While the spotlight often falls on the Millenniums, Sublimes, and Candle 79s of veg dining—nationally acclaimed, special-occasion restaurants with gourmet flair—seldom does one hear about the local joints that make it easy to take a break from kitchen duty.
The Blossoming Lotus serves “vegan world fusion cuisine.” That’s what you get at the funky, colorful restaurant that offers up raw and cooked vegan cuisine. Its mouthwatering starters include White Lotus soup with arame, avocado, and scallions tossed in ginger, white miso, and white tea, and the Live Soft Tacos—tomato, avocado, and live taco crumbles topped with chili lime dressing.
A vegetarian and mostly organic restaurant near the beach, Dharma’s is cozy, laid back, and family friendly. Breakfast—tofu ranchero, blueberry pancakes, and smoky tempeh bacon—is served every day. For lunch and dinner, the menu offers a range of options—from the Brahma Burger and Tall Tostada to Five Treasure Chow Mein.
At this low-key spot, you can relive the comfort food meals of your childhood. For brunch, choose from waffles, French toast or an array of tofu scrambles—from country to Mediterranean to fiesta. Or stop in for a lunch or dinner and enjoy a Coney dog or some breaded “shrimp” in spicy dipping sauce. You can even finish your meal off with a banana split.
Casual, warm, and elegant, Watercourse Foods serves up all-vegetarian fare (most dishes can be made vegan) with nutritious, wholesome ingredients. Sandwiches and wraps such as the Po Boy made from a polenta-encrusted Portobello cap with chipotle aioli or the Dona Lee with herb-encrusted seitan, tomato, and avocado will have you longing for more.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Sage’s Café has the warm feel of a homey vegetarian kitchen. Start with its carrot butter crostini, taquitos with black beans, and lime-tossed greens or mushroom escargot. On weekends, they serve blueberry flapjacks and other delicious breakfast foods. In a hurry? Servers can recommend items that can be prepared quickly.
Health food, shmealth food. If that’s your attitude, then vegan fast-food joint Food Swings might be your perfect everyday restaurant. If that’s you, then you’ll adore “The King”—the fried peanut butter and Cheeze sandwich. If that’s not enough, Food Swings proudly serves a burger called the Vegan Heart Attack.
If your idea of everyday food is nutritious, interesting, and affordable, Java Green is the place for you. Its simple menu, featuring nourishing sandwiches, filling soups, and noodle dishes affordably priced between $6 and $8, has vegetarians and non-vegetarians flocking to the downtown eatery. They also sell sweets from famed Sticky Fingers vegan bakery.
Soul Vegetarian’s fans rave about not only the food, but the warm service they receive while enjoying jazzy food with an Ethiopian flare, including tofu nuggets, riblets made from “kalebone” (a seitan-style faux meat made in-house), organic greens, and split pea soup. For dessert, try the homemade soy ice cream or the carrot cake. It’s so good you’ll forget you’re eating healthy.