Are you a vegan or vegetarian? Maybe you are just looking to cut back on your meat and dairy intake, or maybe you are happy as a clam to be a carnivore, but you appreciate a good veggie burger now and then. Regardless, Veggie Y Qué, a plant-based deli, is a new, locally-owned business that serves 100-percent vegan food. The cozy shop, situated in Uptown Whittier, boasts a wide-ranging menu that includes dishes like chilaquiles, tortas, hot dogs, pasta, and more.
The Quaker Campus decided to review Veggie Y Qué after hearing positive buzz from both students and community members. We, Autumn Dixon (vegetarian) and Madison White (non-vegetarian), started by ordering two “chick-nun” tacos made with a soy protein, and one asada taco made from marinated hibiscus and mushrooms. The tacos came out pretty quickly and were garnished with onions, cilantro, and salsa verde.
The texture of the chick-nun is pretty much spot-on with a regular chicken taco. It is full of flavor and has a little bit of spice to it. Admittedly, the asada tacos do not very much look like carne asada, but tastes almost identical. The marinated hibiscus was a deep purple color, with the texture closely resembling a pulled pork, so if you are used to eating carne asada tacos ,you will probably be surprised. Fear not, the hibiscus and mushrooms pack quite the punch, and any taco lover — vegan or not — will surely find themselves coming back to Veggie Y Qué.
Next, we ordered a patty melt, containing a vegan patty, grilled onions, bell peppers, and vegan bacon and cheese. The texture of the vegan patty and bacon is overwhelmed by the amount of vegetables in the patty. Compared to the meat substitutes in the tacos, the sandwich did not contain as much flavor or resemblance to a traditional patty melt. To compensate, the sauce used on the melt was full of flavor and brought everything together. As a vegetarian, Dixon felt that the patty melt was fine, but someone who is used to eating meat may feel something was missing from it.
There are many chicken substitutes available in grocery stores, and most of these closely resemble the taste and texture of regular chicken. However, Dixon has not been able to find a replacement that is comparable to beef, so she was surprised at how similar the carne asada taco resembled real meat.
For a drink, we both had peach sweet tea, though the shop offers fresh horchata and jamaica. As the kitchen only has one stove, the patty melt came out later than our tacos. The shop itself is pretty small, with a narrow kitchen easily visible from the lone pair of barstools available to those hoping to dine in. Our only reservation about Veggie Y Qué is that it took a while to prepare our food, even with few other customers. If there had been other patrons, we also would have been out of luck seat-wise, as there are no more than four seats available at a time.
For the average college student, Veggie Y Qué may not be the most budget-friendly place to eat. Three tacos were $8.50, and the patty melt was $12.50. Adding guacamole costs $2. The most expensive thing on the menu is the chili cheese burger, which is $14, and the cheapest thing on the menu is a taco a la carte for $3 or a plain hot dog for $8.
Although they do not have the cheapest prices in Uptown, their prices are pretty comparable to other locally-owned businesses, particularly ones that cater to a specific market like vegan food.
The owner of Veggie Y Qué, Laura Jardon, opened up a brick and mortar shop in December 2018 after over two years of pop-up shops and catering. According to their website, Jardon was not always a vegan. “It took me a very long time to make the change, mostly due to the question everyone asks: ‘What will I eat . . . ?’ As I took the plunge into “the salad-only, no flavor, I’m going to die without cheese” life, something miraculous happened. I found an abundant, bountiful, broad range of food,” she writes. “So, the next item to tackle was to make sure my family could be fulfilled and happy with the vegan options I cook. I’m happy to say, there hasn’t been one complaint!” We definitely did not have any complaints, either.
Veggie Y Qué is located at 12924 Bailey Street. It is open from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Tuesdays to Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday, and 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. You can also visit their website, www.veggieyque.com, for more recipes and contact information.