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.
The cuisinesmiths at Crisp bring a menu of organic vegetarian Mediterranean cuisine to life amid a colorful interior populated by quirky orange seats and lined by sleek green tiled walls. The Crisp nouveau falafel burger greets the palate with an armada of roasted red peppers, arugula, tomato, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomato ($6.50), and the chili-cheese falafel burger packs a wallop of vegetarian chili, american cheese, tomato, red onion, and mustard. Guests can also fuel their life wagons with a signature falafel sandwich, such as the Crisp Mediterranean, which weaves melodies of eggplant, parmesan flakes, and garden greens into a chorus of sun-dried-tomato spread ($8.75).
Chef Laura Pensiero has trained at the French Culinary Institute, possesses a background in nutrition, and radiates with genuine enthusiasm for healthy, local and sustainable foods. So, it’s not entirely surprising she’s racked up some local and national fame, including features in O Magazine and the title as one of Hudson Valley Magazine’s Four Best Veteran Chefs in 2012. Best of all, patrons don’t even have to visit one of Pensiero’s award-winning restaurants, Gigi Trattoria or Gigi Market, to get a taste of her food; they can stop into Just Salad, where she is the master-mind behind all the recipes.
Dedicated to providing healthy and fast meals, Just Salad assembles more than 14 varieties of wraps and salads, or puts customers in charge, allowing them to concoct their own lunch from a wide range of fresh vegetables, cheeses, proteins, and Chef Pensiero’s homemade dressings. Salads are tossed inside reusable bowls, which the shop encourages customers to bring back on their second, third, and so-on visits. In return, they’ll receive two free “essential toppings”—such as lentils, mandarin oranges, and artichoke hearts—and one free cheese tossed onto a salad, tucked inside a wrap, or pelted at their mortal enemy.
Soy Café tosses a lifesaver of veggie-friendly fare to diners drowning in the community pool of carnivore-catering cuisine. Breakfast is served all day, allowing you to satisfy your craving for organic oatmeal ($6), egg whites with avocado and soy cream cheese ($6), or a mozzarella, basil, and roasted-pepper omelette ($10), even as the afternoon sun looks on in helio-disbelief between puffs of his cumulo-cigarette. Sail seas of soup with the vegan-friendly three-lentil chili ($6), served with multigrain toast, or deforest the summer avocado salad ($11) with your mouth-mulcher. Soy Café also offers cold sandwiches ($8) with tofu and hummus, as well as salmon, turkey, tuna, and chicken variations for non-vegetarians. Paninis and wheat-free crêpes ($10) also offer omnivorous options for all ilks of eaters. Silence the cries of your sweet tooth with Soy Café's vegan sweets, including its acclaimed almond brittle ($4.50).