I have a message for every vegan or vegetarian in Cape Coral: you are not alone.
Being a vegan for a while now, I can easily confirm that our world is not vegan-friendly and most restaurants that serve animal-free meals are hard to come by. It’s hard to find something completely meat and dairy free, and even when it has no meat you have to say, “hold the cheese.”
Then you’re probably forgetting that whatever they’re cooking is being cooked in butter and probably has milk in there somewhere. When you eventually find a place that is willing to cook vegan, then comes the hope that whatever comes out of the kitchen is appetizing. Without the flavor of chicken or beef and without the use of milk or eggs in baked goods, the challenge of filling in the gaps of a meal becomes difficult.
Sometimes the result is not only unmemorable, it’s downright awful. A vegan cake can be either flavorless and hard as stone or moist and delightful. A bean burger can either be messy and unpleasant or firm and savory.
So, for fed-up vegans and all those starting out, here are some restaurants in the Cape that cater to the lacto-vegetarian community.
Loving Hut, 1918 Del Prado Blvd. S
A tiny restaurant located on Del Prado, the Loving Hut has a sociable and outgoing feel to it that makes the customers feel comfortable as they sit and eat some of the best vegan food in the Cape. So many chain restaurants nowadays offer one or two vegan options to fit in with the times, but they are either not made with care or they have a processed taste to them that must be covered in dressing and accessories to make the taste only okay.
For those who can hardly bear the taste of tofu, go to Loving Hut. Their meatless meat is textured and flavored with the right amount of sauces and spices that coat it in a delicious taste, leaving no trace of its soy base. The Mongolian Delight is the most meat tasting non-meat I’ve ever had. Their Summer Rolls are stuffed with both tofu and enough vegetables for a salad and wrapped in a delicate dough that’s good enough to beat the Spring Rolls in any Chinese buffet.
Their food is Asian based, so if that isn’t what you’re into then avoid, but their menu is entirely vegan so it’s a rare gem in Cape Coral. There are also various options of tea if you’re adventurous enough to try, including the Kombucha Tea that zaps the tongue.
The service is a little slow, but there seems to be only one cook and server so that is expected for a small family owned place. If you’re anti-social and don’t want to sit down inside, don’t worry because they also offer take-out.
Loving Hut is open Monday-Friday 11:30 am-2:30 pm, 4:30 pm-8:00 pm and Saturday 11:30 am-4:00 pm. They are closed on Sunday.
Café You, 1423 SE 10th ST
With a trifling building hosting a rather unnoticeable sign, it’s very easy to miss this little café. It blends in with the other building around it, but this is a place where the outside positively doesn’t match the inside.
The inside looks like a half-breed of a health-conscious deli and a college student coffee house. If Allen Ginsberg and Gwyneth Paltrow had a child together, this is what that kid would be. The table we sat at was small and it was a struggle getting everything to fit, but that was part of the charm, along with the sound of spoons stirring in the coffee cups.
Café You is an Australian based café which combines a coffee shop with a restaurant. It is one of the few restaurants in Cape Coral that offers more than a single vegan wrap or burger. Their menu is filled with meatless and dairy free options that are not too strange or mysterious to try.
Both the vegan and regular baked goods available are on display, including a chocolate cake that was dense, moist, and delicious. No one would ever know it was made with avocado instead of egg.
We were seated the moment we walked in, and seconds later the waitress came to take our order. Service is quick and friendly and the cook in the back must move like The Flash because our food came quicker than any restaurant packed with customers should, but it tasted like he had grown the rice himself and made the sauce from scratch. The coffee was great too.
I strongly recommended this coffee treasure, very well run and directly across the street from Comcast.
Cafe You is open Monday-Saturday 7:45 am-3:30 pm and closed on Sunday.
Angry Tomato, 3512 Del Prado Blvd. South
On South Del Prado is a little place so clean it shines, and at times feels more like a well-run cafeteria than a restaurant, but the food is the freshest I’ve ever tasted. It may be called the Angry Tomato, but there is nothing angry about it.
Named after the nickname the owner gave himself, as he tasted the processed foods we eat after the fresh foods his grandmother would prepare, it made him a very angry tomato.
The instant we walked in, there was the smell of spices and oils that would have worked up an appetite even if I was full. The service was quick and cheery, and they personally acted upon themselves to make sure their customers knew what was in their food.
The owner came out to ask if we knew the dressing had dairy in it and asked if we would like an oil based one instead. Their salads and stuffed tomatoes tasted garden-fresh and were invigorating to eat, giving a power boost better than any five-hour energy drink could give. If you want a tiny salad, and I mean a tiny salad, then their individual salads are the smallest around, but they are the perfect size for a small appetizer before a meal. They are served in plastic dressing cups so about two or three spoonfuls will empty it out.
There is only one dessert, sorbet in a frozen fruit cup that changes based on the flavor you order. Pomegranate sorbet is served in a lemon shell and grapefruit is served in a frozen solid grapefruit halve, creating the cutest “bowl.”
Delicious food for both vegans and those who eat meat, serving fresh vegan/vegetarian meals and enough meat-based sandwiches to make everyone happy.
Angry Tomato is open Monday-Saturday 10:00 am-4:00 pm and is closed on Sunday.
Big Blue Brewing, 4721 SE10th PL
There are many things going for Big Blue Brewing, and being vegan is not one of them, but don’t let that keep you away. This restaurant is one of the few in Cape Coral that offers a limited number of completely vegan options. By “completely vegan” options, I mean items on a menu that are made specifically vegan.
Big Blue Brewing offers two: a burger and blueberry pancakes. I only had room for their vegan burger, so I don’t know what the pancakes taste like, but I’ve had lots of vegan pancakes before, so I’m sure they were delicious.
Because it’s so hard to find a decent meatless meat patty, I went for their burger. I’ll give them great credit for not serving a pre-purchased frozen patty. It was clearly made from scratch, but it was made from beans and cauliflower and fell apart the moment I lifted it off the plate. It was larger than a regular burger, at least twice as large and was not bad.
Even though this is not a place I will go next time for the vegan aspect, they are a fantastic restaurant with a lively atmosphere, great staff, and great fried pickle chips.
They are also a dog-friendly place with their own dog menu. You can bring your dog and order them dinner! I’m going back just to give my precious puppy a night out on the town.
Big Blue Brewing is open Sunday-Thursday 11:00 am-10:00 pm, and Friday-Saturday 11:00 am-12:00 am.
Nice Guys Pizza, 1334 Cape Coral Pkwy East
One of the many pizza joints in the Cape, Nice Guys might be the only one that offers a vegan pizza that didn’t come from the frozen department at Winn-Dixie.
It was clear from the moment I walked in that this place originally came from a big city. It looked like the thousands of tiny restaurants that line the streets of St. Petersburg or New York City. Art hung from the wall in no orderly fashion and was hard to see because of how dark it was. The lights had unique chandeliers hanging low made from toy bats and money, there was a large wall covered in random pieces of paper and artwork taped to it, and in the back were boxes of both classic and unknown records for sale. Hipsters rejoice!
Even though the restaurant is more of a bar than a restaurant, with limited, small tablespace, it is not uncomfortable. There is a lot to look at from the decorative tables covered in retro photographs to the dragon cutout on the wall staring at everyone.
There are only two vegan options, pizza, and tots. The tots were not memorable, but the pizza was made with dairy free cheese and topped with the wide range of veggies available and was definitely worth the trip.
The cheese was creamier than normal cheese and even melted perfectly, which is hard to get imitation cheese to do. If you’re a vegan and miss pizza, go to Nice Guys Pizzeria. It’s crowded and small but the pizza, baked impeccably and made quickly, is one I would get again.
If you go on Sunday for pizza, go after 4:00 because that is when they start making pizza. For non-vegans, if you like weird, adventurous food, then this place is also great for you. They have a pizza called Green Eggs and Ham and another called General Tso’s Pizza that has broccoli and fried chicken on it. Amazing!
Nice Guys Pizza is closed on Mondays, and open Tuesday-Saturday 4:00 pm-1:30 am and Sunday 12:00 pm-1:30 am.
Coffee shops that offer soy/almond/coconut milk
- The French Press at 5789 Cape Harbour Dr
- Espresso to Go at 1518 Hancock Bridge Pkwy
- Scooter’s at 1014 Del Prado Blvd S
- Coffee & Bagels at 2068 NE Pine Island Rd
- Café You at 1423 SE 10th ST