Friday, April 5, 2013

The Loving Hut, a Vegan Mecca

Recently my foodie coworker friends and I took a trip to The Loving HutThis oddly named place is a vegan chain of restaurants with more than 120 locations worldwide.  I am not vegan, or vegetarian for that matter. I like a good filet as much as the next girl, but I always enjoy trying new cuisines and places in Tampa. 
I bring my lunch to work nearly every day, so I've got to think outside the box on the one day of the week I when "dine out" for lunch.  Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. Our trio headed to the Fletcher Ave. location, not really knowing what to expect... but overall we were pleasantly surprised with the dishes we ordered. Here are some photos of what we sampled:

Pad Thai. This noodle dish featured "tofu and soy protein." Reading the menu, I thought, "Aren't those one and the same?" No, my carnivorous friends, they are not. The protein substance was basically tofu-like chunks that tasted like, and had the texture of, chicken. I eat faux meat  Morningstar Farms products all the time (love their soy sausage patties!) but with this, my palate was a bit confused. I just kept wondering what it wad made of, how it was made, and wondering whether it was really all that much "better for me" than a lean piece of fish or chicken.  The dish had a lot of flavor and it was unapologetically spicy, which I enjoyed.  I like when a meal says, "You don't like spicy? Guess what: I don't care. Spicy is what I am, take it or leave it!"  And that was what this pad thai said.

Singapore Noodles. The highlights of this dish were its lovely curry flavor and the fact that it had plentiful veggies. In this photo, maybe they are kind of hiding under the mound of noodles... I swear, they were in there. Even though it was a noodle dish and heavy on the starches, it tasted fresh and light.

Sambal Eggplant. Spicy and delicious! I like using sambal chili sauce as a condiment at home. I never thought of mixing a huge scoop into tomatoes to make a sauce..until now.   I would definitely order this again. Everything tastes very fresh at The Loving Hut,and we were told they use all natural ingredients, and never anything frozen.
Summer Rolls. These were palatable, but not insanely good. I had one and it didn't leave me pining for another. In the middle was a crunchy fried veggie bit that I did not expect or really appreciate. Not the best summer rolls ever, but again, not bad.

At this lunch, we all ordered a little bit of everything so we could share, and I think that's your best bet at this place. Small tastes of all the different dishes combined made for a great meal, but we all agreed the sole dish here that could proudly stand on its own was the pad thai.  So if you go, take a handful of adventurous foodie friends.  

We liked The Loving Hut's offerings, in spite of the strange TV show playing, that appeared to be cult-like group campfire singing on a nature commune. And despite the vegan lifestyle propaganda posters hanging on the wall. Incidentally, did you know Mike Tyson was vegan?! (Nor did I.)

They have vegan smoothies on the menu (with kale!) so I will be back to try one of those. They also had some vegan grocery items at the counter, for those who are looking to adopt a  lifestyle free of animal byproducts. Don't be afraid to branch out try a vegan meal. It was an interesting experience. If you want to decide what to have before you go, you're in luck.   The menu has pictures.  And some of the items have pretty amusing names. (See: "Passionate Fries" and "Dream of Ocean." What?!)  I'm not going 100% plant-based anytime soon, but I'm glad I tried this place. 

Have you been to The Loving Hut? Cooked a vegan meal?  Tell me about it in the comments.

The Loving Hut on Urbanspoon


  1. It definitely sounds like an interesting experience, and with an array of different choices! I always hear about the awesome benefits of going vegan, but the thought of giving up cheese and eggs and...gulp - ice cream/frozen yogurt...I just couldn't do it! :) I do make vegetarian dishes (and order some too when I'm out) a few times a week, but I think Justin would draw the line at going completely veggie!

    1. Agree, I couldn't adopt it as a lifestyle, but it was fun to try for one meal! Thanks for reading! :)

  2. Ok, so I am definitely getting there sooner than later. Will have to be on a cheat day (yes,cheat day at a Vegan joint) so I can load up on the noodles!!! The Pad Thai and Singapore Noodles sound delicious. We should all go to that Raw restaurant in St. Pete for a unique (and healthy) experience soon!

    1. I learned they have only one special day a month when they have a HUGE vegan buffet. That might be a good day to go and try a bunch of different things! Thanks for reading!

  3. Wow! This is awesome. I am not a vegan but I like my veggies. I want to go here soon with you!

  4. My husband, 8 year old daughter, and I are vegan and I PROMISE you it isn't as difficult as you would think. The "ice creams" that we have to chose from are AMAZING nowadays, and the faux meats have come a LONG way too. Beyond Meat is one great example. The health benefits are well worth it, and if you do it right, it's not a sacrifice or a diet of exclusion- there are so many great things out there to try. We've tried vegetables I never knew existed since going vegan last June. If you're interested in the greater details of why a plant based diet is best for your body (and the environment!) and have Netflix, Forks Over Knives is a real eye opener. It's what changed our lives - one movie. Crazy, right?