Boltcutter: The Vegan Restaurant Non-Vegans Should Try

What is it about vegan food that scares off the majority of people who don’t follow a vegan diet? I pondered this question as I made my way into Boltcutter, a restaurant notorious for its fully vegan Mexican menu and craft cocktails. I don’t follow a vegan diet, and was really only trying out this restaurant to complete a class assignment which required me to follow a vegan diet and then compare its nutritional content to what I normally eat. It’s not that had anything against vegan food, I just hadn’t been to a fully vegan restaurant before! I, however, have made a hobby out of trying new foods, so if I was going to follow a vegan diet, I was going to do it the right way and give Boltcutter a fair shot.

While relatively nondescript on the outside, Boltcutter is flooded with natural light and greenery on the inside. Vines hang from above the bar and plant fronds line the space between booths, creating a bright and lush background perfect for an Instagram photo-op. The atmosphere is incredibly casual: you order your food at the hostess stand, grab your own water from the water container at the counter, and seat yourself at any of the available booths, tables, or countertops while you wait for your food to be brought out.

I was all in for this vegan experience, so I ordered what I thought would be the hardest item to replicate: nachos. You heard me right, vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, and barbacoa jackfruit instead of meat. In the back of my mind, I was sure there was no way that they would taste anything like the loaded nachos I get at the 24-hour Rancheritos by my house. Replicating the taste is one thing, but the texture? There’s no way they could get everything right. But you know what they tasted like? Really good nachos. WHO COULD HAVE GUESSED. The ingredients were fresh and flavorful, and I promise I’m not over exaggerating when I say that I wouldn’t be able to tell these nachos were vegan if I tried them in a blind taste test. Seriously, just look at the picture and try to tell me that they don’t look like normal (delicious) nachos.

My experience made me circle back to my first question, why does vegan food scare non-vegans? I realized that I had been unintentionally viewing vegan alternatives as lesser than their non-vegan counterparts, a second rate version of an original. My experience at Boltcutter proved that idea wrong and really hammered in the fact that vegan food is just that, food. Sometimes it tastes better than non-vegan food, sometimes it doesn’t. But as my plant-based friend who introduced me to Boltcutter pointed out, eating vegan does make you think about the impact it has on your health and the environment, and people might avoid it because they don’t want to think about the implications of their eating habits. All in all, if there’s anything that I’ve learned about this experience, it’s that just because I’m not vegan doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy vegan food.