Friday, June 10, 2011

RQT visits Pepe's in Lincoln, NE

Front counter & kitchenette
Is it Pepe's Veggie Mix Bistro, or Pepe's Veggie Mex Bistro? I'm still not sure! 

Located in the Havelock neighborhood in Lincoln, NE, the Happy Cow Guide listed this as a full vegetarian restaurant with good reviews, and so ReallyQuiteTasty investigated. The bistro is located up the flight of stairs atop an art gallery.  (If street parking isn't available, there is parking in the rear--the tall wooden stairs with the deck lead up to the back entrance.) Note that if you or your companions have mobility issues, you may have a challenge in reaching the top.

The day's offerings are influenced by the season and change daily, though from what I can gather from previous reviews, there is a regular rotation of items. On the day we visited, the choices on the menu board included chips & salsa, sweet potato & black bean quesadillas, and a sandwich featuring tofu on ciabatta bread. Very limited, but it prevented me from needing to agonize over a long list of offerings. My companion and I ordered at the register and sat down to enjoy the eclectic but homey vibe.

I couldn't decide between the quesadilla and the sandwich, so I ordered both. The salsa was tasty and bright. I had hoped the chips might be homemade, they didn't appear to be so. The plating of the quesadilla was beautiful, as you can see, and though the pairing of sweet potato and black beans is always lovely, the dish didn't particularly stand out; it was a nice but basic dish, though the guacamole was made special with the addition of chopped apple.

Can I say that I was disappointed in the sandwich? From the description on the menu board, I expected a tofu cutlet (perhaps marinated?) layered with some type of spread on the ciabatta bread, but I was greeted instead by a few slices of vegetarian mock deli meat (perhaps Lightlife® Smart Deli™, or maybe Yves® The Good Deli™ brand) and a thin smearing of spread, salsa, and pickle chips. Don't get me wrong - it tasted fine, and it was presented neatly, accompanied by beans and rice. But it just wasn't what I'd hoped, and I felt a little cheated by the deli slices.

I was glad I ordered the cucumber lemonade. From what I've gathered from others, it's a signature beverage for Pepe's. It was unique, refreshing, and not overly sweet; and the serving size of the glass was generous. Definitely try it!

All in all, I will return again - not because I was impressed by the food, but because vegetarian restaurants deserve our patronage. Previous reviewers have raved about the offerings. I found them acceptable but not outstanding, and therefore I was somewhat disappointed; but the atmosphere is nice and I'd like to imagine that maybe I happened to be there on a less than stellar day.

Pepe's is located at 6220 Havelock, Lincoln, NE. Telephone (402) 466-9774.

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