Dell'z Uptown, the north Crosstown sister restaurant of Dell'z Deli, embraces patrons with an island oasis vibe and a promise of good vegetarian and vegan fare. Chairs upholstered in burlap coffee sacks embody the organic, free-trade ideals that have become a cornerstone of the Dell'z brand. An island mural on the wall depicts idyllic scenes of waterfalls and pristine beaches. A flyer for the upcoming Fall Reggae Jam effortlessly adds to the ambiance. Large front windows provide a picturesque view of Rutledge Avenue and bathe the restaurant in sunlight. It's cool and casual all at the same time, with sounds of steel drums and classic reggae playing in the background.
The staff welcomes guests with a boisterous hello, immediately inviting you into the Dell'z family. Their intimate knowledge of the menu allows them to guide diners to the vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free items on the menu. The first order of business is the smoothie list. The Berry Good combines mixed berries and banana with spirulina, a protein rich superfood supplement. For those with a sweet tooth, the Uptown Elvis swirls together banana, almond butter, and dark chocolate almond milk for a thick smoothie that deserves to be called a milkshake. The spinach, orange, and ginger-based Green Goodness is probably best left to diners already riding the green juice bandwagon. The bright spinach flavors overpower the smoothie, with the orange used more for its acidity than its flavor. It's a taste that requires persistence.
Dell'z is famous for wraps and salads, but at the Uptown spot they've added breakfast, bowls, and pizzas. On the breakfast pizza, cheddar cheese melds a jumble of shredded potatoes, diced onions, and bell peppers which are topped with folded scrambled eggs, chopped tomatoes, creamy avocado, and a drizzle of spicy red sriracha. The crust is crisp and a little flaky, while the crunchy vegetables add a hearty texture to the pie. The eggs might be better incorporated if they weren't scrambled, but overall the dish works.
The nachos appetizer ($10) piles black beans, jalapeños, and mango salsa onto corn tortilla chips. The housemade Ranchilada sauce, a spicy ranch dressing, finishes off the nachos and renders them a must-have, but you should forego the dressing if you're a strict vegan. The spinach artichoke dip ($10) is made with a vegan cream cheese and served with tortilla chips.
Fans of Dell'z Deli's wraps will be excited by the bowls being offered at Dell'z Uptown. The Lucky Bowl ($9) is a spicy combination of black-eyed peas, peppers, turnip greens, and rice with a crumble of vegan bacon. No bland vegetarian dish, this bowl gets its heat from creole seasonings that turn up the heat but stop just short of overpowering the rest of the dish. The My Thai Bowl ($10) features rice noodles and chopped zucchini with a hint of ginger and lime. The piping hot bowl uses brown rice and cabbage to add volume to the dish. The Five Eleven pizza ($16) is perfect for remorseful vegans, combining vegan cheese with vegan sausage and mushrooms, peppers, and olives, while the Jazzy ($16) piles on mixed cheese, black beans, brown rice, and avocado. A Hawaiian pizza with smoked tofu and pineapple is also available.
The wrap selection may be most familiar to die-hard Dell'z diners, albeit of a more vegan-friendly variety than at the downtown location. The "Chicken Bacon" ($12) is overflowing with a meatless chicken and vegan bacon, brown rice, black beans, and cheese. The meatless chicken was a solid impersonator in both taste and texture. The Portabella wrap ($9) was delicious, with its grilled portabella mushroom and artichoke hearts with feta and spinach. The Snobby Joe ($9) features barbecue marinated Boca crumbles and cucumber, sprouts, and avocado, a rich wrap that gets a strong kick from the barbecue marinade. The BLT ($8) is served in a pita and a good change of pace from the stuffed wraps, with vegan bacon that is surprisingly crisp.
The menu hints at a salad bar to come and perhaps for that reason only offers two salad options. The Rainbow Salad ($9) is a mixture of greens, carrots, peppers, and cucumbers, while the Garden Veggie Salad ($8) boasts sprouts, tomatoes, and carrots. The limited salad menu is a testament to Dell'z Uptown's ability to cater to a vegetarian and vegan clientele without relegating them to countless bowls of mixed greens.
Although Dell'z Uptown exists as a haven for diners adhering to vegetarian or vegan diets, the kitchen's commanding use of spices and reliance on familiar vegetables like peppers, onions, and tomatoes should encourage eaters of all persuasions to stop in for a try.