Strong Hearts vegan cafe

Photo yoinked from the Post-Standard

If you've been to the Hard Times Cafe in Minneapolis, then you'll feel at home in Syracuse's Strong Hearts Cafe. The menu is all-vegan and even though I am not a vegan, (not even a particularly strict vegetarian) I'd recommend the food here to anyone who enjoys food.

My first meal was the faux-meat "chicken" salad sandwich. After one bite, I vowed to return for every meal until my flight back to Minneapolis. That didn't quite happen, but I still managed to sample a sizable chunk of the menu during my stay in Salt City.

I had french toast in the morning, but you could order it any time, since they serve breakfast all day. It was thick slices of chewy bread topped with fresh bananas. Best french toast I've ever had. The mocha was only okay, but it did its job waking me up. Later I tried the scramble, a mix of breakfast vegetables and spicy tofu. It was good, although I was hoping for something more like the hearty Hard Times scramble that includes potatoes and feeds a family of four.

My other lunch options were the Seitan sandwich and grilled cheese. I ordered the Seitan "loaded" with their full complement of vegetable toppings, and it was so big they gave me a fork to eat it. Yummy. I had a "duh" moment with the grilled cheese, wondering why it didn't melt and it tasted funny. Because it's not real cheese, dummy!

Best of all are the signature milkshakes named after heroes like Rosa Parks and Malcolm X. I had the Earth Crisis (chocolate and peanut butter) and Bobby Sands (mint chocolate chip). How do they make such delicious, creamy shakes without milk? It must be one of their secret vegan special powers.

By the time I left, I was sort of a regular, and everyone recognized me. On my last day in town I talked with owners Joel Capolongo and Nick Ryan about how they started such an awesome cafe. I mostly asked Joel things that he already talked about in this article. The really amazing thing is that they opened the place this year, and every month have more and more customers. I promised I would tell everyone about it, although it might be a long time (if ever) before I would be able to come back.

"We'll be here," said Joel.

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