I have fond memories of Chicago's La Creperie. It was a Sunday brunch staple during my pre-vegan years in the Windy City, and I knew crepes for their butter, eggs and meat fillings. Which is why it took me five years in Colorado Springs to discover that vegan crepes were available two blocks from my downtown office.
I walked past Paris Crepe daily but assumed it would be impossible to eat vegan and clearly missed the bright green sticker on the door proclaiming, "Vegan Options Inside."
Let's just say I've been making up for lost time.
With an eye toward the needs of diverse diners, Paris Crepe offers kosher, gluten-free and many organic options. And, yes, vegan crepes. Both crepe batters are plant-based: The earthy buckwheat crepe is a great base for savory or decadently sweet crepes, and the lighter garbanzo (chickpea) - vegan and gluten-free - pushes the protein up a notch.
Step up to the counter to place an order - think Chipotle or Garbanzos but with a European twist - and the knowledgeable staff will lead you through how to fill your crepe the vegan way.
For a light, salad-style, the garbanzo Mediterranean crepe ($8.50) is the way to go (just have them hold the feta). Filled with hummus, crisp vegetables and tahini sauce, the fluffy, protein-rich crepe adds satiety and flavor that beats the typical bowl filled with raw vegetables.
The crepe that took me back to Chicago, however, was the savory buckwheat Turkish ($9.99). Opt for sautéed mushrooms instead of chicken or beef, and you'll have all the plant-based meaty umami you need: smoky fungi and sesame-toasted tahini with humus and sautéed onions.
And while vegan desserts are rarely found on menus around town, at Paris Crepe you'll find several options (any would be great for breakfast, too): apricot pear, almonds and cinnamon sugar ($6.99), peanut butter and preserves ($5,95) and, the one I couldn't resist, the almond butter banana and dark chocolate ($6.99). If we eat with our eyes first, you'll be beyond full when you gaze at the decadently decorated dessert crepe. But you'll find room to dive in. The buckwheat flour adds a savory element to the sweet treat and holds up beautifully as the warm banana and rich dark chocolate ooze out with each bite.
I've been making up for lost time at Paris Crepe. The downtown restaurant boasts charm in the European café-style décor (inside and outside) and the "faster" approach to food. It's an ideal spot to pop in for a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner that feels special.