Vegan families can indulge in deep-fried delights and more at the newly opened Vegan Junk Food in the Foster-Powell neighborhood.

While driving down Foster Road, the bright, orange-and-white awning of Vegan Junk Food caught my eye — that and the hilarious logo of a raccoon holding a corndog and fountain drink. It’s housed in the building that was formerly Diane’s Restaurant, a long-time neighborhood diner. And Vegan Junk Food’s interior still has that old-school diner vibe going. But, of course, everything on the menu is totally plant-based. Though we regularly cook meatless meals for dinner, we are not a vegan family. If I explained to my cheese-loving daughter that vegans don’t eat cheese, she would probably get teary. Still, I wanted to try the new spot. 

Since my 9-year-old and 6-year-old are currently too young for the vaccine, we’re sticking to takeout or outdoor dining. I tried phoning in my order for pickup, since I wanted to ask about possible allergy information. (My husband is allergic to certain nuts that are common ingredients in vegan sauces and cheese.) But no one picked up my calls, so I placed my order online for pickup. 

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Wanting to avoid anything with sauce, my husband got sides of roasted broccoli ($6), cauliflower ($6) and sushi rice ($4). Once I explained what “totchos” were to my daughter, she asked for them, but sans salsa ($12). The online ordering format did not give me the option to hold toppings, so I hoped I could scrape off any salsa or that they’d put it on the side. I ordered the chicken “nuggies” for my son, hoping the fried breading would be close enough to actual chicken nuggets to convince him to eat them ($13). And I tried the spicy fried “chicken” sandwich ($13). 

Once I placed the order, I was told it’d be ready in about 20 minutes. And that was an accurate estimate. Pro tip: Pick up your order inside the restaurant location, 5052 SE Foster (not at 5030 SE Foster). For a newly opened spot, they were bustling. I had to wait just a few minutes for them to finish bagging up my order, but when I got home, everything was still hot.

Luckily for my daughter, the totchos toppings came in separate containers, which makes sense for a to-go order of a food that can get soggy almost immediately. She was very impressed by the huge portion of tater tots and tried all the toppings individually to see if she liked them before piling them on her tots. Turns out the Southwestern chili was too spicy for her (and oddly didn’t have any tomatoes). And she wasn’t a fan of the “cheese” sauce either. So she basically had tots for dinner. (I tried the pico de gallo and tomatillo salsa and definitely recommend them!) The portions of roasted vegetables were just as generous as the tots, so my husband shared his broccoli and cauliflower with both kids. He was impressed with the preparation of both veggies, especially the sweet and mellow roasted garlic that came with the broccoli. He also really enjoyed the slightly sweet sushi rice topped with sesame seeds. My son, Cruz, enthusiastically dove into his chicken nuggies. He ended up only eating one. He mostly ate fries and veggies. My sandwich could have used more sauce and lettuce, and the breaded “chicken” patty seemed to have absorbed a lot of oil. I still ate quite a bit of it. 

Admittedly, my family is not the target audience for Vegan Junk Food. That said, I can see how vegan families who often can’t find diner-style fare easily when dining out, would appreciate the many offerings at Vegan Junk Food. 

If you go: Vegan Junk Food, 5052 SE Foster Rd. Wednesday-Sunday, 4 pm-10 pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

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Denise Castañon
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