The Veg Opens Restaurant in Downtown Little Rock

Vegan restaurant and catering company The Veg has abruptly relocated from its location on Markham Street to West 6th Street and is now open for breakfast and lunch service. The Veg is now operating out of the space that was once home to Lulav. After spending over a year at 801 Markham running his vegan business as a catering and to-go setup, owner Shiem Swift now has a full service restaurant with more than 40 seats. It is as sudden a transition as there is in the restaurant business, but for Swift, it’s the realization of years of preparation.

“This is exciting,” said Swift. “Right now, we’re just getting the kinks worked out, you know. Setting up timed schedules and a real menu, appetizers and everything. It’s a big change.”

The restaurant is owned by the people who run Power Ultra Lounge, which operates on the second floor of the building. Swift had flirted with joining that team to prepare food for the club, but ultimately decided to set up his own shop. Now almost two years later, Power approached Swift again, this time with the ability to run his own restaurant. Swift jumped at the chance and relocated The Veg just two weeks ago. And already, The Veg is seeing both old fans and new admirers come through its doors.

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“The first day or two, we had a few sales,” said Swift. “We were doing ok. Then on a Monday, we didn’t open on time, and our fans called us out on it. They wanted to eat! Next thing we know, day after day, it’s been getting bigger. It went through the internet, social media. People are talking about it now, it’s crazy.”

The Veg prides itself on being 100 percent vegan, but before you meat-eaters tune out, you need to know this food is quite good. You will rarely ever find anything artificial or substitute “meats” on the menu. Swift has long recognized that fruits, vegetables and grains have a range of flavors that are better than any imitation product.

“You know, people will eat a rare steak and they’ll eat a well-done steak,” said Swift. “But the steak they won’t eat is the unseasoned steak, the steak without salt and pepper. So it’s vegan, but it’s delicious, because I make sure it’s fresh and it’s seasoned properly.”

While you might be able to tell that you’re eating vegan food, you most likely won’t mind. Dishes like The Philly make no attempt to hide the mountain of simmered mushrooms and onions that take the place of beef. Swift melts the vegan cheese into the vegetables so that it softens and creates a creamy feel, much like a Philly with cheese sauce does. The Barbecue Jackfruit sandwich takes advantage of the fruit’s unique texture to simulate eating a pulled pork sandwich, but Swift’s sauce and preparation is still honest to the original ingredients.

And dessert lovers might be genuinely shocked at the quality of the sweets Swift is putting out. The churros are crisp and light with sugar and cinnamon making every bite a winner. But the dish that totally fooled me is Swift’s crepes with non-dairy whipped cream and fruit. This one is just outstanding; the filling is light and barely sweet, and the crepe emulates the texture of an eggy version perfectly. How he does it is a mystery, but Swift has captured something special with this dessert.

The crepes and all other dishes at The Veg can be ordered for breakfast or for lunch. The Veg is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. You can order for dine-in or carry out (the menu is posted on The Veg’s Facebook page). You can call or text in large orders to 501-838-3634.

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The Veg Opens Restaurant in Downtown Little Rock