The folks at True Bistro love animals. That’s why the chefs abide by a 100% vegan philosophy, taking care to craft meals without animal-based products. But they care just as much about humans. Which is why they pay as much attention to the food they do serve as to the foods they forego. Thus, flavorful slabs of blackened seitan, platters of sweet potatoes wrapped in smoked portobello mushroom, and glasses of 100% vegan wines leave diners rubbing their bellies in satisfaction and leave animals free to roam their habitats and focus all their energies on fixing the falling sky problem.
True Bistro began when co-owners Michael and Linda Harrison lamented Boston’s lack of upscale vegan restaurants and decided to do something about it. When chef Stuart Reiter hopped on board, their vision turned into a reality. Stuart spent time traveling across the globe, doing stints in the Peace Corps in West Africa and on a farm outside of Vienna. During his travels, he learned many indigenous recipes that succeeded solely with plant-based ingredients. He brought his experiences, as well as more than a decade of professional cooking, to True Bistro’s kitchen. Together, The Harrisons and Chef Stuart have turned True Bistro into an upscale spot for diners of all dietary stripes––an accomplishment acknowledged by Boston Magazine when it declared that the vegan food and wine “will satisfy even your most staunchly carnivorous friends.”
The chefs at Mike's Food & Spirits whip together a bevy of classic seafood dishes, pasta plates, and other Italian favorites. Pizzas hoist mounds of bacon, ricotta, and sausage atop floury crusts, and made-to-order calzones enfold shaved steak, breaded chicken, or bites of eggplant for easy transport to mouths or convenient self-storage inside purses. Patrons also sate hungers with Old World recipes such as the sausage cacciatore, where italian sausage mingles with peppers and mushrooms in a homemade marinara sauce, and a seafood platter that sets taste buds sailing with deep-fried haddock, shrimp, and scallops. Taps pour plentiful American microbrews and imports to accompany meals, assuage tongues exhausted from exploring flavorful sauces, and severely reduce one’s chances of spontaneous combustion.
Harvest: User's Guide
Modern New England Cuisine | Date-Night Romance | Nationally Praised
Where to sit: The secluded garden patio is so idyllic it “provokes daydreams,” according to Boston magazine.
While You’re Waiting: Count the number of famous chefs Harvest has nurtured over the last four decades: Lydia Shire, Chris Schlesinger, Barbara Lynch, and Frank McClelland, to name a few.
Inside Tips: Be sure to save room for what the Improper Bostonian deemed the city's best desserts. They're dreamt up by Brian Mercury, one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Pastry Chefs of 2013.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Lose yourself in Harvard Book Store’s (1256 Massachusetts Avenue) smartly curated selection—you might even witness a reading from a literary celeb.
After: Tuck in for a concert at Club Passim (47 Palmer Street); on any given night, the nonprofit venue is a grab bag of Americana, singer-songwriters, and world music.
If You Can’t Make It, Try: Grill 23 & Bar (161 Berkeley Street) or Post 390 (406 Stuart Street), both high-end Boston eateries managed by Harvest’s operator: Himmel Hospitality Group.
According to founder Adam, Veggie Galaxy was born out of the quest to define the true spirit of the American diner. His fixation on the venue type began in childhood, as he whiled away hours sitting atop cushy bar stools and hugging vintage jukeboxes. Later in life, Adam became a vegetarian and soon noted the lack of meat-free options on diner menus. He knew that though sizzling bacon is often present at a successful diner, it is not integral to its essence. So, he built his own vegetarian- and vegan-friendly space that adhered to the guiding principle of all great eateries: corralling groups in and feeding them well.
In regards to the latter goal, Veggie Galaxy's vegetarianism is "an afterthought" to head chef Brian. Though every dish on the diner's menu remains herbivorous—and in the case of several plates, gluten-free and vegan—the kitchen's top concerns are taste and in-house prep. The restaurant demands everything, from the ketchup to the burger buns, be made on-site and from scratch, a standard which won them a DigBoston's Dig This Award for vegetarian and vegan food in 2011. As for the patties that go inside the housemade buns, they mold them from black beans and a mushroom-chickpea mix instead of beef, just as tempeh supplants bacon and seitan replaces steak. The all-vegan bakery abides by the same system. Taza's vegan, organic stoneground chocolate goes into savory cookies, and house-toasted coconut decorates layer cakes.
Any veggie burger that makes it onto Boston Globe Magazine's list of the area's 25 Best Burgers is bound to be something special. But only an extra-special veggie burger could deserve to be called "an edible symbol of completeness." Yet that's exactly what the magazine dubbed Red Lentil's Zen burger, a flavor-packed vegan patty made from black beans, brown rice, corn, carrots, red peppers, garlic, and onions and served with housemade thousand island dressing. That chart-topping meatless masterpiece is just one way this vegetarian and vegan restaurant is helping diners painlessly part ways with their favorite animal proteins. The rotating menu features seasonal produce at its freshest, ensuring dishes such as moussaka pizza, butternut-squash polenta, and ginger miso soup never lack flavor. As an added bonus, Red Lentil also includes many raw, macrobiotic, or gluten-free dishes on its menu and is careful to differentiate between items that contain nuts and those made with legumes that are just a little eccentric sometimes.
Dosa-n-Curry's cooks prepare an extensive menu of Indian and Indo-Chinese eats, made more impressive by the fact that every offering is completely vegetarian. They prepare many menu items to be vegan and gluten-free, as well. Like a snack vending machine that is just leaking sauce everywhere, they offer 25 different kinds of curry, featuring everything from lentils to okra and cauliflower. They whip up a similarly robust selection of dosa, the fourteen varieties stuffed with cabbage or potato and coated in sauces such as spicy chutney–all made from the small cottage constructed in the kitchen.