People think that living in Memphis and being vegan means you have to cook all the time and there aren't any proper sit down restaurants. Memphis may not be one of the most advanced vegan cities but we do have a few good vegan restaurants to choose from that are in different parts of the city so you don't have to travel far for good vegan fare. Since I live in the midtown/crosstown area I try not to leave the area to dine and why should I have to when there is Imagine Vegan Cafe in the Cooper Young district.
Imagine was the FIRST full service vegan restaurant in Memphis and in keeping with Southern tradition they offer classic VEGAN southern staples. Everything from mashed potatoes and gravy to fried "chicken". They also have specialty desserts by my "sugar pusher" Stephanie Roy of Swell Baked Goods. The 1st time I dined at Imagine I was not vegan and went because my friend Heather suggested it. I still remember my 1st meal it was a side salad and chilli. Of course Keithon went with me and I THINK he ordered the chilli cheese dog. I didn't tell him it was vegan or even what vegan meant until after the first bite because I wanted him to have an open mind and just enjoy the food. Well it worked and that was almost 3 years ago and things at Imagine have changed......for the better! By better I mean the changed locations, they are still in Cooper Young just down the street in a cute little house that has been converted into a restaurant plus they are now open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner! Before they were closed on Monday and Tues because the owners, Adam and Kristie where the only ones working the restaurant but now thanks to the move they were able to hire help and take some well deserved time off to spend with their family.
The other reason I adore Imagine aside from it being vegan is it is a family owned business and when I say family owned at anytime you will find Kristie and Adam's three girls running around or even helping deliver food. Savannah (the oldest) is now starting to take order while Serria and Maddie may join you at your table just to tell you about their day and ask about yours. They are the most adorable little people, after Keithon of course. Once you walk into Imagine you are family.
Friday was suppose to be this epic ice storm, schools were closed and businesses were closing early, if they even opened. (It didn't get that bad in my area but it was still cold as sin) I was required to go to work but we shut down at 2:30 so on the careful drive home, because of the sleet, I informed Keithon we can stop and get something to eat and after that we are not leaving the house. He decided on Imagine so off we went.
Lately Keithon has ordered the same thing the hot wings, that is the one omni food he misses most and because he loves the house made Ranch dressing. ( Kristie gave me recipe but I'm not telling!) Normally the Hot Wing appetizer comes with 5 "chicken" nuggets dipped in hot wing sauce and served with a side of veggies and ranch dressing but today Kristie gave Keithon two sides of black beans and rice. Score! Extra protein! My meal is not on the menu. Yeah I'm that type of person. My favorite non menu dish is the Taco Rita minus the Rita add tortilla chips. Normally the Taco Rita is a burrito with a "meat sauce" refried beans, tomatoes and "cheese" sauce. I just leave off the tortilla shell add tortilla chips, jalapenos, guacamole and "sour cream" and BAM nachos! They do have a dish called Tony's Nachos but they are not diva enough for me. Its consists of chips, lettuce, "meat", "cheese sauce" and jalapenos. The serving are huge I ended up eating this dish again for breakfast on Saturday. It still tastes awesome the next day. I decided against dessert but Keithon will never pass up a chance to eat Ms. Stephanie's desserts so he slowly slide an oatmeal raisin cookie whoopie pie his way. He also ate it before we got home but oh well.
Anytime I have special occasion baking I call Stephanie she did my divorce cake, my birthday cake for my 31st birthday, DIY cupcakes and cinnamon rolls for my 32nd birthday. She is also in my Cookie Club. Stephanie is awesome at what she does so go check out her site or just go to Imagine have a meal and grab dessert.
Even if you are not vegan Imagine is a great place to go if you want to have a meat free Monday or just support a local small business. Trust me you won't be disappointed. I have yet to leave unhappy. (While I was going through foursquare pics to get a picture of the new Imagine, I found the picture I took of my 1st meal at Imagine!)