Shahar Café – Louisville’s Hot Spot for Vegan Junk Food
I think one of the most common misconceptions about vegans and vegetarians is that we’re in it for the health. Sure, there are multiple studies that suggest meat is bad for you. But you know what’s bad for you AND vegan? French fries, tater tots, samosas, pastries, and so on. If you can fry it, vegans will eat it. Many vegans and vegetarians even have to be reminded to eat a vegetable, just like carnivores! But it’s ok because you deserve to treat yourself. And if you’re a vegan in Louisville looking for a treat, look no further than Shahar Café.
Shahar is Louisville’s answer to not having a Slutty Vegan. SV may have the Instagram fame, but Shahar shows that the concept can be replicated anywhere. Simply put, Shahar is a one-stop-shop for anything junky that you miss from your meat-eating days. Burgers, patty melts, breakfast burritos, samosas, fast food breakfast sandwiches – it’s all here. Add a side of fries or tots to complete the experience just because you can. There’s no rules when you’re having a treat yourself day.
When my vegan friend comes to town, we love seeing what Shahar has in store for us. We treated ourselves to a feast this last time. Between the four of us, we chowed down on mozz sticks (regular and jalapeño), burgers, fries, tots, BLTs, mac and cheese, sausage sandwiches, and french toast for dessert. Not a single thing disappointed. Though you may regret eating junk food later, in the moment, it’s pure bliss. I preferred the vegan mozz sticks to regular ones because the cheese doesn’t stretch as much. The burger is so good, you’d never know it’s plant-based. And the french toast – oh my GOD the french toast. Sweet, crisped at the edges and custardy in the middle, doused in syrup… it’s everything you want from dessert, and more.
The best way to order Shahar is by keeping an eye on their Instagram and visiting the store. The online ordering system sometimes runs behind actual capacity, meaning that the “out of stock” disclaimer is sometimes inaccurate (or worse – something you want is actually out but didn’t say so online). The staff at the store has an exact idea of what’s there and what’s not. They can also help you out with allergens since they know their product; we always make sure the cheeses are coconut-based vs. cashew due to my husband’s tree nut allergy. And like all good local joints, they close when they run out, so checking Instagram is a good way to make sure they’re open.
I mentioned my love of local collaboration in my write-up of The Futile Bakery in Lexington. That’s on display here as well! Shahar features a pastry case stocked by Sugar High, a local woman-owned vegan bakery. We can never resist a gourmet poptart when we stop in, and I may or may not have had an emotional moment over the brown sugar cinnamon flavor. Local businesses supporting one another brings a tear to my eye and my wallet as I empty it to support them.
With a friendly staff, a retro vibe, and always a chill playlist, Shahar is a great place to relax once the pandemic recedes. They are open inside but the store is small, so takeout is always an option. Parking is tricky to navigate on Bardstown Road, but they have a small lot in the back for customers. There is no reason not to come visit; there is something for everyone whether meat-eater or plant-based. I hope to see you over some socially-distanced vegan ranch-drenched fries sometime soon – or maybe at the gym after. Until then, here’s to good drinking, great eating, and even better living!
Shahar Café is located at 1511 Bardstown Road. They are open 12:30pm – 5:30pm W, 10am – 5:30pm Th, 10am – 7:30pm F-Sa, 9am – 3:30pm Su, closed M-T.