For about two months now, my wife and I have been trying out different organic fruit and vegetable bags. We shuffle through an eight kilo bag every five days, which is more than enough for us to make trips to the grocery store or butcher shop completely obsolete. What began as convenience and a desire to support local farms (way more so than giving up meat) unintentionally shifted our diet to almost exclusively vegan—with the exception of some very good eggs. I find myself craving vegetables in a way that I really hadn’t before, and even as we debate where we will treat ourselves to a night of delivery, we can’t help but seek out vegan and vegetarian spots. Here is what we have on our shortlist with some tips for buying your own bolsón and what to do with it.
And remember: it is important to be conscientious of how we support restaurants. Before making your order, please think carefully about supporting restaurants directly and not tossing your money at third-party foreign apps that don’t care about us, our economy, their freelance employees or the businesses they serve.
Some very fancy food at Sacro
Sacro was one of my favorite restaurant openings of 2019. I went so far as to suggest that 2020 would be the year of the vegan restaurant in the shadow of her jungly garden—how little we knew. I still think that will happen, just next year. Sacro pulls something off that no other vegan restaurant before it really had. With the exception of a very popular vegan burger, the menu distances itself far from the lentil burgers, seitan steaks and other meat imitations that plague most veggie-exclusive restaurants.
Although the menu has been cut in half under lockdown, a lot of my favorites remain. Nachos made with fresh nixtamalized corn tortillas are served with chunky guacamole and salsa verde that feels ripped out of a taco stand on a beachy coast. A creamy grilled boniato served with coconut yogurt, avocado and jalapeño hits welcome layers of sweet, spice and acid that take turns hitting all the right spots on the tongue. You can also treat yourself to a makeshift cheese plate with camembert, roquefort or smoked white that I find almost impossible to believe are made with almonds, cashew, herbs and algae.
You can read the full review here. Or order online here.
Mushroom nigiri and sushi rolls at Donnet
Manuela Donnet, the queen of all things mushroom, had a difficult time adjusting to the lockdown. Her eponymous restaurant, according to its matriarch, was too much of an experience to translate into a delivery concept and she spent the first few weeks vacuum sealing mushrooms and giving half hour long explanations to confused customers about the proper way to reheat and plate everything. An idea that had already been floating around as a potential expansion into the lunch hour re-presented itself: vegan sushi.
The team started a new Instagram account and started selling under the economically-named Sushi Vegan Chaca. The crew offers a menu of six different makis, uramakis and nigiris where their house favorites like grilled oyster mushrooms, fermented vegetables and cashew cream are rolled into rice and nori. The avocado and cashew cream roll is a subdued nod to the porteño penchant for cream cheese on everything—except a lot better. But don’t miss the soy marinated tomato or coconut milk drenched oyster mushrooms. Weekly specials depend on whatever comes in from Florida Funghi, like the slightly bitter monkey’s head.
Order directly via WhatsApp: 11 2749-9773.
Demand more veggie-forward foods
Honorable mention goes to restaurants that are pushing the boundaries of vegetable-forward dishes in non-vegan restaurants, including the ethereal vegetable-driven dishes of Anafe and Gran Dabbang, the nearly 100% organic menu at Americano, the constantly renovated vegan fast food options (including a super crunchy falafel burger) at El Banco Rojo, the globally inspired vegetarian menu of Sampa, the eco-conscious Caribbean-Argentine fusion at Vallegrande, the organic produce heavy bagels at Sheikob’s and the very vegetarian-friendly menus at Yedra Cocina.
Support your local farmer
Organic and agroecological produce gets an unfair rap for being inaccessibly-priced for the average consumer. And while that is often the case when buying from a market, there are plenty of co-op bags selling eight kilo bags for as low as $800. Considering that I bought a single head of garlic from my vegetable stand for $100 yesterday, that is a steal no matter how you spin it. We have tested out a bunch of different services since the start of the lockdown. The clear favorite is Bolsón Saludable, a family-run project that seeks out organic and agroecological fruit and vegetables from farms across the country. The bag is pretty evenly divided between fruit and vegetables and has some of the best red potatoes and tart kiwis I have ever eaten, period. Plus, they deliver with no extra charge! I am also a big fan of 4 Estaciones, a restaurant supplier that works with farmers all over the country and has unique products like heirloom tomatoes and peppers from Salta or avocado and maracuya from Tucumán. Other more straightforward bags include El Brote Orgánico, which delivers to dietéticas around the city, and the UTT, which despite sending a lot of under-ripened bananas and avocados, also sells organic beans, lentils, rice and yerba mate.
If you are looking for some inspiration to move your mind away from [cardboard] tofu milanesas and lentil everything, I turn to Tenderly, Hola Vegan and this exhaustive list of blogs for some cooking inspiration.