People observing Meatless Fridays during Lent, vegetarians, or anyone trying to reduce their environmental impact by eating fewer animal products may suffer from the classic problem of scanning the menu unsuccessfully for interesting meatless meals. Plain cheese quesadillas or fries, while tasty, don’t always measure up to the other dishes on the table. Avoid this problem when you go out for a meal with friends or family by suggesting one of these five restaurants where you can find delicious meals, minus the meat.
The cafe, located on North 10th Street, offers traditional breakfast items, such as French toast, pancakes and eggs, but also serves 19 additional vegetarian options, including biscuits and gravy, a mix of tofu and a Reuben tempeh sandwich. Many dishes on Cafe Berlin’s menu include fresh vegetables, such as sautéed red and green peppers, fresh spinach and thick sliced tomatoes. The cafe sources its bread from the local bakery Uprise. These high-quality ingredients elevate meals from good cooking to good food. The vegetarian menu items are tasty, yet fresh, and encapsulate the warm familiarity of a family restaurant. With such a variety of menu items, everyone at the table is sure to find something to their liking.
Wild Buffalo Wings
Your first thought when you imagine Buffalo Wild Wings is probably sport or chicken on the bone, but the chain also offers deliciously fried cauliflower wings tossed in your sauce of choice. My favorite is the medium buffalo sauce, which is spicy but not so hot that you can’t appreciate the taste of the cauliflower and its crispy coating.
One thing to be aware of is that the allergen and preparation guide on the Buffalo Wild Wings website states that the cauliflower wings are fried in beef shortening, which, while technically not meat, is a animal product that some vegetarians avoid. Everyone’s definition of “meatless” is a little different, but strict vegetarians may want to avoid this menu item. However, if you don’t mind beef shortening and miss the experience of eating wings on a Friday night, this sports-centric chain might offer the perfect meal.
If you are a tofu lover, Seoul Taco is heaven. Almost every main course has a choose-your-own protein option, which includes a tasty baked tofu. Small cubes of soft, lightly spiced tofu can be the protein for dishes like a quesadilla served with dipping options, tacos with spicy Seoul sauce or, my favorite, the Gogi bowl.
The bowl has a rice base alongside a mixture of carrots and arugula tossed in a simple dressing. The main flavor comes from tofu but also from a fresh fried egg and gochujang, a Korean fermented red chili paste. The egg yolk acts as a creamy sauce and adds richness to simple ingredients. The default white rice in the Gogi bowl can also be replaced with fried rice, which contains shrimp paste – something you might be aware of if you are a vegetarian.
Seoul Taco is located on the corner of Hitt Street and Broadway, a short walk from the MU campus. Stop by on your way to a show at the Ragtag Cinema or before heading downtown for a night out.
With 2,954 locations nationwide and three in Colombia, Chipotle is a fan favorite and a go-to for convenient vegetarian meals. The chain’s protein sofritas is one of my all-time favorite vegetarian protein options. Sofritas are crumbled pieces of tofu flavored with poblano pepper, garlic and cumin. This vegetable protein mixes perfectly with the other starter ingredients. If you prefer vegetables over meat alternatives, the chain also offers an option with guacamole and a mixture of grilled peppers and onions.
Along with the protein and veggie options, the multitude of different additions allows this meal to be exactly what you want in terms of flavor and size. Chipotle probably isn’t a new suggestion for most college students, but it’s a dependable and nutritious option with fresh flavors that offer easy vegetarian customization.
Columbia is home to a number of Thai cuisine restaurants, including Thai Express, located downtown in the Ninth Street Lofts building. Thai Express serves a variety of meatless options. At least one item from every section of its menu, ranging from soups to appetizers to noodles, can be vegetarian, either by nature or with tofu as the chosen protein.
Its different sauces are the key to this tasty equation. Peanut sauce, sweet and sour sauce and soy sauce give all the flavor to the delicious noodles and proteins. Pad Thai is drizzled with a tangy peanut-based sauce with tofu, noodles, and a lime garnish. Crispy Fried Tofu is served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce and provides a delicious crunch.
The spice level of each dish is customizable, so you can experience what Thai Express calls “Thai spice”. You can also opt for simpler and more relaxed flavors. Whether you want to stick with the classic fried rice, spring rolls or try something different, Thai Express will have a vegetarian option for you.
Edited by Lucy Valeski, lvales[email protected]