The No. 1 request from visitors to Hartford’s Parkville Market food hall was a vegan vendor, says Kelly Even, the market’s director of marketing, sales and events. As luck would have it, the Parkville team called Vegan Bodega, owned by LeRoy Knight and his longtime partner Jessica Albino, just as they were about to buy a food truck.
Modern plant-based food isn’t just all vegetables and bland tofu, and Vegan Bodega strikes a good balance between healthy and indulgent. Nutritious options include salads and wraps with fresh vegetables, grain bowls, “sushi” bowls with vegetables and watermelon standing in for tuna, and cold-pressed juices.
But there’s room to play, too, with vegan takes on a banh mi, Cuban sandwich and Italian hero with plant-based meats and jackfruit. Vegetable fried rice, with crisp tofu cubes tossed in General Tso sauce, tastes like your favorite Chinese takeout. You won’t miss any dairy with the mac and “cheeze,” topped with fried or grilled chick’n, or our choice, a hearty and savory fried cauliflower.
Vegan Bodega also takes inspiration from Albino’s Dominican heritage, with vegan versions of rice and beans featuring jackfruit “pernil” or fried chick’n, with beans, tostones and yucca. Baked empanadas and fried egg rolls are filled with vegetables, Impossible meat, seitan, plantains and black beans.
The menu also offers vegan Pop-Tart style pastries, filled with various fruit flavors and even a cookie dough version, and Knight and Albino plan to add more desserts in the future.
Eat in or take out?
Parkville Market’s lively setting in Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood provides ample indoor and outdoor seating, with live music and entertainment on weekends (and several bars, if you fancy a beer or cocktail). But Vegan Bodega’s food travels successfully, and plant-based eaters will enjoy the extensive options.
Parkville Market, 1400 Park St., Hartford
Hours: Lunch and dinner Tue.–Sun. Closed Mon.