by Hannah Packman
Given its relative size, it is unsurprising that Boston isn’t the meat-free mecca that DC and NYC are. But what Boston’s vegetarian dining scene lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. The city is peppered with diverse and delectable veg-friendly spots, sure to delight omnivores and vegans alike. Here’s a rundown of Beantown’s best plant-based menus, illustrated by my poorly-lit, over-edited Instagram pictures.
Editor’s note: Life Alive and Veggie Galaxy were previously part of Grace Goodwin’s write-up of Central Square special diet-friendly eateries—so popular with our writers that they were reviewed twice.
Location: 1001 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
Hours: Tuesday-Wednesday 8 am-4 pm, Thursday-Friday 8 am-8 pm, Saturday-Sunday 8 am-6 pm
02 Vegan Café offers up an assortment of inexpensive meatless breakfast and lunch items with a hefty dose of crunchy-hippie vibes. In addition to the menu items, they carry vegan pastries, many of which are gluten-free, if you’re into that kind of thing. And since it’s conveniently located in the vestibule of a yoga studio, you can grab a pre- or post-om snack—or if you’re an anti-athlete like I am, you can just go for the food.
Location: Several throughout Cambridge, Brookline, and Burlington, as well as seven food trucks in greater Boston area
Hours: Varies by location
Clover is the kind of vegetarian restaurant that even a die-hard carnivore could love. The sleek, white décor certainly doesn’t scream “dirty, tree-hugging Pinko,” and neither does the food. The menu is free of the meat and dairy substitutes that generally intimidate the meat-eating public, making it readily accessible to all diners. It doesn’t hurt that everything at Clover is a gustatory delight, from the Mezze Platter (my personal favorite) to the egg and eggplant sandwich. Added bonus for the eco-conscious: most of the ingredients are seasonally and locally sourced, including the produce, eggs, and spices.
Location: 481 Cambridge Street, Allson, MA 02134 & 617 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 am-11 pm, Friday 11 am-11:30 pm, Saturday-Sunday 10 am-12 am
FoMu is Boston’s premier vegan ice cream parlor. Not only does it bring some top-notch, creamy, dairy-free scoops, but it also boasts a veritable pupu platter of creative flavors. On a recent visit, the menu included sweet lavender, avocado, cardamom pistachio, and rosewater saffron. Unique flavor combinations not up your proverbial alley? FoMu has your back: they also serve traditional varieties, like cookies and cream and vanilla bean, for the ice cream purist. And if you’re not in the mood for ice cream (or you’re one of those eccentrics who don’t like it), FoMu also sells kick-awesome pastries, baked in-house.
Location: 1 North Beacon Street, Allston, MA 02134
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 am-10 pm, Sunday noon-10 pm
Omnivores often presume—incorrectly—that vegan food is synonymous with quinoa, kale, and chia seeds. Those omnivores haven’t been to Grasshopper, the arbiter of junky, awesome, meat-free Chinese fare. Grasshopper’s food is cloyingly sweet, sodium-laden, and served in absurdly large portions, just the way Americanized Chinese food should be. It’s probably not the kind of thing you should eat every day (unless you have a death wish), but when you’re in a gluttonous state of mind, and you also happen to be craving vegan food, Grasshopper should do the trick.
Location: 765 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139
Hours: Monday-Saturday 8 am-10 pm, Sunday 11 am-7 pm
Life Alive is a funky, bohemian spot with correspondingly funky, bohemian food. If you’re a first-time diner, don’t be alarmed by the menu, which is full of kooky-named dishes and jam-packed with peculiar ingredients like nutritional yeast, bee pollen, nama shoyu, kelp, and sprouted legumes. Though it all sounds like hippie-dippie nonsense, the food at Life Alive is hearty and flavorful. And to accompany your meal, you can choose from a full menu of beverage options, including smoothies, juices, kombucha, beer, and coffee.
Location: 3 Beach Street #2, Boston, MA 021111
Hours: 11 am-10:30 pm
MyThai Vegan Café looks unassuming, with its dingy, dated interior, but looks can be deceiving. Despite its humble appearance, MyThai offers some of the best vegan food in Boston or anywhere else. There are more than 100 menu items, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. For many dishes, you can choose your own protein—for the more ambitious eaters, there is an array of mock meats: duck, shrimp, squid, and beef, among others—but there are also more familiar options like tofu and seitan. And if you have a sweet tooth, you can finish your meal with dairy-free boba tea and a slice of cake.
Location: 1153 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144
Hours: Wednesday-Thursday 5 pm-9 pm, Friday-Saturday 5 pm-10 pm, Sunday 5 pm-9 pm, Weekend Brunch 10 am-3 pm
If you’re in the market for haute cuisine done vegan, True Bistro has you covered. With its candlelit tables and vegan wine selection, it’s a perfect joint for a romantic, albeit meatless, dinner date. True Bistro also boasts the only plant-based brunch in Boston, so you can have your vegan pancakes and eat them too. Incidentally, vegan pancakes pair excellently with a vegan Bloody Mary, which True Bistro so graciously offers during its brunch seating.
Location: 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 9 am-10 pm, Friday-Saturday 9 am-11 pm
Greasy spoon-gone-vegetarian Veggie Galaxy is a beloved Central Square mainstay, and for good reason: its comforting, homey dishes are a metaphorical hug for you taste buds. The menu prominently features typical diner provisions (burgers, French fries, milkshakes, and all-day breakfast), as well as more innovative dishes, such as the pulled barbequed jackfruit sandwich, or the hearty glazed seitan roast. And if you’re lucky enough to dine at Veggie Galaxy, don’t miss the mind-blowing vegan desserts; the aptly named Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie is truly out of this world, as is the s’mores cheesecake.
Hannah Packman is a second-year student in the Agriculture, Food and Environment masters program. When she isn’t busy filling her head with food-related facts, she enjoys filling her stomach with food-related objects.