Oh, Boston…steeped in history from the Freedom Trail to the Public Library yet so stuck in puritanical tradition, like having bars close at 2am and the T shutting down around midnight. Trust me, as a vegan living in this quaint city, it’s not easy. Boston may be no vegan Mecca like NYC. But there are some wonderful surprise delights to be found…kind of like a vegan treasure hunt!
Before Grezzo opened, I lamented that there were no upscale vegan restaurants in Boston. But huzzah…Grezzo, which is also raw and organic, in the North End saves the day! This is an intimate and lovely space; wonderful for a date or a ladies’ night out. The staff is exceptionally knowledgeable about the menu, which changes seasonally, and raw living in general. They use nut cheeses which are superior to soy cheese in my opinion. The drinks and desserts are fresh, healthy yet decadent. Be sure to try their gnocchi carbonara, native tomato ravioli, brownie sundae and cheesecake. Pair that with some wonderful vegan wine or the best Bloody Mary in the city!
UPDATE: GREZZO CLOSED MAY 2010. I’m still grieving over the loss of owner Alissa Cohen’s decision to close its doors. On the bright side, Alissa Cohen will release her cookbook Raw Food for Everyone: Essential Techniques and 300 Simple-to-Sophisticated Recipes , co-authored with Grezzo executive chef Leah Dubois, this October. It will include all of Grezzo’s delectable recipes.
This Peruvian/Southern Italian fusion restaurant in the North End is my absolute favorite restaurant in all of Boston. Not only do they have food so divine you’ll swear you were in Italy, but they’re also completely green. They compost, recycle and even use corn straws! The staff is insanely attentive and accommodating and the décor is very romantic with exposed brick walls. While they don’t have a vegan menu, call ahead and let them know and they will custom make you a dish. Try the pappardelle con funghi porcini pasta (but order it with a different type of pasta that’s egg-free), which has wild mushrooms, porcini and white truffle oil. Simply to die for…you will dream about the deliciousness of your entrée for weeks after you’ve finished your meal…
3. Peace o’ Pie Gourmet Vegan Pizza
I cannot say enough good things about this vegan pizzeria in Allston. I find myself craving, dreaming about their Not So Garden Pizza. Now, I know what all you skeptics are saying. Vegan pizza, it CAN’T be as good as the original. But this pizza will blow your mind!! They use non-soy Daiya brand cheese, which you can also purchase for home consumption/cooking. Unlike soy cheese (which I’m no fan of), it doesn’t leave a funky aftertaste. It melts, stretches and is gooey just like real cheese! They’re also a sustainable restaurant with bamboo counters and recycled ceiling tiles. A non-veg friend actually proclaimed this to be the best pizza of his life. Seriously…it’s that good.
This restaurant/lounge in the Theatre District is hands down, my fave Indian restaurant in the city. They have a separate vegan menu which is so wonderful! You can frequently veganize Indian dishes. But as they’re often cooked with ghee (clarified butter), vegan dishes often don’t have the same quality of taste. Not so here. Try the baingan bhurta (mashed eggplants and tomatoes), my fave Indian dish. Also try the lauki kofta in tomato gravy, one of their dosas (crepe) and sorbet for dessert.
5. OtherSide Café
This funky hipster café in Back Bay is my fave hangout joint. My friends and I go here so frequently that for awhile, the “hot waiter” (not a very original nickname but apropos) knew my order without me having to tell him. Great selection of veg and meat dishes, beer and they host a weekend brunch. Try the vegan BLT, nachos (can substitute vegan cheese for regular), vegan chocolate chip cookies (be sure to get them hot) and Original Sin (stay away from Magner’s which is NOT veg-friendly). And be sure to ask for the hot waiter!
6. Upstairs on the Square
This posh upscale Cambridge staple serving New American and Italian cuisine in Harvard Square hosts a Spring-Summer Vegan Dinner Series which consists of a 4-course vegan meal. Planning to go another night? Call ahead and tell them you’re vegan and they will custom make you a dish (as most good restaurants will do). The chef made me a Vietnamese-style pho…delish!
7. Allston Café
They make a mean vegan sandwich, as well as non-veg too, at this hipster college hangout. Try their Hum Vegan (hummus and roasted red peppers) on rosemary focaccia, their vegan French toast and their Mango Madness smoothie.
8. Cambridge Common
Hearty American pub grub in between Harvard and Porter Squares, next to the Lizard Lounge. Be sure to try the portabella mushroom burger, the tater tots and the fried pickles. Comfort food at its best.
9. Legal Seafoods
While I am obviously no seafood fan, this chain boasts a surprisingly tasty vegan dish. Their hearty Vegetarian Box has a coconut curry sauce over brown rice with cashews and tofu.
10. Veggie Planet
Vegan/vegetarian basement restaurant next to Club Passim in Harvard Square. I love their variety: soups, salads, rice, pizza, desserts, plus a fantastic brunch on Sundays. Beware they put a bit too much oil in some dishes. Try the Vegan Oddlot (tofu, basil mash with kalamata olives, tomatoes and garlic) over coconut rice and their brownies which are divine.
11. River Gods
The décor here at this intimate bar/restaurant in Central Square is so unique, like a gothic nature wonderland! Try their Vegan Cakes (spicy jalapeno peppers, chickpeas and herbs served with a jalapeno lime sauce) and their French fries with peanut chili dressing.
The UK-based noodle chain has come stateside! They can customize most dishes for various food allergies and diets. Try the Yasai Itame (spicy coconut and green chile noodle soup with vegetables) or the Moyashi Soba (vegetable noodle soup). This was a godsend when I was in London.
This funky restaurant is a part of the Middle East Restaurant & Nightclub in Central Square which boasts a tasty Middle Eastern menu for meat-eaters and veg-eaters. Be sure to try their falafel, vegetarian grape leaves and vegan baklava, which has agave nectar in lieu of honey…beyond amazing!
14. Wheeler’s Frozen Desserts
Vegan ice cream parlor and café in Back Bay near Symphony Hall. I was told about this place and didn’t believe it existed…I mean c’mon, vegan ice cream that actually tastes like ice cream?! And then I tried it…hallelujah! It’s the creamiest most amazing confection. Owned by the incredibly nice Wheeler del Torro, author of the cookbook The Vegan Scoop.
UPDATE: Wheeler’s is now CLOSED. So sad!!! But you can still enjoy the deliciousness at home with his cookbook.
15. Kickass Cupcakes
Their vegan cupcakes are a little slice of heaven. Currently, they have a ginger peach Bellini flavor. Unlike many vegan cupcakes, the cake portion is moist and the frosting is a creamy frothy delight.
Is your favorite not on the list? Let the Opinioness know. Going on a date with a vegan/vegetarian and want to impress them? Veg friend coming into town and want them to enjoy a tasty meal? Drop me a line and the Opinioness will try out a place for you.