If ever there were to be a “Manitou- concept” restaurant, new kids on the block Vibes, serving 100 percent plant-based plates, just might be the model. Actually, it’s more of a high-vibe social club: live reggae and other music, plus a bar with alcohol and oxygen (CBD options for each) that just happens to serve a variety of vegan food.
Upon entering the parking lot from Manitou Avenue on my first visit, I was confused. I saw huge signs announcing a variety of meat dishes. It turns out Irie Rasta restaurant is upstairs. To the right, you’ll find a yellow Vibes awning leading downstairs into a dark yet whimsical space with cheerful colors, interesting lighting fixtures, pool and foosball tables, and a few tables to dine. Opting for drinks and a bite at the bar, we perused the small menu board listing four offerings for the evening, each $8, most featuring jackfruit.
Jackfruit is a darling in vegan cuisine because the cooked texture comes out meaty — think pulled pork — and can be found in its original fruit form (large and spindly), canned or packaged in seasoning. We started with street tacos ($8). The four tiny tortillas are packed with spicy jackfruit, cabbage and a creamy avocado sauce. A wee too hot for me, they were just right for my dining companion. The BBQ sliders are equally easy to share: two sliders on a delightfully soft and sweet bun were overflowing with sweet and tangy jackfruit. The cabbage appears again in this dish, as do crunchy sweet potato chips on the side.
It’s the nachos ($8), though, that will have me coming back for more. An ample base of chips serves as the building block for layers of flavor: spicy jackfruit reappears but is accompanied by black beans, a considerable dollop of guacamole, fresh onion and tomatoes, and a top-notch house-made queso. That cheesy sauce is creamy from cashews, tart with lemon juice and so memorable that on my second visit, I simply opted for the queso and chips ($8) so I could savor every bit of it.
The “bar food” can vary day to day, and soup, salads and even seitan buffalo bites just might pop up. You’ll find smoothies ($7) and an acai bowl ($8).
And then, of course, there are the drinks and oxygen. Beer, cider and kombucha on tap, I opted for a standard glass of organic wine ($8-$9). CBD cocktails ($10) are on the menu, as is CBD-infused oxygen ($8; $5 without CBD). I gave the essential oil- infused oxygen a go. It was refreshing, but I can’t say I got an energy boost.
In addition to food, drink and music, Vibes offers yoga classes during off hours (give ‘em a call for details). The laid-back ambiance, friendly staff, great music and healthy vegan eats make Vibes a quirky addition to Manitou Avenue. Go with friends. It’s a fun night out.