“If cameraman Korey (@KoreyDavisPhotography) doesn’t shoot it, I won’t eat it.”  I found an article from the Washington Post titled, “One of the country’s poorest cities is suddenly becoming a food mecca”.  As I completed reading the article, I thought it would be cool to look up some of the restaurants discussed and list them on my Facebook in celebration of National Black Business Month.  I assumed the majority would be black owned given the reputation of the city’s demographics (I have never visited Detroit).  To my unpleasant surprise, I could only find one restaurant in the entire article that was partly black owned.  How could this be?  How could a city with all of these black people only be represented by one black restaurateur inside an article about Detroit’s food scene?   So I did my own research and found over fifty black owned restaurants.  I called cameraman Korey, and we were on our way to Detroit that same weekend.

DVS black and white picture with detroit vegan
Kirsten Ussery, Co-owner and TheHungryBlackMan recording our up and coming podcast inside Detroit Vegan Soul Restaurant

We began calling restaurants from my list and narrowed it down to fifteen to review. My finances have been running low covering these businesses, in addition to flying around the U.S., so I tried moonlighting by playing the piano and singing on Ocean Drive, but was run off by a gang of homeless people who already formed their own band.  To that end, I had to make sure this trip was worth it.  Fortunately, Detroit is the place to be if you’re a Foodie, especially a Black Foodie.  We began our journey at Cutter’s Bar and Lounge, then to Le Petite Dejeuner, and finally ending at Detroit Vegan Soul. My experience thus far was humbling and comforting in that these businesses were vibrant, delicious, and service driven.   I decided to cover Detroit Vegan Soul first because it enlightened me on something I thought didn’t exist. Detroit Vegan Soul is a 100% Plant-Based, Organic, Dairy/Egg/Lactose Free restaurant. There’s even a counter area where you can watch the employees make smoothies (which are fantastic btw). The restaurant’s slogan “Soul Food Made From Whole Food,” is painted beautifully along the ceiling where directly under it, young people are at the register taking orders.  We decided to dine in given that the restaurant had really cool seating, natural lighting, an amazing juice bar, and views of the surrounding historic neighborhood in which it resides.

DVS Logo on glass door

I sat down and was greeted by co-owner and General Manager, Ms. Kirsten Ussery, who was able to speak with our team along with her partner and Executive Chef, Ms. Erika Boyd for our upcoming podcast.  “Detroit Vegan Soul started with a more personal journey in that my family has a history of diabetes and Erica’s father passed from cancer.  These realities had us really take a look at our health, and Erica began making vegan meals at home, and I enjoyed them, especially the southern fried tofu that mimicked southern fried chicken, so that is how I was sold to becoming vegan.”  The business is the only 100% vegan restaurant in Detroit and is completely black female owned.  Looking at the menu, you see soul food staples, only with the meat being replaced with a plant based substitute.  “If it had a mother, we won’t serve it,” stated Mrs. Ussery, who was attempting to make me feel bad for eating so many animal babies in my lifetime.  Like, I honestly feel bad right now.  But just one thought of the goodness I experienced while ripping into a veal chop I had the previous night at this Italian spot had me remove any empathy or guilt.

DVS COVER photo 1
This place was amazing!

Now, back in my primal mindset, I was ready to review this place for real, for real.  I ordered the Southern Fried Chicken Bites, oh wait, I’m sorry….I meant to say the Southern Fried Tofu Bites ($9).  These little nuggets were hand battered, fried, and served with an in-house spicy buffalo dipping sauce.  I took a pause to really observe the scandalous dish placed on my table. This was an affront to fried chicken eaters everywhere! As I went to take a bite, none other than a manifestation of the Black lady from the racist Popeye’s Chicken commercials appeared brandishing a Billystick, daring me to take a bite of this plant based impostor.  I gathered up courage with God’s help, took one of the golden cubes, dipped it in the sauce and ate it whole.  Then, I took another piece, and another, and before I knew it, I was eating the entire bowl.  I wanted so badly to critique the bites, but just kept eating instead. How did this thing taste like chicken? What type of sorcery was at work here?  I was determined to find out.

DVS Chicken Bites
Southern Fried Tofu Bites

The eerie aberration of the Popeye’s Chicken lady had grown furious as she crip walked wearing her iconic “Aunt Jemima” apron clinching a set of thongs in one hand and the billystick in the other.  I knew at this point I should probably fear for my safety. However, I ignored my mind’s illusions, and ordered the Fried Broccoli ($8).  I’ve had pretty good fried broccoli at other joints, but this was some other s$%&, and was honestly, the best I’ve had thus far. It came with an incredible sweet Asian inspired dipping sauce that was just superb.  Each piece had a mild crunchy batter, that once broken, ushered in a moist and mouthwatering broccoli floret so succulent and bursting with flavor….I teared up….literally.  I know, I know, I’m describing broccoli here, but you just don’t know how good God was being to me this day…Thank you Lord.  Honestly, I’m salivating as I type this review. The frying technique used in achieving this perfect condition with its beautiful golden brown color and perfect texture was Southern to the core, and would definitely be GRANDMA approved.

DVS Broccoli
Fried Broccoli

At this point, I am impressed with EVERYTHING, and hadn’t even had my main course. The service, food, atmosphere, art, I mean everything, was so freaking perfect. My true appetite was finally intrigued, and I was ready to try these 100% vegan dishes.  My first selection was the DVS Burger ($10), which is a House-made veggie millet patty with lettuce, cucumber, tomato, red onion and pesto aioli on a sesame seed bun.  Understand what I am about to tell you….I can eat this damn burger every day for a year, and never get tired of it.  For starters, it didn’t necessarily fool you into thinking it was beef, there was something else at work here.  The patty was just good as f$%#.  It was flawlessly seasoned for an uncomfortable level of balance in addition to a texture and patty consistency of an Angus burger.  This was important to me because I’ve eaten some amazing black bean burgers around the country, but they usually become mushy and slightly unstable.

DVS Burger
DVS Burger

Following the Burger, I ordered the “Catfish” Tofu ($12), which was a cornmeal battered tofu, broccoli/corn medley with redskin potatoes and onions.  This dish was as indistinguishable from fried catfish as one can get using plants.  At this point I’m thinking these two young ladies did what many have speculated the great Blues musician Robert Johnson did on a crossroads late one night….there is simply no explanation for this food.  How are they able to trick a carnivorous brute like me into eating healthy vegan food? I love soul food. I love meat. I love salt, sugar, grease, and just about everything unhealthy.  I am not ashamed, I am just being honest with you. For me to enjoy the food at the level I did, was seriously unsettling to my philosophy and an insult to the many animals in my life who have made me the man I am today. (I ate some stuff before the picture was taken, so my apologies. The food was just too good and cameraman Korey was taking too long and it was getting cold)

DVS Catfish

Falling deeper into this spell of vegetable voodoo, I ordered the Soul Platter ($14), which came with mac-n-cheese, tenderly smoked collards, maple glazed yams, black-eyed peas and a cornbread muffin.  The collard greens were good, but I must admit, I’ve had better, but it didn’t take away from the amazing flavor they possessed.  I mean, without the meat for them to taste like Grandma’s, it still turned out pretty good.  The mac-n-cheese was OK, but I’m too use to the unhealthy version with cow cheese to truly appreciate the vegan rendition, so I was not too keen on that.  The beans were plain old southern goodness.  They were Black Thanksgiving approved. The yams were nice and sweet, and the cornbread muffin was soft and flavorful.

DVS Soul Plate
Soul Food Platter

My final dish was the most unbelievable.   I ordered the Seitan Pepper Steak ($13), which is a seitan stir fry in a special sauce with peppers, onions, garlic and ginger served with brown rice and sesame broccoli.  I began praying, thanking the Lord for blessing me with the opportunity to have such an amazing healthy meal, and taste JUST LIKE FREAKING STEAK!! HOW THE F%$@ ARE THEY DOING THIS S%#@?!  Like, for real now. I’m starting to think these ladies are actually serving meat and just putting on a front.  That was until I had the opportunity to see them preparing it. I am at a loss. I have never been able to use this word, but I was BEWILDERED.  If you’ve ever gone to an upscale Japanese grill and had amazing sirloin steak stir fry, this dish will either compete or beat any of those experiences. It came with brown rice in this little cool white bowl. It deceives you as far as its heartiness goes as well. I’m a big guy, and couldn’t really eat much more after that.  It is very filling. This dish would fool even the most ardent meat eater. The flavor and texture is like none other.  I would honestly go back to Detroit, just to have this dish.

DVS Stir Fry
Seitan Pepper Steak

My Black Foodie Series will continue reviewing Black owned eateries in Detroit over the next few days.  Detroit Vegan Soul lived up to its name in bringing true soul to its menu. The name also probably references how these young ladies sold their own soul to come up with such amazing food. I will keep them in my prayers so they can get both their souls back. As a meat eater, I’ve eaten at a couple other Vegan spots and most of them have tasted like leaves and soil.  I will NEVER be a vegetarian or vegan, unless forced to, but I would eat here daily if they had a location in Miami.  Oh wait, I’m not done!  The desserts and beverages!  Yep, I tried a vegan chocolate chip cookie ($3.00), and it was pretty much just a chocolate chip cookie that happens to be totally vegan. I then had a piece of cake ($4.00); I don’t remember how to adequately describe the flavor besides chocolate, but it was really good.

DVS Cake
German Chocolate Cake

They have great tasting vegan sodas that were  crisp and refreshing, but you have to be careful not to drink too much because they do have quite a bit of sugar.

DVS Sodas
This vegan soda brand was off the chain

There was also a Hibiscus Tea available that was phenomenal.  I would definitely order one of these and a soda as your beverages if you choose to dine here.

DVS Sorel Drink
Hibiscus Tea

They change their desserts weekly, so you probably wouldn’t get what I had anyway. I tried another cake, but I ate it before Korey took the picture.  It was super soft and moist with an awesome buttercream tasting icing.  I must say, Detroit Vegan Soul changed the way I view Vegan cuisine and the eating habits of my people across the nation.  There is an alternative, and it’s delicious.  They honestly demonstrated what happens when #blackgirlmagic decides to take over a cooking style and put some soul in it.  If you’re in the Detroit area, I would definitely recommend you stop at Detroit Vegan Soul.  Stay on the lookout for the podcast with both co-owners as special guest.

Follow The Hungry Black Man on Facebook @thehungryblackman and Instagram at #thehungryblackman! Sign up for great eateries around the country by dropping your email below!DVS Soul Food Made From Whole Food

8029 Agnes St Detroit, MI 48214

PHONE:(313) 649-2759

http://www.detroitvegansoul.com/

Atmosphere A hip and vibrant dining room that has character without trying to hard.

Sound Moderate.

Drinks and Wine – Beer and Wine

Price $ (Moderate)

Open Monday – Closed

Tuesday-Saturday – 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Takes Reservations No

Delivery No

Take-out Yes

Accepts Credit Cards Yes

Accepts Apple Pay Yes

Good For Lunch

Parking Street

Bike Parking Yes

Wheelchair Accessible Yes

Good for Kids Yes

Good for Groups Yes

Attire Casual

Ambience Casual

Noise Level Average

Alcohol No

Outdoor Seating No

Wi-Fi Free

Has TV No

Waiter Service Yes

Caters Yes

Written by thehungryblackman

Starex Smith is an accomplished and experienced public administrator, fundraiser, foodie, and culinary business developer who has committed himself to maximizing the Black experience in the United States! He currently serves as Vice President of Strategy and Development for Black Tech Week with over twelve (12) years of experience in managing public/private partnerships, large scale events, and nonprofits. He has successfully raised over 20 million dollars in funding for various governmental entities, food companies, and individuals. Starex has assisted countless food industry businesses successfully obtain funding, taking mom and pop storefronts to scalable businesses. His success in working with restaurants sparked a passion for food and entrepreneurship which led to the launching of Sothern Bytes, a teaching platform food business dedicated to an ever evolving food industry with a focus on technology, culture and innovation. Having constantly run into stereotyping negatively affecting his dining and vacationing experiences, Starex decided to curate great destinations, restaurants, and discuss issues surrounding being a hungry Black man. Starex completed both his Bachelor’s and Master’s coursework in Public Administration at Florida International University where he served as president of the Black Student Union and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated, Lambda Tau Chapter

18 comments

  1. What a fantastic review my mouth is watering! I can’t wait to go!! So glad you stopped in the D for some fine dining, we do have a lot of great places for foodies and this will be at the top of my hit list for sure. Well done Ladies!

    Like

  2. First, you need an editor. Your first graf is superfluous; too much about you later also. Second,“just one thought of the goodness I experienced while ripping into a veal chop I had the previous night at this Italian spot had me remove any empathy or guilt” makes you an idiot.

    Like

      1. I loved and was totally entertained by this absolutely unique and effervescent piece about a place that this vegetarian needs to go to! How can I find your podcast?

        Like

  3. Loved the review (except the parts describing dismembered corpses you ate). Rock on Ladies. You have removed your blinders and have realized eating their bodies is not only a living nightmare for animals but also IS the major cause for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis etc. The taste of flesh should never be a moral compass

    Like

  4. Live im Detroit. There will be a vegan restaurant opening in my neighborhood soon. I could not enjoy this article because it started off in such a negative perspective. Wishing continued success for the ladies.

    Like

  5. I love this place. I have visited several times this year and I have tried so many different vegan places around Detroit but DVD is tops!! Thanks for the review.

    Like

  6. Thanks for the review. I’ve been looking for a good vegetarian restaurant and I think you have found it for me. Looking forward to trying DVS.

    Like

  7. I wish I could come to Detroit just to eat everything looks delicious if I lived there I would only eat out at your place !!! Maybe one day someone will open a vegan restaurant here in Fort Worth, Texas Black owned, We do a one here that I eat at called Spiral and it is vegan.May God bless each of you !

    Like

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