My Vegetarian Favorites

12 Jan

So yesterday I posted a response to an article in the New York Times about how it was difficult to eat meatless in the Midwest. Today, I figured I’d put my money where my mouth is and post a list of places that I like to eat meatless in Omaha and Lincoln.

Please post your own favorites in the comments or on my Omavore Facebook page.

Lincoln has three completely meat-free restaurants, and I’ve been to two of the three. Yesterday, I learned about Pepe’s Veggie Bistro in Havelock. I haven’t been there, but it gets great reviews on Yelp. I’m going there the next time I’m in the capitol city.

Grateful Bread/Freakbeat Vegetarian: Seriously, this place is so good. No meat in sight. The Moroccan tomato soup is notorious for haunting people’s dreams. My personal favorite is the Santa Fe Chowder. The restaurant also serves delicious cheese scones, bread, muffins, cookies and a daily selection of macaroni and cheese. Don’t expect to be alert after lunch if you down a plate of the mac.

Maggie’s Vegetarian Cafe:  I have a lot of love for the baked tofu wrap at Maggie’s. It’s delish, and also vegan. I remember eating it before I really knew how to cook tofu and it served as inspiration for me to get to work in my own kitchen.

The Blue Orchid: This downtown Thai place isn’t meat-free, but my goodness, the meat-free items on its menu are great. I prefer the panang curry, ordered with extra-large rectangles of tofu that help soak up the ridiculously good, spicy sauce.

Bread & Cup: Delicious hummus, a wonderful peanut and apple butter sandwich and a rotating selection of pizzas and pastas make this cute cafe in the Haymarket district a good veg stop, though the menu does include meat. It has always reminded me of Lincoln’s more contemporary version of La Buvette.

Omaha doesn’t have any completely meat free restaurants at the moment. But there are still many options. I listed a few in my post yesterday. Here are a few more:

Tapas at Espana: Many are meatless, both hot and cold. Plus, the tiny Benson spot has atmosphere to spare and great sangria.

I’ve already gone on in the paper about my love for brunch at Dixie Quicks, particularly about my love for the soyiso scramble, a really great vegetarian dish that’s like none other. Also, pancakes. Apple brie omelets. Sexual chocolate French toast. A new dish called cappuccino eggs that you have to try. Anyway. You get the idea.

Blue Planet Natural Grill is casual, not too pricey and has a great selection of veggie burgers with good toppings. I prefer the black bean burger. I also love the veggie burger at the Upstream, of all places. The  brew pub used to serve the sort of pre-made burgers you can buy at the grocery store, but now it’s a spicy homemade patty that even my meat-eating husband loves. And while on the topic of burgers, the spiced lentil veggie burger at Blanc is pretty darn good, too.

The Shrooms pizza at Pitch. Be still, my beating heart. That pizza and a glass of wine make me a happy woman.

Finally, a note on cooking at home.

When I stopped eating meat, it forced me to learn how to cook. I couldn’t eat fast food burgers any more. I couldn’t buy a pre-packaged dinner from the grocery store.

I cannot stress enough how much Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian changed my view of both cooking (it wasn’t hard) and meatless food (it could be delicious.)

My husband bought it for me just after I stopped eating meat and I didn’t know what to cook or how to cook anything, really. I remember he came home from a trip with it in his bag — at more than 1,000 pages, this is commitment — and told me the woman at the store told him to tell me not to be scared that it didn’t have any pictures. So I’ll tell you: Don’t be scared. It doesn’t have any pictures.

I’ll never stop praising this book, or it’s author. For anyone out there who doesn’t already own it, buy it today and start reading it. My copy is stained. It has bookmarks throughout and folded pages to identify things I always need, or things I want to try or things I already love. The dust cover is worn and torn. And even though I eat meat now, I refer to it again and again and again.

Top two photos courtesy of the Library of Congress. Third photo courtesy of the Office of War Information.

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3 Responses to “My Vegetarian Favorites”

  1. mrlasertron (@mrlasertron) January 12, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    My favs are definitely Block 16 (formerly New York Chicken and Gyro) on 16th and Farnam, and El Basha on 74th and pacific.

    Block 16 has a new vegan dish every month, and regular vegan/vegetarian menu options like the vegan schnitzel sandwich, or the vegan gyro.

    El basha has the best falafel in town in my opinion.
    Cheers! (www.veganomaha.com has good restaurant tips too!)

    • Alexis Abel January 19, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

      What’s vegan schnitzel? A breaded/deep-fried piece of sietan?

  2. Gini January 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    Great recommendations!

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