Forbidden Planet Pizzeria & Arcade in Iowa City

Forbidden Planet: Vegan pizza in IowaSurprisingly, it’s been six months since I’ve written about vegan options in Iowa. How did that happen? Well, I’m ready to make up for lost time with a pizza place in Iowa City that opened a couple of months ago called Forbidden Planet. It’s a small pizza shop and old school arcade with wine, beer, mixed drinks, and coffee drinks.  They also make a terrific Arnold Palmer with freshly squeezed lemonade (pictured below).

They offer three different kinds of pizza crust – deep dish, thin crust, and a square 6-inch metro slice.  Forbidden Planet is a non-vegan restaurant, but all three kinds of crust are vegan. They also have several different sauces that are vegan: traditional marinara, garlicky olive oil, truffle oil, and black bean sauce. (Their slow cooked marinara is not vegan. It contains cheese.)

Forbidden Planet - vegan pizza options in IowaThen they have all kinds of interesting toppings like roasted Brussels sprouts, arugula, basil, broccoli, carrots, and fresh jalapeno slices in addition to more standard ones like olives and red onion.

Let me just say – the pizza is fantastic. I love the interesting variety of toppings, sauces, and crusts. I can easily pick something totally different every time that I go, which is not always the case when it comes to vegan-ordering in a non-vegan business. Everything I’ve tried has been phenomenal, and my favorite pizza always seems to be the one I’m eating at that moment.

In addition to the truffle & potato pizza with truffle oil at the top of this post, here are some things we’ve tried so far:

Forbidden planet: vegan pizza in Iowa CityLook at those bubbles! This thin crust pizza has roasted Brussels sprouts, red onions, and mushrooms on a thin crust with garlicky olive oil.

Chicago style deep dish pizza at Forbidden Planet in Iowa CityThis monster-sized Chicago style deep dish is crazy filling. We loaded it up with traditional marinara, jalapeno slices, pineapple, and black olives.

Taco pizza at Forbidden Planet in Iowa CityHere the black bean spread is a base for a taco pizza with roasted red pepper, fresh tomato, and lettuce.

Taco pizza slice with Kettle chips - Forbidden Planet in Iowa CityThen we smuggled in some Salsa Picante Kettle Chips for a true taco pizza experience. (They have Doritos on the menu, but those aren’t vegan.)

Metro slice at Forbidden Planet in Iowa CityThis is their single serving 6 inch metro slice. For my toppings I went with black olives, roasted Brussels sprouts, and red onion with a garlicky olive oil topping.

Forbidden Planet: vegan pizza options in Iowa CityForbidden Planet: vegan pizza options in Iowa CityThen while you wait, grab some tokens to play arcade games or pinball. David is into GORF and Junior Pac-Man, but I’m all over the pinball. Two of their pinball machines are Doctor Who and The Wizard of Oz. So awesome!

Forbidden Planet: Vegan pizza in Iowa CityFor games, pizza, and drinks, Forbidden Planet really delivers. (Except that they don’t actually deliver. Confusing, I know.) As good as they already are, if I could make some dream additions they would be Italian seitan sausage and/or seitan chorizo from Upton’s Naturals, the aforementioned salsa picante Kettle Chips, non-dairy milk for their coffee drinks, and some kind of homemade non-dairy cheese like the rinotta at Pizza Luce in the Twin Cities.

If you should ever find yourself in Eastern Iowa, make a point of checking out Forbidden Planet. You won’t regret it.

For more vegan options in Iowa, check out my Iowa travel page.

Disclaimer: Post contains Amazon affiliate link

Vegan in NYC: Downtown

Vegan travels in New York CityOne of the most memorable things I did while in New York was to see a show called Fuerza Bruta Wayra. One of David’s co-workers suggested it. He’d seen other shows from Fuerza Bruta in the past, and he was over-the-moon excited about going again. As luck would have it, they offer rush tickets. You get to the theatre in Union Square at least two hours before the show, and then the first 30 people in line get $30 tickets to the show. Since there are no chairs, and the audience stands and moves throughout the theatre during the show, all of the “seats” are equally good. Usually tickets for the show are $79-$99/per person.

When we got there, there were just a few people in line. We lucked out, because one of the people in line said that other times he’d been there, the line had snaked down and around the street. We picked up our tickets and went to dinner since we still had time before the show.

Peacefood CafeThe downtown location of Peacefood Café wasn’t far away, and after a quick trip through the Strand Book Store and Forbidden Planet, we walked over. The clean and brightly lit space was decorated beautifully, and the dessert case beckoned.

Peacefood Cafe - NYCI ordered a dish that must have been a special, because it’s not listed on their online menu. It was a parsnip puree with fried chickpeas, oyster mushrooms, sautéed kale, and topped with crisp slices of lotus root.

Potato Pizza - Peacefood CafeNew York had put David in a pizza state of mind, and he ordered the roasted potatoes pizza, which was topped with mushrooms, oil cured black olives, pesto, and then a healthy helping of arugula.

With full stomachs, we skipped dessert this time around and headed to the show.

Here’s the official trailer for the show, which will give you a sense of the performance. I’ve seen a lot of stage shows in my life, and this was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. It was like cirque du soleil on acid. The show is in a black box theatre, and there is a stage at one end, where a live band plays. At first, the feeling is kind of similar to Stomp, but then it just blows up.

There were actors on wires running alongside of the walls. There was an enormous plastic swimming pool that was lowered onto the audience, and actors splashed across it like an enormous Slip ‘N’ Slide. There was one part where a huge parachute was hoisted above the audience, and then actors ran across it, opened a hole from it, came down through the holes, and then pulled audience members onto the top of the parachute. All the while, cast members were moving the audience out of the way as large set pieces were moved in and out.

There were themes in the show, but I wouldn’t say that it had a plot. It felt like they were saying something about life/death and heaven/hell. However, it felt more like impressions, in the same way that you might feel after a dream.

When the show ended, water poured down from the ceiling, and some audience members ran to jump in it. There was such an energy in the room that seemed to take over the space. I can’t recommend the show highly enough. Although I scored $30 tickets, full price would have been totally worth it.

Cinnamon Snail - vegan food truck in NYCAnother must when I was in NYC was visiting the Cinnamon Snail truck. It has won a ton of food truck awards and seems to be universally loved by vegans and non-vegans alike. Everyone has absolutely raved about going there, and so I could hardly wait to visit. I hopped on the subway to the location where they were parked that day in the Flatiron neighborhood. (You can keep up with their whereabouts on Facebook and Twitter.)

Tempeh Reuben - Cinnamon Snail Food Truck in New York CityBy the time I arrived, I was famished. Luckily, the line wasn’t terribly long, and I only waited about 10 or 15 minutes. I was conflicted about what to get, but when I saw that they had a pretzel-crusted tempeh reuben special with fried capers, I knew what I had to order. I also ordered a couple of pastries to share later with David. I thought the sandwich was tasty, but next time I’d probably order one of the seitan options instead.

Eataly, the large Italian shopping/food court, wasn’t far away from there. So I walked over afterwards to peruse the pastas, sauces, and cookware for sale. There were also several eateries inside selling pizzas, coffee, wine, and more. Since I’d just eaten, I didn’t have any food, but it would be fun to do on a future visit.

Christmas shop in New York City with sorbetOn our last full day in New York, my friend, Katrina, joined us.  We walked around Little Italy and stopped at the Christmas in New York shop for sorbet. (All of the fruit flavors were dairy-free.)

Christmas in New York store - NYCI like to buy Christmas ornaments on my travels. It’s one of my favorite souvenirs, because then once a year I get to take my ornaments out of their boxes, enjoy them again, and remember the trip where I purchased them. David and I started the tradition on our honeymoon, and we’ve been collecting ornaments on our trips ever since.

Adrienne's Pizza - NYCWe went for pizza in the Financial District at a restaurant called Adrienne’s Pizzabar. It’s not a vegan restaurant, but their pizza sauce and crust is vegan if ordered without cheese. There was an outdoor eating area that reminded me of restaurant alleyways in Italy. Very quaint. However, on this hot day, we decided to eat inside.

We ordered one of the large rectangular pizzas that was more than enough for three. We picked our own toppings and chose mushrooms, basil, garlic, and kalamata olives. The pizza was absolutely fabulous and popping with flavor.

World Trade Center Memorial - NYCFinally, we went to the 9/11 Memorial nearby. The water from the memorial blocked out the sound from the city. It is a huge open square that flows into another square. The concept of emptiness flowing into emptiness is a powerful one. The names of the victims were written all around the sides.

There was a guard walking around the outside of the memorial. She reminded anyone with drinks not to put cups on the memorial. I appreciated that she was there to maintain respect for the space. There was one woman who was doing a rubbing of a name, and the guard asked if she knew that person. The woman said, “This is my daughter,” and the guard reached out and hugged her.

The last time I had been to New York wasn’t too long after 9/11 happened, and so to be back and see the memorial and the new Freedom Tower was powerful – both remembering and moving forward to create something new.

Tower One - NYC