Find out where to find the best vegan food in Sal, Cape Verde, including the Top 3 restaurants and my recipe re-creations of the best dishes from our trip.
The sunny island of Sal, Cape Verde, offered us a relaxing holiday with vegan treats to enjoy including:
- Traditional Cape Verdean Cachupa – a hearty corn and vegetable stew that gives you the healthy-eating halo.
- Thick and creamy strawberry smoothie perfection – the closest I’ve found to a vegan strawberry milkshake.
- A chickpea and guac burger so delicious that I still dream about it now…
- An introduction to the wonder that is the Vegan Club Sandwich.
Hold on to your sun hats, it’s time to get the low down on where to catch the best vegan grub in Santa Maria, Sal, along with my recipe re-creations of the tastiest treats from our trip.
When we booked to visit Cape Verde, we were looking for cheap, cheerful and most importantly – sunny.
We did more or less no research into the island itself but we knew that it was predominantly volcanic, with little greenery. Now I’m all for greenery but I wasn’t feeling fussy after a long British winter of snow, hail storms and persistent rain that transforms you into a disheveled mess in the 1 minute it takes to walk to work from your car. Like what was even the point in blow drying my hair? I should have just slept for 20 more minutes.
But I digress.
I’m usually rather up for an adventure but we ended up staying in a big hotel complex near Santa Maria, complete with its night time offerings of larger louts singing along to the Lion King.
Despite the over-zealous singing, it was definitely the right decision. The complex itself had everything we needed; it was clean, tidy, and most importantly had a beach bar (obvs).
Look I’m not going to kid you, Cape Verde is definitely not the best place to find vegan food, however there are a few places to keep you on the vegan straight and narrow if you’re heading over for some sun this summer.
Just five minutes drive away from our hotel was the little town of Santa Maria, which we visited three times during our stay. A town that runs along the beach front and has its own charm with rainbow coloured boats, pastel painted buildings and handfuls of shops and restaurants.
Our first stop, one very sunny morning, was Cape Fruit.
This great little cafe was located at the far end of Santa Maria, an easy walk along the beach front gets you there in about 10 minutes.
It is set back from the road with comfy colourful sofas and straw umbrellas offering welcome shade from the baking morning sun.
It is a very popular place and was crammed to the rafters with both visitors and locals. The staff are friendly and smartly dressed, and it is a cosy and relaxed place to eat.
Despite the name, the menu is a mixture of sweet and savoury foods, both vegan and non-vegan. I opted for the roasted vegetable sandwich with a strawberry, banana and coconut soy milk smoothie. The sandwich was MASSIVE (and I only opted for a half) and was full to the brim with an assortment of veggies. It was a tasty lunch but not the best I’ve ever had.
The smoothie-come-milkshake on the other hand might just have been possibly the best I’ve ever had!! A strawberry and banana smoothie doesn’t sound like anything particularly out of this world but it was really delicious – the flavour combination was perfect; it was thick and creamy and the addition of the coconut on top tipped it over into smoothie perfection!
*** Recipe re-creation ***
The creamy strawberry smoothie was so delicious I just HAD to re-create it. Check out the recipe for my Strawberries and Cream Milkshake, complete with coconut sprinkles. Mmmm mmmm!
When you see a man with six Dachshunds at the vegan-friendly restaurant that you’ve just happened upon, you know it’s going to be a good day (seriously #goals).
‘By Valeria’ is located a short walk out of the main touristy area of Santa Maria and is a hot spot for locals and for holiday reps grabbing lunch on their day off. It’s a beaut of a restaurant, with a comfortable, shaded outdoor seating area, colourful decor and friendly service.
The menu is a mix of non-vegan and vegan options including sandwiches, burgers, salads and smoothies.
I opted for the chickpea burger which was served in a seeded bun, with caramelised onion chutney, chips and sides of guacamole, vegan mayo and ketchup. It was absolutely packed with flavour and was truly delicious – it was blinking handsome!
I also had a tangy fruit smoothie with my lunch, which I asked the waitress to ‘surprise me’ with (minus dairy). I can’t tell you what was in it but I can tell you that it was refreshing, fruity and very tasty!
The HB opted for the vegan club sandwich which looked fabulous and started my recipe re-creation brain ticking away. As a life-long vegetarian prior to going vegan, I have never tried a club sandwich but it sounds like the type of dish that’s just hankering to be veganised.
Introducing recipe re-creation no. 2 from this trip – three layers of lightly toasted bread, housing stacks of vegan chick’n, sweet and smoky bacon strips, eggless omelette and avocado slices on a bed of lettuce, tomato and lashings of vegan mayo.
Click the link this instant (well, after you’ve finished reading this blog) to get the full recipe. You NEED it in your life.
*** Recipe re-creation ***
Inspired by the vegan club sandwich at By Valeria, I have created the The Ultimate Vegan Club Sandwich, packed to rafters with chick’n, sweet and smoky ‘bacon’, eggless omelette, avocado, salad and lashings of vegan mayo in a lightly toasted tower of bread. Seriously – click here NOW.
Upon hearing that this locals’ bar served up a cracking vegan cachupa, we spent an afternoon wandering the streets in search of the famed cafe that served the traditional Cape Verdean dish.
Unfortunately, after 30 minutes of talking to a local shop keeper and politely declining his offer of attending his son’s christening the next day, we found out that Kaza was temporarily closed. It’s one to bear in mind though if you are heading to Sal!
Our hotel is definitely worth a mention. Not only was it a beautiful hotel that took you straight onto the white sandy beach, the food was plentiful, varied and thankfully vegan-friendly.
Whilst the word ‘vegan’ seemed to be met with slight confusion, they did have a ‘vegetarian section’ to their buffet which offered a great range of vegetarian, and mostly vegan dishes.
The staff were always willing to check the ingredients with the chef and saying that I could not eat eggs or milk seemed to do the trick with the language barrier.
On one of our last days on the island I finally got to try the famous Cape Verdean cachupa! It was a rich, thick stew, packed with veggies, beans and corn. It was delicious and a must for recipe re-creation no.3!
*** Recipe re-creation ***
Cachupa is the local Cape Verdean dish that just HAD to be re-created back in the UK! My Hearty Vegan Cachupa is packed with fresh, flavoursome veggies, traditional hominy corn and protein-rich beans. Serve it with a side of crusty bread, some live music and obligatory dancing.
As the name suggests, this dish is a great one for dinner parties and meal prep too – it’s easy to make in a big batch to take to work, serve as weekday dinners or at dinner parties when all the fam come around.
Here’s a list of my top three vegan eats in Santa Maria, Sal, Cape Verde:
- By Valeria – Friendly service and darn good vegan comfort food.
- Cape Fruit – Smoothie-come-milkshakes to die for in a colourful and friendly setting.
- Melia Dunas – Serving up a cracking vegan cachupa!
My recipe re-creations from this trip:
- The Ultimate Vegan Club Sandwich, inspired by By Valeria – layers of sweet and smoky ‘bacon’, eggless omelette, chick’n, avocado, salad and lashings of vegan mayo in a lightly toasted tower of bread.
- Hearty Vegan Cachupa, inspired by Melia Dunas – the delicious Cape Verdean stew packed with fresh, flavoursome veggies, traditional hominy corn and protein-rich beans – perfect for dinner parties and meal prep.
- Strawberries and Cream Milkshake inspired by Cape Fruit – a smoothie that will nail all of your thick and creamy vegan mylkshake goals. Made with sweet strawberries, creamy banana and coconut sprinkles.
Three recipes that’ll work their magic on your tastebuds whilst still keeping your waistline on track for summer. Enjoy!