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.
Motivated by a passion for the culinary arts and a healthy reverence for nature’s abundance, Good Karma Café’s eco-conscious chefs create delectable vegan dishes that will appease cultivated palates and replenish crown chakras. A leafy assortment of salubrious salads features such chlorophyll-rich concoctions as the Live green salad, whose dark greens are adorned with crunchy vegetables and a mixture of sunflower and hemp seeds and tossed in a sweet apple-cider-vinegar dressing ($10). Crispy blue nacho chips topped with creamy cheese-less queso perform a spicy salsa two-step on tongues ($8), and steamed edamame sprinkled with celtic sea salt perform kabuki dances set to bagpipes for an audience of delighted taste buds ($5). The TLT offers a vegan twist on a classic with tempeh strips, crisp lettuce, and garden tomatoes ($10), and the Chickpea of the Sea gives fish-friendly sailors a cause to rejoice with its variation on tuna salad ($10).
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 sautéed herbs and chilis.