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.”
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).
Dosa-n-Curry's cooks prepare an extensive menu of Indian and Indo-Chinese eats, made more impressive by the fact that every offering is completely vegetarian. They prepare many menu items to be vegan and gluten-free, as well. Like a snack vending machine that is just leaking sauce everywhere, they offer 25 different kinds of curry, featuring everything from lentils to okra and cauliflower. They whip up a similarly robust selection of dosa, the fourteen varieties stuffed with cabbage or potato and coated in sauces such as spicy chutney–all made from the small cottage constructed in the kitchen.
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.
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).
The chefs at Off the Vine Tuscan Grille stretch the Italian border all the way to Massachusetts, encapsulating their warm eatery in the Mediterranean’s Old World flavors. Their menu devotes an entire section to flatbread pizzas crafted from housemade dough and sauces, including Nick's pie flecked with grilled shrimp and roasted garlic. While mouths water over penne ala bolognese, slow roasted osso buco, and dinner bells rung after psychological experimentation, eyes feast on games broadcast from TVs hung atop a full bar.