Vegans do not have to deprive themselves of New Mexican favorites.
Albuquerque pop-up Vegos offers plant-based New Mexican cuisine, and its meatless burrito has received national recognition.
Vegos’ Vegan Steak Burrito has been recognized nationally by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as one of the top vegan burritos in the country.
“By treating yourself to Vegos’ Vegan Steak Burrito, you can support a local business while fighting cruelty to animals and human health problems on a global scale,” said PETA President Ingrid Newkirk in a news release.
Vegos owner and head chef Elizabeth Bibiano is honored and humbled to be recognized as having one of the top 10 vegan burritos in the country. For a full list of honorees, visit peta.org/features/best-vegan-burritos-peta.
“I went into the market looking for all the traditional foods that I grew up on,” Bibiano said. “I loved the flavors of your steak and your chicken and your pork and that fun stuff, but I couldn’t find a plant-based version that was healthy, not the highly processed stuff, so that is where I got to work in the kitchen and I created this vegan steak, which I was really happy about. So we throw it in a large flour tortilla with our Mexican rice, our seasoned pinto beans, your traditional tomato, lettuce and onion, and of course you’ve got to have your New Mexican red or green (chile) or Christmas or you can get it smothered if you don’t want it handheld.”
Bibiano is always trying to evolve and come up with new recipes. The menu features a variety of vegan offerings, including red chile jackfruit tamales, green chile chicken enchiladas, nachos, chile rellenos and gluten-free empanadas with either a sweet filling such as pumpkin, cherry or apple or a savory filling such as chayote squash with roasted poblano chile. The most popular menu item is the Nobody Calls Me Chicken sandwich. Its name was inspired by the movie “Back to the Future.” Vegos’ chicken is a soy-based product that is made in-house.
“It’s a chicken sandwich that we serve on our housemade concha bun, which is pan dulce,” Bibiano said. “Not everybody is familiar with conchas, but it’s a New Mexican sweet bread, and that has kind of taken off. We realized our community is lacking a good chicken option, vegan chicken option. I am definitely in the kitchen right now working on other variations where we can put more of our chicken in different products.”
Vegos turns a year old on May 3.
“The community has welcomed us in, and we were on a track where we were, ‘Let’s start really small in the markets,’ ” Bibiano said. “We started at the Rail Yards Market last year and we had planned to do that for a couple of years and then it just kind of spiraled from there and people were asking for our food more than just on Sundays. We’ve grown faster than anticipated.”
Bibiano did not grow up wanting to be a chef. Instead, cooking grew on her after she bought a home with her husband. She enjoyed hosting dinner parties and homed in on the cuisine of various locations she traveled to. She realized her passion for food was more than a hobby and enrolled in the culinary program at Central New Mexico Community College. She graduated from the program and became an intern with the Street Food Institute, which sponsored her and helped her get her foot in the door at the Rail Yards Market. Bibiano continues to use the Street Food Institute as her commissary kitchen.
Vegos does not have a storefront and instead does pop-ups around town including at Prismatic Coffee in the Sawmill District. Patrons can find out where Vegos will be next and place a takeout order online by visiting facebook.com/vegosabq.