Gem for vegans in a world of meat

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By Vanessa Maldonado

Pictured, counterclockwise from top left, are Pelotitas de Babilonia, Colorada wraps, and Portabella Psicodelica, choice dishes by Chico’s Mexican Cuisine. (Chris Ullyott)

By Vanessa Maldonado

Bliss in the form of a tamale.

Being a vegetarian, let alone a vegan in this day and age is tough. Chico’s is located on Magnolia Avenue, around the corner from the Galleria at Tyler and caters to a broader audience than most.

The restaurant has been around for two years and is family owned and operated. As I came to find out, it can be a palatable solution for the alternative eaters as well as those who do consume meat; the reason for this is that the owner’s son is a vegan himself.

Upon entering the restaurant, one is greeted with a vast array of colors resembling a tienda in Mexico. The walls are vibrant and far more unique than other restaurants of its kind. Seating is casual as diners are told that they may sit wherever they like. The restaurant is a suitable place for families looking for relaxed dining.

Upon being seated, the server, who doubles as the host, presents the diner with a menu. The host offers a variety of drinks including authentic Mexican drinks such as Ohetcha and Jamiaca. You are given a decent amount of time to look over the menu, which contains a large selection of Mexican food, before ordering.

One of the most interesting things about the restaurant is how it caters to its customers. The restaurant creates both vegan and non vegan entrees. In every dish, soy meat can be substituted for chicken or beef. You do not even have to fear that the vegan entrees will be contaminated by the meat ones as the kitchen has a separate stove for meat and non-meat cooking.

All of the food on the menu is reasonably priced and ranged from a minimum of $6 to a maximum of $14. I decided to try the gourmet special of vegan style enchiladas and vegetarian lentils; I substituted vegan options for the meat and cheese. Depending on the entrée, a dish will be served with soup, salad, beans and rice.

The wait for my food was not long, but it did give me time to take in the restaurant’s ambience. The colors were accented by paintings on display by a local artist named Ricardo Chico. I was somewhat surprised by the lack of music blaring from the restaurant, but figured that it may have been because I went for lunch and not dinner.

Before I knew it, my lentils were elegantly presented to me in combination with chopped carrots, tomatoes and mint. My main course soon followed with the portions being a bit overwhelming.

In all, the restaurant exceeded my expectations. It is not often that you can find a restaurant that so easily caters to the needs of both vegan and non-vegan patrons. With its reasonable prices, inviting atmosphere and generous servings, Chico’s is a destination I would eagerly recommend to anyone.

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