Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, vegans and omnis eat in Florida

I found Lime Fresh Mexican Grill almost by accident.  It didn't come up in a Happy Cow search, (Vegout on iPhone actually), but I found another trick is to look at Google Maps and search for "vegan" or "vegetarian."  I get a lot of pizza places but sometimes a new place pops up.  When I looked at their online menu, (their website is slow to load and you have to listen to music while it does so don't be doing this when you're on the phone to your boss pretending to work ... unless of course you're a vegan restaurant reviewer), it said the same thing as on their paper menu.  Vegetarian friendly.  But there's a caveat there and that is just because a place is vegetarian friendly they don't necessarily have any idea about how to be vegan friendly.  Trust me, this has been proven out by real life experiences.  Over.  And over.  And sadly, over again.

I called and asked about vegan options.

"We can make anything on the menu vegan." said the young lady who answered the phone.  (I thought, "chicken?" but let it go).  As I was moving the phone away from my ear to hang up she said, "Oh, and sir, the beans are vegan and not cooked in any animal products."

I thought tentatively, " ... Eureka?"

Off we went.  The place is in an outdoor shopping center.  It's bright, noisy-ish and very up beat.  There of course was a line so this New Yorker felt right at home in this Miami locus of suburban activity.  Someone comes out and hands you a menu, asks if you have any questions.  You order at the counter, (which took like 3 minutes of standing in line to get to), and get a number on a stick and a server brings you your meal.  I must say, the staff is friendly, happy, and what I found surprisingly nice, attentive.  Our drinks were refilled, (well ... not my beer, drat!) , hot sauce brought over, napkins, and more chips.  I've never seen that level of service at places where service comprises only food delivery to your table.  Congrats on that Lime.

Those tables are really comfy now but in a few months they'll be molten puddles of metal surrounded by amazing humidity.
I see the same willingness to prepare my food the way I like repeated on the menu.  I just say I'm a vegan and don't want any animal products or cheese on my burrito but put everything else you have on there.  The person taking my order was helpful, although mentioned cheese once but said, "Oh, no cheese, right."  I think there needs to be a bit of responsibility on our parts when we order to keep the, "no animal product, no butter, no milk, no cheese, no stock ... " litany going.  Yes, it's tiring, frustrating and should in a perfect world be un-necessary but it isn't and it is.
"Anything (literally anything) on the menu can be prepared to your liking"
So here's the downside, unless you're a welfarist, in which case you'll be overjoyed, every item on the menu containing animal says, "Humanely raised."  I quite honestly think this is a feel good bunch of BS because there's no way to humanely shoot a bolt through any animals head or slit their throats.  (Off of soapbox).

My first dish was the black bean soup.  It was hearty and flavorful without any one overpowering taste.  There is nothing lacking in this soup and it loses nothing by being cooked in vegetable broth.

And a few gratuitous chips.  I love the crunch chips add to mushy foods.  We had a bowl of
chips and salsa and they were refilled so there was never any shortage.
A little off center on the targeting reticle there chef.
My burrito was ordered in a large whole wheat tortilla with rice, beans, onions, peppers, lettuce, and pico de gallo.  Every bite was delicious.  I tried 3 different hot sauces brought by our server but ended up using most of the "Don't say we didn't warn you..." one.  
This burrito was huge but I stood up to the challenge.
All the ingredients were balanced in quantity, and I think this kind of food is either good or it's not.  This place definitely was above the bar for casual, quick serve, Mexican food.

Sorry about the blurry picture.  One handed iPhone pictures are difficult and this was either
a 2 fisted burrito or a 2 handed picture.  
Lime is a definite contender for the times I'm with someone who must have their meat and I must not.  The staff and the ingredient choices make this an almost perfect choice for a traveling vegan.  There are several Florida locations.

Why is this place different than any other Mexican restaurant?  I didn't HAVE to explain vegan, although I did reiterate a few more times at the register.  They seem to get it.  I didn't have to play 20 questions with the order taker.  I didn't have to pull out vegan passport and go over phrases in Spanish, keeping my fingers crossed that I was understood and the rice was, in fact, not cooked in chicken broth.

I felt relaxed and confident when I bit into my food and that is the difference.


JL goes Vegan said...

Great review! Love a place that "speaks vegetarian" ;)

Ty / said...

thanks! there's one of these near me, and i'll definitely give it a try soon.