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La Vida Vegan: Now That’s a Wrap

Spicy salsa balances the sweet corn in a hearty, but meatless, tamale

By Odette Cressler

The Dish
Tamal de Maize

The Spot
Barrio Star

There’s something inviting about small, dimly-lit restaurants. Barrio Star’s atmosphere says “mi casa es su casa” as you walk in. Strings of lights, background music, and Mexican crafts are all around you.

It’s easy to browse through the menu and find the vegetarian and vegan options, as they are already marked. I’m always thankful for this type of “menu key,” as it saves me that awkward conversation with the server, when you ask for the vegetarian options and almost always feel like he or she is a little put out by your question. I go for the Tamal de Maize.

My husband and I munch on homemade chips and salsa while we wait (this place definitely has date night potential). My dish arrives and the plating is beautiful. The tamal is sweet; but the green tomatillo salsa that it’s served with is acidic and spicy enough to make it feel like a savory meal. It’s served on top of a mix of beans, power rice (a mix of quinoa and brown rice), and steamed greens that make the dish hearty and filling, well worth its $13 price.

Fun Fact: Historians claim that lard-less tamales are actually the most traditional, as indigenous people did not raise pigs before the 16th century; therefore, adding lard started after the dish already existed. So lard-less tamales are not just a vegetarian trend—they’re the real deal!

La Vida Vegan: Now That’s a Wrap

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