A wide gulf separates being fed and being nourished. Any old meal will get you fed. At Frida’s Deli, you will be nourished, beginning when you sit down to a tall glass of fresh, fruit-infused water. This restaurant is committed to its vegetarian, no-sugar, no-butter, low-salt philosophy with a focus on food as equal parts pleasure and fuel. But even die-hard carnivores will find something to enjoy at this sleek yet friendly University City favorite.
Mushroom Avocado Wrap
A warm multigrain wrap enfolds an enticing medley of textures and mild flavors. For earthiness, cremini mushrooms and organic clover sprouts; for freshness, tomato, red pepper and spinach; for richness, avocado, mayo and pungent white cheddar. While lacking bold flavors, this wrap tastes restorative, like gulps of cold water the morning after a long night out. The kale side salad is a good pairing here – dressed with liquid aminos and nutritional yeast, it’s a complex and tasty complement to the main dish.
This is sunshine as a bowl. A gleaming, verdant mound of raw zucchini noodles is coated with a tart, herbaceous lemon-basil dressing. Sun-dried tomatoes add a welcome sweet-savory note, while basil provides a peppery pop – a surprisingly complex dish considering it’s uncooked. This won’t cure your pasta cravings – after all, it is still raw veggies – but it’s a fresh AF salad.
Black Bean and Jalapeno Masa Cakes
These are among the more adventurous offerings – satisfyingly chewy with a mild hit of heat. Listed as an appetizer, the cakes are hefty enough for a light lunch. Topped with sauteed mushrooms, red peppers and avocado, the dish is pulled together by a drizzle of smoked chipotle crema. The unexpected addition adds a nice flair and serves as a cooling counterpoint to the jalapeno’s spice.
No slices of rosy pastrami here. But mushrooms are a worthy swap, adding a satisfying umami note. The mushrooms are layered with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, tomato and avocado. The last two ingredients are hardly conventional, but I suspect necessary to add some depth to the sandwich sans pastrami – just one of many ways Frida’s creatively modifies dishes traditionally made with meat. As God intended, the whole mess is sandwiched between two slices of earthy rye bread. Pro tip: get the Buffalo potatoes as a side.
Loaded Taco Pizza
Pizza and healthy don’t usually go together, so if you’re wanting both, compromise is required. All hail Frida’s, queen of the balance beam. The pizza starts with an herbed crust, generously layered with sunflower seed-based taco “meat,” mushrooms and all the standard taco toppings: red pepper, onion, black olives, lettuce, tomato and avocado. There’s just enough cheese to hold everything together, but not so much that you get that dreaded post-pizza bloat.
The spring rolls, although plenty fresh, were surprisingly bland. The accompanying truffle-miso sauce is to blame – the rolls would have been much better with a punchier, more savory sauce.
622 North and South Road, University City, 314.727.6500, fridasdeli.com
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