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Vegetarians: What chains do you eat at?

We rarely eat at chain restaurants, but sometimes when you are on the road or are guests, you simply don't have a choice.

We used to be fairly satisfied with Taco Bell, but have rarely eaten there in the past 2 or 3 years. The food went from okay to awful. Some things I've thrown out after one bite, ugh!

Other than pizza from Papa Murphy's (we're addicted to the veggie gourmet and the veggie delite pizzas, both with white sauce), I can't think of any other chain restaurant that we ever eat at.

How about you? Have you had any luck finding eatable veggie food at chain restaurants?

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  1. I usually order either the Roasted Eggplant Sandwich and Portabella Burger at the Cheesecake Factory. They are both solid entrees; I've never been disappointed in either. I will sub out the french fries for a side salad (they have a decent balsamic vinaigrette).

    1. I have tried (and survived) the Pita Pit (not awesome at the two locations that I tried, but acceptable) and Bertuccis (I am in the North East).

      3 Replies
      1. re: jeni1002

        We have a Pita Pit in town, too. Not exactly great food, but at least you can get something with some fresh veggies in it. We used to have a local place to get yummy falafels, etc., but I think it was a bit too expensive for most people and it closed.

        Never heard of Bertuccis, must not have any here in the Pacific NW.

        1. re: laurachow

          At Bertucci's, I like the Lestina pizza, with no cheese. (This one has LOTS of garlic, in fact, whole cloves of it... it will leak out of your pores the next day).

          1. re: laurachow

            I've seen Pita pit grill the falafels right next to the meat on the griddle. Stopped going there cause I was sure that they were intermingling...

        2. Fast food - Subway for the Veggie Delight or Veggie Patty sandwich. Otherwise, Taco Bell and the 7-layer burrito is the go-to.

          Casual Chain Restaurants - My fave is Red Robin because you can sub a veggie patty for any burger.

          7 Replies
          1. re: swissgirl

            FYI - Taco Bell's sour cream contains gelatin. Depends how strict you are, but you can always get the 7-layer burrito (or anything else) without it.

            1. re: punkin712

              Thanks for the info. I don't like sour cream and order without it (so I guess I order a 6-layer burrito at the 7-layer price...hmmm). But I didn't know the sour cream contains gelatin.

              1. re: punkin712

                This is unfortunate to learn but I guess we needed to know. Thanks for bringing it up... had to tell the gf. Sad day.

                1. re: punkin712

                  Ew, I'll have to tell the hubby. I think he still goes there on rare occasions. Thanks for the info.

                2. re: swissgirl

                  I'll have to check out a Subway. I don't think I've eaten there in many years. We also have a Quiznos. I suppose they have some veggie options, too.

                  Our Red Robin seems horribly overpriced, for what you get. Maybe they vary from location to location?

                  Thanks!

                  1. re: laurachow

                    Red Robin IS over-priced but at least they have a good variety of burger combos. They used to have an out-of-control mixed drink menu too but that has been pared down in the last few years.

                    1. re: swissgirl

                      Yeah, it's a bit overpriced I'd say as well, but it hits the spot sometimes. The fact that they always have Gardenburger and Boca patties is still a rarity for burger places, and something like a Boca patty is a heckuva lot more fun when you have it as part of their burger concoctions as opposed to the standard burger fixings. If you're gonna get a veggie burger at a chain, I think it's going to be tough to do better, just because of the sheer variety of what you can get on it. In the end that choice is worth a little added cost.

                3. i'm not sure where else these are, but Montana's steakhouse has a veggie burger that is by far THE best i've ever had. The thing is as big as your head, topped with roasted veggies and feta cheese...OMG so good.

                  I have to say Taco Bell is a very occasional guilty pleasure, as weak as their "hot" sauce is, i like how they'll still sub in the beans.

                  I like a BK veggie burger but was wholeheartedly dissapointed the other day when i asked if they could make one the same way as that jalapeno havarti topped one (name escapes me), and was told no. Seriously, just swap the burger, i'd even pay more, but no !! *sulks*....i'm still not over it. haha.

                  A&W for their veggie burger with the cheese swapped to cheddar, along with onion rings and diet root beer....mmm.

                  Extreme Pita has a pretty good falafel sandwich that I enjoy.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: im_nomad

                    Hmm, we must not have any Montana's Steakhouse in our neck of the woods. But, we are lucky to have a local restaurant that opened a burger joint and they do a fine veggie burger. Not a frozen Gardenburger patty, but it is actually made fresh in the restaurant. Yummy!

                    Didn't know A&W offered a veggie burger. Next time we're stuck for a place to eat, we'll try it.

                    On a road trip a few summers ago we were starving and pulled into a BK for a bite. Ugh! It was so horrible we were shocked. Not likely to eat at a BK again anytime soon.

                  2. Subway. I order a sub with veggies only. Also, in the Phoenix area there is a chain of restaurants, Pita Jungle, that offers tasty and fresh vegetarian dishes.

                    1. Fast food: Also go to Taco Bell once in a great while. It really is the only fast food place with at least some choices. Boston Market is also good for the sides platter.

                      Baja fresh is absolutely delicious and I love it! Corner Bakery has some options. Portillo's has a few options as well.

                      Ruby Tuesday for the salad bar with baked potato (no bacon please). Overall the options are pretty pitiful or taste bad at most chains.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: etoiles

                        I used to work at Taco Bell, and if I remember correctly, the beans have lard in them. You might want to check that out.

                        1. re: Oboegal

                          A quick Google search seems to indicate that TB's beans are lard-free but rumors abound that they aren't.

                      2. Sunday our family ate at Chili's and son's friend got a black bean burger which she said was very good. Me, I had the mushroom swiss beef burger.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: steakman55

                          My veggie nieces love the black bean burger as well.

                        2. My Daughter thinks quite highly of Jason's Deli's vegetarian options. She even had them cater her wedding reception. That didn't work out as well as hoped, but it wasn't a food issue. More organizational. She was mad, but she still eats there.

                          1. Ive found that Qdoba are willing to assemble veggie entrées, plus they have veggie burritos and a cheese quesadilla on the menu. Ive also resorted to a baked potato with toppings at Wendys

                            1. every burger place!! i eat meat, but used to be veggie and still have habits. when going veggie - i always ordre the burger w/o meat. so whopper w/o patty (and w/o mayo) is delicious; big mac no patty; famous star no patty. it's actually really good.

                              in and out does a grilled cheese which is basically the same thing - but kind of better b/c the cheese is for sure melted.

                              i also love the burger places that serve onion rings or fried zucchini or curly/cris-cut fries b/c you can stuff those in middle of the burger and it seems just the same as if there was a patty.

                              all mexican fast food - "beans instead of meat" - i know a lot of beans my have meat by-product, but that doesn't seem like the end of the world. sometimes you can get potatoes instead of meat and that will avoid the meat by-product issue.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bu dat

                                Oh. My.

                                A Taco Shop potato taco is like *the* perfect food for me...mashed potatoes inside a crunchy just fried shell, topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato and salsa...

                              2. do you have Chipotle by you? apparently their black beans (but NOT the pinto beans) are lard-free/vegetarian. i've never eaten there, but i know a lot of CHers eat there at least occasionally, so it can't be that bad ;)

                                you can also find some pretty useful info & suggestions at these links...

                                http://aveganlife.blogspot.com/2006/0...
                                http://www.vegetarian-restaurants.net...
                                http://www.soundvision.com/info/halal...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  Chipotle's vegetarian burrito is actually pretty good. Their ingredients are fresh and it's a good value overall.

                                2. My vegetarian daughter likes the burritos at Moe's made with tofu, also their "instant friend" quesadilla, the gardenburger option at Red Robin, and the veggie patty option at Fuddrucker's. She does well at Panera, too. They have a mozzarella tomato salad she likes as well as other salads, veggie sandwiches and pizzas.

                                  1. You folks have a lot of chain restaurants in your communities. I haven't even heard of most of these places. I guess that is both the benefit and the inconvenience of living in a very independent corner of the country. We're lucky to have so many local restauranteurs. Of course, not all of them are great at what they do, but what we sacrifice in consistency, we make up for in variety. I'll have to bring this list of suggestions with me when we travel. Thanks!

                                    1. I love the Mediterranean Veggie sandwich at Panera, also the Tomato Mozzarella sandwich at Corner Bakery.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Linara

                                        I could like the mediterranean sandwich at panera if they would stop serving it on sweet bread. Every time I order it (I'm a slow learner) it's on some bread with a sugared crust. When I've asked they claim the bread is the sundried tomato. Sundried tomato plus a big helping of sugar, ick.

                                        1. re: odkaty

                                          Try on the asiago cheese focaccia

                                          1. re: odkaty

                                            They will serve it on any bread they have available, you just have to ask.

                                        2. Tijuana Flats cooks both their black beans and refried beans in vegetable oil, and seems to have a posted bean option on every type of dish they offer.

                                          I like Quizno's veggie sub, but suspect that a good amount of the flavor comes from a really high fat content.

                                          1. This is an old thread, but I had a veggie burger at Ruby Tuesday's over the weekend that I was really impressed with. Often veggie burgers seem to be made out of some kind of mystery substance, but this one was black beans, rice, and some minced vegetables. I really liked it. Other than that, not a very veggie-friendly menu, other than the salad bar of course.

                                            1. have you tried Moe's Southwest Grill? Thay have a lot of vegetarians options. We were introduced to this chain when went vacationing in Florida. My kids and I were really excited to find out that they had a restaurant at 35 Eglinton Ave E (just east of Yonge). All their meal can be made with tofu and it's actually great. So you can get those burritos, with tofu. Both of their beans, their rice and guacamole are actually vegan ( no dairy, no lard) Their meals are really delicious.They offer takeout, eat-in and even catering. I personally like their Art Vandalay. It is a burrito normally made with rice, choice of beans, cheese, salsa, lettuce, sour cream, freshly made guacamole and veggies. the food is made in front of you so of you are vegan like I am you can tell to hold the dairy products ( cheese and sour cream). If you ask them, they will even change their gloves before making your meal.

                                              1. Wendy's baked potatos!! yumm

                                                1. Cream of Broccoli soup at Tim Hortons is my standby. I've had a handful of Subway "Veggie Delight" sandwiches and they're always really disappointing. Twice, I've been to Edo and had a veggie stirfry (with thick noodles) that was absolutely horrible. In Sweden, McDonalds had Veggie McNuggets that were great; I would probably go to McDonalds all the time if they served them here. Also in Europe, I like falafel from Maoz.

                                                  In Western Canada, Milestones does a vegetarian thai noodle salad that is fantastic: soba noodles, leafy greens, roasted red peppers, mango salsa, guacamole, shredded carrot and shredded red cabbage, in a honey-lime (I think) vinaigrette.

                                                  1. Not a Veggie... but my Veggie friends in HS and College LIVED on the El Pollo Loco BRC... Cheap and EPL has various good salsas that go well with it. I was such a fixture of my teen years that I get the craving for one every now and then... :)

                                                    --Dommy!

                                                    1. Jack In The Box.

                                                      You can make a fine meal out of their Grilled Cheese sandwich paired with some curly fries.