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Boston for visiting (mostly) veggie 'hounds

So, you get the idea. I'm coming to Boston with a hungry stomach and a vegetarian boyfriend (cheese on his pizza, otherwise vegan) in tow. I'm an omnivore but usually eat vegetables about 90% of the time. I fully intend to get myself a Speed's hot dog if I can handle it, but otherwise plan to be eating vegetables.

Are there any good vegetarian restaurants or other veggie-friendly establishments local 'hounds can recommend? We are mostly looking for sit-down restaurants for lunch and dinner, reasonably casual, nothing overly fancy. Fancy I could do for one special evening, though. I don't mind eating ethnic foods as long as they're very delicious and exceptional; I come from Toronto so we have a lot of variety. Am interested in Boston specialties or stuff I can't get at home.

Thanks for your help! I tried doing a search but no dice.

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  1. grasshopper for reasonably casual - http://grasshoppervegan.com/
    grezzo for fancy - http://www.grezzorestaurant.com/

    best bets right there

    1. i'm looking forward to the reply as well, as I'm vegetarian though not vegan. In my two previous cities (New York and London), I presumed that any good place had good vegetarian choices, but I find this does not work in Boston. There are many fine establishments that do not have any vegetarian mains. So call ahead!

      My one suggestion is the bar / lounge area at Rialto. The resto is very fancy, but their bar / lounge area is pretty relaxed. They have a nice bar menu, and I love their selection of antipasti, many of which are vegetarian and many of which are sublime. Before 7 pm, you can also score some complementary crostini, though these are not always vegetarian. A few antipasti and a glass of wine shouldn't set you back more than $20-25. It's worth every penny.



      1. Sorry to say, strictly vegan/vegetarian places in the area are not common.

        Ethnic places are usually a good option, though not totally vegetarian. Consider these:

        Afghan: Helmand
        Indian: India Quality, Tamarind Bay, Tanjore
        Vietnamese: Xinh Xinh, Pho Pasteur, Pho Hoa
        Thai: Dok Bua, Montien, Brown Sugar
        Ethiopian: Addis Red Sea, Asmara

        Oleana is a rather upscale spot that often gets rave reviews for its vegetarian options here.

        I've had good experience at all these, myself.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bachslunch

          I second the idea of Oleana for your fancy night. While it would be helpful to know where you are staying, for other reasonably priced veg/vegan options, I'd suggest:

          - Harvard Sq: Cambridge 1 pizza for casual yet interesting pizza, Casablanca for delicious mezze, Veggie Planet for a variety of pizzas and sandwiches
          - Allston: Grasshopper for Chinese vegan, or YoMa Burmese food a few doors down, Deep Ellum is a pub that has a decent seitan burger, and at least one other vegan option
          - Fenway: Brown Sugar Thai

          1. re: Bluebell

            I just went to Oleana for the first time... got the 5 course veggie tasting menu. Honestly, the most underwhelming dining experience I've had in Boston, um, EVER. Everything was just OK. Nothing tasted Greek/Turkish/Middle Eastern. SO disappointed. Plus, our waitress (the manager was our waitress for the second half our meal) was beyond rude.

            1. re: SaraASR

              I love love the veggie tasting menu at Oleana. I think SaraASR might have hit it on and off night which is really too bad. East Coast Grill might be another option for you - you could probably split the veggie plate because it is enormous (and available vegan IIRC). Here is a link that could provide some additional suggestions: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/419475

        2. My wife is a serious vegetarian and I took her to Rocca last week where her biggest problem was narrowing down the wide variety of vegetarian options they offered on their Ligurian themed menu.

          I was equally as pleased with the choices for carnivores !! Excellent !!


          1 Reply
          1. re: pondrat

            I second the recomendation of Rocca - I went there last weekend with my vegetarian wife and we both had wonderful meals. great wine list and service too!

          2. You will find that most places in JP, Cambridge, Somerville will have veggie options. Boston specialties will be tough as most local foods are seafood-based.

            -Vee Vee in Jamaica Plain for veggie- and fish-centric cuisine
            -Namaskar - wonderful Indian in Davis Sq with plenty veggie options
            -Rangzen Tibetan in Central Sq - lunch buffet is tasty, fresh, and cheap (get there early - before noon). I've never had dinner there but I've heard good things.
            -Precinct in Union Sq and Atwood's Tavern both have delicious veggie options, only if you are in the hood.
            -Kathmandu Spice in Arlington (a pleasant, nearby suburb of Boston)
            -Regina Pizzeria in the North End

            Namaskar Fine Indian Cuisine
            236 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144

            Rangzen Tibet Restaurant
            24 Pearl St, Cambridge, MA 02139

            Kathmandu Spice
            166 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

            Vee Vee
            763 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

            5 Replies
            1. re: digga

              Some of my favorites are:

              - Rivergods in Central Sq. Everything can be made vegan or vegetarian. Great veggie burger and fries. The god salad is also excellent.
              - The Druid Pub in Inman Sq. Great Veggie burger
              - Le's for Vietnamese Pho soup.
              - Rangzen for Tibetan in Central Sq.
              - Brown Sugar for Thai
              - Ole in inman for mexican or olecito for a burrito in Inman Sq.
              - I was not into Grezzo. Overpriced and not very good.

              On a separate note- We are going to try the tasting menu at Upstairs on the Square soon. I hope it is good!

              1. re: David_A

                Hi David_A, thanks for tip on Grasshopper. The website looks scary.

                Regarding Le's, is the broth for Pho beef broth or vegetarian broth? I don't really care either way but the boyfriend likely would.

                How was Grezzo 'not good?' I am curious about the specifics as to why you did not like the meal there. Thanks!

                1. re: charxchar

                  Grasshopper was great when I was 24 and loved fried gross food. I have outgrown it and had too many weird problems with the place (bugs, sickness).

                  Le's broth is vegetarian. They have a whole vegetarian section on the menu with lemongrass tofu and other dishes.

                  My GF and I wrote a blog entry about Grezzo. This site would not like it if I promoted it here. I'll cut and paste it:

                  North End, Boston

                  After recently returning from San Francisco, a city abundant with delicious, high end vegetarian food, we were excited to try a raw, vegan upscale restaurant in right here in Boston. Grezzo's website suggests an incredibly creative, healthy, gourmet experience complete with upscale ambiance. While this was true, the timing, price and food were not.

                  We wanted to start out our dining experience with a nice bottle of red wine, but after viewing the wine list and discovering that a bottle started at about $38, (the prices are not included on the website menu) we decided to have drinks instead. Our waitress suggested the Grezzo bloody mary, a "juiced garden vegetables drink with sake." . It did not contain a lot of alcohol and was very watery and unsatisfying. The house special, sangria was ok but the fruit was not very fresh for a restaurant raw restaurant. After the bloody mary, David decided to order an expensive glass of organic red wine that also was not very good (at least we knew it would be alcoholic) and we shared it to save money. With drinks and wine priced from $10 to $15 and bottled beers at $8, we felt it the drinks were over priced knowing we could get the same beer elsewhere for $5.

                  For the meal, we ordered one 'Chef's Tasting' and additionally, one appetizer and entree. The two soups on the menu were included in the tasting. The first was a mushroom tea soup with baby portabella mushrooms, dulse (a kind of seaweed), and pineapple— it was watery, but the texture of the ingredients complemented one another-- not bad. The second soup was a curry melon soup— the touch of curry with the fruit tastes nice at first, but the flavor was too light and the soup had too much melon in the end. The soups were interesting, but we would not reorder them again.

                  The appetizers were the best part of the meal. One of the specials was a pepper trio stuffed with three types of "cheese." This particular dish was very good because of the unique flavor combinations and the crunchy texture balanced by the creamy "cheese". It was one of the highlights. The other two appetizers were also delicious, but mainly because they tasted like falafel. The sliders are a falafel like patty in between tomato slices and a few pickles served with 'pomme frites,' which were basically dehydrated potatoes that tasted like salty cardboard. The gnocci carbonara is described as dumplings but it is little falafel like balls with a decadent creamy parmesan like sauce with fresh peas and crispy eggplant— the sauce was so good that we pretty much licked the plate. In the end, we could have gone to Rami's in Brookline for falafel at a more reasonable price.

                  Next, we had the Seaweed salad, "kelp noodles, sea beans and nori with spicy Japanese horseradish vinaigrette. House pickled ginger, lotus root, and edamame. It was ok. It was good when you tasted one of the few pieces of thinly sliced raw garlic in a bite, but overall, the dish was bland and disappointing for such a flavorful description.

                  For entrees we tried the lobster mushroom fettuccine and the land and sea. The fettuccine was raw zucchini strips with crimini and lobster mushrooms served with a a creamy saffron flavored sauce. Overall, the dish was pretty bland and occasionally there was a bite with some stronger saffron flavor that was good. The land and Sea was three types of mushrooms, “ricotta” and more of the dulse that was in the mushroom soup and some kelp from Maine. Although this dish was more flavorful, it overpowered with mushrooms with “cheese". The olive oil combined with some pesto at the base of the plate was very delicious though and helped the give the dish more flavor.

                  Finally, for dessert, we decided to get something traditional— the Rich Brownie sundae-- a tiny chocolate brownie with chocolate chip gelato, chocolate truffle sauce, and brazil nut crumble. This was pretty good as It tasted similar to a chocolate macaroon with some dates ground into it. The house made gelato was simple, but it did not have a lot of flavor aside from the chocolate chips.

                  The service was good and attentive, but the timing of the kitchen was terrible. We had to wait thirty minutes between our appetizers and our entrees. During that wait, our waitress came over and said, "thank you for waiting, it takes a long time to cook our food." What?! Shortly after leaving we both had stomach issues and headaches.

                  We spent $160 before tip on the meal and were dissapointed with the food for the price. Plus the chefs seem to have difficulty with flavor consistency throughout each dish. At $24 or $25 per entree, could have found a better meal elsewhere and will next time.

                  1. re: charxchar

                    So where did you go? Please report back.

                    1. re: David_A

                      I just got into Boston last night - staying at Back Bay/Copley Sq. area...I usually like to do my research way beforehand. I'm going to check out some of these places and report back soon. Thanks for your recommendations, there's a lot to try!

              2. Chiming in:
                Grezzo I believe is a raw food restaurant, just FYI.
                Veggie Planet is excellent, IMO. All veg or vegan and great for a cheap and interesting lunch.

                The vegetarian dishes at Asmara and Addis Red Sea are serviceable maybe if you were going there anyway, but the meat dishes are far far better. I wouldn't go there on purpose to eat the lentils.

                Garden at the Cellar doesn't have lots of vegetarian entrees, but their small plates and sides are fantastic, really the best stuff on the menu anyway, and they are probably about half vegetarian and some look vegan. They're open for both lunch and dinner.

                Maybe not the pinnacle of gastronomy but an interesting place to eat is the Greater Boston Buddhist Cultural Center in Cambridge for lunch.

                1. I really like hotpot because each person can select their own broth and the ingredients to cook in it. The vegetarian broths can be very good, and there is a range of heat/spice possibilities.

                  Ingredients could be all vegetable, tofu, seafood, beef, and other options. Since you are swishing your own food in broth, you can determine when it is cooked to taste and it can be a great way to relax and slow down.

                  Shabu Zen in Chinatown is quite good, and serves lunch and dinner. Depending on where you are staying, there are other good places as well.

                  Shabu Zen
                  16 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

                  Little Q Hotpot Restaurant
                  1585 Hancock St, Quincy, MA 02169

                  Shabu Zen
                  80 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA

                  1. Ten Tables in JP is known for the value of its veggie tasting menu. It's definitely not vegan (or hasn't been when I've had it) but they might be able to work with you. It's a really nice romantic atmosphere. Reservations are a must and I've found them to consistently run late on their estimated reservation times.

                    1. Lots of great recs above already. Two additional highly veggie-friendly Cambridge ideas I'll throw on the pile, both open for lunch and dinner:

                      * Baraka Cafe - terrific North African, with a stunning array of vegan and vegetarian options from which to choose (as well as my favorite lamb chops in the city). NB cash only, and no alcohol. They do serve a lovely rose-scented lemonade. Around the corner, Green Street serves some of my favorite cocktails in town.

                      * Gran Gusto - outstanding, authentic Neapolitan. Their pizza margherita, made with real mozzarella di buffala, is the best I've had outside of Italy, and certainly merits going vegetarian instead of vegan for the meal. This place is a little off the beaten path, probably a 20 - 30 minute walk from either the Davis or Porter Square T stops.

                      1. Elephant Walk--French/Cambodian (Boston and Cambridge (Porter Sq--Redline) locations) www.elephantwalk.com

                        Martsa on Elm--Tibetan (Davis Square, Cambridge--Redline

                        Veggie Planet (at Club Passim)--pizza (Harvard Square--Redline

                        Asmara--Eritrean/Ethiopian (Central Square, Cambridge--Redline

                        All but Veggie Planet have vegan and omnivore items on the menu.

                        1. Wonderful Mexican (Pueblan) a short T ride and walk from downtown is Angela's - Vegan will be a bit tricky, as I usually suggest rajas (roasted peppers con crema) to veggies - but Angela's mole (made from scratch, which is unheard of!) and pipian (pumpkinseed) sauces are delicious, and I'm sure she could put them on enchiladas with some veggies or papas (potatoes) inside - Her guacamole is always exceptional - Call ahead and ask to speak to Luis (her son) and brainstorm with him - You'll be a happy chowhound! Directions: http://www.chow.com/places/10156

                          1. I highly recommend Sofra or Oleana.
                            You can also try some of the mexican restaurants like Ole in Inman Square.


                            134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: leahms

                              If you make it to Jamaica Plain where there are veggie options in most restaurants, I highly recommend Bon Savor. They have a brand new menu which has both veggie and vegan appetizers and mains. I've tried both entres (a portobello with pumpkin risotto and a mushroom/tofu stew served on mashed potatoes) - excellent! Good stuff for omnivores as well. And they take reservations.

                              1. re: jpcat

                                Do you know if they're still doing the cheap mid week prix fixe?

                                1. re: jpcat

                                  Will they be posting the new menu? The one on their website didn't appear to have much for vegans.

                                  1. re: lgss

                                    Joanie - I've never been to Bon Savor mid-week. Didn't know about the prix fixe. By any chance, do you mean the one at their neighbor, Ten Tables?

                                    lgss - I noticed the new menu is not yet on their website, but has been in place in the restaurant for about 3-4 weeks now. You can call them if you"re interested - the management is super friendly. 617 971-0000.

                                    1. re: jpcat

                                      Nope, Bon S. used to have one at least, I think Tues. and Wed. maybe for 3 and 4 courses.

                              2. Count me in the anti-Grasshopper camp.

                                1 Reply