Vegan Vibes

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Experience a menu that’s animal-free…but full of taste!

When you step inside the cozy space that is home to Urbavore on Church Street, you may see some familiar faces. Elizabeth Russell and Matthew Kaplan owned the Cheesy Rider food truck prior to opening their vegan brick and mortar restaurant at the end of 2017.

While the food truck was always vegetarian, the idea of opening a permanent space serving only vegan food has been the long-term goal. Both Elizabeth and Matthew are vegans who love to cook but also enjoy dining out. They realized the lack of options for vegans in Lynchburg and wanted to fill that void. The twosome chooses not to consume or purchase products made from animals out of concern for the environment, animal rights and their personal health.

However, regardless of your beliefs about the vegan lifestyle, there is something for everyone at Urbavore.

On a recent visit I enjoyed the Diner Burger with “cheese” (they use a vegan brand called Follow Your Heart), diner sauce, and sweet potato chips. My meal was prepared fresh, tasted delicious and was loaded with flavor.

The menu appeals to all palates—even if you think you don’t like vegan food. It is full of dishes that meat and dairy eaters love, just substituted with plant-based alternatives. With the exception of a few items, everything is made in-house including the burger, the sweet potato chips and the soups.

But they’ll admit when someone else can make it better. For example, the cheesecake comes from a vegan bakery in New Jersey that Elizabeth tells me came after a failed attempt to make the dessert themselves. After that, “we found someone who knows what they’re doing,” she says.

Their bread comes from local favorite Lorraine’s Bakery at the Lynchburg Community Market. Urbavore’s Reuben Burger is topped with “curtido,” which is an El Salvadoran ferment made by Gathered Threads in Roseland. When the temperatures warm up, the goal is to source more produce from farms around Lynchburg as well.

The husband and wife team love their downtown location and are excited to be part of its revitalization. Dinner service is in full swing, and they have applied for an ABC license. Elizabeth’s next plan is to get a retro scooter and deliver to downtown businesses. Long-term goals include fine dining in a larger space.

At Urbavore you can order waffles any time of day, enjoy crab cakes without eating seafood, or try the “eggs” on toast for dinner. Wash it all down with a Virginia-made Kombucha if you like. Finish feeling full and satisfied without the guilt; so you’ll never feel bad about grabbing a slice of that cheesecake or some chocolate pudding on your way out!

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About Author

Rachel Dalton comes from a restaurant marketing and management background in Richmond but now is a wife, mother, writer, exercise enthusiast, very amateur chef, traveler, super planner, dog rescuer and lover of all things local to her new hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia.

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