As Cami and I drove north up the east coast of Florida, she started researching worthy eats in Jacksonville. Via Happy Cow and Google, we found a few magnificent choices. The first was Sun-Ray Cinema, which touted vegan nachos, vegan cheese fries, vegan twinkies, and a popcorn bar that would knock your socks off. We didn’t, however, have time to catch a movie because we got roped into a kickball game (which was totally worth it). Instead, we ordered some cheese fries and grabbed some twinkies to go. In between innings, we ate some of the most delicious cheese fries I have ever had. They tasted like nothing I had ever had before. The vegan cheese was… cheesy. Afterwards, I didn’t feel bloated and had zero regrets, a feeling that is one of my favorite things about being vegan.
The next morning, however, was the real pay off. After saying our goodbyes to our hosts, we headed back downtown to Sweet Theory Baking Co., a vegan bakery. Vegan bakeries might be some of my favorite places on the planet, but I have also been to a few that totally missed the mark. Sweet Theory was a full-on bulls eye. With an comprehensive offering of donuts (ranging in flavor from Maple Bacon to Apple Cardamom (an apple pie donut to rival all others) to Sweet Potato Mallow (a hearty sweet potato donut full of flavor with a marshmallow on top) to Stretchy Pants (A cookie topped delight) to Espresso Chip), cinnamon rolls, dough muffs (a muffin made of doughnut… Mindblowing), breakfast breads, cupcakes (Sweet Potato with maple frosting, Carrot Cake, and So Fudging Good (Chocolate cupcake with peanut butter mousse, chocolate frosting, caramel drizzle, and cookie crumbs), biscuit sandwiches, and some truly delicious coffee. If simply the idea of all those treats in one location doesn’t make your mouth water, I hope these pictures do.
We spent the better part of two hours sitting in this tiny shop watching regular customers come and go, chatting with the bakers, and indulging in far too many sweets. Our conversations drifted into vegan cooking and we began swapping recipes. They were forthcoming about their tricks and recipes, but the conversation was not limited to sweets, transitioning seamlessly into vegan cheese recipes and other fun entrees. We talked about their growth and their history, learning that they have been quite successful and are starting to sell their goods in other stores as well. In my opinion, they deserve all the success they get.
Before we left, Cami and I had spent almost $70.00 on treats. This may seem absurd… and it is, but we ended up eating them over the course of the next three days. Although they varied in scrumptiousness, they were all a cut above the vast majority of the treats I have had during my four year tenure as a vegan. My personal favorites were the dough-muff, the sweet potato donut, and, of course, the cinnamon rolls. I will admit though that after two days of donuts and cakes, we were both totally ready to scarf down some veggies when we got back to New Bern. Fresh pesto over zoodles was just what the doctor ordered.
In short, if you are ever in Jacksonville and are looking for some seriously good eats, check out Sweet Theory Baking Co.. They totally rock. Also, if you are looking for a night-time activity with a little vegan flair, check out Sun-Ray for a flick and some cheese fries that will blow your mind.