Little Rock to Memphis

Little Rock to Memphis

PicMonkey Collage.jpgI really enjoy being on the road. I almost have a pang of disappointment when I arrive at a destination. Of course the excitement over what I may find at the destination (food, the feel of a new place, an odd roadside attraction, etc)  trumps the pang. Because sometimes I uncover amazing places, places that align distinctly with my sensibilities–seemingly tailor-made for me and yet, until then, part of a vast unknown. Like in Little Rock, AR.

Finding places to eat vegan on the road is a nuanced art. I rely on internet research to create a kind of cost value analysis. Because for every place I stop for a meal, I can’t stop elsewhere. I have only one stomach to fill, of course. Added to that analysis is distance, location, and (the doozy) hours of operation… oh, and the massive scope of my eating preferences. All of these things are plugged into an algoritm in my head which tells me where to definitely stop and where to maybe stop.

The thing is, I often don’t have much to go on. Either the eatery’s website is limited or there are no other supplemental reports on the place (a service I like to feel I provide with my blog). So I’ll eat—and then the risk and reward system plays out. Results are cataloged and filed away, then, later, weighed into that cost value algorithm for next time.

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I suppose it is kind of complicated when I deconstruct it but that’s not how it always is. Sometimes you just know a place will be a great spot. Though very organized and calculated, I appreciate, trust and adapt easily to this hunch-based decision making; it’s in my nature to dance on the poles.

Anyway, I just knew The Root would be a fabulous place to eat breakfast yesterday morning. And I was right.

DSC_0004If I didn’t just know, I definitely would have known upon arriving in their parking lot to see this adorable veggie mural! (That’s my chariot over there on the right by the shiitake.)

IMG_4230The decor of the place was shabby chic, which I love. After ordering, I took a mug from their collection of mugs, a napkin from their pile of cloth napkins, and chose the table with the best light, priority uno for my purposes. Luckily this table had the best light and full view of the entire eating area and all its little knick-knacks.

DSC_0001To eat, I order their Eggs Banh Mi, vegan-style with the tofu scramble substitute. But silly me snapped a shot that barely gives you a glimpse of the pickled daikon (you see the pickled carrot), jalapeno, fresh cilantro and squirts of hoisin and sriracha. You see the side salad, which I devoured like it was a decadent cake, audibly “mmm”ing. Fresh veggies on the road, especially in the Dirty South, are like treats.

IMG_4232I couldn’t leave town until I tried Loblolly Creamery‘s vegan ice cream. In fact, little did the kind gal running the show over there know when I began stalking the place at 10:57 a.m., this place was the only reason I was hanging around Little Rock for the morning hours. I had that feeling about this place, too. Loblolly is an old fashion-y soda fountain ice cream parlor attached to Green Corner, an eco-lifestyle store was functional crafts aligned to big ideals. So basically, inside that space is pretty darn special.

IMG_4233I’m going to jump right to my ice cream, which succeeded in blowing this discerning vegan away. I order a scoop of each of the day’s vegan coconut milk-based options: avocado and chocolate coconut. On top of those creamy, scrumptious ice creams I requested their strawberry sauce and dark chocolate drizzle, both housemade, and some sliced banana. It was decadent vegan deliciousness in a sustainable container.

DSC_0007This creamery is truly special. I have said “special” twice so far about these Little Rock offerings because I know what’s out there in the country. This blows big city options out of the water. They make everything in-house. I mentioned the sauces, but the waffle cones (vegan and gluten-free, by the way), the old fashioned soda syrups for the floats, the baked goods which are also accompaniments for their unique house-made ice cream flavors–right down to the preserved cherries! I kind of want to airlift this place back to New York. DSC_0008

IMG_4237From Little Rock, I had to head towards Memphis. I mean, I’ve never seen Graceland. To follow are a just a couple of the shots I took there. I took a whole bunch more but want to save them for my Elvis-inspired food post I want to do when I get home.

IMG_4239The iconic black leather suit. On a vegan blog.

IMG_4247Many themed restaurants littered the perimeter of Graceland’s gates.

DSC_0054This was my favorite room. Up on the television was his 1975 performance of Glory Glory Hallelujah. As the tour-goers filtered into this room I watched their light and meandering expressions transformed with the video, stopping them in their tracks and fixating the stares to the screen in awe. I know because it happened to me. It gave me such pleasure to watch it happen with the other folks, meshing this collective energy that gives magic to places like this. I liked Elvis a good deal before my visit to Graceland. When I left I was ready to pay top dollar for a 4′ black velvet Elvis painting. Souvenirs at the shop would have to do given airplane carry-on restrictions.

TNDSC_0078I had time for a quick dinner stop before hitting the road and getting myself into Alabama before too late in the evening. Since it was a Tuesday, the area’s all-vegan Imagine Vegan Cafe was closed unfortunately. I chose to RP Tracks, a community-minded eatery with “world famous” award-winning BBQ  Tofu!

DSC_0077Y0u have award-winning BBQ tofu on your menu then that is what I’m going to get! And some steak fries. The tofu was divine. I could eat a sky-high pile of these delicious cubed and sauced delights. I ate this pile up real quick, only trying a bite or two with the bun, which I was suspicious of being non-vegan. I guess I could have asked but I just trusted my taste buds and left it on the plate with the slaw. Between the satisfying fries and tofu, the eatery gets an A+ for vegan options. Time to hit the road again! Next stop, Birmingham, Alabama!