I have a confession: Until recently, I’d never been to a vegetarian or vegan restaurant. Sure, I’d been talking about going to one for years, but at the ripe old age of 27, I still hadn’t actually made it happen. Shameful, I know — especially for someone who considers herself fairly well-versed when it comes to food and lives in a culinary-centric city.
Vegetarian restaurants tend to sport two fine qualities: By and large, the food is cheaper since it doesn’t involve meat — not to mention, it’s good for you. But many people don’t even think to search out vegetarian restaurants when making meal plans. It’s unfortunate, especially given the high quality of many vegetarian restaurants.
My own journey began when a friend suggested lunch at a popular vegetarian and vegan restaurant with menu options aplenty. The place has won numerous awards from local, regional and national publications, so my expectations were high.
Narrowing down the menu proved a tough endeavor — did I want country-fried steak, veggie stir-fry or a salad? Ultimately I chose the Cajun black bean burger, which came loaded with veggies, plus a side of crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside sweet potato fries. Both were excellent options — tasty and filling, without being heavy or greasy. I was also thoroughly intrigued by a gyro plate done with seitan, but a stomach can only hold so much.
The menu’s size and creativity amazed me, as it included everything from a Philly cheesesteak knockoff to an award-winning Reuben sandwich. Even better, the food was well cooked, not dry and flavorful to the max. I doubt all vegetarian restaurants are of this caliber, but if you appreciate good, healthy food, you’ll want to find your own vegetarian heaven today.
You don’t have to go to a vegetarian restaurant to eat vegetarian. Get comfortable with vegetarian foods offered at many ethnic restaurants, including Indian, Mediterranean and Greek.
Want to eat vegetarian but aren’t quite ready for tofu? Start with something simple, like a black bean quesadilla or veggie polenta, before diving into fake meats made with tofu and seitan.
With vegetarian food, half the fun is trying new things, so don’t be afraid to experiment!