The best damn vegetarian I’ve ever eaten

vegetarian lunch plate

Mononoke Restaurant Cali Colombia

Day 171: Cali, Colombia

It’s a pretty strong statement isn’t it? Although I have a carnivorous blog title, the truth is that I don’t eat a lot of meat. A few years ago I joined the David Suzuki nature challenge and committed to eating meatless one day a week. Turns out that isn’t much of a sacrifice and at home I often had several meatless days a week.

To date my vegetarian experiences have been somewhat unfulfilling, in Central America the beans were cooked with meat fat (admittedly I enjoy that), in Popayan the vegetarian buffet was devoid of any spice or flavour and recently at a Hare Krishna restaurant I had a gluten steak that was so rubbery no one would be fooled into thinking it was meat.

But my neighborhood in Cali is arty and hippie-loving and I thought vegetarian could be a good bet. I discovered Mononoke a few blocks from my hostel and while the set lunch at $3.50 is slightly more expensive than the standard restaurant I decided I could splurge.

Lunch started with a cream of blanquillo (fish) soup which didn’t knock my socks off, but no soup in Colombia has really been impressive. The main course arrived with a brown rice and quinoa mixture – which is unheard of in these parts, accompanied by salad, mashed yellow potato and chinese cabbage stuffed with zucchini, spinach, onion and tomato and then topped with cheese. I was surprised to be served dessert as most set lunches do not include it but the meal ended with fresh pineapple served with coconut milk.

I walked out of Mononoke feeling like I had an energy boost that would rival a Red Bull rush.


  1. says

    I have had so many wonderful vegetarian meals. I think you just need to keep trying, keep experimenting. The problem sometimes is that you have to pay more for good quality vegetarian meals, and if you don’t have the budget for it, it makes it difficult. But you’re right, going meatless a couple of times a week (or even for a whole week) is not hard at all.
    Gray recently posted..10-10-10 Travel Deal from Marriott

  2. says

    The meal looks tasty indeed! Which reminds me that there is something you have to try because you can only find it in Colombia and Ecuador: Lulo juice. Trust me, this juice will really knock your socks off…it has become my favourite juice in the world. You can find it almost anywhere!


  3. says

    Seriously, when vegetarian food is well made, you don’t miss meat at all. The best vegetarian I’ve ever had was in Curitiba, Southern Brazil, it was like 15 years ago and I can’t forget it!
    I’m gradually eating always less meat simply because I feel better without, so little by little I’m discovering the wonders you can make with vegetables 😉
    Angela recently posted..Chinese families- baby boy or baby girl

  4. says

    Gluten steak?! Even us left-coast, vegetarians who flirt with the idea of being vegans (why must cheese be so delicious?) wouldn’t dip a toe in that kinda water. You are braver than we!

    That vegetarian menu does look amazing. One thing we miss most from Ecuador is the Locros (sp?). Creamy potato soup with cheese and avocado. Mmmm…
    Tandem World recently posted..Finding Travel Deals – A Starter Kit

  5. says

    Sounds delicious and I’m glad that you have finally found some good veggie food – it really can be done amazingly well and tasty…but unfortunately a lot of restaurants not accustomed to vegetarian food think that means it has to be bland!

  6. says

    It’s not so much a surprise that a good meal can be had for so little – the same is true in so many parts of the world – but what really gets me is the attention and flare that has gone into that meal from the looks of the photos.
    Robin recently posted..Don Insomnia

  7. says

    thanks a lot for a good comment on my restaurant. That is really a positive pressure to keep me going on. To be honest, I am not vegetarian at all, just wanted to rescue veggies here look sad because they are not cooked well. Hope to have many people experience MONONOKE restaurant!

  8. says

    I’m a vegetarian and, boy, that sounded delicious. I’m going travelling around Central and South America beginning at the end of this year and do wonder what my diet’s going to end up like. 😛

    P.S. – Found your blog yesterday and haven’t been able to stop reading it. Just love it!

  9. Johnny says

    I’ve been a vegetarian since 10 years young, so I’ve had a chance to sample a number of veg places. The best IMHO is Millenium in San Francisco.

  10. says

    That`s a great tip for a vegetarian restaurant in Cali. I`ve been living for over 4 years in Colombia and I know that in Bogota and on the carribean coast of Colombia vegetarian restaurants are already really popular and delicious. I recommend the restaurant Kathmandu in Usaquen in Bogota. Here`s the article:

    Kind regards,
    Alexander Kloble
    Alexander Kloble recently posted..New Member: Esperanza


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