Thai IDEA Vegetarian is a brand-new, all veg restaurant in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, and it’s mighty tasty! I especially enjoy that the vegan dishes are clearly marked on the menu, and and every item has a vegan option. Well, that’s if it’s not vegan to begin with, which many are. Fantastic! On the menu, they clearly state that they don’t use any fish or oyster sauces, which is always my #1 concern at Thai restaurants. Obviously, they’re extra wonderful. Plus, the food is damn good. Anyway, read my entire review over at SF Weekly and then go read The Tender’s review to see that omnivores also love it (small victories!) and THEN go get busy on some of those Firecracker Balls! Sexy!
Guest post: Finding vegan in the Indianapolis! »
Finding vegan-friendly places to eat in a new city can be a difficult, frustrating affair; though nothing beats sitting on your patio, sharing a home-cooked meal and some family leisure time by the pool, it’s nice to be able to go out for a good meal. I discovered this recently when I moved to Indianapolis, Ind., a city not widely known for its cuisine or vegan-friendliness. Despite its (lack of) reputation, there are many fantastic restaurants in Indianapolis that cater to vegans and non-vegans alike, making them perfect destinations for families whose members have various dietary restrictions. Five of the best I’ve found so far are 3 Sisters Café, Jasmine Thai, Santorini’s Greek Kitchen, Yats, and ‘Za.
Though there are many Thai restaurants in Indianapolis, my favorite by far is Jasmine Thai. Nestled in a shopping plaza on 96th Street and River Road on the North side of Indy, the cozy dining area and friendly staff provide a pleasant atmosphere. Nearly every dish can be made vegan by substituting tofu for meat and asking for no eggs. Jasmine uses fresh spices and vegetables in all their dishes and will add extra vegetables to any dish for $2, though I found that my Pad Woon-Sen was so jam-packed with veggies that I could scarcely have handled more. If you’re looking for a good, laid-back place to take your family or don’t feel like cooking and are in the mood for some good Thai food, look no further than Jasmine Thai. In addition to being vegan-friendly, it’s a great place to go if you have gluten allergies or celiac disease, because Thai cuisine does not use wheat.
Voted Best Vegetarian/Vegan Option in Nuvo's Best of Indy 2010 awards, Yats is Indy's preeminent Cajun/Creole restaurant chain. With locations in Broad Ripple, downtown, Fishers, and Greenwood, it's easy to find an accessible spot. The menus at each location rotate daily, so it's best to ask which items are vegan, though dishes like succotash are on the menu more often than not. Each dish comes with buttered bread, so letting the staff know that you're seeking a vegan option is recommended. Yats is a great restaurant to take a family if you're looking for a fast-paced, colorful night out. Also, the Broad Ripple location is just half a mile from Cantebury Park, making it a great place to bring take-out and spend some time with your children.
Santorini’s Greek Kitchen
Located in Fountain Square in central Indianapolis, Santorini’s Greek Kitchen is a family-owned authentic Greek restaurant with several vegan-friendly options, including lahanosalata (cabbage salad), soupa me bizelia (split pea soup) and spanakopita (spinach pie—make sure to ask them to leave out the feta). Popular vegan appetizers include hummus, tzaziki, baba ganoush and Santorini tomato balls. Santorini’s is the most expensive of these three restaurants, with appetizers costing around $7 and main dishes running between $12 and $18, but the food is fantastic and the atmosphere is friendly and inviting. Why not top off an evening out with the family by visiting Santorini’s? The friendly staff and energetic atmosphere will make you feel like you’re at a family reunion with your favorite family members.
Broad Ripple Village, a neighborhood on the north side of Indy, is a treasure trove of fantastic restaurants. It’s also where you’ll find ‘Za Pizzeria, a small late-night pizza joint that makes their dough in-house and uses all fresh ingredients. Their only menu options are pizza and breadsticks, so it’s very, very niche. They have a specialty vegan pizza, the VeganZa, which uses Daiya and a choice of two toppings for $22 for a 14-inch or $28 for an 18-inch pie. The atmosphere is light, with a small dining room painted in a bright orange. It’s not an ideal place to take a large group of people, but they do offer delivery, so you can easily enjoy some ‘Za in the comfort of your home.
Another gem of Broad Ripple, 3 Sisters Café is a family-friendly eatery established in a beautiful old house. With creaky wooden floors and large windows, you’ll feel more like you’re eating at grandma’s than at a restaurant. The food is absolutely amazing. They serve non-vegetarian and vegan dishes, so you’ll have to pay special attention to the menu when you’re ordering, though vegan dishes are marked. Some of the most delectable available are the multigrain porridge, and the black bean burger. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the food and can help you find what you need.
If you know where to go, Indianapolis has a wide variety of fantastic restaurants that are suitable for both vegans and non-vegans, making them ideal places to take mixed groups. If you live or travel in the Indianapolis area, give each of these places a try; they all bring something unique—and delicious—to the table.
Joe Baker is a health fanatic who hates anything processed. His hobbies include adventure racing, Krav Maga, and horseback riding. Eating right makes these possible, so do it.
[“View of Indianapolis” by Edward Sachse, 1854, via Yale Digital Commons]
Vegansaurus NYC: Tiengarden! »
Another day in New York, another vegan restaurant! I ventured out of Brooklyn to meet my pal Brittany in her neighborhood, the Lower East Side. OMG my big day in the city! We were searching for a place by her apartment and with the help of Happy Cow and SuperVegan, we decided on Tiengarden. It’s completely vegan and the internets are calling it Chinese food but I felt like it was kind of Thai (the lovely Brittany agrees), but maybe I’m a racist.
We shared spring rolls and they were adequate. I’m like a spring roll ninja (why’s it got to be a ninja Megan? Racist!) so you can’t just come at me with any old thing, but they were enjoyable. Brit (an omni) got the stir-fried noodles and she liked it, but says it was a little oily. But dude, she was totally into it. She was even talking about becoming a vegan but she didn’t really have any other reason besides liking the stir-fried noodles. I was like, homegirl, it takes commitment! It’s like on America’s Next Top Model, you can’t roll in on day one thinking you’re Tyra! You can’t even smile with your eyes!
Whaaaaaat was I talking about? Ah yes, nuggets! Well, I was about to. I had T11, the special nuggets with peanut curry sauce. Boy were those nuggets special! I think they were deep-fried chunks of tofu—I can get down with that. There were also zucchini, broccoli and other veggies along with some sort of brown rice. I’m a peanut sauce enthusiast and the more it tastes like peanut butter, the better. This sauce was excellent, very peanut-buttery (not thick like it, just the taste). If you like that spicy non-peanut-buttery peanut sauce, you are out of luck.
Other things to note: they have lots of desserts available but I didn’t try any because I had places to be (I’m a big-city girl now!) but they looked good. I’ll definitely have to try the carrot cake next time—cake is my favorite vegetable! Oh and they didn’t have regular soda but Brittany got this Chinese cola thing and now she’s all about it. It’s like, there goes Brittany with that Chinese cola! Sheesh, if I had a nickle…etc.
New Restaurant Review: Green Papaya Vegetarian Thai! »
Green Papaya, an ALL-VEGAN THAI RESTAURANT in downtown Berkeley, opened this week. Upon walking in, one might feel as if he or she is in the center of a fresh papaya, with long walls freshly painted green and pink curtains.
Glancing at the shiny flat screen pasted on the wall, I thought we were in a Supreme Master joint, but then I saw BEER. The menu was super-cute, with appetizers billed as “chill chill,” salads as “yum yum,” and soups as “warm up.” They brought us Thai iced tea on the house. I was sort of anticipating fake meat galore (a la every vegan thai restaurant in Hollywood) but was shown a world of tofu, lightly fried seitan, and fresh vegetables. While my tastebuds missed the processed soy, my butthole said “thank you.”
Despite the lack of faux mutton or veggie whole duck or whatever, the menu was pretty inventive. We started with Curry Puffs, which are four deep-fried triangles stuffed with a moist mixture of pumpkin, shiitake, potato, onion, and pepper.
Then came the delicious Pad Thai. Probably my 4th best ever. And finally: the lunch special, Seitanic Broccoli (my name, not theirs); a mound of rice, crispy tofu skewers (or spring roll), and a sweet cucumber salad.
You don’t have to say “no egg pretty PRETTY please!,” they won’t mistake your gluten dish for beef chunks, and there is no fish sauce—ever.
They’re open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and located a mere block from the downtown Berkeley Bart station at 2016 Shattuck Ave. Check it out!
Review: Central Vegetarian! »
Central Vegetarian is a new vegetarian/vegan restaurant on Park Street, the main drag in Alameda, a tropical isle of dreams located on the idyllic SF Bay, a.k.a. The Biggest Little City on Earth. I grew up on The Island, and finding ONE restaurant with even ONE vegan item on its menu is like trying to figure out how Star Jones gets out of bed in the morning instead of just killing herself. It’s like Labyrinth, bitches. Next to impossible. However, with the opening of Central Vegetarian, we have a player in the game, folks! With a menu that is nearly identical to Golden Era in San Francisco and Golden Lotus in Oakland, you can’t help but believe this is a Supreme Master Ching Hai Enterprise.* And it is: the chef/owner used to work in the kitchen at Golden Lotus but then realized she was hell of in a cult and jumped ship, taking the recipes with her! You go, girl!
The menu is mainly Vietnamese but there are some Chinese and Thai dishes. If you’re not a moron, you will order any of the clay pots, CARAMELIZED CHICKEN (!!!), spicy gourmet chicken (!!!) and the veggie chow fun. It’s cheap, filling and delicious. A VERY VERY VERY welcome addition to the prestigious Alameda eating scene. It takes its place alongside Subway and Applebee’s to complete the trifecta of Alameda Power Eating (APE). Watch your back, Gary Danko; APE is coming to get you and what we lack in deliciousness, we make up for in knife fights.
*God, I love that crazy bitch. She doesn’t believe in alcohol, drugs, sex, meat or happiness. Obviously, I’m down. With most of it. I mean one thing of it.
[photo via yelp]