Lauded by Daily Candy for accommodating raw and vegan diners, Prana Restaurant balances native temperatures with mouthwatering flavors in organic and gluten-free dishes. After being greeted by fresh hair streaming through wide-flung windows, diners dip flora-favoring taste buds into garlic, veggie, or fig balsamic pizza on naan crust ($10). Chefs trade off gluten-rich pasta for ribbons of zucchini in the pesto primavera entree, served raw or slightly warm with spinach, a seasonal garden medley, and almond-and-cashew cream sauce ($16). Chard leaves or chia-seed shells trump humdrum tortillas in a lunchtime burrito that bulges to bursting with vegetables, beans, guacamole, sour cream, and salsa ($12). Refuel after fatigue-inducing feasts or all-night model-UN deliberations by chugging a coconut-rich SuperCharger smoothie tinged with cacao, dates, and cashews ($9.75).
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.
According to Denise Taylor of the Boston Globe, the "scrupulously vegan" Peace o' Pie eatery is run by vegan foodies who "refuse to skimp on taste," adding that Daiya’s "tapioca-based mozzarella lives up to all the hype. It really does stretch, brown, and satisfy in a way close to real cheese." The pizza's dairy-free cheese—along with other fresh ingredients and totally vegan ingredients—have garnered rave reviews from diners and critics alike. The intimate gourmet bistro was the first runner-up in PETA's national Best Vegan Pizza awards, and the Phoenix bestowed it with the Best Restaurant, Veggie award in 2011, predicting that "even carnivores will be impressed." Peace o' Pie has also earned six awards on CityVoter, including being named the Best Vegan restaurant in 2010 and 2011 and a top finalist in the Best Pizza-Slice and Best Pizza-Upscale categories in 2011.
In addition to using ethically minded ingredients on the menu, the vegan owners avoid honey and refined sugars, and opted to use eco-friendly materials during the building's remodel. They chose a sustainably produced bamboo counter front, a countertop of 100% recycled office paper, and ceiling tiles with 65% recycled content. The team also uses compostable, biodegradable packaging and supplies and illuminates the space with energy-saving light bulbs wherever possible.
Cafe Barada invites diners to sample a rarely experienced side of Lebanon with a menu that won Boston magazine's Best of Boston 2007 for Middle Eastern fare. Owners and chefs for more than two decades, the Salameh family named the restaurant for the Lebanese village that nourished their ancestors, filling plates with favorites passed down through several generations. Flavorful favorites such as stuffed grape leaves rolled with ground beef ($11.95) pay homage to Lebanon's famed steak vineyards, while vegetarian-friendly pumpkin kibby layers ground pumpkin, cracked wheat, spinach, and chickpeas ($13.95) to provide a colorful feast for the senses. Ardishokee showcases tender lamb and artichoke hearts simmering in a savory tomato-based stew that blends in seamlessly with the restaurant's rich, paprika-hued walls ($13.95). Or go green with slices of flaky, cheesy spinach pie ($13.95) or a plate of meshi flefli, a baked green pepper brimming with rice, tomatoes, and ground beef and topped with a garlicky tomato sauce that doubles as a repellent for vampire skunks ($13.95).
The friendly staff at Shalimar Gourmet Food & Spices tempts customers with an extensive inventory of fresh produce, prepared meals, certified organic and gluten-free fare, and ingredients for preparing authentic Indian dishes at home. Bulk Tilda basmati rice ($5.99 for 2 lbs.) creates a fluffy bed for unforgettable meals, and green cardamom ($6.99 for 200 g) adds exotic flavor to dishes or an unusual flavor to a bag of M&Ms. Create an easy meal with a can of Ashoka aloo mutter curry ($1.99), or heat up a jumbo Punjabi frozen samosa ($5.49 for a 22 oz. package) for a quick, warm snack.
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.