When I was back home for the holidays, my parents and I headed to Monty’s Blue Plate Diner on the way to the airport. When my mom suggested a diner, I pictured greasy spoons, men at the counters with plumber’s cracks, and one item that I could actually eat after I begged the waiter not to put butter on it.
But boy, was I wrong. This diner was your average diner in terms of decor – the straight out of the 50s looks – but the menu was something completely unexpected. Not only did they have the entire thing labeled (V for vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, etc.) but there were multiple, multiple vegan choices!
I ordered the “Heathen Vegan Shoplifter’s Delight” sandwich. With a name like that how could I not order it? Made with tempeh, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions and topped with avocado, this sandwich was maybe one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot of sandwiches in my day!
Had I not been 100% sure it was vegan – I would have said there’s no way. It was incredibly rich – the mushrooms, onions, and tempeh tasted like they had been marinated together in some wonderful rich sauce. And the lemon tahini dressing was almost cheesy. The whole thing reminded me of a cheesesteak (even though I’ve never actually eaten a cheesesteak, but it’s how I imagine one would taste). I couldn’t even finish it – so filling and rich as it was. Even my mom raved about it when I gave her a bite.
It also came with this little bean salad which I completely dismissed until my mom tried it and said it was delicious. And she was right! Even that was unexpectedly yummy. It had a tangy vinaigrette that I wasn’t expecting, and had I had any room left in my stomach I would have polished that off too!
I can’t believe this place exists in Wisconsin. Well, I guess maybe I can, since it was in Madison. But how did it exist without my knowing about it? I definitely need to keep up on the vegan happenings in the motherland. I have been dreaming – literally – about this sandwich since I’ve been back in NYC and since my next trip home isn’t schedule until wedding season, I absolutely need to figure out how to recreate it!
Do you have a favorite hidden gem restaurant? This one is definitely on the top of my list now!