Vegetarian Restaurant 101: From Buffalo “chicken” sandwiches to veggie bowls, here’s what you can order for beginners

好奇在素食餐厅点什么? 厨师兼餐馆老板解释菜单。 (照片:Veggie Grill;由 Areta Gjicali 设计)
Curious about what to order at a vegetarian restaurant? The chef and restaurateur explains the menu. (Photo: Veggie Grill; designed by Areta Gjicali)

A vegan diet consists primarily of plant-based foods, avoiding animal products such as meat, fish, dairy products and honey. For some people, it can be difficult to find meals that fit this criteria, especially when dining out. But as more and more people adopt a vegan lifestyle, restaurateurs are jumping on board, adding more vegan-friendly options to their menus and even creating entire restaurants dedicated to a plant-based lifestyle.

Even if you don’t follow a strict vegan diet, you may be interested in taking a chance on something new. Vegan menus can be daunting, as the cuisine opens up a whole new world of alternatives and plant-based additions that you may never have tried before. You may also have a preconceived notion that vegan food is boring and dull, but in most cases, this is not the case when vegan dishes are prepared correctly.

To get an insider’s view of all things vegan, Yahoo Lifestyle talked to vegan chefs and business owners about the cuisine, what to order and how to make the most of your first visit to a vegan restaurant.

Vegetarian Restaurant Menu 101

Kajsa Alger, vice president of food and beverage at California-based vegan chain Veggie Grill, uses three terms to describe vegan cuisine: “sustainable, future-proof and the ingredients (plants) in most foods.” According to Alger, most modern vegan restaurants have adapted their menus to cater to two different types of vegan consumers: “those who are just discovering vegan food and want to eat like meat food” and “younger generations who grew up eating or “are familiar with vegan food and want to go back to having nutritious and unprocessed options.”

在 Veggie Grill 工作的 Kajsa Alger 说纯素烹饪是
Kajsa Alger, who works at Veggie Grill, says vegan cooking is “sustainable” and “the future. (Photo: Pure Grit BBQ)

The standard menu at a vegan restaurant is similar to what you would see at any grocery store – it includes salads, entrees, desserts and side dishes. While the options are the same, they are prepared differently and the ingredients used to make them are different.

“I always recommend starting with a familiar dish,” Alger says. “I always recommend starting with a burger or a crispy chicken sandwich because they will taste as one would expect. If you’re a salad or bowl eater, then you’re not going to find much difference between a vegetarian restaurant [and a non-vegetarian restaurant-vegetarian restaurant].”

Many of the popular dishes at vegan restaurants are made with plant-based alternatives, such as mushrooms, cauliflower, pineapple nectar, gluten, tofu and beans. You may see cauliflower macaroni and cheese on the menu, or burgers made with mushroom patties instead of ground beef.

Fancy a salad? These dishes often contain a plant-based mixture rather than the standard meat, cheese and cream dressing: think: nuts, fruits, vegetables and balsamic vinegar.

Vegetarian restaurants such as Pure Grit Grill in New York City, which specializes in comfort grilled food, make their own vegetarian alternatives in-house. says Emily Hersh, culinary director and chef at Pure Grit, “Our Impossible [brisket] is our own version of grilled meat.”

“We take Impossible ground beef, lentils, onions and our homemade rub and sauce and make it into a bread,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Then we smoke it for an hour in our kitchen. Then it’s burned and rehydrated. We can slice this dish like a brisket.”

When ordering dessert at a vegan restaurant, cookies, turnip cakes and parfaits are usually available. These desserts will be dairy-free and contain no animal products.

Don’t be afraid to try new things

If this is your first time patronizing a vegetarian restaurant, try to enter with an open mind. “One of my chef instructors in culinary school always advocated to us to try it at least once,” Hersh says. “Life is full of amazing things, and if you let intimidation get in the way, you might miss out.”

You’ll want to remember that you’ve eaten vegan before. “I always tell people who go to a vegan restaurant for the first time to remember that they’ve had vegan food,” Alger says. “Pasta and red sauce, fries and salsa, peanut butter and jelly – all of those are vegan, and we just don’t tend to call them out as a society.”

History of Vegetarian Cooking

The term “vegetarianism” was coined in 1944, however, the concept can be traced back to ancient Indian and Eastern Mediterranean societies. The Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras of the island of Samos first mentioned vegetarianism around 500 BCE. In addition, followers of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism also promoted vegetarianism, believing that humans should not harm other animals.

Alger says mainstream vegetarianism and veganism began to become part of the health craze in the 1970s, when vitamins became fashionable. Today, the Science Coalition reports that “about 10 percent of Americans over the age of 18 identify themselves as vegetarians or vegans.

The 5 best items to order as a beginner

Still unsure of what to order from the menu, Hersh and Alger suggest pairing the following items with any menu item for the best first experience.

Smoked Vegetable Bowl: A base of Indian spiced rice and quinoa topped with smoked mushrooms, roasted sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli, crispy chickpeas, pickled red onions, pumpkin seeds and green goddess dressing. Hersh recommends this bowl for those who look heartier, more nutritious and more flavorful.

在素食餐厅,素食碗可能是营养丰富的一餐。 (照片:Pure Grit BBQ)
At a vegan restaurant, a vegan bowl may be a nutritious meal. (Photo: Pure Grit BBQ)

Buffalo “Chicken” Sandwich: Deep-fried Daring (a plant-based brand) chicken, tossed in Buffalo sauce, layered with pickles, vegan mayo and gluten-free bread; Hersh recommends this dish for those who want to add a little heat to their meal.

Santa Fe “chick’n” sandwich: A sandwich made with crispy chick’n (a plant-based chicken substitute), smashed avocado, Southwest mayo, lettuce, tomato and pickled onions on grilled wheat bread. food through familiar dishes, Alger recommends this dish.

Double BBQ mac burger: This “burger” consists of two Beyond (plant-based) burger patties, lettuce, creamy ranch and barbecue sauce, topped with macaroni and cheese, and served on a buttery egg roll bun. dish to get the most out of their comfort food.

Alger 称这款 Beyond 汉堡三明治是那些既想吃汉堡又想吃奶油通心粉和奶酪的人的完美一餐。 (照片:素食烧烤)
Alger calls this Beyond burger sandwich the perfect meal for those who want both a burger and a creamy macaroni and cheese. (Photo: Vegetarian Grill)

Chipotle ranchero bowl: a bowl of greens marinated in jalapenos and topped with grilled mushrooms, beans, brown rice, pico de gallo and avocado. alger recommends this bowl because it’s a great way to get packed flavor from the traditional chicken bowl …… no meat.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We use cookies in order to give you the best possible experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies.