At first glance, Village Coffee has all the trimmings of a classic coffee house, from the colorful walls hung with local artwork to the to the exposed brick and the whirr or the espresso machine. But behind all that is a full menu of eclectic cuisine. That menu presents crispy pressed paninis as well as a handful of Indian-inspired dishes made with tender cuts of lamb. Open early and on into the evening, the shop makes BLTs, cups of coffee, and specialty beverages, such as a peanut butter hot chocolate.
Though the idea of shared plates most often conjures up images of dainty Spanish tapas, the communal meals at Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant are hardly suitable for passing. Instead, everyone sits around and digs right into a giant platter called a beyainatu, which translates to “a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.” Diners tear off pieces of flat, spongy bread known as injera and scoop up dollops of rich stews. Ethiopia’s signature dish, doro wat, is a mouth-warming union of chicken, traditional berbere spices, and hard-boiled egg. Each entree comes paired with two vegan sides, such as the curried vegetables of tikil gomen or the slow-cooked chickpeas and herbs of shiro. The chefs work particularly well with lamb and seafood, which best show off delicate hints of sautéed herbs and chilis.
Tortilla Sunrise’s gastro gurus imbue succulent meats and fresh vegetables with authentic south-of-the-border flair to create a menu of Mexican favorites. Feasting duos and foursomes can race to solve Pythagorean’s theorem with a basket of right-angled, homemade tortilla chips dunked in fresh red salsa and delivered straight to their door. Succulent cuts of beef, chicken, or lamb mix with a garden of fajita peppers and onions to allay stomach abandonment issues, and a cheesy plate of three enchiladas arrives stuffed with beef, chicken, pork, chorizo, or vegetables, and doused in the chef’s signature sauce. In addition to delivery, patrons can also place an order and carry out their fare on the way back from work or a peace-treaty signing that ran late.
Carrying a pita, a diner approaches a salad bar brimming with pickled condiments, crunchy vegetables, and sauces. Without even speaking to someone behind the counter, the diner lifts the spoon and festoons a pita with a pile of fresh toppings, ready to start the meal anew. At most restaurants, this could get you kicked out, but at Maoz Vegetarian, it’s not only overlooked, but also encouraged. After choosing from such vegetarian and vegan-friendly options as gluten-free falafel and vegan shawarma atop pita pockets or salads, diners head to the stainless-steel salad bar. Belgian fries—a thick-cut version of their french cousins—and mounds of sweet-potato fries complement sandwiches and salads along with green-chili sauce, tahini, yogurt sauce, and salsa for dipping and boosting the self-esteem of napkins.
While feasting, diners sit atop benches at long, shared tables that emulate the communal lunch joints of old in the unabashedly modern chain of restaurants, which was founded in Amsterdam two decades ago. Mirroring the eatery’s fresh, stylish food, the interior at Maoz features green tiled walls and steel fixtures illuminated by hanging lamps.
Maoz is most famous for its expansive salad bar, but its falafel ($4.95)—a home-baked pita bread filled with crispy, handmade balls of vitamin-rich chickpeas, fresh spices, and vegetables—lends itself better to a leisurely lunchtime eat-and-amble through the nearest park. You can build off the falafel's delicious base with a splash of hummus, eggplant, baba ganoush, avocado, and more ($0.50–$1/add). Pair it with Belgian fries and sauce, side salad, sweet potato fries, or seasonal soup ($3–$4), and wash it all down with fresh-squeezed orange juice.