Why We Can’t Have Nice Vegan Restaurants

Did you even know Atlanta once had a vegan deli?

Yes, that’s right: a vegan deli. Picture bright, plastic containers of ready-to-eat meals, from mac and cheese to chicken salads — all free of meat, dairy, and egg.

Most people I’ve told about the vegan deli had no idea that one had ever existed — including vegans, at least three of whom had driven past the vegan deli five days a week for the past year. They didn’t notice it for the same reason I didn’t: the name of the joint was “Dough Bakery.”

Yep. Dough Bakery. Doesn’t really say “vegan” or “deli,” does it?

Now, to be fair, Dough Bakery was also a bakery, serving up vegan cinnamon rolls and birthday cakes. But it was also the place to get vegan breakfast scrambles and vegan pepperoni and vegan deli meats — at least, until they went out of business a few months ago.

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We have a new favorite Thai restaurant. The spice levels are intense and authentic. The food is lovingly prepared using local ingredients. The flavors (particularly the gai pad prik) remind us of the dishes at our beloved Thai House in Jackson, Mississippi.

On top of all this, the menu is 100% vegan. The homemade meat substitutes are virtually indistinguishable from real chicken, beef, and shrimp, so everything from the larb gai (a ground “chicken” salad dressed with cirtus and mint) to the pad thai (the sweet, savory, spicy noodle dish) are meat-free.

That said: we don’t expect our new favorite Thai place to be around six months from now. Why?

Because it’s called “Drink Art.”

Now, to be clear, our new favorite Thai place has many challenges. The location, over in Castleberry Hill, has no parking beyond what you can snag for yourself on overcrowded streets.

Once inside, all seating in the tiny first-floor dining room is for couples only, so we can’t really invite other couples to join us there. The one table capable of seating more than two people is on a cramped second-floor landing — a space we’ve found to be too hot in summer and too cold in winter. And while there are a few tables on the roof, how often do you really want to eat dinner exposed to the sun or wind?

But when Drink Art fails — and it will fail, despite how much we love it — it won’t be beause of the parking or the seating.

It will be because of the restaurant’s name.

“Drink Art” doesn’t suggest Thai food in any way. “Drink Art” doesn’t suggest vegan cuisine in any way. And if you’re looking for a place that specializes in fancy cocktails, what you find at Drink Art, despite its many charms, isn’t going to delight you.

Drink Art. It’s the new Dough Bakery.

Enjoy it while you can.


Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

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Who Wrote This?

Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

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