The first thing you notice about Loving Hut is how normal vegans have become. No nose rings. No forehead tattoos that say “Meat is murder.” The loyal clientele of the Loving Hut looks just like everybody’s neighbors. Veganism has become so mainstream that even you won’t feel out of place here. And the menu is mainstream too. Much of the food mimics meat. You’ll find burgers, drumsticks, Sloppy Joes, chili, tacos, and even a “chick’n” sandwich. As opposed to serving really weird stuff, Loving Hut creates some tasty alternate versions of what you’d get in a typical diner. The Sunny Burger is the most popular of the four burger recipes they serve. Can you tell it’s not real meat? Of course. That’s not the point. When you sink your teeth into something this tasty and this healthy, you feel like you’re cheating the devil. The spring rolls are so popular people buy them by the dozen for parties, and the strawberries-and-cream smoothie will leave you wondering how they got perfection without a hint of dairy. Some of the regular customers are here because of dietary restrictions. All foods are low fat with no MSG, and they have an extensive raw menu as well. The staff can also accommodate those with gluten, soy, or nut allergies. What will surprise you is that this little place is part of a chain of hundreds of Loving Huts worldwide. Each has menu autonomy, which is why everything here seems so normal to Cincinnatians. Other than the vegan propaganda posters, Loving Hut is like just another restaurant where you’d see your neighbors. And heck, you probably will.
Loving Hut Vegan Café, 6227 Montgomery Rd., Pleasant Ridge, (513) 731-2233. Prices: $4–$11. Lunch and dinner Tues–Sat.
Originally published in the January 2013 issue.