After living here five years, I have to say, Columbia isn't half bad - it's kind of grown on me! When we first moved here, there really wasn't much to do in the conservative capitol of SC other than go out for burgers or to a college bar. But over the only but over the past few years, Columbia has evolved tremendously, and we've discovered a few hidden gems - the best Thai restaurant outside of Thailand, a craft beer and growler store with all local brews, and we even got Trader Joe's and Whole Foods to join our Earth Fare and Fresh Market. Movin' on up!
I decided we officially made it when Good Life Cafe, a raw, vegan restaurant opened on Main Street. For realz. The city of burgers, pimento cheese and mediocre college football (couldn't help it!) now has a restaurant with items like cashew cheese, kelp noodles and eggplant bacon right smack dab in the middle of downtown. I did little happy dance when I first walked through the doors.
I've been there a few times, and everything has been amazing. But the raw vegan tacos are by far my favorite.
I know what you're thinking. Raw, vegan and taco are not three words you would expect to hear, or maybe want to hear in the same sentence. But hear me out. The filling, made from walnuts, is finely chopped into a ground beef texture and seasoned with all sorts of smoky spices. It's then drizzled in cashew nacho cheese, which y'all already know I'm a fan of. It's served with big scoops of guacamole and salsa on top of the crispiest raw tortilla shell, which I have no clue how to make so I used a regular tortilla (which isn't raw, but you know, I don't do raw food diets and/or labels).
I think you're going to fall in love with this nut meat (go ahead and giggle). The soy sauce, spices and sun-dried tomatoes give it a rich, smoky flavor and it really does taste surprisingly meaty!
- [b]Sour Cream:[/b]
- 1/2 cup cashews, soaked 2 hours in water, drained
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- [b]Walnut Meat:[/b]
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts, soaked 2 hours in water, drained
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Dash cayenne
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- [b]Pico de Gallo:[/b]
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 large yellow onion, finely minced
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- 8 small toasted corn tortillas or lettuce leaves
- 1 cup prepared or homemade guacamole
- Nut meat (see above)
- Cashew sour cream (see above)
- Pico de gallo (see above)
- First, make the sour cream. In a food processor, blend the cashews with 1/4 cup water, apple cider vinegar and salt. If you like a thinner consistency, add another tablespoon or two of water. Set aside until ready to use.
- Rinse out the food processor. Place the walnuts, soy sauce, sun dried tomatoes, spices, and minced garlic in the food processor and blend until it forms a crumbly, ground beef consistency. Be careful not to blend it too long or you'll get a very weird, savory nut butter! Season with salt and black pepper and set aside until ready to use.
- In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the pico de gallo and season with salt to taste.
- Toast the tortillas over a low gas flame. Divide nut meat among the tortillas. Dollop with guacamole and cashew sour cream. Serve with pico on the side.
More meatless tacos: