pants in public before and that is honestly ridiculous of me to say because I really like the pants and I paid for them. This ones a little less drastic; however, in my opinion it still definitely counts for me because it required me to do something that felt a little bit awkward and out of my norms.

My goal isn’t necessary to do something every day but I think if I have to opportunity to do something of my usual habits or choose the option that makes me step out of my comfort zone I will make myself choose the more difficult option. I think if once a week I can do one big uncomfortable task (like auditioning for the solo) then that would be helpful to me.

Hopefully by doing this I will gain a little more self-confidence because I still find a bit of difficulty when it comes to believing in myself and believing that me alone is good enough. I have come a long way but to lose a little bit of this sense of hesitation would kind of be nice. And if maybe by sharing this I can encourage one other person to do something out of their comfort zone then that is definitely a success! You don’t have to start big, what comfortable to you may be uncomfortable to someone else and what makes you uncomfortable may make someone else feel perfectly okay and it is important to know that that is okay. Maybe your first step is just saying hello to a stranger you pass on the street. Maybe it signing up for something you would normally be scared to do but have always wanted to. Whatever it is, it is important you do it because the fact that it scares you is even more the reason why you should do it.

Well, I think that’s all for now, I kind of went off on a bit of a tangent but Oh well, it’s my blog I can do what I want. J I’m going to try to blog more frequently now to update you on my eating uncomfortable chronicles. As well, hopefully I have some more adventures to share with you all soon. This girl is craving some adventure.

Well, have wonderful days or nights!!!

Hannah