The Vegan Experience: Noodles & Company

Some may say noodles are so boring. Spaghetti, rigatoni, alfredo... you know the drill.  I used to feel this way about pasta for a long time, especially after a long period of  having to eat spaghetti once a week for way. too. long. Even before the unwelcome carbo load, ordering pasta while dining out just seemed so blasé, unless it had an element worthy of the event – a crazy good, creative sauce can go a long way. This still holds true.

Then came solace. Noodles & Company’s array of vegetarian and vegan options were discovered. Initially, you’d figure a vegan would struggle with finding worthy options at an all-pasta restaurant. (There are only so many salads a person can handle!) Outside of a salad, it’s the ole “hold the cheese and meat” option, which leaves you with, well, not much. For the vegetarian consumers out there who love a good fast casual experience, options at Noodles are plentiful. Between the mac and cheese, alfredo, or other creamy, cheesy sauces, going to Noodles is a home run. But for vegan options, what is a veggie loving, non-dairy-eating girl to do when approached with such a cheesy situation? Modify, of course!

The amount of vegan options offered at Noodles & Company came as a pleasant surprise. The concept actually offers a decent selection of straight-up vegan options that do not require modification. Many of these are Asian-inspired, including the Indonesian Peanut Sauté and Japanese Pan Noodles, which both pack a good amount of spice and punch, along with a heaping amount of crisp vegetables for extra crunch. A recent visit, which included the Indonesian Peanut Sauté dish (pictured), was impressively filling from the amount of perfectly cooked veggies, rather than relying on the filling noodles to keep the dish substantial. If you’re in the mood for more traditional pasta dishes, but want to hold the dairy, Noodles & Company can do that, too.

Foodable WebTV Network | Pictured: Noodles & Company's Indonesian Peanut Sauté

Foodable WebTV Network | Pictured: Noodles & Company's Indonesian Peanut Sauté

Foodable WebTV Network | Pictured: Noodles & Company's Indonesian Peanut Sauté

Foodable WebTV Network | Pictured: Noodles & Company's Indonesian Peanut Sauté

As many vegans know, just asking to modify a dish can be the best and easiest way to make a dish vegan friendly. This is no exception with Noodles, who are extremely flexible and willing to modify any and all dishes since they are made to order. A favorite dish, the tomato based Penne Rosa dish, is easily modified by requesting the dish be made without cream and cheese, resulting in a still creamy but dairy-free alternative. The Penne Rosa includes penne pasta slathered with a creamy tomato-based sauce with the perfect amount of underlying heat.

The absolute best part about eating at Noodles as a vegan or vegetarian is that they make finding selections easy and quick. As part of their online nutritional facts, Noodles includes a section in the nutrition tab that specifies which dishes are meat free, vegan, gluten free, and everything in-between. If there was an ideal restaurant that can please all palates and appetites without sacrificing quality, Noodles would fit the bill perfectly.