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help me make vegetarian daughter happy!

Hi Chowhounds,

Visiting Boston in a couple of weeks for a few days. Will be staying at the Colonnade Hotel. We've never taken our 11 year daughter to Boston, so we want her to fall in love with the city. She is an adventurous vegetarian, so the more delicious and interesting the restaurants, the more excited that she will be. Even if it is not a veggie restaurant, if it has some good dishes and a memorable vibe, we're game! Please advise!

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  1. Oleana in Cambridge - make an early rez and get seated in the back patio. This will accomplish your goal completely.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bob Dobalina

      you can't get a rez for the patio, so get the earliest rez possible and show up before they open.

      1. re: Madrid

        Bob and Madrid: this place is PERFECT. Absolutely perfect. One restaurant down: 5:30 rez at Oleana, 5:15 arrival. Can't thank you enough.

        1. re: evanorth

          hoping you enjoy it and for good weather! all of the mezze are amazing.

    2. All these recs are in Cambridge, not Boston per se, but we pretty much consider Cambridge a part of Boston since the only thing that separates the two is a river.

      Cuchi Cuchi has very good international small plates served by waitresses dressed as flappers in a shabby-chic room. The eggplant napoleon is particularly good, and there are plenty of other good vegetarian plates.

      Tupelo has "comfort food with a southern drawl" in a cute and cozy room. They've got good salads, a vegetarian gumbo, jalepeno mac & cheese, crepes, and best of all, amazing pies and cakes for dessert, made by Petsi, known for her two area bakeries.

      The Helmand is an Afgan restaurant known for its delicious vegetarian offerings.

      Veggie Galaxy is an all-vegetarian diner, which looks fun. It's the only one of these I haven't been to, so can't personally vouch for.

      2 Replies
      1. re: pollystyrene

        My best friend and her boys (9 and 7) are huge fans of Veggie Galaxy - I'm pretty sure they've eaten most of the menu and are always going back there! Can't wait to try it for the first time when I'm back in Boston in September.

        1. re: pollystyrene

          Veggie Galaxy is a lot of fun! It's definitely a diner feel - but all the food is vegetarian, and fairly inventive too. Highly recommended! Their veggie burgers are amazing - and they make the buns themselves so that they're vegan - and they're delicious too!

          Another casual place in that area is Life Alive - more of a lunch spot than dinner, but absolutely delicious.

        2. Oleana is an excellent choice. In the same area I'd also back Tupelo, either for dinner or for their killer Sunday brunch (where their legendary vegetarian gumbo is always on the menu).

          For less event-y meals, I would also recommend Lucy Ethiopian on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Huntington St., and My Thai in Chinatown (it's not strictly Thai, but it is strictly veg/vegan). You can also try any of the banh mi shops that are always hotly debated here - quick, easy, portable, and delicious for veggies and omnivores.

          I'd say too that Boston, Cambridge and Somerville tend to be pretty veg-friendly, so any good restaurant in the area should be able to help you, especially if you call ahead.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TimTamGirl

            In Chinatown I would recommend Pho Pasteur over My Thai. Both have lots of veggie options, but I think the food at Pho Pasteur is better.

          2. Definitely stop by Clover Food Truck, which she will probably think is very cool. 100% vegetarian, interesting, unpretentious. Your closest one will be at Park Street.


            1 Reply
            1. Also, I forgot about Toro! I still haven't made it there, but it's a board favorite, and the menu looks fantastic for vegetarians. I've heard the mais asado shouldn't be missed, and they also have a vegetarian paella.

              They don't take reservations, and the waits can be very long, so it's another place you'll want to get to just as they open.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pollystyrene

                The cauliflower a la plancha at Toro is fantastic. It'll vary a little by what they have at the time. Version I had on Friday night was with pine nuts and golden raisins. Sauce tasted like it had some honey in it. Other veggie dish I like there is the pimientos del padron. Obviously the corn is the house specialty - I don't love it, but I'm in the minority on that one. Can't speak to the vegetable to paella because we strictly order the paella valenciana (one of my top 3 restaurant dishes in Boston).

              2. If you're wandering Chinatown, 163 Vietnamese Sandwich has multiple vegetarian Bahn Mi options, and 101 Bakery lists the ingredients for their pastries. Most places will have many options; I no longer recommend My Thai (the all-vegan place) at all after some lackluster experiences -- it used to be great, but the last few times it was super-bland & greasy.

                Q Hotpot can make most of their broths vegetarian, and hotpot can be a lot of fun.

                Wandering the North End can be nice, and while there's no specific restaurant I can think of with more veggie choices than others, there's so many restaurants that you can wander until something looks good. Plus, do the tourist thing and get pastry -- I'd recommend Modern over Mike's, but you won't go wrong with either.

                Ethiopian is a great idea, especially if you don't have it where you're from; there are a bunch of options there. (My favorite is out in Malden, which is a bit of a hike from downtown, so I'd just go with TimTamGirl's recommendation below even though I've never been to Lucy.)

                5 Replies
                1. re: antimony

                  You absolutely can go wrong with Mike's Pastry. Pre-filled cannoli = pure evil. Stick to Modern or Maria's and give Mike's a wide berth. And if you're in the North End in the late morning/early arvo, you can try Galleria Umberto for Sicilian pizza and amazing arancini (which I believe are veg). I've been a Regina Pizza devotee since childhood and will always back it, but Sicilian-style pizza is rarer, and it's even harder to find it done well (e.g., the crust doesn't taste or feel like bread), and if you're looking for something more unusual that might be a treat. Bear in mind, though, that they sell out early.

                  I'm sorry to hear that My Thai has fallen off - I haven't been in a while - but hot pot is an awesome idea. Q in Chinatown is a bit flash and shiny, which might be fun, and they have quite an elaborate drinks menu for the adults.

                  1. re: TimTamGirl

                    The arancini at Umberto's are NOT vegetarian, they have meat inside, AND they will not re-open until August 1st.

                    1. re: TimTamGirl

                      I meant to type "I'd recommend Modern over _Maria's_", but somehow Mike's crept in. Whoops. Yes, skip Mike's; it's crowded and not as good as the other two.

                      1. re: TimTamGirl

                        At Umberto's, the panzarotti - potato crusted and fried with cheese in the middle - don't have meat.

                        1. re: lergnom

                          And the panzarotti are awesome! Neither the spinach or spinach and cheese calzones, nor the pizza have meat. The Arancini definitely have meat in them, however, and they don't re-open until August 1st.

                    2. Does your daughter eat fish/dairy? If so there are some good options in the North End, and really, it's a fun neighborhood to visit, especially in the summer. I would look at the menus for Neptune Oyster and Giacomo and see if anything appeals to you.

                      1. As a vegetarian who rarely eats at purely vegetarian restaurants because they're usually boring, I'd suggest these:

                        Biryani Park, 105 Broadway, Malden, MA, (781) 397-1307. Sri Lankan/Indian. Order from the Sri Lakan part of the menu.

                        Gourmet Dumpling House, 52 Beach Street, Boston (Chinatown), (617) 338-6223. Chinese.

                        Habesha, 535 Main Street, Malden, MA, (781) 399-0868. Ethiopian.

                        Helmand, 143 First Street, Cambridge, MA, (617) 492-4646. Afghan.

                        Lorenz Island Kuisine, 657 Washington Street, Boston (Dorchester), (617) 506-6061. Jamaican.

                        MuLan, 228 Broadway, Cambridge, MA, (617) 441-8812. Taiwanese. My new favorite. Underrated.

                        Muqueca, 1093 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA, (617) 354-3296. Brazilian. Especially the vegetarian moqueca.

                        Ritu Ki Rasoi, 207 Cambridge Street, Burlington, MA, (781) 229-8349. Indian. My favorite Indian restaurant in the Boston area.

                        Singh’s Roti Shop, 692 Columbia Road, Boston (Dorchester), (617) 282-7977. Trinidadian.

                        Tu y Yo, 858 Broadway, Somerville, MA, (617) 623-5411. Mexican, but probably unlike any Mexican you've probably experienced. Unusual and imaginative.

                        Pho Viet, 1095 Commonwealth Avenue (Super 88), Boston (Allston), (617) 562-8828. Vietnamese. Tofu banh mi must certainly be the best veg sandwich and best value in Boston. Saigon noodles are also exceptional.

                        I've created a list of Boston area ethnic restaurants, with recommendations, for a geography of food class I teach. It is available here: http://pubpages.unh.edu/~gumprech/Eth...

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: BlakeGumprecht

                          This is fantastic! Thanks for this list and for linking to your larger list.

                            1. re: BlakeGumprecht

                              This is a great list. I wholeheartedly recommend Habesha if you are in the area. Yum.

                              I find it interesting you recommend Ritu Ki Rasoi. I don't have much experience with the place, but have access to it on occasion. What do you like there?

                              1. re: Ladycale

                                The menu at Ritu Ki Rasoi changes daily. I haven't had anything there I didn't like, though the buffet was a little disappointing (but I'm not generally a fan of buffets). After years of being disappointed at Boston area Indian restaurants -- all the same North Indian dishes and poor quality -- Ritu Ki Rasoi was a revelation.

                            2. West Bridge has fun vegetarian food - the egg in a jar, cauliflower, carrots, and kale salad are all quite popular. I opted for those, and ate a fully vegetarian meal there by chance.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: addiez

                                I think that the egg in a jar has duck skin on it (though I'm sure they could leave that off).

                              2. The two best veggie-friendly places I've personally been in the Boston area are Bergamot and Journeyman, both in Somerville but not hard to get to from where you are. Journeyman does a nightly vegetarian/vegan tasting menu that's very adventurous and always interesting.

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: Boston_Otter

                                  Most vegetarians, like myself, don't consider restaurants with one vegetarian entry, like Bergamot, to be veg friendly. Carnivores wouldn't be satisfied with one option; neither are we.

                                  1. re: BlakeGumprecht

                                    The last few times I've been to Bergamot, they've had an entire vegan tasting menu, and have offered to make any dish vegetarian or vegan.

                                    Maybe they've downgraded their veggie offerings in the last six months? I doubt it.

                                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                                      My comment was based on the menu on their website, which lists only one vegetarian entry.

                                      It's hard for me to imagine how they could make most of their entries vegetarian, since they are meat centered (Grilled Prime Flat Iron Steak, Grilled Atlantic Salmon, etc.). Plus, for many vegetarians, simply removing the meat doesn't make a dish very attractive.

                                      I don't think most vegetarians want to be treated differently, where dishes have to be altered to meet their needs. We want choices, like anyone else. And we don't want to go to a restaurant unless we have a pretty good idea that there will be something interesting for us. If it's not on the menu, you're leaving it to chance and that often ends badly. Somebody will tell you one thing on the phone, but you find out something completely different when you arrive.

                                      There is an implicit assumption among many carnivores and chefs who cook mostly meat that vegetarians will eat most anything, so long as it doesn't have meat. Steamed vegetables works, right? No, it doesn't. Vegetarians have taste, too, and many of us care very much about food and are as particular as any carnivore foodie.

                                      Sorry for the lecture...

                                      1. re: BlakeGumprecht

                                        I spent 15 years as a vegetarian. I know quite well the pitfalls of eating at restaurants, yep.

                                        Trust me when I say that Bergamot treats vegetarians and vegans well, as I've eaten there many times. They make a very big deal about taking special dietary requests quite seriously and cooking in-season, locally-grown vegetables well; the last time I was there I had a terrific roasted asparagus dish with a soft-boiled egg as my entree.

                                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                                          I'll take your word for it, but, like I said, special requests are always a gamble. I've also gotta tell you that a soft-boiled egg as an entree is hard to get excited about!

                                          1. re: BlakeGumprecht

                                            BostonOtter said his entree was terrific. Are you calling that judgment into question? There's no need to get personal, Blakegumprecht!

                                            I think a dish of local roasted asparagus (short-season, difficult to grow) and a well-treated soft-boiled egg (which is an animal product -- the idea of a vegetarian who finds eggs to be a blasé food is a peculiar one) is a fantastic-sounding meal.

                                            1. re: FinnFPM

                                              I don't think I was getting personal and certainly didn't mean to do that. I was only stating my opinion. I would also add that BostonOtter never said the soft-boiled egg was terrific. That comment was about the asparagus dish.

                                              Myself, I wouldn't go to an expensive restaurant to eat a soft-boiled egg as an entry. I do eat eggs and have nothing against them, but that's not dinner to me!

                                              1. re: BlakeGumprecht

                                                While it is certainly possible to interpret the phrase "I had a terrific roasted asparagus dish with a soft-boiled egg as my entree" as referring to two separate dishes, I would not recommend it. Common sense dictates that BostonOtter was served a single dish consisting of roasted asparagus and a soft-boiled egg.

                                                1. re: BlakeGumprecht

                                                  Let me be perfectly clear. I was not served a soft boiled egg as an entree. I never said I did. I'm sorry for any confusion.

                                                  I was served a beautifully plated dish of fresh, locally grown, perfectly-roasted asparagus, peas, and other vegetables topped with a delicious miso/citrus sauce and a soft boiled egg to add an unctuous richness. It was their daily special as they'd just gotten asparagus from a local farmer that morning.

                                                  It was part of a three-course vegan tasting menu which, I believe, they still offer every day.

                                                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                      Sorry for misinterpreting what you said, but the wording was ambiguous.

                                            2. re: Boston_Otter

                                              I've had fantastic food at Bergamot, but it is really nice to be able to *choose* between lots of menu items. Some times the one veggie entree just isn't what you're in the mood for. And I agree about not wanting to make special requests when there *is* something on the menu that meets one's diet. It's a hassle, brings a lot of attention on yourself (from your dining companions), and doesn't always result in good food.

                                              Especially since the OP was looking for things for an adventurous 11-year-old, who is probably going to have more fun reading a menu with many options than trying to go off-menu.

                                              Journeyman, on the other hand, doesn't really do options -- it's a tasting menu, so everyone's in the boat of going with what the offering is. They are pretty good about taking care of vegetarians, although I was disappointed the one time we went that they didn't think to arrange the amuse-bouche so that I could eat much of any of it -- they laid a slice of meat right across the top of the salad part as the last step, so I could eat one or two stray beans and my non-vegetarian dining companion got the rest of it.

                                    2. Beacon Hill Hotel and Bistro had a nice red lentil kofte on braised greens a couple of weeks ago.

                                      1. I want to highly recommend Myers + Chang for an adventurous 11 year old vegetarian. It has a fun, funky atmosphere, a wide ranging menu with a variety of really delicious veg options, and the small plates format means you can try lots of things and not have your meal derailed by one dish that isn't a hit. I've always had great service as well. I think it meets the delicious, interesting and vibe criteria.