February 12, 2020
Mediterranean kitchen offers vegetarian options with an authentic feel
Blue and white motifs adorn perfectly painted walls, which reside adjacent to an assortment of Mediterranean hummuses, bean salads and other authentic foods of the variety. The Mediterranean Chickpea is a small but friendly establishment located in the Bayshore Plaza on MacDill, serving fresh vegetarian and vegan options for a reasonable price.
Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by a friendly member of the staff, who, in light of our indecisiveness regarding the menu, remained patient and offered helpful recommendations. We decided on the Mixed Mezze Platter, which consisted of five samples of your choice between salads, dips and specialty sides.
For our salads, we ordered a white bean salad, chickpea salad and traditional tabbouleh salad consisting of the usual parsley, tomatoes and lemon (my personal favorite, being of Lebanese descent). Following the staff member’s recommendation, we chose the cilantro jalapeño hummus, and per my request, the grape leaves.
I especially enjoyed the tabbouleh and hummus, two dishes I’ve been subject to since childhood, having a Lebanese grandmother with an affinity for cooking. Though the tabbouleh served at the vegan-friendly restaurant may not prevail against the throes of a grandmother’s culinary ability (and personal, entirely biased favoritism, that is), the Mediterranean Chickpea’s take on the Middle Eastern classic is undoubtedly authentic, fresh and a flavorful illustration of Mediterranean heritage. The cilantro jalapeño hummus offered a unique flavor with the perfect amount of spice that went well with the complimentary pita bread. The chickpea salad was a savory addition to the meal as well.
The order cost $15, which, when split between two people, was a commendable price, seeing as though the servings were large enough to leave us with leftovers. Overall, the Mediterranean Chickpea stays genuine to its origin style of cooking and is worth a visit for anyone looking to try reasonably priced authentic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern classics.
Vegan café provides a unique menu for residents of downtown
High ceilings and colorful assortments of plant-based snacks characterize Farmacy, a charming bakery and kitchen located inside the Duckweed Urban Grocery of Tampa’s downtown. While the name may leave some confused at its first mentioning (Farmacy being a play on words rather than a medical vendor), the restaurant deserves special praise due to its menu, which is full of highly inventive options difficult to find elsewhere in such a city as Tampa.
On the menu, you’ll find selections ranging from unique to bizarre—take the one section of the menu dedicated to vegan Philly Cheesesteaks, or dairy-free baked goods, like donuts and cupcakes. The menu boasts a wide array of sides as well, ranging from cashew mac (without the cheese) to curry chickpea salad.
Upon entering, we found the Duckweed grocery, a compact arrangement of rows which shelf the likes of various organic companies, as well as some more common brands. The store, conveniently placed below a residential area of downtown Tampa, is joint directly with the vegan corner, readily available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for locals who flock to the spot for quick, healthy snack or meal. As we went closer to closing time, the space was less busy and therefore service was easy and quick.
After a few minutes spent attempting to narrow down the menu’s variety, I ordered the Mean Black Bean, a veggie burger complete with a mango slaw and the typical toppings (pickle, tomato, etc.). The burger came accompanied by a side salad of mixed greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes, with a tart yet flavorful green dressing.
I found that the fresh ingredients and eccentric use of flavor were what made the dish as memorable as it was. The bean burger triumphed over several I’ve had in the past, with its fitting combination of a fresh, somewhat sweet slaw and the savory taste of the burger.
Though the price is somewhat high in my opinion (my meal being $9.99), the high-quality ingredients and rare variety are well worth a try, whether you’re vegan or just in search of something different to add to the list. Downtown Tampa provides a seemingly endless catalog of ever-impressing restaurants; however, I believe Farmacy Vegan Kitchen stands out in its endeavor to serve health-conscious meals that benefit both the customer and the planet.