Do you love vegan food? Try Love Food Central!
One of the greatest things we learned about the city of Saint Petersburg, Florida, is not only its very pleasant weather, but that it has a surprisingly strong vegan restaurant scene. Today we are reviewing Love Food Central, a gem we discovered while visiting a few vegan restaurants in the area. This might just be the best vegan restaurant in St. Petersburg.
First impressions: it is a very relaxed and cozy casual restaurant. The bright exterior wall color immediately catches your eye. It is located on Central avenue, which is a street filled with tons of cool food places, shops, galleries and plenty of street art and music. Love Food Central is located on a more quiet stretch of the avenue, but the trees, singing birds and vegetation are so fresh and abundant that it creates the perfect atmosphere for a delightful vegan meal. There is plenty of indoor sitting, but if the weather is nice you really want to eat at their picnic tables outdoors.
The menu is well conceived: not too extensive, but with a great selection of dishes that shows how much care they put into their food. In our visit, we discovered that almost everything is made in house or sourced from local vendors. This extra effort has rewarded them with many loyal customers. They make so many things from scratch, like their wonderfully aromatic chai blend that one of the owners grinds every single morning.
We started our vegan lunch with something new to us, a vegan cheese plate. The stars of the plate are the two different vegan cheeses: a macadamia cheese with truffle oil, and an almond "feta" cheese that is super creamy and rich. Alongside the cheeses, you get slices of pickled daikon - a small touch to brighten the plate -, a delicious local fruit jam, raw crackers that they prepare in house, the most awesome peanut butter caramel, and a few slices of toasted herb croutons and fresh apples. Both vegan cheeses are very rich and taste just perfect with the jam and peanut butter caramel. The house-made raw crackers are generously nutty, crispy, and light.
Then we tried the Hail Caesar salad, which consists of massaged kale sprinkled with toasted pine nuts, house made vegan parmesan cheese and capers. It's fresh, light, and packed with flavor. This salad was eaten in like 5 seconds. The photo below shows the half portion.
For our mains, we had two of their vegan burgers. Nowadays, there is a tendency to find processed vegan burgers such as the impossible or beyond meat at many restaurants, which is great, because it is after all a win for veganism to make it more accessible everywhere. But one of the core values of Love Food Central is to offer little to no processed foods, which is why they also developed their own burger patty recipe. The patty has great texture and it is made with a base blend of black beans and beets. One thing to note is that they do not use regular buns because they are a gluten free vegan restaurant; but their toasted bread slices are so good we didn't even know they were gluten free.
Their "Awesome Burger" is served on a toasted sourdough bread. It comes with a spicy sauce that really packs a punch, but this is well balanced with the creamy avocado chunks, sautéed cremini mushrooms and fresh greens. We chose the potato salad as a side, which was super refreshing.
The "Love Burger" was our favorite, just perfect flavor in every bite. It's served with arugula, tomato, and sauerkraut on toasted sourdough with soy-free vegenaise. A classic combination. We chose the fresh salad as a side.
For dessert, we had a chai soft serve ice cream, which was absolutely incredible. We never had soft serve this good, just creamy, rich, not too sweet and very aromatic. They use a base of cashew and coconut for their vegan soft serves, and they offer a single flavor weekly, so make sure to follow them on social media to find out the flavor of the week. They also have some very seductive-looking key lime and pecan pies in their desserts case, which are a must when in Florida, but we were so full we could not try them.
Love Food Central turned out to be the main highlight of our trip to Saint Petersburg. This vegan restaurant understands perfectly the meaning of vegan comfort food, how making everything from scratch can really make a difference in the overall experience, and how it also gives a fantastic value to the patrons. They put love and care in their food, and you can taste it. Next time you visit the area, you must treat yourself at Love Food Central; we are sure you'll have a good time and a happy belly.
You can find Love Food Central here: