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BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse is the best joint if you’re looking for a friendly, high-energy atmosphere. Founded in 1978, BJ’s has a rich history that started with a single restaurant in Santa Ana, California. Today, the company has over 200 locations in 28 states. It’s taken over the country, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing its expansion.
You may be thinking that this kind of big business is nothing to brag home about. Still, this place has something that makes Americans wanting to repeat their experience, tell their friends about it, share it on social media, and take their entire family there for dinner. What makes this place so unique?
BJ’s attracts customers because it offers something that other places fail to provide – delicious, affordable food for everyone. Whether you’re a family celebrating a birthday, a group of friends wanting to catch the game over beers, a busy lawyer wishing to have a late dinner after a long day at the office, or on your first date with that special someone, you can go to BJ’s. You’ll get a fun experience that will keep you coming back.
That’s all swell, but what are the vegan options at BJ’s? If BJ’s is the perfect place for everyone, then how will it accommodate vegan customers?
In a place where burgers and pizzas are the most popular items on the menu, vegan options are scarce. Still, BJ’s will surprise you with a decent selection of vegan-friendly alternatives that may be worth the trip.
Read on to find out what BJ’s vegan-friendly options are to accompany one of their award-winning handcrafted microbrews.
When you’re trying to appeal to everyone, it’s not easy. That’s why BJ’s menu is abnormally massive; it offers an obscene number of choices. The good thing for us vegans is that our options are limited to a more manageable number. Non-vegan’s be warned, it will take you ages to decide what to eat. No wonder people keep come back; they always feel like they missed out on something.
Let’s look at each section of the menu. We won’t worry about non-vegan dishes and only focus on items that are sure to be vegan-friendly or easy to modify to make it vegan-friendly.
The list of starters to share is quite long. Thankfully, BJ’s didn’t forget their vegan customers. Here are the vegan options:
• Chips and Fire-Roasted Salsa
• House Made Guacamole and Chips
• Sweet Potato Fries
• Turmeric-Roasted Cauliflower
There should be no problems with the two chips dishes. Salsa is almost always vegan unless it’s creamy salsa, which contains dairy.
For the sweet potato fries, make sure to ask for it without any sauce. Ketchup is seldom vegan since it contains sugar that is likely produced with bone char, an animal product.
The turmeric cauliflower sounds terrific. It’s made with toasted almonds, green onions, and lentils. For this one, make sure to ask if it’s made with butter. If it isn’t, it should be a great vegan starter.
Soups And Salads
When it comes to soups, I’m sure you’re usually skeptical about the chances of seeing a vegan soup. Indeed, most soups use chicken or beef broth. But BJ’s did it. They offer a soup that is certified vegan! And wait till you find out what’s in it.
• Vegan Lentil with Ancient Grains Soup
• House Salad
The vegan lentil soup is made with top-quality grains and the most delicious lentils. BJ’s goes as far as to claim that it’s the tastiest lentil soup you’ve ever tasted. That sounds like a challenge that I’m willing to take.
The house salad is unfortunately not vegan certified but can easily be made vegan-friendly. Ask for it without the croutons and parmesan cheese, and you’ve got yourself a killer soup and salad combo.
If BJ’s heart is its award-winning beers, then its soul is surely its pizzas. Indeed, BJ’s uses a Chicago style pizza with a California twist. I’m unsure of the meaning of the cross-breed, but it’s what made the place famous.
If you walk in the spot, smell the dough, and just have to try it, there may be a way. You can choose the “build your pizza” option. Choose your favorite vegan toppings, ask for no butter on the crust, and no cheese. Make sure to tell them that you want your pizza made on a separate baking sheet to ensure that your pizza remains untouched by dairy or animal products.
Slow Roasted Entrees
This is the meat lovers’ section. It features baby back ribs, prime ribs, tri-tip, pork chops, grilled chicken, and shrimp scampi. Wow, that was difficult to write, but I did it for you! Now you can easily stay clear from this section and feast your eyes on something less animal-based.
Unfortunately, the pasta selection isn’t much more appealing for vegans. But special pasta is often featured at different locations, so it’s worth asking if they have any vegan pasta.
These salads are a meal on their own. The smallest one, Caesar Salad, is over 800 calories, while the Honey-Crisp Chicken Salad is estimated at around 1300 calories. That’s a scary amount of calories for salads, but you won’t have to worry about it since BJ’s entree salads aren’t vegan-friendly.
This is the part I thought would be the most promising. However, after studying each item under this section, I was confused and unsure about the ingredients. First of all, none of the dishes are guaranteed vegetarian. If that’s the case, the chances for any of these dishes to be vegan-friendly are slim to none.
The burgers section features many gluten-sensitive creations, yet a vegan burger has not been added to the list.
Sandwiches And Tacos
Another section that you can pass. Every dish features meat, seafood, cheese, or dairy. To modify any of these, you might as well grab an apron and make it yourself.
Finally, a section of this enormous menu that has more than four vegan options! You can choose from a selection of seven sides.
• Rice Piaf
• Baked Potato (if you ask for olive oil, no butter or cream)
• Sauteed Green Beans
This is a great selection that could make your meal at BJ’s a little more pleasant. I recommend asking about the veggies from this section. Make sure that they are not sauteed with butter. This should be an easy fix.
BJ’s is famous for its Pizookie. It’s a delight that starts with a chocolate-chip base baked in a pizza pan topped with ice cream. BJ’s offers many flavors and make your own, but nothing vegan-friendly. Sorry my vegan friend, but dessert is out of the question for you.
Restaurants are still behind when it comes to catering to vegans. Even a place like BJ’s, which seems like a place for everyone, has not yet included enough vegan options to make it a viable vegan hangout. Nonetheless, making a non-vegan beer is pretty tricky, and BJ’s has got a serious line up of killer beers that could help you forget the lack of vegan options on the menu.
BJ’s has created a restaurant chain that offers a friendly, casual, and fun atmosphere. It’s a place where almost anyone can have a nice meal at an affordable price. The menu is decorated with hundreds of options that would overwhelm the hungriest clients, but it doesn’t have enough vegan options to consider it a proper vegan-friendly restaurant. Still, if you’re invited to BJ’s, you’ll be able to find something to eat. You’ll have to look at the starters, soups, and salads, and the sides section of the menu to find something for you.
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse offers a vegan soup shows that the restaurant acknowledges that vegans are here to stay. It proves that restaurants are starting to realize that vegans should have more options. Even though BJ’s isn’t vegan-friendly, it offers proof that the future looks better for vegan dieters, and that’s something to celebrate.