Downtown (& other locations)
Even your paleo pals occasionally go vegan for this mini food empire. Initially the food truck brainchild of a graduate of MIT, Clover has gone on to reinvent the city’s fast food scene entirely. With a bottomless commitment to food that is fresh, inventive, and, yup, vegan, every Clover outpost -- now at 16 and counting -- proves that you just don’t need animal protein when classics like barbecue seitan and chickpea fritters are on the menu. And then there’s that addictive lavender lemonade...
The city is now awash in juice bars that also turn out yummy, vegan, gluten-free breakfast and lunch options. But we’ll forever have a soft spot for the ladies behind Mother Juice, if for no other reason than that they have fully committed to the black art of making toast. They seriously offer eight different varietals, including three different avocado takes. Plus, they serve their breakfast bowls all day, and you can order the salads by the half or whole bowl. The clincher? Your lazy ass can order all of it via DoorDash or Favor.
The dinner here proves that "plant-based fine dining" isn’t a contradiction in terms. You might start with a light beet salad before moving on to one of the genuinely exquisite entrees: saffron ravioli made with cashew cheese, a Vietnamese mushroom crepe, or seitan skewers and soba noodles in a shiitake broth. Then there’s brunch, which is awash in waffle and seitan sausage sorcery. Oh, and the restaurant is about to add a bar area, so basically, this is the spot for that celebratory group dinner that maddeningly blends vegans and meat-eaters. Seriously, everyone will be happy.
If you’ve been a vegetarian for any length of time in Boston, you’ve worshipped at the Grasshopper altar. It’s vegan Asian food, for Pete’s sake -- pretty much the most guilt-free guilty pleasure ever. Lots of meatless staples dot the menu, including spring rolls, vegetarian dumplings, and stir-fried greens, but it’s actually the tofu and seitan dishes that give you that true Chinese food fix. Do you still dream of the stir-fried spicy garlic beef dish from your takeout-filled youth? It’s yours for the taking, now in a healthier form.
So is Allston, like, the city’s vegetarian mecca? All we know is that when this latest entry popped up last year, we actually started romanticizing our college-era hellhole of an A-B apartment. Whole Heart is the perfect takeaway spot: reasonably priced, customized bowls of veggies, crunchies, and vegan protein, which you can either order at the counter or build online during the day to pick up after work. And when you quote-unquote let yourself go on the weekends, there’s a Sunday brunch with avocado tacos, pancakes, and patatas bravas.
Suburbanites need plant-centric options too. Walnut Grille is saint and savior for the Mass Pike crowd, a sitdown spot that takes all the usual family restaurant entrees -- chicken piccata, meatloaf, lasagna, pizza -- and recreates them in vegetarian (and often vegan) form. Oh, and they don’t shy away from the adult beverages, including organic beer and wine. A weekend visit to the parents’ place just got a little less painful.
Picture the diner of your dreams, minus the quart of leftover bacon grease coating the grill. All the brekkie basics are here, all sans meat, from Benedicts to egg sandwiches to pancakes. There’s a corned beef seitan hash, too, as well as a vegetarian-gravy poutine, the holy grail of the meat-free community. But it’s during lunch and dinner that things really get interesting: a meatless BLT? Reuben? Shepard’s pie? Your best bet is probably to eat your way through the entire menu to ascertain the success of each reconceived dish.
Our mantra: with every yoga studio should come a vegan cafe. But for now, there’s O2, and the attached VO2, dealing in some pretty fine vegan breakfast sandwiches and burritos. Lunch is even more exciting: soups, salads, pressed sandwiches, and vegan nachos. If a yoga studio-approved cafe thinks vegan nachos are a good idea, then we might have to reconsider our current vinyasa boycott.
Allston (& other locations)
When Tom Brady starts hankering for his infamous avocado ice cream, he no longer needs to summon the private chef. FoMu has spent years now making its successful case for vegan ice cream made from either a nut or coconut base. The flavors may give you diabetic palpitations -- chocolate pudding? Salted caramel? Melted cookie dough? -- but they’re all made with local and/or organic ingredients, and are much lower in calories than traditional ice cream. We’re starting to think this Brady fellow might know a thing or two...
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