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.
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.
If you stumble over a few of the ingredients in Life Alive’s signature Goddess bowl, don’t worry—you’re not the only one. That’s why the restaurant’s website keeps a glossary of its menu’s potentially baffling ingredients and their health benefits. The Ginger Nama Shoyu sauce, for example, may seem outlandish to Americans but “the Champagne of Soy Sauce” shouldn’t be. It’s 100% organic and non-GMO, ages for four years in cedar kegs with less salt than traditional soy sauce, and is completely raw. Ginger adds an extra dose of healing, since it naturally eases digestive issues and nausea, as well as ulcers and inflammation. In this particular dish, the potent sauce flavors a medley of carrots, beets, broccoli, dark greens, tofu, and short-grain brown rice—a nutritional powerhouse all on its own. The Goddess bowl epitomizes Life Alive’s approach to vegan food: it should be organic, whole, and therapeutic, and use ingredients that come from local farms. And, it should meet these requirements without sacrificing flavor or convenience. In addition to nourishing the body, Life Alive believes that cuisine should also benefit the environment and the community. That’s why the restaurant sources its ingredients sustainably, recycles and composts scraps, and uses biodegradable packaging and cleaning materials formulated without chemicals or bacon.
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.
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.”