When someone tells me, and this happens more frequently than one might think, that he or she does not eat meat “on the bone” I sigh.
I take a couple of seconds.
Then I ask the question. “Why not?”
If getting the meat off the bone is a concern, I guess that’s okay. Kind of lazy, but okay. Is it a choking risk? I don’t love eating fish on the bone for those reasons, but I’ll do it.
But most of the time the answer is, “I don’t like to be reminded that it was alive.”
To which I say, “You are a prime candidate for being vegan.”
I like meat. I know it was alive. I have come to grips with the idea that my food was once an animal. And if you can’t deal with those facts, then eating ground beef, bacon and boneless skinless chicken breasts is a cop-out.
“But where am I supposed to eat vegan food? This is Oklahoma.” Yeah, I...look, it’s in the name of the website. I know where we are. And I know that being vegan isn’t particularly easy no matter where you are. Cooking at home is a good idea, but if you need a night out, you need to know where to get vegan food in Oklahoma.
- Picasso’s Cafe
- Holey Rollers
- The Red Cup
- Stone Sisters Pizza
- Elemental Coffee Roasters
And then there’s The Loaded Bowl. This is vegan food for people who aren’t vegan. Vegan for people who can’t even imagine being vegan.
“I can’t get full on rabbit food,” is a dumb thing people say. Don’t be that dumb.
First of all, you can get full eating anything if you have enough of it. Secondly, rabbits don’t often get to eat food this decadent and delicious.
The first thing you should order is cashew mac and cheese ($8 regular/$11 loaded, which is code for ENORMOUS). More than any other dish, this is why The Loaded Bowl still exists. People tasted this once a few years ago and began following the truck around like dogs chasing a giant cat made of sausage and smaller, less-mobile cats.
Cashew cheese is creamy, coating the pasta without leaving a puddle behind in the bowl. A sprinkle of pepper livens it up, but even without it this is prime vegan fat kid food. I just want to plow through a bowl of it now and sort of groan and take a nap in a booth.
If cashew mac and cheese is somehow not enough for you, which is ridiculous and I don’t even like humoring you, then the Down Home Bowl ($9 regular/$12 loaded) is a big bowl of the good stuff covered in chopped vegan barbecue and grilled vegetables.
Hey, so, everything here is vegan. I’m going to stop saying vegan. When I reference chicken or beef later on, you need to understand that it’s not really chicken or beef. It’s vegan equivalents that, surprisingly, taste a lot like the real thing.
Sincerely, A Guy Who Eats A Lot Of The Real Thing
The Down Home Bowl is good, but I find the barbecue sauce sort of drowns out the sweet subtlety of the cashew cheese. Lots of people swear by this dish, but I’m more likely to get the regular cashew mac.
The Layered Enchiladas ($9 regular/$12 loaded) is as close to vegan Mexican food that you’ll get in Oklahoma City since the closing of the late, great Tamazul. Here there’s lentil chorizo, spinach, squash, green chile sauce and sweet potato stacked with corn tortillas for a filling and deeply satisfying dish. Toss on some Valentina to up the Mexican ante on this one.
Loaded Nachos ($10) could be an appetizer, but it’s big enough to be a meal for two able-stomached individuals. They make their own tortilla chips and cover them in refried black beans, chorizo, cashew queso, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole. IT. IS. SO. MUCH. FOOD.
I had a veggie burger coming after this and I was nearly too full to eat the whole thing after this dish. Yes, this is why I’m grossly overweight. Goodness, though. These nachos are the real deal. If you’re going to The Loaded Bowl for adult beverages or just to hang out, this is an amazing snack that can quickly turn into an amazing dinner.
I’ve found the Sesame Rice Bowl ($9 regular/$12 loaded) is a divisive choice, but I’m a fan. The chicken and broccoli come in a lovely, salty brown sauce that pretty well mimics what you’d get in any take-out Chinese restaurant. The real joy lies below in the grilled brown rice. The vegetables and tofu are almost like fried rice, but the smoky flavor of the grill gives it something completely novel. This is a dish that I found comforting, but it was also the kind where I took bite after bite trying to figure out exactly what I was tasting. A culinary mystery of sorts.
The Spring Bowl ($8 regular/$11 loaded) is closer to a vermicelli bowl you might find at a local Vietnamese restaurant, but the toppings are where it really shines. Peanut sauce binds everything together, but it’s the copious amounts of riced broccoli, shredded cabbage and carrots and a lively squash relish that make it so addictive.
Thursdays are burger days and I am besotted with the veggie burgers at The Loaded Bowl. But better than their excellent take on an otherwise meaty dish are the fries. They brush them with a little maple syrup concoction that gives them such a delicate sweetness. Pair that with being perfectly cooked — they nearly explode with creamy mashed potato — and you’ve got some of the best fries in the metro. I have not been to TLB for brunch yet. I don’t know how to explain my brunching situation to you, but it’s complex at best. I will go. I promise. And I’ll update this article then. Please, just stop hitting me.