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Mar 20, 2018
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Meatless Monday: Rosalita’s Cantina

Monday, December 24th, 2012

It’s time to turn your holiday happy hour into a fiesta at Rosalita’s Cantina on Washington Avenue. The menu does not stop short with great drink and appetizer happy hour specials (like $2.50 drafts, $4 margaritas and $3 off appetizers from 3 to 7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays); it actually features some creative meatless Mexican dishes that will please the palate — whether you’re a vegetarian or not.

The Vegetarian Tamale, stuffed with butternut squash, goat cheese and served with a honey mole is a must. Whether you split it with the table as an appetizer or make a meal of it alongside those bottomless crispy tortilla chips and fiery salsa, it’s certainly the meatless item to try. Sweet corn masa is stuffed with tender, roasted butternut squash and tangy goat cheese. After baking in the oven, the tamale is ladled with a rich and sticky honey mole. This version of a tamale is so much more exciting than the plain-Jane regular cheese tamale, and it tastes just right when the weather is cold.

If you’re already tired of wine and Christmas ham, try dousing some extra hot sauce (or tequila) into your holiday this week at Rosalita’s. We doubt you need another reason to sneak out of the office on the days between Christmas and New Year’s, but, regardless, we just gave you one.

Meatless Monday: Getting cozy with Joe’s chili

Monday, December 17th, 2012

On a chilly winter Monday when the coffee is not doing the trick, I need something that’s piping hot to get me going. A meatless standby that’s warm, packed with protein and the perfect antidote for a gloomy day? Vegetarian chili. And if you work downtown, I know exactly where you can find it: Joe’s Chili Bowl located at 800 Chestnut St., in City Garden.

The Veggie Chili at Joe’s is loaded with plump red beans, tender white beans, sweet corn, green and red diced chilies and sauteed onions. The base of the chili is thin, but don’t be fooled, because once you crumble your oyster crackers into the bowl, the sauce gets that thick consistency that I love. I also added chopped onions and shredded cheddar cheese. The chili is hot enough that my tongue still had a tingle after my meal, but it wasn’t too hot that I had to chug water between bites.

Joe’s Veggie Chili is certainly not gourmet, but it’s the perfect quick lunch on a chilly winter day. Or a long lunch, that is, if you opt for a stroll in City Garden beneath the Christmas decorations after your meal.

Orkeed: A lunch special is the perfect excuse to start a Meatless Monday routine

Monday, December 10th, 2012

When strolling down South Grand, don’t let the sidewalk tables with hookah pipes fool you: Orkeed Restaurant doesn’t just tout flavored tobacco, it has an extensive Middle Eastern menu. When I saw Orkeed’s sidewalk sign proudly promoting a $5 lunch menu, I immediately charged past the hookahs, knowing I had to grab myself a steal of a meatless meal.

While I could have easily filled up on a sampling of the appetizers, like hummus drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, spicy sambosa with a cilantro chutney or stuffed eggplant with chunky walnuts and roasted peppers, I couldn’t resist such an affordable and unique lunch menu. My lunch selection, the Veggie Makni, was worth every penny (plus some). A creamy tomato sauce, spiced by chilies and made richer by velvety butter, is studded with stewed carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower and snap peas. Ladled next to a hearty portion of Basmati rice, the contents of the plate are just screaming to be mixed up by your fork. And when you do, that warm sauce paints each and every grain of rice and making it ready for devouring.

South Grand can always use another neighborly Middle Eastern restaurant with an eclectic menu. And at the $5 price point, there really is no excuse to not start your Meatless Monday routine this week.

Meatless Monday: The Royale’s grilled cheese is all grown up

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

We all have those favorites from when we were little; those mushy, easy-to-make snacks like PB&J and mac-and-cheese. But the best is when our old-school favorites mature with our taste buds that have (hopefully) been evolving over the years.

A childhood favorite aged to perfection is exactly what I found at The Royale, a bar and restaurant that’s just a stone’s throw from Tower Grove Park. After one bite of The Royale’s Top Shelf Grilled Cheese, I was no longer reminded of skinned knees and American cheese, for my childhood favorite had been given an adult’s seal of approval.

The bread, which is Companion bakehouse white, is buttered and then toasted just enough so that I could hear it crack when I sank my teeth in. Then there are two types of cheese, cheddar and provolone, which ooze out of the bread after each bite. Aside from the quality cheese and bread, what make this sandwich all grown up are the juicy, sliced beefsteak tomatoes and a tangy pesto spread. The sandwich is served with a side, and I recommend the seasonal salad with its fresh mixed greens, apples (seasonal to when you dine), spicy red onions, goat cheese crumbles, pecans and a light red wine vinaigrette.

The best part about being a big kid? Getting to enjoy a local draft beer with my sandwich, which is a close second to grilled cheese’s main squeeze: tomato soup.

Meatless Monday: Crushing on Crushed Red’s veggie pizza

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Need a quick meatless bite tonight? Check out Crushed Red Urban Bake & Chop Shop, a casual pizza, salad and soup spot in downtown Clayton.

At Crushed Red, patrons order their food at the counter like a fast food restaurant. But while the layout creates a relaxed and breezy atmosphere, the eatery’s fare isn’t remotely comparable to typical fast food.

Try one of the daily rotating soups if it’s a chilly winter day. On my visit, there were two appealing vegetarian options: Brie and Mushroom Bisque, and Butternut Squash. But I couldn’t resist a house-made pie, so I opted for the Blistered Corn, Asparagus and Pesto Pizza, one of the many meatless offerings. This personal pizza’s bubbly crust was coated with a creamy basil pesto and piled with plump slices of tomatoes, fresh asparagus and sweet roasted corn and then sprinkled with mild mozzarella and fiery crushed red pepper flakes.

Whether it’s a work lunch, an afternoon pick-me-up or a prolonged dinner with friends, enjoying a laid-back Meatless Monday just got a lot easier in downtown Clayton.

Meatless Monday: Raving mad for vegetarian t-ravs

Monday, November 19th, 2012

You’ve probably heard of Mangia Italiano, an Italian restaurant located at 3145 South Grand Blvd., amidst a slew of ethnic eateries. Although Mangia has been around since 1983, evolving and expanding through the years, it recently unveiled a new menu, which boasts a plethora of vegetarian gourmet grub, including house-made pastas, pizzas, salads and sandwiches.

Before I start, let me just say: Mangia has Vegetarian Toasted Ravioli (pictured). Yep, that’s right. We meatless folk almost always get left out when it comes to the toasted ravioli party, so I couldn’t wait to bite into one of these fried triangles of joy. Packed with a spinach ricotta mixture and served with an Italian flag of sauces (verdant pesto, rosy red tomato sauce and white chipotle aioli), these crispy and crunchy t-ravs reminded me of why I’m a St. Louisan.

After a fried appetizer, sometimes a lighter entree is in order. The house-made pasta, Whole Wheat Radiatori, wasn’t heavy in the stomach, just in flavor. The tangy garlic oil drizzled over the noodles let the ingredients truly shine: sharp blue cheese, crunchy walnuts and sauteed spinach. The pasta was cooked to a lovely al dente, and the textured radiatori (Their shape resembles mini radiators.) made for the best hiding spots for the just-melted blue cheese to cling.

Sure, this hipster hideaway may get jam packed in the wee hours of the weekend as a watering hole, but on a Monday night, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a house-made meatless meal.

Found: The best veggie burger in town

Monday, November 12th, 2012

I try not to pack the Meatless Monday column with tired, vegetarian staples like the veggie burger. Yet, when I find a good burger, and I mean great, I can’t help but tell you every last tasty detail. Surprisingly, I found the veggie burger I speak of at the fun-and-funky Atomic Cowboy in The Grove. Before I could even mutter the word enchilada at this Mexican eatery, my stomach spoke louder, and the house-made Veggie Burger appeared on my plate.

Hand-packed and full of tender veggies such as meaty squash, piquant peppers and sauteed onions, this patty retains a burger-like consistency with the help of chunky, salty breadcrumbs. The burger is toasted on the grill and placed between a plump vanilla bun, which provides a sweet bite to balance a few dashes of hot sauce (or more, depending on whether you assumed the burger would be bland before tasting). One side of the bun is smeared with a tangy chipotle mayo and the other side, which glues the bun to the thick veggie burger, has some sticky Chihuahua cheese.

Still needing a hint of Mexican? Substitute the chips and salsa, which come with the burger, for the refried beans. Not only healthier, these creamy beans pack that extra protein punch to top off a well-balanced Meatless Monday meal.

Oh loyal readers, I promise I won’t bore you with too many more tales of veggie burger dining, but let it be known, in my 13 years of being a vegetarian, this is the best veggie burger I’ve ever had in The Lou. Don’t believe me? Well, you’ll just have to head over to Atomic Cowboy, and try it for yourself.

Meatless Monday: Mango Peruvian Cuisine’s happy hour gets happier

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Ever since it opened downtown, Mango Peruvian Cuisine has always been my favorite hideaway for a late-night happy hour drink ($5 martinis and $3 premium drafts after 9 p.m.). The restaurant is just far enough from Washington Avenue so that it’s void of frat-boys and ideal for enjoying a refreshingly potent Pisco Sour. When drinking, I always end up chowing down on the freshly blended chimichurri sauce and sweet, crispy plantain chips that are delivered to the table, prompting me to wonder about the menu, aside from the drinks.

Now that I’ve finally tried Mango’s food, I feel as though I’ve been missing out, and if you haven’t dined at this restaurant yet, you’re missing out, too. Mango’s upscale, modern twist on Peruvian food can satisfy almost any palate, particularly if your palate is craving something meatless.

The Saltado de Champignones, a mix of mushrooms (soft button, delicate shiitake and meaty portobello), is sauteed in olive oil and white wine until it’s tender enough to melt in your mouth. Sweet and green onions, tomatoes and aji amarillo (Peruvian yellow chili pepper) are thrown in with the mix and tossed with a heavy dousing of garlic and Peruvian spices. The juicy flavors from the dish are absorbed into the rice, creating an extremely flavorful Peruvian stir-fry.

My little hideaway might not be a secret anymore, but that’s OK … it’d be a crime to keep food this good a secret.

Meatless Monday: Enjoying the harvest at Schlafly Bottleworks

Monday, October 29th, 2012

While the drought certainly put a damper on summer favorites like tomatoes (and my front lawn), with sunny days and an adequate amount of rain during September and October, the fall harvest is in full bloom. If you’re craving some locally grown veggies but you don’t have a garden, don’t worry. Schlafly Bottleworks has its own garden and a menu tailored to showcase the produce. That’s right; the people at Bottleworks are kicking backyard farming up a notch with Gardenworks, a seventh of an acre urban farm right next to the microbrewery. Next time you head to Bottleworks, before you sit down for your meal, take a self-guided tour and check out the beds where thousands of pounds of produce are grown and used in menu items for both Bottleworks and the Schlafly Tap Room.

After touring this verdant garden before my Meatless Monday meal, I knew I had to have a high concentration of those freshly grown greens on my plate. Couple the fruits of Schlafly’s labor (I’m talkin’ veggies, though the brews qualify, too.) with wholesome grains, and you’ve got yourself a salad that you can be proud to call dinner. In the Quinoa and Greenwheat Freekah Salad (pictured), protein-packed white quinoa and greenwheat freekah (a roasted green grain) get lightly dressed and studded with black beans, juicy tomatoes and crisp cucumbers. Herbs fresh from the garden brighten up the flavor of this grain salad that is piled atop leafy greens.

Can’t make it to Bottleworks for the harvest before the nighttime frosts begin? No worries; enjoying the Vegetarian Thai Curry made with root vegetables grown under the heaters on the patio, will do just fine, too.

Meatless Monday: Everest Café’s Thanksgiving feast minus the turkey (and the guilt)

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Everest Café’s weekday downtown lunch buffet is a vegetarian’s version of a Thanksgiving feast – but even better because you won’t have to wait for the fourth Thursday in November. It also won’t leave you in a tryptophan coma. Everest’s buffet is a guilt-free Nepalese, Indian and Korean feast made with fresh ingredients and the intention of promoting healthy living.

While this buffet can appear overwhelming with so many great meatless eats in one place, here’s a sampling of a few must-save-room-for items.

The Vegetable Korma, a thick Indian coconut curry, is sweetened by tomatoes and seasoned with a heavy hand of turmeric, which provides its golden hue. The sauce itself has subtle depth of flavor thanks to key ingredients like chili and ginger. Stewed onions, cauliflower and zucchini immersed in the curry are the perfect sponge to transfer all this goodness to your mouth.

The Chap Chae is a Korean dish of sweet potato noodles with hints of honey. The soft, slivery strands are mixed with thinly diced veggies, such as carrots and onions. Sure, you’ll find some other carbs in the buffet line like Basmati and egg-fried rice, but these noodles are the ones to try.

The Vegetable Pakora is vegan junk food. Different types of squash are breaded, deep fried and ready to sop up whatever sauces are left on your plate. The chickpea flour used for the breading is less oily than a tempura batter that you might find in Japanese restaurants.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ll still be loading up on mashed potatoes, casseroles and other meatless sides on actual Thanksgiving. But when I’m in need of a feast that just so happens to be meatless, well, now you know to whom I’m giving thanks.

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