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Jan 14, 2012 02:51 PM

Casual, affordable, vegetarian friendly

Please help!! We love eating good food but so many places, especially in the city, are a little more expensive. We love those places too, but they are easy to find.

We want to make a list of some casual, affordable (entree prices around $15 or less) restaurants where we can sit down and eat a nice meal. We're both vegetarians (we do eat eggs & dairy) but usually find decent veggie options at most places--especially ethnic restaurants. We live in Arlington but have easy access to both the T and a car, so location is not terribly important.

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  1. The obvious mention is Red Lentil, which I like quite a bit. It's in Watertown on Mt. Auburn, across from Arax & Sevan. Vegetarian with vegan and nut free options. For example, I like their tempeh rueben.

    A favorite is Stellina in Watertown Square. The entrees at dinner can be more, but they have orders and always a bunch of vegetarian appetizers and at least 2 entrees. It's creative N. Italian. Good wine list. Nice bar area. Lots of locally sourced food. They make excellent pasta, especially lasagna. Many Italian places have some form of vegetarian food. (I wish Galleria Umberto made a veggie arancini.)

    Since both my daughters have been vegetarians - one still is* - we seek out vegetarian friendly places. These are mostly ethnic. Of these, my daughters would both recommend most highly Sichuan Gourmet, any of their locations. They have some great cabbage dishes, real Dan Dan Noodles and very good tofu dishes. Their family style tofu is a favorite.

    *You'd think that working in TV would mean eating in the stereotypical LA lifestyle but the food revolves around junk food and copious quantities of meat. She had to eat meat or starve, given the long hours in TV production.

    6 Replies
    1. re: lergnom

      Aren't Dan Dan noodles topped with pork? Do they offer a vegetarian version?

      Clover in Harvard Square (or various food trucks) would fit your requirements.

      1. re: nightsky

        sky, i wasn't aware that dandan noodles always had a meat component , but you can pretty much bet that any chinese restnt will be happy to make a vegtrn version of any dish that has meat in it.

        1. re: opinionatedchef

          There are versions with pork but it's not standard. Ma pa tofu has pork but everyone makes it without or even with vegetables.

          One of my kids says Refuge Cafe in Allston - formerly Herrell's - has a number of vegan options.

        2. re: nightsky

          The dan dan noodles at Sichuan Gourmet do have pork if ordered with no special instructions; I haven't tried special-ordering them as when I get food there it tends to be a big take-out order with the rest of my officemates and I don't want to confuse things.

          1. re: antimony

            I regularly order dandan noodles at Sichuan Gourmet without the pork on top. They're very accommodating, and really delicious!

          2. re: nightsky

            The dan dan noodles at Myers & Chang are vegetarian. Myers and Chang is actually a great vegetarian option...they'll provide you with a veggie menu if you ask. It's also definitely in the affordable category.

        3. Try Veggie Galaxy in Central Square. Vegan/vegetarian paradise. They make everything there, use all local ingredients and everything is vegetarian and vegan. Save room for their incredible vegan desserts. We also like True Bistro in Somerville, but Veggie Galaxy (not to be confused with Veggie Planet in Harvard Square) is our family favorite.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mvi

            Veggie Galaxy and Veggie Planet I think are owned by the same people.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              Yes, they are but there's a huge difference in the menus and the quality of the food....and the atmosphere.

          2. EastxNortheast has a lot of veggie options, small plates of innovative Asian inspired food. Rendezvous and Oleana in Cambridge, and Strip T's in Watertown - do a number of neat veggie things, though check menus for pricing. There are recent threads on all these spots.

            502 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139

            East Asia Restaurant
            868 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

            134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

            Strip-T's Restaurant
            93 School St, Watertown, MA 02472

            1. Istanbul'lu in Teele Square, Somerville.

              7 Replies
                1. re: Madrid

                  All good suggestions. I always throw in the grilled vegetable platter of the day at East Coast Grill. Can't praise this enough.

                  1. re: justbeingpolite

                    I agree that the ECG Veg O the Day is generally excellent. However it isn't always grilled. They often have deep fried preparations, etc.

                    I would second the Veggie Galaxy recommendation.

                    Also, the Other Side on Upper Newbury is good and affordable.

                  2. re: Madrid

                    Istanbul'lu's website menu doesn't have prices. Do you know what the price range for their entrees is?

                    1. re: pollystyrene

                      It's been a little while since I went to Istanbul'lu, but last time I was there they had plenty of entrees in the $10-$20 range, and you could get a great sandwich for dinner on the lower end of that.

                      1. re: blink617

                        Thanks! And one more question: do they serve alcohol?

                        1. re: pollystyrene

                          the last I heard, Istanbul'lu was trying to get a liquor license. I don't think they suceeded, unfortunately, since their tapas menu (less than $10 for the most part as I recall) would be great with wine. They are right next to TJ Ryan's pub if someone really wants a beer before or after.

                  3. As a fellow vegetarian, my affordable favorites are Helmand, City Girl Cafe, Tupelo (in addition to the veggie crepe, the beans and rice make a yummy entree), and Picco (best mac & cheese in Boston according to me). I'm looking forward to trying Veggie Galaxy.

                    I'm glad you posted this because it made me realize how many of my favorites that I think of as affordable have entree prices (or prices for 2 small plates) approaching or exceeding $20. No wonder my wallet's so thin. So I hope more people chime in.