Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Soy patties dubbed “cat-food burgers” by begrudging meat eaters forced to cook them at backyard barbecues. As someone who went five years without animal protein, I understand that the struggle is real. Now, I might be off the vegan wagon, but meat hasn’t erased memories of friends, family and restaurants half-heartedly attempting to satiate veggie-oriented desires.
So when I heard chef Stacey Dougan describe her new eatery Simply Pure as vegan but keeping the carnivore in mind, I thought: Finally. Someone has found a way to bridge the gap.
Dougan was working in artist development for a music company 13 years ago when friends approached her about investing in a raw, vegan café in Atlanta. It was there she learned the difference between tempeh and tofu, even crediting the lifestyle with curing her eczema and psoriasis. After stints as a private chef in Chicago, a health food store operator in Ghana and a resident chef at the famously vegan-friendly Wynn, she decided to plant some Vegas roots of her own. Before long she launched a catering company called Baby I Like It Raw, and was later approached by Downtown Project to become part of the Container Park family.
By December, Simply Pure was pumping out freshly pressed juices, offering a raw salad bar and crafting vegan tacos. It’s a restaurant without grease traps, offering standard fare with a nutritious twist. Take the vegan nachos: All the usual suspects are there, like fresh pico de gallo and avocado, but subbed in are vegan cheeses and “beef” protein. The vegan chicken salad wraps are made with almonds, cashews and cabbage and served with corn chips. Look for new creations like Dougan’s tacos with barbecue “chikin” and jackfruit, which debuted at the recent Punk Rock Bowling festival.
Can a place relying on produce and protein replacements make it in our meat-and-potatoes town?
“I’m a vegan, so what else am I going to do?” Dougan asks. “This is my livelihood, and I know that I have the skills to prepare food that’s palatable for everyone.”
Simply Pure Downtown Container Park, 702-810-5641. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday & Sat-urday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.