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A week from now, we’ll be floating gleefully down a gravy-filled river of Turkey Day leftovers.
Until the Tryptophan-laden feast commences, we decided this is a good week to go meatless. We figure that entitles us to an extra helping of Aunt B’s sausage and cornbread stuffing and all the buttery mashed potatoes our stretchy pants can handle on T-Day.
Detroit has a bunch of really good vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants that make supremely tasty meals, even if you’re normally a committed carnivore. Bonus: they offer plenty of healthy options without depriving you of deliciousness. Read on for our favorite spots in Detroit to score the best vegetarian and vegan food.
BSL self-identifies as a diner but the menu reads more like a farm-to-table compilation, with a focus on local and sustainable ingredients.
Mornings at BSL feature breakfast favorites like eggs benedict and banana walnut pancakes. Lunch staples include artisan soups, salads and sandwiches in a delightful series of unique flavor combinations. Vegetarians and vegans will never get bored here, with more than half the menu accommodating meat- and/or dairy-free lifestyles.
Daily omelette and quiche specials are available during breakfast and lunch. The omelettes are delicately fluffy blend of flavors like three cheese with mushrooms and arugula, or roasted tomato, feta and rosemary. Quiches feature flaky pastry crusts filled with choices like wild leek and provolone or spiced sweet potato with feta. Whatever the flavors of the day, you can count on them to be delicious.
Oh, and did we mention their poutine?
Tucked onto the John R. just east of Woodward Ave., this little lunch spot is barely more than a walk-up window. An order of hummus and dippers from Chickpea makes the perfect afternoon snack. Their intriguing specialty hummuses make it feel like you’re indulging, but it’s actually a super healthy treat. Choose from pretzels, pita bread, tortilla chips or veggies for dipping. Take them back to the office or snack while you walk.
Chickpea’s yummy sandwiches make a great lunch on the go. Try the Italian caprese made with fresh mozzarella, roma tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinegar dressing. We’re fans of the veggie and hummus sandwich, stuffed with carrots, roma tomato, romaine lettuce, cucumber, and hummus. Chickpea also serves up freshly made smoothies that are light yet satisfying.
The guy who invented the sandwich is John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. The guy who perfected it is named Haz, and he lives in Detroit. They have more than a dozen different sammies, with all manner of delicious offerings.
While some are stacked with layer after layer of deli meats and cheeses, one of the tastiest sandos actually has no meat at all. Haz’s veggie sub layers Swiss, American and provolone cheese along with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumber, olives, peppers and pickles.
For many of us, the word “vegan” conjures images of sad, meager salads or bland mystery meat substitutes. If you can relate, or you have friends who roll their eyes when you suggest going out for vegetarian, Midtown’s Seva needs to be on your dining bucket list.
One of the most popular menu items must be the yam fries, served with with spicy clancy’s mayo or vegan bbq sauce. Our personal favorite, however, is the General Tso’s cauliflower. Made with a light tempura batter and served with sweet & sour chili sauce, it’s a slightly spicy and wonderfully crispy invention.
The menu is completely vegetarian, with several vegan and gluten-free options, but you’d never know it. Entrees like the chargrilled vegetable and goat cheese salad, cilantro-peanut stir fry, spinach enchiladas, and mushroom sliders are satisfying and filling.
The freshest ingredients are found in farmer’s markets, and Detroit happens to have the largest in the country. We’re always happy to see businesses making good use of the abundance of local ingredients available. Located in Eastern Market, Russell Street Deli is is a Motor City favorite, where it’s all about the food – fresh, local, absolutely delicious food.
Grab a seat at one of the communal tables and get ready for one of the best meals of your life (for under $10). The carrot ginger, cream of mushroom, and black eyed pea with collard greens soups are all vegan, but you’d never know it. They’re packed with flavor.
There’s also a ton of vegetarian sandwiches on the menu. The TLT is made with tofu, lettuce, tomato and soy mayo on toasted whole wheat bread. The grilled vegetable sandwich is very tasty, even if you’re not a vegetarian. It’s topped with roasted red peppers, portabella mushrooms, caramelized onion, and zucchini with chevre and sun-dried tomato pesto on grilled rye bread.
Part-restaurant, part-bar and part-art gallery, Cass Cafe’s offbeat vibe and comfortable Art Deco interior are the antithesis of a glossy chain restaurant. And that’s exactly why we love it.
Cass’s menu is reasonably priced and reliably good. The cafe offers really tasty vegetarian options like the cafe lentil burger, a patty made with lentils, walnuts and parmesan served on a toasted onion roll with tomato, spinach and a side of honey mustard.
“Vegan soul food” might seem like an oxymoron. It’s almost inconceivable that one could realistically mimic the succulent flavors and comforting recipes of soul food armed with little more than nuts and veggies. But the mouthwatering menu at Detroit Vegan Soul will convert even the staunchest of carnivores.
Their soul platter has all the traditional flavors of a homestyle southern meal. Creamy mac and “cheese” nestles up next to tenderly smoked collards, maple glazed yams, black-eyed peas and a cornbread muffin. The BBQ tofu is likewise delicious, with a flavor and texture reminiscent of fall-off-the-bone short ribs.
Another surprise hit is the smothered tempeh. For this dish, the chef lovingly slathers tempeh with a brown mushroom gravy and serves it with sauteed onions, redskin mashed potatoes, and green beans. The flavors remind us of our mom’s salisbury steak, a timeless comfort food favorite.
Sour, sweet, salty, and bitter. Good Thai food has a beautifully complex flavor profile that is famous the world over. Balance and variety are the themes of Midtown’s Go! Sy That menu, punctuated by liberal use of lovely herbs and spices. Kafir lime, Thai basil, corriander, turmeric, cloves – the list goes on and on.
You can order just about any one of their dishes vegetarian style, with light and crispy tofu instead of meat (most of their dishes can also be ordered vegan). It’s wonderful with Drunken Noodles: wide rice noodle, Thai brandy, bean sprout, bell pepper, green onion and egg. Maybe you’re more of a fried rice person than a noodle person. In that case, a heaping plate of Basil Fried Rice should do the trick. It’s made with rice, string bean, bell pepper, fresh basil, egg. Or get your rice on the side with dishes like the traditional Cashew Nut, which combines cashews (obviously), bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, baby corn, green onion, brown sauce.
They make lovely vegetable curries – with broccoli, baby corn, peapods, carrots, cabbage, water chestnuts and eggplant in a red coconut curry sauce – and their potato curry (fried potato, onion, bell pepper, red coconut curry sauce) deserves a standing ovation.
Like Thai cuisine, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare is also known for being vegetarian-friendly. The garlic sauce and toasted pita that you start the meal with at La Palma is tasty enough to make this rocket to the top of your list of favorite lunch spots. The creamy, garlicky spread is addictively tasty, and it pairs well with the soft, chewy rounds of dough that have been warmed in a brick oven until they get toasty golden spots on the outside.
Crushed lentil soup is the breakout star of the show, a warm cup of love that tastes of cumin and saffron with a slight spice kick. The thick, hearty texture makes it the perfect accompaniment to a light, crisp fattoush salad with a zesty lemon dressing.
Our favorite way to make sure we get our protein is with a big bowl of garlicky hummus: a mashed chickpea dip. There’s also a tasty hummus and veggie wrap which makes a filling lunch without making you feel the need to nap through that afternoon meeting.