While chef/owner Tamearra Dyson grew up in Louisiana, a state not known for its health-conscious cuisine, her mother raised Dyson and her siblings on a mostly vegetarian diet in an effort to impart the benefits of a meatless lifestyle to her children. Dyson's restaurant, Souley Vegan, is her take on classic Southern and soul food dishes made without refined sugars, artificial ingredients and other additives, and also serves local and organic produce when possible. Check the blackboard for their daily specials, like chicken-fried "steak" or deep-fried seitan, grilled onions and gravy with a baked potato, "butter" and asparagus. Portions are substantial, so if you're going for the "Monster Salad", a garden-sized helping of lettuce, baby spinach, falafel crumbles, 5-spice tofu cubes, avocado, tomatoes and cucumber tossed with with a creamy, Caesar-like dressing -- it's enough to share among 3-4 people, plus it comes with a side of white or whole wheat zapaton bread (Italian for "long shoe"). Ditto goes for the sampler platter, an overflowing smorgasbord of food, and you can add on extra items for a few more dollars. It comes with Southern-fried tofu (fried in a cornmeal crust with a texture and appearance reminiscent of catfish), BBQ tofu, black-eyed peas, lentils, sauteed greens, mashed yams, potato salad, sweet cornbread, mac n' "cheese", red beans and rice and fried okra (accompanied with a vegan tartar-like dipping sauce.) If you have room for dessert, there's an assortment of cobblers, cakes and other treats to choose from, including the strawberry lemon cupcake with grated coconut. Wash it down with local beers, soju cocktails or homemade drinks such as strawberry ginger juice.
301 Broadway [map]
Oakland, CA 94607
Ph: (510) 922-1615
Hours: Tue-Thu 11am-10:30pm; Fri-Sat 11am-11:30pm
Facebook: Souley Vegan
Price range: $$ Entrees ($11-$17)