One of the things I miss most since becoming vegan is breakfast. There was a time when I would have eaten an omelet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Those days are well behind me, but I still enjoy going out to eat for breakfast or brunch with those who have not yet adopted a cruelty-free way of eating. Luckily I can still dine at one of my favorite breakfast spots, First Watch, with my hungry companions by getting clever with some sweet substitutions.
The location we frequent the most is in downtown Tampa at the corner of Tampa and Twiggs. The scene here is mostly a younger crowd (the beautiful thirty-somethings like myself), unless you happen upon this place on a Sunday morning. In which case, you will find yourself mixed in with the fresh-out-of-church crowd and their hyped up toddlers (after all, they’ve been made to sit silent in their pew for the better part of an hour and now have the opportunity to unleash and irritate you). If you’re afraid of parking downtown and aren’t ashamed to admit that you suck at parallel parking (not like me – I’m a pro), there is another First Watch on Henderson Blvd near Dale Mabry. Same menu, different crowd (think young families and retirement home residents).
My go-to choice, now that eggs are off the (my) menu, is one of their Power Bowls. They have two to choose from: Cherry Chicken Quinoa Bowl and Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl. This is where creativity comes into play because obviously chicken is involved, and you know they add cheese to that shit too. The first couple of times you tell the waitress “no chicken and no cheese, please,” she looks up from her notepad to make sure you’re not yanking her chain (they don’t see many vegans, I take it). Once you’ve convinced her that this is serious business, she’ll be happy to substitute some sliced avocado in place of the chicken. I do this every time and it is fantastic. Pictured above is the Cherry Quinoa Bowl with the exclusions and substitutions that I mentioned. Below is the side of potatoes that I order in addition to my entrée (because I’m a fatty). Sometimes, instead of potatoes, I order an English muffin. Just make sure you ask for it “dry” or it will come served with butter (or torture spread, as I call it).
I haven’t dabbled much with their lunch menu, but I know they serve a veggie burger. I’ve had it once, and it’s not bad! You’ll have to ask for it without the mayonnaise, dummy.
Your non-vegan friends will love this place. The omelets are outrageous, and the pancakes will change their lives (i.e. shorten them — I jest).
Other tips for the vegan:
-They’ve just added iced coffee to the menu, but it only comes served with condensed milk; there is no black option. Bummer. I love iced coffee. The hot coffee is decent, though.
-They do not carry soy or nut milks, so you can’t very well enjoy their cereal options. I brought my own soy milk once, and it was more trouble than it was worth.
Let me know your thoughts on First Watch and the recommendations that I’ve made. I’m alway totally interested in learning new menu tricks if you know of any.
As always, you’re doing a good thing 😉