ABQ Vegan Chef Challenge: July 14–15

Jennifer Keene
5 min readJul 19, 2022


Checking off more boxes in my quest to try everything option during the Albuquerque Vegan Chef Challenge. This is one good thing about driving around looking at houses all day on the weekend — we can stop and eat all over town in the process.

El Mariachi

First things first, I love Cedar Crest. It reminds me of living in mountain towns in the PNW in the 90’s. We’ve been looking at houses out there and I was anxious to check out all the restaurants even before I heard about the Vegan Chef Challenge. Then, when I saw that El Mariachi was doing a vegan flouta special, I wanted to go there even more. We had a showing on Thursday and took extra time so that we could grab lunch.

El Mariachi Vegan Calabacitas Taquitos — Photo by Jennifer Keene

The salsa was bangin’, they were covered in avocado, and the tortillas were crunchy.

But they were corn tortillas, and therefore taquitos and not flautas.

At least, that’s how I’ve lived my while life. I always thought that flour = flautas. Seriously though, am I right? Is it a regional thing? And why don’t more places have vegan flautas (on flour tortillas)? I propose that the next chef challenge in Albuquerque be “Vegan Flauta Flex Friday” where all the best restaurants feature a special vegan flauta.

I digress.

Did I already say that the calabacitas rolled tacos were delicious? Because they were. The filling was very roasty and flavorful. The people there were very nice and working hard because there was a bit of a rush, but the food still came out pretty quickly. We will definitely be back, whether we move to the East Mountain or not.

Tokyo Bangkok

The orange tofu at Tokyo Bangkok caught my eye and Asian takeout seemed like a perfect Friday treat while packing up and getting ready to move to our next Airbnb (on the West Side this time).

Orange Tofu — Photo by Jennifer Keene

On the way to pick up it occurred to me that the rice might have egg in it.

Oh crap!

I did put “vegan” and “tofu” in the special requests field (along with no cilantro LOL), but I don’t expect the hard working employees at a non-vegan restaurant to know all the details of veganism. I figured there was at least a 77% chance that it would have both tofu and egg in it. This made me sad, because I LOVE spicy Thai fried Rice, but was totally my fault.

Spicy Vegan Fried Rice — Photo by Jennifer Keene

This was my first visit to Tokyo Bangkok, but they earned MAJOR points with me.

They were paying more attention than I was!

They caught the word vegan, knew that vegan meant no egg, and cared enough to make it happen. So very grateful for them! And the rice was delicious and the leftovers made a rad breakfast re-fried up the next morning.

Vegan Means No Egg — Photo by Jennifer Keene

I’ve been lucky enough to have had vegan sushi at some of the best vegan sushi places in the US, so the options at regular sushi places seem a bit boring to me now. I do love the simplicity of a cucumber avocado roll, but a few more sauces, flavors, and textures make a big difference. I did like the fried green chile in the New Mexico roll, but it would have been amazing with spicy vegan mayo or even some vegan queso to lean into the SW favors.

One of my favorite vegan sushi rolls ever is a fun fushion called The Whole Kitchen Alchemist from Sushi Love in Portland, OR. It has soyrizo, avocado, tortilla chips, and queso and is the epitome of “odd, yet pleasing.” Another quirky favorite vegan sushi roll is the Cowgirl Roll from Blue Sushi Sake Grill.

It’s weird, but it works. If you know, you know.

Vegan Sushi — Photo by Jennifer Keene

Vegan Vato

Yes, I already went to Vegan Vato once this month, but they have such good specials, we were nearby, and we were hungry from house hunting. When I saw the Elote Tostadas, I know I needed them in my life.

And I was right.

Vegan Vato Elote Tostadas — Photo by Jennifer Keene

And yes, I had more taquitos, but these were actually CALLED taquitos and they were also delicious and crunchy (at least where the beans and toppings weren’t touching them).

Mental note: From now on, order taquitos with everything on the side for maximum crunch. Like nachos.

Vegan Vato Red Chile Taquitos — Photo by Jennifer Keene

I’m not sure if I can really make it to all 30 places this month, but I am getting close! You can follow me as PebblesEatsPlants on Instagram or Facebook.

Vegan Chef Challenge:

  • Lucky Goose ✅ (Went 2x right before July, I’m counting it)
  • RubyReds Vegan
  • Vegos ✅ (A-Beet-Q Burger)
  • Tia Mom’s Cocina
  • VeganVato ✅ ✅ (Special Torta, Hella Good Tacos, Elote Tostadas, Taquitos)
  • Rush Of Prana ✅ (Acai Bowl)
  • El Veganito ✅ (Stopped by, but had to pass because it was too hot out)
  • CZV
  • Annapurna’s
  • The Acre ✅
  • Mata G ✅ (Grab & go on 7/1 before they posted their specials)
  • Trail Rider Pizza ✅ (Went right before the challenge)
  • Holmes Pizza & Arcade ✅ (Went right before the challenge)
  • M’tucci’s Bar Roma
  • Leona Banh Mi ✅
  • El Cotorro ✅ (4 different tacos, including the Vegan Chef Challenge Special)
  • ClownDog Hotdogs Parlor
  • Kickstand Cafe ✅ (Went 7/3 and they were sold out)
  • Hollow Spirits Distillery
  • Burrito Baby ✅ (Went 7/4 and they hand’t started vegan specials yet)
  • El Mariachi Authentic Mexican ✅ (Calabacitas Flautas)
  • Soo Bak Seoul Bowl
  • Hummus King & Lady Falafel ✅ (Hummus, Falafel, and Babaganouj plate)
  • Blue Door Patisserie ✅ (Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake)
  • El Káahal Nuestro ✅ (Chicken Taquitos)
  • DDs Babycakes
  • ABQ Coffee
  • Zia Bros Pizza ✅ (Cheezy Bread)
  • Tokyo Bankok ✅
  • La Posada Dining Hall at UNM

Bonus Places Not On the List

  • B2B Garden Brewing ✅ (Tacos with Chips and Guac)
  • Flying Star ✅ (Double Chocolate Cake)
  • Cafe Nom Nom ✅ (Shanghai Noodles)
  • Los Ranchos Bakery ✅ (Blondie and Matcha Ice Cream)



Jennifer Keene

I write short fun pieces that people actually have time to read.