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- Dan Payton
2911 N. St. Mary's St., vivalabotanica.com
Just last year we extolled the virtues of chef Rebel Mariposa's way around vegetables. As a caterer and employee of Tim the Girl, the San Antonio native who left part of her heart in California, didn't just prepare vegetables, she preached the value of turning plates into colorful and appealing dishes.
Fast-forward to June 2015, when Mariposa, backed by Andrea Vince and Danny Delgado, opened La Botánica, an all-vegan restaurant on the St. Mary's Strip. She didn't do it on her own either. The Chicana chef is first to acknowledge her team, made up of Arabella Parlati Daniels and Monica Moreno. The trio is responsible for giving the Strip more dining options for the healthfully minded or the vegetarians and vegans that need delicious fuel for their bar-hopping adventures.
- Dan Payton
The menu isn't extensive by any means. You'll find a rotating cast of goodies, but early favorites persist. Hearty tacos are stuffed with nopales, squash or root vegetables, all seasoned impeccably. Corn empanadas are stuffed with black beans or special mixes, while Ms. Bella's fried red beans and rice balls — bite-sized and deep-fried — add hints of Southern flavors. The ceviche huehuecoyotl is perhaps our favorite for its simplicity. Sure, we could also call this mix of hearts of palm, chopped cucumber and avocado a salsa of sorts, but served with fresh totopos and capped off with marinated oyster mushrooms that double for would-be fish, the dish shines and makes for a light sharing snack.
Good food is made only better on La Botánica's breezy patio where the staff hosts everything from Democratic debate viewing parties (you'll really "Feel the Bern" here) to lotería brunches on weekends, bring-your-own vinyl sessions and more. At La Botánica, you'll go for the food, but stay for community.