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As we travel around the country, The Hungry Black Man team has noticed an increase in the availability of vegetarian and vegan options at Black-owned eateries. For years, I’ve enjoyed vegetarian meals from my Rastafarian friends, whose diets embrace a healthier style of eating. To assist in my weight management and decrease negative impacts to our environment, I go meatless three days a week.
So, it was a pleasant surprise to stumble on what is definitely Virginia Beach’s best vegan restaurant. Desmond’s Island Soul Grill located at 977 Reon Dr STE 102, Virginia Beach, VA 23464, provided our team with one of our most memorable culinary experiences.
The space starts off with an assortment of incredibly refreshing and reasonably priced natural juices and lemonades from local vendors. I had several of them and each was just as good as the other.
I started our order off a little backwards with the banana pudding, but it was worth having dessert first because it beat out 90 percent of its non-vegan competition. I don’t know what kind of milk they used, but the dairy simply was not missed. Let me tell you something, that banana pudding definitely would fool the most adherent dairy lover. The cookie ratio and flavor profiles resembled an amazing vanilla custard with sliced bananas topped with a homemade whipped cream.
Following this exceptional dessert, we had their extremely flavorful, beef-tasting Lentil Empanadas. The lentils were seasoned with hints of onion and garlic and a slight citrusy after taste that was laced with a slight tangy kick. I mean, these little fried dough food angels are addictive and can’t’ be enjoyed with just one order. Please pace yourself.
Next up was their homemade vegan burger. Not that lab stuff. Their burger is made with real organic ingredients. All I am going to say is if you like 5 Guys, then you’re going to LOVE this burger. It was nostalgically delicious in every way possible.
The main courses all have Caribbean roots with flavors of traditional Guyanese cooking. I had the eggplant and Channa curry with callaloo rundown and Rasta pasta. The curries were exceptional, with a bold and robust flavor giving way to a unique and floral taste. You get both sweet and savory notes that are then pleasantly introduced to spices like cinnamon, cardamom, fenugreek, and clove that provide a brightness and energy to the curry. Savory spices like cumin, turmeric, and bay leaf give it a deep, earthy taste. I had it served with a delicious bread called Paratha or “buss up shut,” which is cooked on a flat iron and sort of fried using butter for a soft and fluffy tortilla-like bread with slight holes in it that is used to scoop up the curry deliciousness.
The callaloo rundown was my favorite and gave me Caribbean spinach dip vibes all the way! This restaurant was honestly my favorite (aside from the Black owned Japanese spot) in the entire Virginia Beach-Norfolk area. With amazing service, incredibly flavorful cuisines, and tasty drinks and desserts, what more can you ask for? You can reach them at (757) 963-2681
Our special series on the Norfolk-Virginia Beach coverage is made possible through a partnership with Pharrell William’s nonprofit organization, Black Ambition who is working to reduce the racial wealth and opportunity gap in the United States through positive interventions within communities that have historically, deliberately, and painfully been excluded from access to growth capital for their businesses. Through the Black Ambition Prize, we see a future where ideas flourish, pathways to success are elevated, and more Black and Latinx entrepreneurs are better positioned to build generational wealth that will transform the American landscape.