Carrying a pita, a diner approaches a salad bar brimming with pickled condiments, crunchy vegetables, and sauces. Without even speaking to someone behind the counter, the diner lifts the spoon and festoons a pita with a pile of fresh toppings, ready to start the meal anew. At most restaurants, this could get you kicked out, but at Maoz Vegetarian, it?s not only overlooked, but also encouraged. After choosing from such vegetarian and vegan-friendly options as gluten-free falafel and vegan shawarma atop pita pockets or salads, diners head to the stainless-steel salad bar. Belgian fries?a thick-cut version of their french cousins?and mounds of sweet-potato fries complement sandwiches and salads along with green-chili sauce, tahini, yogurt sauce, and salsa for dipping and boosting the self-esteem of napkins.
While feasting, diners sit atop benches at long, shared tables that emulate the communal lunch joints of old in the unabashedly modern chain of restaurants, which was founded in Amsterdam two decades ago. Mirroring the eatery?s fresh, stylish food, the interior at Maoz features green tiled walls and steel fixtures illuminated by hanging lamps.
Loving Hut’s name suits its peaceful mission: to create healthy dishes that benefit the body and show respect for the environment. Using vegan ingredients such as soy-based proteins and fresh vegetables, the chefs at each location create a unique menu of gourmet cuisine that serves as an accessible introduction to a plant-based diet; several of the restaurant's offerings can be made gluten-free as well. Vegan sandwiches and Asian-influenced noodle dishes and appetizers are paired with drinks such as smoothies and teas, each of them more refreshing than getting sprayed in the face with a seltzer bottle.
At first glance, Village Coffee has all the trimmings of a classic coffee house, from the colorful walls hung with local artwork to the to the exposed brick and the whirr or the espresso machine. But behind all that is a full menu of eclectic cuisine. That menu presents crispy pressed paninis as well as a handful of Indian-inspired dishes made with tender cuts of lamb. Open early and on into the evening, the shop makes BLTs, cups of coffee, and specialty beverages, such as a peanut butter hot chocolate.
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 saut?ed herbs and chilis.
Aimee Follette wouldn’t let celiac disease stop her from enjoying a delicious meal, so she figured dietary requirements shouldn’t stop others, either. The founder and chef of Sun In Bloom uses organic, vegan, and gluten-free ingredients to overcome food issues and create culinary bliss, and crafts made-from-scratch dishes that pack a healthy punch and a whirlwind of flavors. Diners at Aimee’s upbeat Park Slope spot can jumpstart the day with a stack of gluten-free pancakes, which come glazed with caramelized bananas and maple syrup. They can also seek refuge from the cold in a steaming bowl of chia-seed almond-milk porridge with spiced walnuts, a dish with enough omega-3s, antioxidants, and fiber to make a multivitamin write a poem called “On Inadequacy.” Lunch and dinner items such as the marinated tempeh reuben or the bulging, veggie-packed bloom burger make diners forget all about meat. Inside of the kitchen, which is certified by the International Kosher Council, bakers create gluten- and dairy-free desserts such as the banana cake, a three-layer tower cemented by an oozing blanket of chocolate ganache and topped with a cloud of vanilla frosting. Beverages such as pressed juices, fair trade coffee, and organic smoothies deliver Sun In Bloom’s philosophy in liquid form.
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.