The Dancing Dog Eatery and Juicery is in downtown Urbana, but its roots are in the University.
The all-vegan restaurant at 126 West Main Street was created by Linda Lehovec, who is also an Associate Professor in the Dance department, which is where Dancing Dog gets its name.
She has been vegan for almost seven years and creates many of the gluten-free baked goods at Dancing Dog. Her goal in opening the restaurant was provide a dining experience for people who want to explore veganism.
The menu offers plenty of options for vegans and vegetarians that omnivores will also enjoy, including a seitan Reuben, a hearty quinoa salad and tacos with “chorizo” — think Chipotle’s sofritas.
Dancing Dog excels at using a wide variety of meat and dairy substitutes, which can often be difficult for college students to access. County Market’s selection of vegan cheese might be lacking, but Dancing Dog’s menu currently includes goat-style, nacho, “Vozzarella” and almond “cheezes.” For strict vegans, a small selection of vegan wine is also available.
Most of the dishes are also comfort foods that can offer inspiration to new vegans who may miss the flavors of old favorites like grilled cheese, nachos and even deep dish pizza, which is only available after 5 p.m. Saturdays. Like most things on the menu, it can also be made gluten-free.
Though the meals are filling enough, a variety of juices and smoothies made to order. “The Tingler,” which includes 11 fruits and vegetables and “The Reviver,” which surprisingly highlights cilantro, definitely rival Jamba Juice in both freshness and flavor.
The vegan and gluten-free desserts are another hard-to-find option, especially because at least three different choices are available daily. The vanilla-lavender cake is a must-try if you can get it.
The menu may not have as many options as other restaurants in the area, but it changes frequently according to what’s in season. More importantly, it’s significantly longer than most selections for those with dietary restrictions that are normally difficult to accomodate.