Meatless Mondays: Chill Out Cafe

by Emily on October 25, 2010

In an attempt to further my knowledge of vegetarian food available in New Orleans, and to encourage myself to eat more veggies (especially since beginning my personal training), I have decided to dedicate all Monday posts to vegetarian food, beginning a series of what I like to call “Meatless Mondays.” In New Orleans, a city known for it’s incredibly rich food and where you’d be hard pressed to find a local dish that doesn’t have some type of oil or lard hiding in it, I have come to find that more and more vegetarian options are gracing the menus of local restaurants. My goal is to find, devour, and report back on the whereabouts of these places and the veggie only options they serve.

Chill Out Cafe on Maple Street caught my eye a few months ago and recently I decided to do some research on the place. What I found were a bunch of “likes it” reviews, boasting about great service, affordable prices, and tasty food served in decent portions. So one random weeknight my boyfriend and I decided to give the place a shot. We grabbed a table by the window and placed our order for the Fresh Veggie Spring Rolls, the Pad Kee Mao (the vegetarian noodle dish pictured above), and the Spicy Basil with Seafood. Our spring rolls were placed in front of us in no time at all, and gone just as quickly. They were undeniably delicious, stuffed with spring mix, tofu, cilantro, carrots, cucumber,  then topped with chopped peanuts and sweet fish sauce. I suggest requesting that the sauce be served on the side since it was slightly overpowering, but it didn’t stop us from “mmm’ing through the whole dish.

Our entrees came out not too long after we’d finished the spring rolls. I ordered the vegetarian Pad Kee Mao which was a large plate of wide rice noodles, tofu, broccoli, shaved asparagus, carrots, bamboo shoots, red peppers, water chestnuts, snap peas, and hot basil. I thoroughly enjoyed the chewy consistency of the noodles and the sweet, slightly spicy sauce everything was tossed in. My boyfriend’s Spicy Basil with Seafood dish was also very good, even though some of the seafood was slightly overcooked.

Our spring rolls and entrees ran us around $28, so we used the extra money in our pockets to hit up Pure Yogurt on Hampson St. for some amazing local frozen yogurt. I’m a big fan of the “Who Dat” flavor, which is rumored to be made from taro root. The purple color is pretty and I like how the yogurt has a sweet start and a toasty finish, leaving a great taste in my mouth even long after the yogurt is gone.

Dinner at Chill Out Cafe was filling and cheap, and I didn’t once find myself having to silence my inner carnivore. I am excited about challenging myself to choose more vegetarian options and to make meatless substitutions in some of my already favorite dishes. I truly believe that vegetables have just as much flavor variety to offer as meats, and I see this as an opportunity to open my eyes (and hopefully a few others’ eyes) to the greener, healthier side of NOLA.

The very small, very unassuming Chill Out Cafe

Fresh Veggie Spring Roll with Tofu, Cilantro, Carrot, Cucumber, Spring Mix, drizzled with Fish Sauce

My boyfriend’s Spicy Basil with Calamari, Scallops, Crawfish, and Shrimp

Our table by the window

My new obsession: The “Who Dat” yogurt from Pure Yogurt on the Riverbend. This taro flavored yogurt is quite addictive, making the fact that it’s self-serve extremely dangerous.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashlyn October 25, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Mmmm, Chill Out Cafe! Some of the nicest, prettiest Sundays I’ve had this past year started out with breakfast there.

I love that you are hunting for the leafy green side of New Orleans, and especially that you are reporting back! Thank you so much.

Emily October 25, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Ashlyn, I still haven’t checked out the breakfast there but certainly intend to. My quest for healthy food begins now but lasts forever! Thanks for reading! xx

Kelly October 26, 2010 at 6:30 am

I’m also loving that you’re hunting down healthy haunts (don’t tell anyone, but I happen to be a vegetarian. Shhhhhh….). Can’t wait to try some of your recommendations the next time I’m down!

-Kelly

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