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Date with a Vegetarian; Indian?

I know you can never really trust a vegetarian but I have a 3rd date with one and I'm thinking Indian but I'm open. We've done Chinatown so looking for something else. Don't know the Boston / Cambridge scene so I'm looking for help! Doesn't need to be super-upscale but authentic and romantic would be nice.

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  1. if you want to spend a little more Oleana has a lovely vegetarian prix fixe dinner.

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    Oleana
    134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

    2 Replies
      1. re: jimmydingle

        You mean me, jimmydingle? Reporting for duty!

        While the ricotta dumplings at Oleana are vegetarian heaven, I don't consider eating elbow-to-elbow in an overheated dining room romantic. If the patio were still open, that would be another story. Coppa is even hotter and more cramped, plus you'll have to wait 1 1/2 for a table since they don't take reservations. Hamersley's is a nice date place, but pretty upscale and expensive.

        I don't know about your date, but lots of vegetarians (the ones you CAN trust) don't fit the old earthy-crunchy stereotype, nor are we all big fans of ethnic food. Whichever category she/ne falls into, I'd suggest Grotto or Rendezvous. They both feel somewhat special, but not in a big occasion way, and I've found the vegetarian options at both to delicious. Grotto is small, dark, with brick and red velvet curtains, and has a bit of a goth feel. Rendezvous is more contemporary, but cozy, and the banquettes (request a corner one) offer more comfy seating.

        At Grotto, I wouldn't miss the roasted buffalo mozzarella with spinach and capers, or the garlic soup (you'll both be plied with garlic, so don't worry), and for you, the gnocchi with short ribs, etc. Great bellinis, too.

        At Rendezvous, the bollito misto over truffled polenta is excellent, they have nice cheeses, and I haven't tried their ginger lentil soup yet, but it sounds great. If you or your date are Julia Child fans, try their chocolate cake; it's her recipe. Bon appetit!

    1. Is your date a pure vegetarian or are they the pescatarian sort? If they do a little fish now and again, I'd suggest a tapas place -- Dali is a very cozy and romantic spot, and sharing dishes makes for a great date.

      Right next door, Bergamot does good veggie food, and the recently moved EVOO has a nice veggie prix fixe for about $30.

      Diva, in Davis Square, is a decent Indian restaurant, and their lounge next door is a nice spot for cocktails. I'm not sure I'd classify it as 'romantic', but it's nice enough.

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      EVOO Restaurant
      350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143

      4 Replies
      1. re: Boston_Otter

        Dali is still a great place for a vegetarian -- in fact, they just added a vegetarian main course (beside the veggie tapas). Might be a tad boring as a vegan though. And all of the vegetarian items are marked with a 'v' to make picking less of a game of luck.

        1. re: yarm

          Oh, nice! That's new since I've been there last time. Very cool.

          1. re: Boston_Otter

            Went to Dali a week ago and really enjoyed it. Definitely a lively and warm atmosphere great for a date and the staff was fantastic. We got a drink at the bar while we were waiting and the bartender let us try a couple types of sherry before we decided on which we liked (the Oloroso was great) and educated us a bit about sherry. Our waitress had a lot of personality and did a great job taking care of us and there are plenty of vegetarian options and some very reasonably priced wines. Tapas is always a fun date.

            Oleana is a wonderful restaurant (although in a different price range). Nevertheless, if you want to impress, the vegetarian options are delicious and different than the usual "pasta" dish that most other places offer, the desserts are incredible, and it's definitely romantic.

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            Oleana
            134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

            1. re: Klunco

              The first time I went to Dali, my date and I had a wonderful meal with all kinds of delicious things I'd never tried. Near to the end of the meal, our waitress came over and said that they were having an unusually busy night and needed to get us our bill to make our table available. My date and I were a little annoyed to be rushed out, but smiled and nodded and paid our bill. Without any prompting, suddenly the owner appeared, hugged us, and took us over to the bar to give us some free sherry, apologizing and shaking our hands. It made an awkward situation really charming and won my return business!

      2. Tamarind Bay in Harvard Square has good vegetarian food (and good meat and seafood). Its basement atmosphere can be seen by some as romantic, but could be seen by others as dingy. Most Indian restaurants will offer several vegetarian options, but the ones with the widest range seem to be outside Boston proper. I've heard good things about Red Lentil in Watertown, but I've not been there myself. The Oleana recommendation is terrific, but it will be more expensive.

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        Tamarind Bay
        75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

        Oleana
        134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

        Red Lentil
        600 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

        1. Won't help you out right now, but keep an eye out for True Bistro, the new vegan place that's opening soon in Teele Square. I walked by on Friday evening and it looked really pretty.

          In the meantime, if your date is just vegetarian and not vegan, there are lots of options in the North End. Pretty much every Italian place has at least a few good meatless options.

          1. Vegetarian is quite easy. Most decent places that don't explicitly specialize in meat will have veggie options. If she's vegan or eliminates eggs/dairy, things get slightly more difficult. I'd say you give Red Lentil a try, which has great food, but it doesn't really have a "romantic" vibe. Indian is great for vegetarians though, so good idea there.

            Some non-Indian suggestions from this vegetarian: Dali, Ten Tables, Baraka Cafe, Ole, Garden at the Cellar

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            Baraka Cafe
            80 Pearl St, Cambridge, MA 02139

            Ten Tables
            5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

            Red Lentil
            600 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

            1. Oleana, Baraka, Tamarind Bay and Ten Tables(there $30 veggie tasting menu is a good deal) are great ideas. I would add Hamersley's Bistro and The Helmand to the list. Pretty much any Indian or Italian place would be a safe bet.

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              Baraka Cafe
              80 Pearl St, Cambridge, MA 02139

              Tamarind Bay
              75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

              Hamersley's Bistro
              553 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

              Oleana
              134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

              1 Reply
              1. re: Kinopio

                add rialto to this list -- they also offer a vegetarian tasting menu.

                unless you're at a steakhouse, it's not hard to find good vegetarian options on almost any menu.

                i was a vegetarian for many years and never cared for indian food, btw.

              2. Bergamot, EVOO, Ten Tables, and Hamersley's are all great suggestions and all can cook outstanding vegetarian dishes, although you likely won't have that big a range of options to choose from (for example, at Bergamot where I was most recently, there was one app and one entree that were explicitly vegetarian, and one side and possibly a couple more appetizers that could be made vegetarian on request; Ten Tables and Hamersley's have good vegetarian prix fixe menus but not a big range of options on the a la carte menu). I'd also add Rendezvous to the list.

                Red Lentil is great, but hardly romantic.

                For more variety, tapas/small plates places can work pretty well. I actually think that Toro is great for vegetarians, as there are a decent number of options on the menu. Hard to share, though, unless you are willing to eat mostly vegetarian too. Coppa is similar.

                Oleana is wonderful, and really not that much more expensive than Ten Tables / EVOO / etc. And very romantic.

                3 Replies
                1. re: greenzebra

                  I think the Coppa menu is kinda difficult for a vegetarian.

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                  Coppa
                  253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                  1. re: SEH

                    Obviously everybody should judge for themselves, and I am not a vegetarian, but last spring I went to Coppa with my vegetarian wife and my vegetarian sister-in-law, and they ate as well as, if not better than, at Toro. It is true that a vegetarian has to pick their spots a little bit (obviously nothing from the salumi part of the menu).

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                    Toro
                    1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                    Coppa
                    253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                  2. re: greenzebra

                    I had dinner at EVOO this weekend with a vegetarian and she loved the food that she had there.

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                    EVOO Restaurant
                    350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143

                  3. My vegetarian son really enjoyed Teatro.

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                    Teatro
                    177 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02111

                    1. As a vegetarian (aghast! I know!) I'd recommend Ten Tables (they have a veggie tasting menu every day that is always outstanding); any of the Ethiopian joints (Addis Red Sea or Asmara)- which I also think is fun date food; Oleana (but that's a little pricier); and most places in the South End (less Butcher Shop & B&G Oysters) have decent vegetarian selections.

                      If you are looking for something a bit more adventurous, though, and don't mind going to Somerville, I'd highly recommend Tu Y Yo.

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                      Oleana
                      134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                      Addis Red Sea Ethiopian Restaurant
                      544 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

                      Ten Tables
                      597 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                      Asmara
                      739 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                      Tu Y Yo Mexican Fonda
                      858 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

                      Ten Tables
                      5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

                      1. Good Indian restaurants (with lots of vegetarian options) are:

                        - Kashmir on Newbury Street in Boston
                        - Diva in Davis Square, Somerville
                        - Cafe of India, Harvard Square, Cambridge
                        None of them are deeply romantic, but informally nice and decent enough for a date. They all happen to be owned by the same parent company (which owns a ton of Indian restaurants in the Boston area ... One World Cuisine).

                        If you want to go beyond Indian vegetarian, to other types of cuisines, try Wagamama in Harvard Square, Cambridge. Again, definitely not romantic, but they are so vegetarian friendly! And, if you're a non-vegetarian, you'll be happy as well.

                        If you want strict vegan .,.. I just tried Life Alive in Central Square, Cambridge. I don't know ... I tasted earth in my salad. Definitely organic and ... well ... earthy. (Not romantic ....)

                        A vegan place I really like is Prana Cafe in Newton Corner. It does have a lot of happy fortune-cookie messages sprinkled around at each table, if you and your date would like to check these out. And the servers all way moss-green t-shirts with "Eat raw, be happy." captions. REALLY, it's great food! (Not romantic, but you'll have so much to talk about with your date.) :)

                        There's a really upscale, romantic vegan restaurant on Hanover Street in the North End... haven't tried it though.

                        Speaking of the North End, I love, love love Ristorante Damiano ... great for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. And it's sort of romantic.

                        Good luck ... tell us where you end up!

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                        Wagamama
                        57 Jfk St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                        One World Cuisine
                        279 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02116

                        Life Alive
                        194 Middle St Apt 3R, Lowell, MA 01852

                        Cafe of India
                        52 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                        Ristorante Damiano
                        307 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: crueltyfreefoodie

                          I would never suggest Kashmir to anyone who wants to have a good indian food experience. It's downright atrocious.

                          I'd rather advise someone to try Mela in South End or Ghazal in JP .. while not the best, they're certainly one of the better joints in Boston when it comes to Indian food.

                          Disclaimer: I'm Indian and been living in Boston for the past 2 years after being pampered with Indian food in NJ and NYC for quite a while.

                        2. I am a vegetarian and wanted to put in my two cents and recommend TW Food. Not sure if it is more upscale/expensive than you are looking for, but they always have a vegetarian tasting menu, and I have always found it good to excellent.
                          I also wanted to comment on the suggestions of various vegan restaurants. I personally avoid them. I really dislike all the fake meat and fake dairy.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: dsackton

                            Thus far I've had really poor experiences at vegan restaurants in the area. My recent dinner at Pulse Cafe in Davis Square was bizarre -- they served me asparagus that had been steamed 'til limp and mushy with zero seasoning whatsoever. If a vegan restaurant can't get vegetables right, something's wrong.

                            However, I've heard really good things about the recently-opened True Bistro Cafe in Teele Square.

                            1. re: Boston_Otter

                              We went to True Bistro on Saturday night. It was rather good.

                              Pulse is cheaper and more relaxed, but the food can often be bland or watery.

                              True Bistro has the old chefs from Prana in Newton. Food was rather well prepared. The vegan wine and beer list was good, and the desserts were excellent. Price point with a bottle of wine was 3x our average bill at Pulse though.