Panorama Cafe's staff delivers vegetarian and vegan fare to bright-red tables boldly positioned against powdery-blue walls. Onion panini bread ensconces the Chevrole sandwich's goat cheese and tomato innards, and mozzarella and tomato sauce blanket the soy-chicken-parmesan wrap's faux poultry, tucked in with greens and swaddled in a whole-wheat wrap. Duos selecting sandwiches can also imbibe organic loose-leaf teas and pour-over cups of java, or use their fruit smoothies to paint "I'm rather thirsty" on the table. Baristas pull double ristretto shots to steam into velvety Panorama lattes, flavored with chocolate and caramel, as well as red-velvet lattes that combine the powers of raspberry and mocha to jolt taste buds out of their torpor. Each Sunday, all-organic brunch specials import international flavors; the list of previous hunger obliterators has included sweet and savory french crêpes and turkish flatbread stuffed with cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and seasoned vegetarian beef. Vegans can request dishes to be made with dairy-free Daiya cheese, which melts, stretches, and forms itself into moons in the same way real cheese does.
The chefs at Asian Bowl create a wide selection of Asian fusion dishes, ranging from Hong Kong-style sweet and sour chicken to lo mein and gluten-free beef with broccoli. Vegetarian versions of almost every dish finally share the complex flavors of mongolian beef and pineapple chicken with diners used to just greens and carrots shaped like steak.
Dosa Delight's chefs prep a menu of authentic Indian dosas, samosas, and sambar with an eye for vegetarian, vegan, and kosher options. The aroma of cooking spices wafts from the kitchen into the simple dining area, where servers deliver dosas—pancakes made from rice and lentil flours and stuffed with savory or spicy filling. In a dish of vegetable uthappams, chefs sprinkle thick pancakes with carrots, peas, chilies, and tomatoes. Desserts surprise sweet teeth with unexpected ingredients, such as the gajerla's caramelized grated carrots served inside an edible jack-in-the-box.
Mezze Place might be a quaint Astoria restaurant, but it regularly transports diners to the far reaches of the Mediterranean with a modern menu of dishes big and small. Chefs mince and chop international ingredients—from Moroccan spices to Tunisian lamb and Greek cheeses—to create flavors more mouth-watering than a garden hose in your mouth. The bill of fare incorporates close to 20 vegetarian and vegan options, and a separate dessert menu features semolina cake with walnuts and raisins and a kataifi pastry with rose water, pistachios, and three cheeses.
Bombay Masala's chefs draw inspiration from the familiar spices and sauces that characterize Indian cuisine and create an eclectic spread of aromatic and flavorful recipes. Brooklyn Magazine heaped praise onto the chicken tikka masala⎯an Indian-style entree historically co-opted by the British⎯by naming Bombay Masala's version one of The 10 Best British Bites in Brooklyn. This particular dish, along with several others, begins cooking in the kitchen's clay tandoor oven, which roasts skewered meats and vegetables over a pile of smoldering charcoal and old love letters. As the skewers bake, the chefs whisk together curries and cream sauces that they spoon over everything from lobster to housemade cheese.
Foodswings' eclectic menu disproves the notion that deep-fried, hangover-killing comfort fare has to come at the expense of our fishy, furry, and feathery friends. Stop in for a starter such as the signature pu pu platter ($11.50), a smattering of mock-chicken nuggets, sea styx, and Foodswings drumsticks paired with their respective sauces (buffalo, barbecue, and sweet barbecue). Heartier offerings include classic deli fare with a vegan spin, such as the tempeh Reuben (marinated tempeh, soy swiss cheese, warm sauerkraut on rye, $7.50) and Philly cheesesteak (marinated mock steak and onions, with a choice of Daiya cheese, $8.25). Burgers such as the diminutive kickin' veggie slider ($3) and the sloppy Vegan Heart Attack (soy burger with soy bacon, soy cheese, and the usual vegetable fixings, $7.25) appeal to herbivores, omnivores, and pretend-carnivores. To satisfy sweet cuspids, Foodswings offers more than 20 shakes and floats, including the Tank (chocolate ice cream, peanut butter, cookies, $4.50 for a regular size) and the Dark & Stormy (ginger ale and chocolate ice cream, $2.75), which is also the name of Pat Boone's book about riding in yachts.