Vegan Mexican food seems like it should be easier to find than it actually is. While beans, rice, and vegetables are staples of Mexican cooking, so are cheese, sour cream, and meat. The great thing about a restaurant like El Papagayo is that not only are vegan options always available, but they have the same authentic taste as the Mexican food I remember from my pre-vegan days.
El Papagayo in Carmichael is participating in the Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge again this year, so I dropped by for lunch yesterday to see what special vegan dishes they were offering. The menu wasn't written down, but the server told me they had vegan meatball tacos or sopas topped with vegetables. It was a tough decision choosing between those two options, so I took the server's suggestion and ordered one of each. An enormous plate arrived at the table holding one taco, one sopa, and generous servings of beans and rice, garnished with salsa, guacamole, and avocado. The vegan meatball taco was really good, but the sopa was outstanding. "Sopa" is short for "sopaipilla," which is basically a piece of fried pastry. This one was topped with mushrooms, bell peppers, salsa, guacamole, and I don't remember what else.
El Papagayo is located at 5804 Marconi Avenue in Carmichael, and their phone number is 916-487-7742. Their website address is http://elpapagayo.net/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/El-Papagayo-Restaurant-151929308155836/. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.