Updated May 2008
Bostonians have a lot to celebrate. Since our visit last year, Boston has gained two great vegan options: Grezzo and Wheeler's Frozen Desserts (see below for reviews).
I also learned that if you are a vegetarian, you should plan on visiting Cambridge. It's a very short ride on the subway from Boston. There are veg restaurants there, and the non-veg restaurants usually have vegetarian options. Some even specify vegan options.
This underlines the point that if you want to find veg food, you go where the colleges are. Cambridge has Harvard, MIT, Tufts and more.
The Boston Vegetarian Society is very good at keeping their listings up to date, and if the trend keeps up, I'm sure there will be even more restaurants to look forward to in the future.
Grezzo is a raw restaurant in Boston's Little Italy. It was my first raw restaurant experience, and I could not have been more delighted. The entire menu is vegan and organic, and everything is prepared with attention to the finest detail. It's an upscale and romantic place that serves vegan wines and a tasting course if you'd like to try a bit of everything.
There are a lot of good things to say about this place, but I'll try and keep this short. The food is incredibly delicious and indulgent and your body will feel amazing for a good 24 hours after eating here. You feel full faster because the live food gives your body all the nutrients it's been craving. You will sleep wonderfully and wake up with more energy than ever before. In short, you have to try this place. Make reservations to be sure you get a spot.
Original Buddha's Delight • Vegan • 3 Beach Street • Map
Original Buddha's Delight brings an odd problem to veg restaurant reviewers. When I researched the place beforehand, I found a lot of mixed opinions. Here is the truth: The food is pretty good but the atmosphere is pretty depressing.
It's kind of a weird building, and the restaurant has too-bright flourescent lights and old furniture. The menu has about 150 items on it with some names and flavor combinations that are not always appetizing. For instance they offer "green beans blenderized with condensed milk" and they use quotes to describe the plethora of mock meat dishes. Vegetarians used to skipping those words on a menu might feel a small subconscious threat seeing the words duck, shrimp, lobster, chicken and beef all over the menu, even if they are in quotes. Also just knowing that a restaurant has over 150 choices on hand gives the impression that the food isn't very fresh.
That being said, I really admire any restaurant that chooses to serve food without animal products. I think the food tasted good. I think it would taste twenty times better if the owners did three simple things: 1) soften the lighting by adding some candles; 2) shorten the menu by offering fewer choices or grouping them into shorter categories; 3) play some music. Very simple changes, nothing to do with the food.
On the plane to Boston I read that Bostonians eat more ice cream per person than any other state in the U.S. It sounded crazy to me because I thought about how cold it gets in the winter. But even during the colder days of our stay it rang true. Everywhere I looked people were eating ice cream. Even while they were driving their cars. So it's only natural that a vegan ice cream shop would open in Boston.
Wheeler's is brand spankin' new, and when we visited they had just passed inspections and didn't even have a sign up yet. But the important thing is that they did have the ice cream, and it was incredible. You've probably had vegan ice cream before, but this tastes nothing like store-bought ice cream. It is much more flavorful and fresh, and there is zero soy aftertaste.
Along with soy-based ice cream, they also use coconut, rice or almond milk, depending on the intended taste. On the day we went they had raspberry sorbet, peanut butter ice cream and chocolate ice cream. Each of these three seemed to have flavor magnified by a thousand. Usually when you eat ice cream you taste the base with bits of whatever flavor thrown in. But the raspberry tasted fruity and fresh throughout, the peanut butter was creamy and decadent, and the chocolate was bold and strong. Now I am spoiled and afraid I can never enjoy store-bought vegan ice cream again.
Veggie Planet is a small vegetarian pizza place inside Club Passim, a place that hosts all kinds of folk and local music acts. You can either pay to watch the acts and be served by Veggie Planet, or you can just go for the pizza and sit in the small dining area. Make sure you bring cash. Club Passim accepts credit, but Veggie Planet does not.
The portion sizes here are really generous and affordable. The menu allows you to choose different pizza topping themes and have them on a pizza or on rice. They also offer a Sunday brunch which looks good.
We had the vegan caesar salad and a vegan pizza.The salad was refreshing and had something I've never tried before: tofu croutons. I'm not sure how they make them but it tastes like a crunchy puffed version of tofu. The dressing was delicious and all of the ingredients tasted fresh. The pizza was really good too. The crust was thin and not greasy, and the basil tofu ricotta added a nice chewy texture. It was a fun way to spend a casual evening in Cambridge.