Review: Inside Detroit Vegan Soul’s New Westside Location

It’s one of several restaurant openings in Grandmont Rosedale this year
Photographs by Jacob Lewkow

The dinner commute for Detroit’s west side vegans has been slashed. After months of anticipation, Detroit Vegan Soul fans have another choice in northwest Detroit’s North Rosedale Park.

The cross-town trip to the original West Village spot was worthwhile to sample how co-owners Kirsten Ussery and Erika Boyd translated Boyd’s family recipes into the vegan discipline.

As a confirmed meat eater, I was a tad skeptical. But my taste buds turned around a few years back at a “Best of Detroit” party when sampling their Seitan Pepper Steak. I could see why Hour Detroit readers have bestowed their vegan seal of approval since 2014.

So, when the new branch opened in my neck of the woods, I ordered a cross-section of the menu for a smorgasbord-style family tryout.

In the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life, the young travel-lusting George Bailey says: “Say, brainless, don’t you know where coconuts come from?” But it’s where coconuts end up that makes for one of Detroit Vegan Soul’s most tantalizing menu items.

Their Coconut “BLT” Wrap comes with a soy-free “veganaise” substitute for mayo and was the best item we sampled, hands down.

Other substitutes were a hit, as well. One of our offspring dubbed their vegan “burger” as ranking among the best in town. We were also pleasantly surprised by the cornmeal battered “Catfish” tofu.

They also serve milkshakes, including a Strawberry Dream and a Choco Banana Split, both made with coconut milk ice cream.

At press time, Detroit Vegan Soul announced it was moving its brunch to the west side location. And that will be another welcome addition to the neighborhood. But then again, Detroit Vegan Soul has always been about local support. They were a 2012 finalist in the Hatch Detroit Contest, and once received a Hatch Alumni spot grant.

They also partner with local vendors such as Avalon International Breads, Michigan Soy, and The Brinery. Detroit Vegan Soul is also a founding member of FoodLab Detroit.

More recently, Detroit Vegan Soul received another boost from the community. They were one of four Detroit startups given a $10,000 award at Crain’s Homecoming Detroit.

They may take their show on the road. Ussery says they’re considering doing pop-ups in other markets, and are pondering expansion, but only if they can maintain the integrity of their mission.

But someday, you might be in another state and be able to say: “Say brainless, don’t you know where Coconut BLTs come from?”

Detroit Vegan Soul West, 19614 Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313-766-5728. L & D Tue.-Sat., Br. Sun.

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