A local Vegan Meetup member, Rachel Z., recently informed us that the new Juice Box Cafe would soon be offering Sunday and Tuesday brunches with vegan options, including vegan waffles. (Add emphatic echo and increased volume to “vegan waffles.”) So, of course, we had to go.
The experience was quite pleasant, starting with the brightly-colored walls and various large pictures of fruit, which literally make you feel like you’re inside a giant juice box. (Yeah, I know they’re probably actually white or silver on the inside, but allow your imagination to follow me here.) The staff, including Hillary (chef) and Jenna (juicemaker/server), were incredibly friendly and were genuinely interested in our input on the food. This was especially the case given that we happened to be their very first vegan waffle customers.
The waffles were gluten-free, made with a blend including rice flour and oat flour. They plan chickpea flour in the future as well. They were relatively dense, with a nice level of moistness, not overly stiff, a good level of toastedness, and a wholesome-feeling texture. Excellent flavor balance as well, especially with several fillings: mixed berries, banana, and walnuts.
They had some very minor sticking and breaking apart issues, visible in the picture, but this didn’t alter the flavor at all. (Not to mention that tossing it would have been wasteful–not all restaurants are so conscientious.) And this issue was already worked out by the time a second customer ordered them.
About the only recommendations I have for them would be to try just a little more leavening, even though I (and probably others) do sometimes enjoy dense waffles, and to offer a real maple syrup option for us hard-core waffle snobs, er, enthusiasts. I have no doubts they’ll have many satisfied vegan waffle customers.
Alongside the waffles, the tomato- and cucumber-based juice was refreshingly excellent, as was the vegan breakfast burrito stuffed with tofu scramble and several veggies. It created a well-rounded, enjoyable, and filling experience.
While The Zenith’s Sunday Brunch still remains my favorite recommendation for out-of-town vegan visitors to the ‘Burgh (just plan ahead for long waits), the three Pittsburgh locations that now include vegan waffles on their menus regularly or intermittently (The Juice Box Cafe, Oh Yeah! Ice Cream and Coffee Co., and The Waffle Shop) certainly have my attention. I’ll be visiting The Juice Box again for some tasty eats.
What are the favorite vegan waffle locations in your town?