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Four Unlikely Places to Take Your Vegan Friend for Dinner

Have you ever broken out into a cold sweat when, while heading out to eat, your friend suddenly utters the most dreaded word in a carnivore’s language: vegan? You roll your eyes and imagine sitting on pillows in a Zen garden while being served a plate of iceberg lettuce and carrot sticks by hippies in long, flowing shirts.

Or maybe, like me, you are the actual pain-in-the-ass vegan yourself.

Well, fear no more, because we have compiled a list of some popular local chains that will satisfy your palate and keep your friendships intact. From a beer-guzzling evening of Monday night football to a romantic dinner date, we’ve got you covered.

Yard House
201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Call 561-417-6124, or visit yardhouse.com.
The Yard House is an indoor/outdoor sports bar with an extensive drinks list and over 100 beers on tap. It is one of the first national chains to carry Gardein — a high-protein, plant-based vegan product that can be substituted for meat in almost any dish. In addition to burgers, Buffalo wings (yeah, you read that right), salads, and pasta, vegans can choose the Gardein Orange Peel Chicken that has been known to fool even the most ardent of meat-lovers. Accented with baby carrots and bok choy, it is served with a choice of jasmine or brown rice then topped with a sweet and spicy glaze, and — you guessed it — orange peels! Try it with a side of Sriracha sauce for a hot and spicy kick.

Seasons 52
2428 East Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-537-1052, or visit seasons52.com.
Ah, first dates! Whether your true love is vegetarian or vegan, Seasons 52 has your back. A dark, romantic atmosphere with a live piano bar will help you sweep your sweetie off her feet. Separate vegetarian and vegan menus are available upon request, and include salads, tacos, and pasta. Try the Seasonal Vegan Tasting, which includes a little bit of everything to tantalize her taste buds. A soft taco stuffed with black beans and grilled veggies, cedar plank-roasted tofu, a and quinoa grain and citrus salad pair perfectly with a selection from their extensive wine list.

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PF Chang’s
2418 East Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-565-5877, or visit pfchangs.com.
As one of the most vegan-friendly national chains, PF Chang’s is eager to accommodate a variety of requests. Either crispy silken or five-spice tofu can be substituted for meat in any dish. Try the Coconut Curry Vegetables, which are prepared with crispy silken tofu and a variety of fresh vegetables, smothered in a creamy madras curry sauce, then topped with crunchy peanuts. Its unique blend of flavorful but mild spices will have you planning your next visit before you even finish eating.

Cheesecake Factory
600 East Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-463-1999, or visit thecheesecakefactory.com
Don’t get too excited — they do not carry vegan cheesecake just yet. But you can choose from a variety of appetizers, salads, pastas, and even a homemade veggie burger. A colorful, lively atmosphere and both indoor and outdoor seating make this a perfect place for brunch. Take the water taxi to the Las Olas stop, grab a mimosa, and order the Vegan Cobb Salad. A delectable array of chick peas, beets, avocado, quinoa, asparagus, and tomatoes will satisfy your hunger while still leaving you room for the important things – more mimosas!

(Disclaimer from corporate management and the Vegan Police: While each restaurant chain prides itself on offering scrumptious, meat-free dishes, they warn that because all food is prepared in shared kitchens, they are unable to guarantee avoidance of cross-contamination with animal products.)

Wendy Rhodes is a freelance writer and award-winning author. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @WendyRhodesFL.

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