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.
Husband-and-wife team Ali and Nazifa acquaint American palates with Afghan flavors through accessible fusion fare—with many vegan options—that has caught the printed eye of the New York Times. Cushion-covered benches grant comfort, and glasses of wine complement entrees. The eatery’s framed art hangs on exposed-brick walls instead of over an art museum’s embarrassingly outdated Chuck Norris poster.
From alongside steaming ceramic coffee pots, gluten-free Ethiopian and Eritrean dishes at Abyssinian Ethiopian Restaurant radiate imported spices. In the golden glow of wall sconces, sautéed beef and chicken morsels marinate in butter, cardamom, and fresh ginger. Patrons sop up savory remnants with warm injera, an East African flatbread made from high-protein teff flour that lets fingers grab food, unlike trying to grab a frustratingly realistic painting of fruit. Meals flanked by complimentary portions of collards parade to tables, and caterers cruise past with brimming portions for meetings and shindigs.
Though it offers just three options—wraps, pasta bowls, and salads—Piada Italian Kitchen can configure these in many ways to craft a custom meal for each guest. Ensconced in stainless-steel bins behind glass lie 32 choices for customization. The grill sears oregano-seasoned steak or chicken and balsamic-marinated tofu. Freshly chopped veggies add girth to dishes, and pasta-style sauces made with crushed tomatoes and garlic finish each plate. The kitchen uses local and organic ingredients as much as possible, and gluten-free options are available as well.
Purple tablecloths bloom with vases of cut flowers as petal-like fans whir overhead. Their regal hue symbolizes one of Zaroka Bar & Restaurant's guiding principles: that guests are akin to royalty. Inside the dining room, traditional Indian meals unfold amid ornately carved picture frames, vibrant music, and colorful conversations. To explore India's nooks and crannies, chefs craft dishes from far-flung regions such as Punjab, Gujarat, and Bengal. House specialties range from spiced chicken kebabs baked in a clay oven to curried shrimp simmered in a coconut pot. The kitchen also prepares an array of vegetarian dishes, such as savory garlic naan and three types of lentil dal. An ideal dessert or palate cleanser, the rosewater lassi teems with sweet, floral hints, like a game of charades with a potpourri sachet.
There's always a seat reserved for Dennis Harold Neville at Madden's Gastropub. In addition to being the father of co-owner Nathaniel Neville, Dennis was a UCONN sports fanatic, a Vietnam cryptographer, and one of two very important people to inspire the eatery. The other was Madison Virginia Ponte, daughter of co-owners Norbert and Norleen Ponte, whose love for life persisted despite a fatal childhood disease. Dennis and Madison remind the owners and chefs of Madden's Gastropub to pour their hearts into their cooking everyday. The result is a menu of finely crafted gastropub eats such as steamed clams and slow-roasted pulled pork tossed in bourbon-barbecue glaze and topped with caramelized onions, aged cheddar, and apple-cranberry slaw. Entrees include dry-rubbed hanger steak, slow-simmered buffalo mac and cheese, and grilled pork chop topped with tropical fruit salad.