ABQ Vegan Chef Challenge: July 5-8
Having to work at my “day job” during the week sure cut into my available time to further my quest of visiting all 30 restaurants in the 2022 Albuquerque Vegan Chef Challenge during the month of July, but needs must, right?
By the time Thursday came around I was tired of cooking and itching to try some new-to-me vegan food.
Specifically, I wanted some damn cheezy bread.
THIS cheezy bread.
This was one of the best sounding things to me among all of the awesome vegan chef challenge specials, so I had to try again after missing out on the weekend. Brody’s Cheezy Bread has with garlic, mozzarella, red onion chutney, pickled jalapeños, truffle oil and vegan ranch. Fortunately, Zia Bros. were at Boxing Bear Brewing Co. tonight at the brewery and taproom on Firestone.
The Pizza dudes (Bros?) were super nice and fun to talk to and I feel like a jerk for not introducing myself and asking their names. Social interactions still feel kind of novel after 2+ years of pandemic and nomad life.
Zia Bros has such an innovative and portable pizza magic set up. It is hard to believe that the pizza we had came out of essentially a cooler, a card table and an oven you can order on Amazon Prime.
And yet, we watched them assemble and bake from our spot on the patio, while sampling some Boxing Bear beers.
Was it worth searching out Zia Bros a second time?
A resounding, “hell yes!” I ordered both the cheezy bread and the Los Ranchos Grower’s Market vegan pizza. The chickpea based vegan cheese that they use is phenomenal. Great melt and it even got a few little delicious spots of char. The onion jam and pickled jalapeños hit the perfect slightly sweet, spicy, salty combo, and the addition of vegan ranch to dip it in was perfect.
I’m a Gen-X white girl from the West Coast, and pizza without ranch is just sad.
They were out of the truffle oil as advertised, so it was missing that last little level of umami oomph, but it still didn’t feel like it was lacking.
The Los Ranchos Grower’s Market pizza wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, because it had red onion instead of green, and they were out of their vegan pesto. All of the ingredients were tasty, but if I’d known about the pesto situation, I probably would have gotten the vegan Meteor Myteball sub instead. Vegan pesto is somewhat rare and special and this pizza needed it. Definitely not going to stop me from devouring the leftovers for breakfast, though.
This Boxing Bear location was great, the people were nice, and we enjoyed the beers. Definitely looking forward to future Zia Bros pizzas (I wonder if I can convince them to make a vegan breakfast pizza?) and brewery visits.
Also, I should probably eat a salad tomorrow.
Alas, I did not eat a salad.
I’d planned to pick up from Vegos and take it to La Cumbre, thanks to a suggestion from someone in the ABQ Vegan FB Group. La Cumbre looked packed on the patio when we drove up, so we pivoted and went to Tractor this time.
I knew I had to have the July special A-Beet-Q Green Chile Cheeseburger. My husband doesn’t really do more than a couple of bites of beet stuff and wanted a burrito. I really wanted the roasted vegetable salad (minus cilantro), but it was out of stock.
The obvious solution to them being out of salad was to order chips and queso instead. (follow me for more healthy food tips, ha ha.)
First of all the burger was absolutely amazing.
Menu description: “A-Beet-Q Green Chile Cheeseburger. House made smoked and chopped beet patty, topped with our very own cashew cheeze, hot green chile, scratch made mayo infused with truffle oil, lettuce, and our house made brioche bun.”
I’ve only ever eaten vegan green chile cheeseburgers, and this is only my third stay in New Mexico, but this is without a doubt my favorite of all the green chile cheeseburgers I have, including the Impossible green chile cheeseburger crunchwrap that I made at home. The faux meats are fun, but damn, I love a well seasoned, tasty, OG VEGGIE BURGER. You know, where you can TELL that there were actual veggies involved.
In this case, smoked beets. I heard a credible rumor that Vegos at least sometimes buys their beets at the Downtown Albuquerque Growers Market, which is pretty rad and a perfect example of the many reasons I love it here.
I also want to mention that the construction of this burger is super pro. It doesn’t just taste good — and it does — but it held up to being wrapped up as takeout, driven to a second location, and enjoyed off site. A messy burger can be good, but I want to actually be able to pick it up, put it back down to drink my beer, and not feel like I need a shower afterwards.
The toasted bun and lettuce still had crunch, the top of the bun was seasoned, the chile was spicy and just the perfect amount of salty, and the truffle mayo added the perfect umami depth of flavor. Just a damn good burger.
Husband had the Goin Back to Cali Burrito, and it was massive and tasty even with my arch nemesis (cilantro) in the pico.
It is going to be very hard for the next few places to top Zia Bros and Vegos in terms of delicious and positive experience.
This bakery is not part of the Vegan Chef Challenge, but they are .2 miles from where I am staying and I just heard that they had vegan options, so I had to go check it out. Super cute place and very nice people. I got a vegan blondie and a healthy breakfast of black coffee and vegan matcha ice cream and combined them into something that I want to call a “Matchaffogato.” It tasted way better than it looked, so I didn’t get a photo, sorry.
I’m not sure if I can really make it to all 30 places this month, but I am going to keep trying and then visit any I miss next month if I have to. 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
- Rush Of Prana ✅ (Acai Bowl)
- El Veganito ✅ (Checked them out and decided to pass because everything was sitting out in hot sun without refrigeration/cooling. Just a personal bias for food handling practices)
- 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
- 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
- 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)