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This article is part of Amanda Maguire’s Vegan Guide to Boston, which profiles Boston’s best vegan products and businesses. One of the biggest concerns in going vegan is the prospect of having to give up your favorite comfort foods: the baked macaroni and cheese, the burgers with all the toppings, the old-fashioned milk shakes too thick to drink with a straw. Fear not, because Veggie Galaxy Diner & Vegan Bakery (450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge) has you covered. Owned by Adam Penn, Veggie Galaxy serves up plant-based meals that will take you right back to your childhood. Well, assuming your childhood included delicious meals made from scratch, right down to the burger buns and ketchup. I paid a visit to Veggie Galaxy to chat with Penn about his epic diner food and what makes it so noteworthy. GROUPON: What is Veggie Galaxy's best-selling menu item? ADAM PENN: Our best-selling item since the beginning has been the Kendall Square Burger. [Editor’s note: It’s a black-bean or mushroom-chickpea burger topped with beer-battered onion rings, roasted red pepper purée, roasted garlic mayo, and baby arugula.] G: Could you tell us a little about the inspiration behind this dish and whether you initially expected it to be so popular? AP: As a vegetarian/vegan diner, we knew from the beginning that there would always be some tension regarding … healthy food versus traditional comfort food. The Kendall Burger, topped with giant deep-fried onion rings, was our nod to the comfort food side of things, and it quickly became clear that that's what most of our customers are looking for. We still try to provide some healthy options as well, but most of our customers come to us because we're first and foremost a diner. G: Are there any new menu additions you're particularly excited about? I noticed you offer Blue Plate Specials each week. AP: Our most recent weekly Blue Plate Special is vegan chicken and waffles. It [was] a customer request a while back, and we finally got around to doing it. It's been more popular than we even imagined, so we extended it to a second week and are now planning to put it on our late-night menu. … We also recently added a Meatless Monday meatball sub, which is one of my personal favorites. G: What makes Veggie Galaxy's food taste like home? AP: Pretty much everything is prepared from scratch, including items that people at home would normally just buy from the grocery store, like our condiments, our seitan, and our burger buns. So, in our opinion, it's better than home. G: Why did you opt to go plant-based with your menu and strictly vegan with your baked goods? AP: The reasons for going vegetarian and vegan are pretty well known at this point, and it's not something we like to preach about. We're providing vegetarians and vegans the opportunity to enjoy classic diner foods without the meat. While we do have dairy and eggs on the menu, pretty much anything can be made vegan. We wanted to make sure vegans could enjoy our desserts, too, so we left the eggs and dairy out of those altogether. G: What has been your best moment as a business owner at Veggie Galaxy? AP: I don't know if I can point to one best moment. When we have a full dining room of happy customers, I can look back on all the effort that has been put in to get to this point and feel content in knowing that we're doing exactly what we set out to do. G: When you're not making french toast stuffed with vanilla-nut vegan cream cheese, grilled corned-beef seitan reubens, and lemon meringue pie (my personal favorite), what are you cooking at home? AP: Neither my wife nor I are really cooks. When we do cook, we keep it simple—herbed roasted vegetables over couscous is a favorite. I'm personally a big fan of pasta, so pasta and veggie meatballs are a favorite of mine. Though I have to admit that at home, as opposed to at the restaurant, we just buy the meatballs from the store. Still hungry? Check out Groupon’s latest deals on vegetarian restaurants in Boston. Photos: Aaron ScottRead More
Though it had one of the quietest openings in recent history, Korean restaurant Seoul (156 Cambridge St.) is already making a name for itself. Its extensive menu of traditional Korean cuisine makes it a rarity for the area and a welcome addition to Beacon Hill. Seoul has taken over the the space where Ma Soba used to be, and the owners obviously knew that major changes to the interior were just not needed. Still, the space somehow appears even larger than it did before, especially with floor-to-ceiling windows that push out to let in pleasant summer breezes. The decor is fresh and minimal, which keeps the spotlight on the food and its intricate flavors. Seoul’s menu is divided into standard categories of appetizers and entrees, but it is written primarily in Korean with only the dish names translated into English. Luckily, the friendly, attentive servers are adept at guiding patrons through the menu and the different options available for each dish. To further customize each plate, banchan—a collection of small condiments—are delivered to each table and rotate for variety. My personal favorite was the kimchi, whose perfect blend of spice and tangy vinegar made it a great accompaniment to the already flavorful dishes. To start, I had the scallion pancake, which was absolutely fantastic. Served on a cast-iron dish sizzling with heat, it was browned to perfection and chock-full of scallions for maximum flavor. The cake itself was light and not greasy despite its sizzle. The exterior was crunchy, while the insides were bursting with light onion flavor and gentle heat from the spicy kimchi that I elected to add. Personalization may be one of the best parts of this dish—you have the option to add different proteins or extra spice, if you so desire. I wanted to eat every single bite of this, and it’s enormous. The japche quickly became another of my favorites here: vermicelli is stir-fried with lots of vegetables, soy sauce, and a bit of sweetness—and, in my case once again, some extra heat (though diners can also request it mild). As a spice lover, I thought it could have been a tad hotter, but it had a great kick that mingled with the umami and sweet flavors. The noodles were perfectly cooked and held the sauce well, whereas the vegetables and chicken (beef, tofu and seafood are also available) added textural contrasts to complete the dish. With its large menu of traditional, customizable dishes, Seoul has been making its mark on the Boston restaurant scene as the new go-to spot for Korean food. Though it’s definitely still stretching its legs, I see great things for Seoul. Quick Stats Fiona’s rating: 3.5/5 stars Price: $$ Good for: date night, family dinner, lunch, spice lovers, adventurous eaters Alcohol: beer and wine only Outdoor seating: no Photos by Fiona CoxeRead More
If you look at the ground in downtown Boston, chances are you might see a red line beneath your feet. This crimson path, famously known as the Freedom Trail, snakes from Boston Common up to the glinting dome of the State House, as many Bostonians already know. It travels past the Old South Meeting House, meanders through Faneuil Hall, and then winds through the North End, eventually leading over the bridge into Charlestown. Created in 1951, the Freedom Trail links all the city’s major historical sites together and makes them easy to visit for residents and tourists alike. But you may not know that there are also some pretty darn delicious food spots along the way. Here are a few: Fuel Up in Beacon Hill While visitors tend to flock to the Faneuil Hall area for fast food, I’d urge you to break away from the crowds and check out Piperi Mediterranean Grill (1 Beacon St.), located across the street from King’s Chapel and Burying Ground. Everything on the casual spot’s menu—whether it’s falafel, a full-on mezze plate, or a flavorful salad—is incredibly fresh, as the chefs make all of their dishes in small batches. The menu also accommodates vegetarian, gluten-free, and other diets, and the plates can be customized to fit your cravings. Ample portions and energy-boosting fare will definitely keep your spirits up for a full day of exploring. Cool Down in the North End For obvious reasons, the Freedom Trail is very popular in the summertime. Boston’s summer temps can soar into an uncomfortable territory, which makes cooling off a necessity. In my mind, there is only one option when the heat is bearing down and refreshment is needed: gelato from Caffe Paradiso (255 Hanover St.). The trail will take you right past it, and it would probably be an offense to our forefathers if you didn’t stop and have a taste of the gelato, especially my favorite flavor, pistachio. This sweet treat is sure to keep you cool through your journey. Unwind with Wine in Charlestown The best way to end a day on the Freedom Trail is dinner at the Navy Yard Bistro and Wine Bar (1 First Ave.). This little tucked-away gem offers incredible food, from appetizers such as buttermilk-fried oysters and duck wings to entrees like my personal favorite, a rum- and rosemary-brined pork chop so succulent and flavorful that you’ll feel like you’ve gone to pork heaven. Beyond the food, however, there is an impressive wine list, which won acclaim from Wine Spectator. The list is a perfect combination of affordable and splurgy, with a glass or bottle for every taste and price point. The bistro is cozy and inviting, and with something for everyone, it’s a delicious place to relax after a long walk through the city. Check out more restaurants in Boston. Photos by Fiona CoxeRead More