On a recent long weekend to Beantown, I had a chance to check out some local spots. So, whether you’re walking the Freedom Trail, heading to the ball park, or just looking for a romantic getaway, here are a few of my favorites.
Even if you don’t have a family member named after a famous astronomer as we do, this vegetarian diner/vegan bakery in Cambridge is a great place for brunch or lunch. Inside, the retro diner — complete with booths and tall glass pie case — was bustling with activity; with Galileo, we were able to enjoy patio dining and some people-watching on Massachusetts Ave.
Not all the menu items are vegan, but VG is happy to substitute eggs with tofu and cheese with Daiya or its own homemade vegan cheese. Though the Benedict and Stuffed French Toast were tempting, my husband Seth and I went with lunch options. The Reuben came with copious slices of shaved corned “beef” seitan, homemade kraut, and vegan Thousand Island (we ordered it on rye, naturally!) and The Club was a delicious veganized version of what anyone from New Jersey knows is a “#2” on any diner menu in the state — the turkey club. Here, you’ll get the triple decker with homemade tempeh bacon and smoked tofu, with balsamic tomatoes and red onion providing the perfect finishing touches.
When in Rome… save room for a slice of Boston Cream Pie. Or at least, take it to go. Galileo savored his sample (the non-chocolate part of cake and custard) of this veganized version of the local dessert fave.
For an upscale dining experience, you’ll want to head to this intimate candle-lit bistro in the Somerville neighborhood — one of the best vegan dining experiences I’ve had, with ambience and food on par with New York’s Candle 79, Philadelphia’s Vedge, and San Francisco’s Millennium. Begin with a glass of bubbly or perhaps a cocktail made with FAIR vodka, which is vegan-friendly and made from quinoa. I confess, I broke my rule of ordering a spinach salad whenever it’s offered: instead, Seth and I split the Cornmeal-Crusted Oyster Mushrooms as an appetizer. Served with horseradish-dill aioli and guajillo chili sauce, the mushrooms were the perfect crispy, and the combination of the aioli and chili sauce had just the right “bite” to it.
For the main course we tried the Seitan Skewer — a ripple of large thin slices of seitan complemented by asparagus, polenta, red pepper-pine nut sauce, and Italian salsa verde — and the Phyllo Purse of brandy braised tempeh, summer squash, green mole, and sour cream. Both insanely delicious.
For all my sweet-tooth readers, I’ll say True Bistro will not disappoint. Were I in your camp, I probably would have ordered a vegan Napoleon, seductive layers of pastry and white chocolate mousse. My Seth is a chocolate person, so he indulged in the “Death by Chocolate” Cake served with whipped coconut cream and crunchy shattered caramel.
…buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack! Yes, some of baseball’s most traditional fare is already vegan. And then there are always other readily available snack foods like popcorn and fries. But these days, more and more ball parks are offering better vegetarian and vegan options. At Yankee Stadium, my “usual” is the pan-fried tofu noodles available at the Food Court. Here, I give props to my hometeam’s rival for also offering some veg-friendly fare to the fans. How long had it been since the last time I had a hot dog at a ball game?! Which is why Fenway’s veggie dog is a very exciting option. I looked it up afterwards and (darn!) it seems the bun might not be vegan, but Fenway still gets kudos for offering a “dog” at the park. Seth and I split a Portobello Sandwich (served on a burger bun, which I’m thinking now might also not be vegan), which is a nice alternative to a veggie patty. My suggestion: splurge on the ball park dog experience… just bring your own buns!
Admittedly, The Omni isn’t easy on the wallet but, especially if you’re traveling with a canine family member, I highly recommend this historic hotel as your home base. Located just a couple of blocks from the Boston Common, you’re perfectly situated to enjoy the heart of Boston and you’ll be smack in the middle of the Freedom Trail. Also, there’s a T station right at the corner of the Common, which makes getting around to other parts of the city, including Fenway Park, super easy. (Note to those of you traveling with a pup: there’s a designated area in the Common that is unenclosed and off-leash any time of the day.)
Our spacious executive room came complete with dog bowls and was a cozy place for Galileo in between his walks with us. Not all dog-friendly hotels are OK with guests leaving dogs in the rooms unattended; the Omni simply takes down a cell phone number so that staff can contact someone in case of a barking problem or an emergency.
Finally, the literary geek just had to enjoy a drink at the hotel’s bar, which once upon a time was the meeting place of the famous “Saturday Club.” This monthly gathering of luminaries included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Thoreau, Charles Dickens, Oliver Wendall Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and more.