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Best Vegetarian Dish at a non-Vegetarian Restaurant

I have a vegetarian friend with whom I often dine, and have trouble coming up with options other than vegetarian restaurants. As an avowed meat eater, I often forget whether non-vegetarian restaurants that I like have a good slate of vegetarian options! =)

Actually, I've enjoyed trying vegetarian restaurants that I honestly otherwise probably would not have sampled, and of course good Chinese restaurants always have an array of vegetarian dishes.

But I would also appreciate hearing about restaurants with a particularly good vegetarian dish or two --- especially new restaurants since I've been gone from Boston for several months.

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  1. Hamersley's Bistro always has wonderful vegetarian dishes on the menu. And, they have been offering great options for years.

    I just looked at the current menu and now I'm craving "Roasted Corn and Ricotta Lasagna with Summer Vegetables, Chick Peas and Parmesan-Chive Sauce." I can only imagine how well they will prepare this dish. Adding the chick peas completes the protein.


    1. Among new restaurants, Puritan and Co has some nice vegetarian options:

      I haven't had the heirloom grain risotto, but it sounds good

      1. Oleana in Cambridge for the various vegetarian meze.


        Baraka in Cambridge for the Melkha (stuffed eggplant) or the couscous.


        Rendezvous in Cambridge. I have never ordered the vegetarian option there, but everything I've eaten there has been so good. Looking at the current menu the vegetarian dish is Lasagna of Swiss chard and fresh ricotta with chanterelles, pesto + salted almonds.


        2 Replies
        1. re: viperlush

          Second the Oleana rec - they do an outstanding vegetarian tasting menu. We ordered the tasting for the table once when out with a vegetarian family member and I would order again even though I am not a vegetarian.

          1. re: viperlush

            I've often at Rendezvous had the vegetable antipasto as my main course, with soup or another starter. It is impeccably fresh and a nice variety, especially with their crusty bread.

          2. Best I've had this year is the summer farm board for two at Sycamore: corn crêpes, fried green tomatoes, eggplant involtini and summer squash gratin. Wonderful.

            On the more casual side, Root in Allston is a straight-up vegan place with very nice food, like an outstanding veggie burger and fries.


            1 Reply
            1. re: MC Slim JB

              I second Sycamore. Unlike many restaurants, they change their vegetarian option often, and I've found their offerings to be inventive and delicious. It's an ideal place for a meat-eater and vegetarian to dine.

            2. The vegan tasting menu at Journeyman is always interesting and creative, even if every dish isn't a winner.

              It's nothing fancy, but the grilled zucchini taco at Painted Burro is one of my favorites. Smoky with a nice char and a crunch from a sprinkle of pepitas -- great bite of food.

              1. Highland Kitchen's mushroom ragout over polenta. They change it up to be seasonal (sometimes with spring vegetables, sometimes with kale) but it remains hearty, satisfying and delicious. The texture of the polenta (which is chilled, cut into triangles then fried) is amazing, almost custard-y inside.

                1 Reply
                1. re: LeoLioness

                  Don't forget the Buffalo-fried Brussels sprouts.

                2. Eggplant Banh Mi at Strip Ts. But, I'm not sure if this is a lunch only sandwich. I also love their sweet potato fries.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: beetlebug

                    My father recently had that sandwich and he talked about it for weeks.

                  2. I'm still a big fan of the Vegetarian Platter of the Day at the East Coast Grill.

                    1. FWIW, in case you do decide to go Chines: there are Chinese dishes that have no flesh, but don't casually assume they are vegetarian, because the sauces often include flesh-based broths and seasonings. Chinese cuisine in the main is about balancing things, and the Western concept of vegetarianism is not as salient in the cuisines represented by Chinese restaurants in the US.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Karl S

                        karl, a friendly note: lipoff is like THE Chinese food expert of experts!!check his past posts - they are really somethin' ; a whole education there!

                      2. Ditto Oleana and ECG. I also once had a stuffed carnival squash with mushrooms and other delicious things at EVOO - highly recommend their vegetarian options.

                        1. West Bridge does great stuff with veggies. Also agree with the Oleana and Rendezvous recs.

                          1. Agree w/ every suggestion so far, esp oleana, sycamore, that Rendezvous free-form lasagna. Also Strip T's- if they have enough on hand, they will make an entree out of the vegetable set-ups on their protein entrees- and I challenge you to find more inventive and fascinating ideas than what will be on that plate!.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              Second op on Strip-T's, they will do amazing veggie stuff if you give them carte blanche.

                            2. EVOO usually has a good few choices.

                              1. The veggie tasting menu at Ten Tables Cambridge is so great that known dedicated carnivores of my acquaintance (me included) routinely order it rather than the meat tasting menu.

                                1. I'm reposting a response I made to a similar question asked over the summer:

                                  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. All the recommended restaurants have good vegetarian options. You can access it here: http://pubpages.unh.edu/~gumprech/Eth...

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: BlakeGumprecht

                                    that's a great list; must keep filed. since you've discovered mulan, you might be interested that they are the only local chin. restnt (along w/ Chili Garden in Medford Sq.) where i've had 'mountain fern' (kind of pickled) that i first tasted in Japan.
                                    I think Mulan might call it 'well vegetable'; sorry ICR. It has great texture: crunchy hollow stems with silky exterior, sick light grey brown color (from vinegar in the brine i would guess.) I think i started a CH Cooking thread about it but can't remember that either!( I bought a pre pak of it some years ago and MUST cook it up!)

                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                      I just looked at Mulan's menu online and I don't see anything on the vegetable section called "mountain fern" or "well vegetable." I do see "mountain nagaimo." Could that be it? I'm curious, because I do like to try unfamiliar foods.

                                  2. TW Food in Cambridge offers plenty of veggie options, and a veggie tasting every night, along with the carnivorous tasting. It should definitely be on your list.

                                    1. Would also add that the owner at Qingdao Garden (who seems to do all the delivery) keeps telling me to come eat at the restaurant and get the daily veg specials of the day. He listed off about ten different Chinese vegetables he had in house the other day - mountain yam, long beans, etc. - also said he makes veg purchases 2x / day or more so everything is fresh.

                                      I have not sampled these dishes personally, but his enthusiasm certainly suggests it's worth a try.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                        I have sampled them, and find them uniformly delicious and at least as satisfying as meatier dishes. Some items printed on the menu are a little harder to keep in stock than the ink and lamination on the menu would have you believe, such as the malabar spinach.

                                        Malabar spinach, by the way, is not closely related to spinach, but does have an impressive nutritional profile that includes protein, soluble fiber, and the excuse to use the word "mucilaginous."

                                        1. re: enhF94

                                          now that's really interesting about the mucil'gnous attribute of malabar spinach. i didn't know of any vegs like that other than okra, so i must try some. th much.

                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                            Malabar spinach is not all that mucilaginous as these things go, but as long as you're looking for the delicious snot, purslane is a huge winner. Thickens wonderfully; tastes tart like sorrel.

                                      2. Cafe Barada is my weeknight go-to with a variety of friends. Outstanding vegetarian dishes too numerous to name, but pumpkin kibbe and falafel are stand-outs, as is the toum. Everyone - from carnivore to rigid vegan - is happy here.

                                        4 Replies
                                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                            You know, the original decor just didn't register much! Can say that it feels warmer and is more comfortable: good lighting, much better seating (including a cushy banquette along the entire right side) and better acoustics. And the food! The food!

                                            1. re: pocketviking

                                              Wish they delivered. Does anyone know of any third-party delivery services they use?

                                          2. I had a great fried cauliflower and broccoli rabe sandwich at StripT's for lunch. dh's burger was also out of this world.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: fara

                                              Cutty's Eggplant Spuckie is great too!

                                              1. re: fara

                                                I had a version of the Strip-T's fried cauliflower / rabe / provolone sandwich that I'm glad to be reminded of (thanks, fara!), as it was one of the best veggie dishes I've had this year (though I bet there was something fishy and fermented involved in some small way). See pic.


                                              2. I know its a chain, but I was wondering if anyone has tried the veggie items at Yardhouse? They have a long list of items using Gardein meatless chicken and beef which is highly unusual to find in any restaurants, so wondering if anyone has tried it and if its any good.. I have read positive reviews of their regular burgers on this board.

                                                1. Could anyone recommend particularly good vegetarian dishes in Chinatown? I know there are lots of delicious vegetables at almost every restaurant, but I'm thinking just vegetable sides might not be satisfying as a whole meal. Are there any particularly good tofu dishes? I usually bring vegetarian friends to Pho Pasteur or to Taiwan Cafe for their delicious eggplant and the fried tofu dish (though I find that fried tofu to be a little too heavy to eat more than a few pieces of). I would love to have a few other options stored away for when I need them.