For the next few months, Herban Vegans will set up shop inside Walnut Hills’s Caffè Vivace, where it will serve plant-based comfort foods for Saturday brunch. The vegan pop-up is the first of its kind in Cincinnati—and one of few in the U.S.—to offer vegan seafood dishes, including homestyle shrimp and grits, crispy fish and chips, a convincingly delicious seafood gumbo, and more.
Owner Danielle DeLaine first launched the vegan eatery in 2017 after a health issue left her searching for ways to improve her diet. “I was taking nine pills a day to no end whatsoever,” she recalls.
Missing the comforting flavors of classic seafood dishes, she began experimenting with plant-based alternatives, like banana blossom, to recreate their taste and texture. “[Seafood] was kind of the one thing I was hanging onto, and I thought, I have to take this with me, because I still craved it a little bit,” she says. “So that’s where the concept of vegan seafood started.”
Beyond the plant-based “seafood,” Herban’s Saturday brunch also offers a rotating specials menu, which so far has included delicious buffalo “chicken” sliders, a Southwest breakfast bowl, a particularly yummy kale salad, and more. Pescatarians-turned-vegans, rejoice, because vegan sushi is also in the works.
“What’s missing in vegan food is it isn’t communal enough,” DeLaine says. “There are a lot of fast-food options, but we want to bring entrées and make it home-style.”
Looking ahead, DeLaine plans to open an Herban Vegans storefront and make healthy eating more accessible, potentially through cooking classes and community gardens. Since converting to the vegan lifestyle, they’ve also adapted eco-friendly containers and materials for their to-go dishes.
“It definitely is a lifestyle,” DeLaine says. “You just become so conscious of every little thing and you know why it matters.”
Get your vegan seafood fix, among other delicacies, at Caffè Vivace at 975 E. McMillan St. every Saturday 11 a.m.–3 p.m.