Tom Yum Koong's chefs build on traditional Thai recipes to load their menu with exciting and eclectic ingredients ranging from tangerines and mango to wild boar and squid. Sugar and spice join forces to season the thick sauce simmering in the black-pepper-mango curry ($10.95), a flavorful bowl of vegetables and cashews mixed with a choice of meat. A medley of seameats such as mussels and squid sizzle in the Phuket fried rice ($10.95), and the fantasy tilapia ($13.95) takes time off from reading J.R.R. Tolkien to glide out of the kitchen atop a bed of veggies simmering in chili sauce. Basil leaves join peppers, onion, and pork in a skittering dance across the skillet in the pan-fried wild-boar basil ($9.95). Fresh-fish cravings recede at the sushi bar to prevent persistent urges to trawl through exhibits at the local aquarium.
Border Cafe is ostensibly named after the border between the United States and Mexico. Dig a little deeper into the legend, however, and you’ll find that the restaurant’s history lies squarely on the border between truth and mythology. It all started with a man named Jose Creole—at least that was what people called him when he emigrated from Mexico to Louisiana in the 1930s. He didn’t just bring plain old Mexican food with him; instead, he combined his recipes with the Cajun soul food of his new neighbors in Lake Charles, and a legend was born. Jose Creole’s blend of Mexican and Cajun cuisines is now the cornerstone of Border Cafe, where chefs honor tradition by preparing his spicy dishes from scratch. The menu features fusion specialties that would be hard to find elsewhere, such as blackened-catfish fajitas and crawfish quesadillas. Even the margaritas are a bit offbeat—the New Orleans version is blended with Cointreau and served over chilled Mardi Gras beads.
Even before you step inside, Tu Y Yo proves its authenticity. According to The Phoenix, a handwritten note on the door warns guests, “No burritos served here!” But with grasshopper tacos on the food menu, and micheladas (Mexican beer cocktails) on the drink list, the burritos will hardly be missed.
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.
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.