“Other vegan restaurants focus on health; when you think of veganism you think of salads and we (vegans) eat more than that,” James Knaap, owner of Lekker Vegan says. Cape Town’s first – and only – vegan junk food joint boasts everything from burgers and buninis to cheesecakes and the Cape Town classic Gatsby. We recently tried one of these gastric sandwiches when we visited James at his Zonnebloem location.
Thrown into the restaurant by the loyal Cape Doctor, we take a moment to reassemble ourselves before walking up to the counter. As we do, the ever enthusiastic Front of House Voscho greets us with a contagious smile.
“How can I make your day,” he asks.
After seating us at a photo-friendly table back-dropped by the Lekker Vegan logo, he promises to return with our ordered drinks. Before we’ve swallow our first sips, Voscho is carrying a serving tray towards us.
Crammed into half a baguette are smokey vegan beef strips, a generous portion of fries, vegan cheddar cheese, Lekker spicy sauce, a lettuce and tomato reduction, and jalapeños. If that wasn’t enough, seven vegan chicken nuggets and a Lekker OG dipping sauce accompany the dish.
“This half portion can’t be eaten by just one person,” we gasp.
“Oh it can,” James responds confidently. “A lot of people say that vegan food is expensive and I’m trying to prove them wrong, it doesn’t have to be,” he adds.
For only R88, James is quite right.
Intimidated by the sheer size of the gastric gatsby, we stall by starting with the nuggets. Our appetites are ignited from the first bite. The nuggets are still piping hot from the fryer, and coupled with the tangy sauce, our palates are taken on a journey. Sweet and sour, hot and cold, crunchy with a soft inside. We feed hungrily on the nuggets until the last one cowers at the bottom of the side dish.
Next, we tackle the legendary gatsby; the meal that has reduced men to boys.
The Lekker Beffy has an undeniable kick to it, and we have the chopped chillies to thank for that. Coupled with the creamy spicy sauce, we are getting all the heat a group of gastronomes can ask for. The vegan cheddar cheese offers release if you might not have an aptitude for picante but that isn’t what impresses us. We fork out some of the vegan cheese and it bares a suspicious resemblance to dairy cheese. We are amazed that it tastes better. The fresh red onions bring a sharp sweetness to the dish, coupled with lettuce for added crunch.
We gorge ourselves until we are quite literally coming apart at the seams, but we don’t want to waste a single bit of this meal.
Lekker Vegan is the perfect date spot, or you can catch up with friends over a few bottles of restorative kombucha. If you’re trying to give your non-vegan friends some food education, they certainly won’t miss their beef here.
And it’s pocket friendly too. Bunini toasties go for as little as R35 while a belt buckling full gatsby sets you back R155.
Have you visited Lekker Vegan? How has your experience been? Let us know in the comments below!
Find them at:
37 Barrack Street,
Zonnebloem, Cape Town
Mon – Thurs 11.00 – 22.00
Fri – Sat 11.00 – 3.00
Sun 12.00 – 22.00