Food & Drink: Plant Yourself Here

The focus at Hungry Pants is on vegan creations like cauliflower tots and tempeh sandwiches, but the meat offerings satisfy as well.
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Choices at Hungry Pants include (clockwise from front): Hurry Curry Bowl, grass-fed beef burger, and a bean and grain veggie burger. (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)

Editor’s note: Hungry Pants is temporarily closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Check on the takeout/pickup/delivery status of other eateries mentioned in this story by visiting their websites or Facebook pages.

One of the original five food trucks that established mobile dining in Orlando was the famed Yum Yum Cupcake Truck, known for making banana cream pie-flavored and buttercream “hamburger” cupcakes. Owners Joey Conicella and Alex Marin left the wheels behind in 2014 (the resold truck shuttered a year later). Now they have returned  with Hungry Pants.

Pushing the confines of the SoDo district farther south, the cozy eatery (formerly home to Carol’s Place Diner) bills itself as a “plant curious” establishment. The space is bright and very young, as is the staff, with playful touches in the pink floor, food-themed wallpaper and honey bear bottles filled with sriracha.

The “Nibble” and “Nosh” menus allow for small bites and many selections at once. Roasted sweet potatoes are given a boost with garlic Greek yogurt; beets are brightened with oranges and citrus vinaigrette. I enjoyed the cauli tots, bite-sized battered cauliflower and sweet potato, but the recommended mac ’n cheese with puréed butternut squash was too nondescript to impress.

The bean and grain veggie burger doesn’t pretend to be meat (I still don’t get the bleeding Impossible Burger stuff) and is very satisfying in its honesty, served in a puffy Old Hearth Bread bun. If the concept of beastless burger is off-putting, Hungry Pants also serves a grass-fed beef version with cheddar (both $9). The curry/lime tempeh sandwich ($8) with avo and arugula, is offset by a turkey Reuben ($9), topped with purple sauerkraut and swiss on toasted pumpernickel. The vegan mezze plate (olives, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper, grilled flatbread with hummus, tzatziki and red pepper muhammara spread; $10) wears a veggie label; tortilla-wrapped  salmon with avocado and quinoa is on the side of the protein-hungry. Bowls, like the Hurry Curry, and salads can also be augmented with chicken, salmon, tofu or a poached egg.

A carefully chosen house wine selection, craft beer and desserts round out the menu. House-made dressings are bold and attention-getting, like turmeric tahini and cilantro aioli.

If the thought of a semi-veggie diet has intrigued you, here’s an inexpensive chance to investigate without investing more than your curiosity.

HERE ARE MORE PLACES around town to satisfy your non-carnivorous cravings.

CheChe’s Vegan Eatery: Tanesha Lambert is still searching for a permanent address for her all-vegan popup business but is a presence at markets and veg-fests throughout the state. The monthly Vegan Market at Thornton Park’s Veranda is where to find her Jamaican and Southern creations like chick’n and biscuits, “crabless” cakes, vegan Jambalaya and Jamaican veggie patties.

Greenbeat: With locations across from the Orange County Courthose downtown and in the Premium Outlets on Vineland Road, this local chain sources from area farms for their choose-your-own bowl-based offerings. Options for roast chicken, salmon and shrimp are available.

Leguminati Vegan Eatery: Long a power on the plant-based food scene with their truck, Leguminati promises a “cruelty-free dining experience.” Their brick-and-mortar in the Hourglass Social House says don’t be cruel, with tofu-based breakfast sandwich and wraps, a tortilla wrap with crunchy chicken substitute, “leguminachos” and the LGBT sandwich of lettuce, guacamole, rice paper bacon and tomato.

V.L.C. Vegan Eatery: Headed by Chef Jim Wu, this Waterford Lakes eatery is entirely vegan—not an animal in sight. “Papa Wu and Mama Wu” (Jim and wife Kiko) use Gardein’s plant protein Chick’n, vegan “tu-na” and “be-ef” and tofu for sushi, teriyaki and curries.

Hungry Pants
3421 S. Orange Ave.
Menu: $4-$12

Categories: Culinary Spotlight, Food & Drink