Thursday, October 10, 2013

Benny's Burritos and their Secret Vegan Cheese

Benny's Burritos is generally a bit busy, crowded, loud, and non-vegan for my taste, but I went there for the first time on a night when I'd just met some really good friends, so it holds a bit of a nostalgic place in my heart.  Also, they're pet-friendly!

Benny's has a sizable menu, but obviously it's mostly about the burritos.

The thing that's most special about Benny's is that they offer "Healthy Substitutions At No Extra Charge"!!  This includes the options of a whole wheat tortilla, brown rice, and tofu sour cream.  Unless you order the non-dairy burrito, they do charge $1.00 for soy cheese (vegan); I guess they don't consider that a healthy substitution?  No complaints here; just happy they have it.  Besides, I usually order the non-dairy burrito.


In any event, as of this summer, the printed menu finally indicates that the soy cheese is vegan.  Previously, anytime you would ask, the waitstaff did not know what brand it was*.  Interestingly enough, though: they always handled the inquiry nicely: consistently explaining that it was casein-free.  You kind of have to trust an omni restaurant's non-vegan waiter when he so easily spews those buzz-words.

So, my suggestion for your best bet?  The aptly but boringly named non-dairy burrito: beans, brown rice, salsa fresca & vegan soy cheese in a whole wheat tortilla w/tofu sour cream on the side.  Since you saved that soy cheese dollar, splurge on some guac and dig in to one of these monsters with abandon.

In case you were wondering: they have an A.

Last summer when we were enjoying an early dinner, we spotted this guy outside.

At that particular moment, the interesting thing wasn't obvious.  It had nothing to do with how he was dressed or what he was standing beside; it was that we'd seen him, earlier that day, toting it through Figment.  How he'd managed to make it with his sculpture in tow from the ferry to the east village in about the same time it took our lazy behinds, we'll never know.

Some shots from Figment 2012 for your viewing pleasure.

* It's an epidemic: as much as I love The Bean, there was a recent, similar incident that went as follows:

Us: Is your tofu cream cheese vegan?
Employee: I don't know, let me ask my co-worker; she's vegan.
Vegan employee: (throws a dirty sideye) I don't know.
Us: (not believing she's even vegan) Can you check?
"Vegan" employee: It's from some kosher place in Brooklyn.
Us: Can you look at the container?
"Vegan" employee: (sighs) (pauses) (looks) It is.

Luckily, Mondays are sometimes "Ask the Bean" day on Facebook, so I did just that.  It was confirmed that their tofu cream cheese is, in fact, vegan. But, still not word on what brand/from where.  More mystery vegan cheese...


  1. Benny's is right around the corner from where I live. Next time: holla!

  2. Stacy- I can't believe you live so close to The Best Ice Cream Shop In The Universe. Pooch party! 89 loves big dogs.

  3. This was a slightly misleading post... I thought it would have been all about Benny's...

  4. Not only a fantastic looking Burrito, but Guac, Sour Supreme, an 'A' and a Clown? Looks like heaven.

  5. BYOL- Is there something I failed to mention that you don't already know?

    The Shenandoah Vegan- It was a pretty rad day.

  6. Thanks for the tour, though I'm not 100% certain what I saw.

    As for the burrito, why don't they call it the vegan burrito, if that's what it is? Why make people ask. And the cheese conversation is so familiar. I never can understand why, if they're going to the trouble of having a non-dairy cheese, they don't go all the way and make sure it's vegan. Duh. And then put it on the menu. Double duh.

  7. My word, that burrito is the size of a human arm!

  8. That's fantastic for an omni restaurant to offer all that! I'm such a naive vegan, I've never thought to ask whether soy cheese or sour cream are vegan...but then, I don't think I've ever seen it offered in an omni restaurant! Must remember that though.

  9. I don't know that I've ever been to Benny's! We had an employee dinner there when I worked at PB but I think I declined since it meant having to eat with the boss. And not The Boss.
    Looks decent though.
    I had no idea that there was tofu cream cheese that might NOT be vegan, why would that be? Seems pretty shitty for a vegan to not even decently help out a fellow vegan asking about vegan food...

  10. Andrea- It could be a matter of a non-vegan establishment not wanting to call it a vegan burrito because there isn't a designated cooking surface/utensils/etc.?

    Joey- It kind of looks like a dosa, right?


    foodfeud- They have margaritas, so you could have ignored the boss! There are tofu cream cheeses (and other seemingly veg cheeses) that are non-dairy, but still contain some unsavory animal ingredients; I think they're intended for people who are lactose intolerant? As for that chick: I bring out the best in people ;-)I hope someone doesn't spare her a square one day!!

  11. Linda- oops; my reply didn't post. Yes; sometimes people assume things are vegan. For instance, a tofu dish. Or, a dairy replacement. Not necessarily vegan!


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