Earlier this week, local vegetarian restaurant Seva made Thrillist’s list of the Top 22 Best Vegetarian Restaurants in America.
Thrillist is a website based in New York City and founded in 2004 which ranks food, drink, travel and entertainment.
According to Seva manager Colin Leach, this award is due to not just to the “eclectic cuisine,” but also largely in part to the local community’s rallying support.
“We’ve been here for so long so we have a very loyal following,” Leach said. “Regulars come in every single week, sometimes three or four times. We have local owners to help represent our community. It really is a ‘townie thing.’”
Originating in downtown Ann Arbor in 1973, Seva has continuously served the local Ann Arbor community for over four decades. In an effort to provide customers with free parking and a wider-range of seating, after 41 years on East Liberty Street, Seva moved to the Westgate Shopping Center next to Zingerman’s Roadhouse.
As stated on their website, “Our new home is a little bigger, a lot fresher, and full of light…you have to come see our stained glass new home, and Jeff's hand-made cement/bottle glass bar …”
Decorated with plentiful vegetation, lava lamps, island seating adjacent to the grandiose bar and local art plastered on the brightly-colored purple walls, Seva works to curate a specific ambiance for students and Ann Arbor residents.
LSA junior Grace Toll says Seva is not just a “typical” vegetarian restaurant, but one that provides a multitude of options for any kind of customer.
“I think I enjoy it so much just because there really are so many choices,” Toll said. “Most restaurants are like, ‘Oh, you don’t eat meat? Here’s a salad,’ but Seva has many options that are actually really good.”
Each week Seva provides a new specials menu including half-off appetizers like falafel bites and bruschetta, or a selection of custom-made entrees such as spinach-feta quesadillas filled with ricotta, jalapenos, cilantro and a Mediterranean black-bean salad or Jackfruit tacos stuffed with spicy jackfruit carnitas, corn salad, seasoned pinto beans and vegan nacho cheese.
Not only does Seva give customers the option to make any meal vegan by substituting their homemade almond-cheese they also have an entire menu dedicated to those who eat gluten-free.
LSA sophomore Jeremy Clemente, who dropped into Seva on the cold Wednesday evening, said he enjoyed his vegetarian meal.
“I had the falafel bites and bruschetta as an appetizer and an impossible burger with yam fries as my entree,” Clemente said. “The food was all very flavorful and had nice presentation. I enjoyed my meal and the spicy mayo that came with the yam fries was especially memorable.”
Since 2014, veganism has grown over 500 percent. According to LSA junior Jacalyn Webster, president of the Michigan Animal Respect Society, veganism is the most sustainable diet one could possibly have.
“Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1.1 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 40 square feet of forest, 20 pounds CO2 equivalent and the life of an animal,” Webster said.
According to Webster, Ann Arbor is a hub for vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Besides Seva, there are a myriad of plant-based eateries including The Lunch Room, Fresh Forage, Detroit Street Filling Station and the Vedge Cafe.
“I went vegan five years ago and I remember if I went to any regular supermarket they didn’t have plant-based milk alternatives,” Webster said. “Now, they’re everywhere. I mean, I go Walgreens and there is Silk yogurt. Ann Arbor itself is amazing, I would definitely call it a 'vegan hub.'"
Hope Mleczko, daytime manager of Seva, is proud the restaurant was named one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the country and hopes this pushes more people to go vegan.
“We’re in very good company being on that list, it is quite an honor — we are very happy to named as one of the best.” Mleczko said.