Trap Vegan carves out a plant-based oasis in northwest Detroit

A fast-casual vegan spot joins Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion

A meatless slider and tots from Trap Vegan in Detroit.
A meatless slider and tots from Trap Vegan in Detroit. Tom Perkins

Trap Vegan

20198 Livernois Ave., Detroit
11a.m.-8 p.m. Mon-Sat, closed Sun
Handicap accessible

I'm a carnivore who at times prefers a plant-based burger over a meat patty, but those that are worth mentioning can be hard to come by — for every spot that packs a fine patty (Chili Mustard Onions, for example) there are two serving duds.

Trap Vegan, a new fast casual plant-based burger restaurant and juice bar on the Avenue of Fashion just south of Eight Mile Road is part of the former — "good AF," to quote their marketing. Trap's bean and whole grain patties are substantial, with a texture that seems designed to mimic meat, but, of course, without the ferric and fatty elements.

Of the three burgers we tried, the slider stood out. Though the menu says it comes with two patties, it arrived with one larger patty. Not the most slider-like in that regard, but definitely onion-mustard-pickle forward, and excellent. It also comes with vegan American cheese squares that have a surprisingly cheesy texture, and brioche buns weren't dry — a common fast casual restaurant flaw.

The D-boy's flavor profile is centered around barbecue sauce, pickles, and onions — a tad sweet and plenty salty, and the sandwich also holds a deep-fried onion ring and American cheese. Another solid offering is the What's Beef?, with an avocado spread, grilled peppers, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and American cheese — a busy but harmonious package. The Soul Survivor is a mushroom burger with pepper jack cheese, caramelized onions, and tangy Trap sauce on brioche with lettuce and tomato. Trap also serves a barbecue jackfruit burger.

Among the sides are deep fried cauliflower nuggets that are almost creamy inside the batter shell. The tater tots are crispy, solid tots, but the truffle fries could've used a bit more truffle. You can pick from Trap's repertoire of house-made sauces like spicy ranch or honey garlic, and the menu also holds several salads and nachos.

Owner Jasmine Raiford’s family didn’t want to eat vegan food, so she developed plant-based recipes that she passed off as meat and only revealed to her family after they praised her.

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One notable hiccup: a nearly two-hour wait for my food on a Friday evening visit. In the age of labor shortages, restaurants get the benefit of the doubt here, but the problem wasn't the time it took to make the food. It's that I placed the order online (because no one answered the phone), and Trap's system told me the food would be ready in about a half hour. But it took 20 more minutes to get half my order, and I stood in the store for nearly 90 minutes waiting for the rest of it.

Just tell me up front if it's going to take two hours so I'm not standing hungry in the dining room! I would've been happy to snack and wait at home. A return trip the following day in which I ordered several smoothies went much quicker. I ordered ahead again, and the employees, who numbered several more than the previous evening, made the drinks as soon as I arrived. So maybe my experience was an anomaly, and it's always easier to forgive when the meal ends up satisfying.

Trap's Chia Chia smoothie is thick and balanced with coconut, roasted banana, dates, almonds, oats, cinnamon, chia seeds, strawberry, and peanut butter, and is one of the better smoothies I've had in recent memory. The K. Rae Special with banana, mango, strawberry, peach, pineapple, and lemon was a little too on the sweet side for my tastes, though a dining partner really enjoyed it.

Owner Jasmine Raiford has said her family didn't want to eat vegan food, so she developed plant-based recipes that she passed off as meat and would only reveal to her family that they had been dining on veggies after they praised her.

The restaurant's interior holds a handful of tables, and offers a clean, modern, fast casual vibe. Raiford opened on Livernois Avenue in Detroit because most of the area's plant-based shops aren't in majority-Black neighborhoods, and she always found herself driving to the suburbs when she wanted to eat healthier. In a neighborhood where the most prominent businesses are meaty restaurants like Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles and Baker's Keyboard Lounge, Raiford has carved out a plant-based oasis.

Location Details

Trap Vegan

20198 Livernois Ave., Detroit Greater Detroit Area


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