Ohhhh Boston. Its vegan food scene may be seriously lacking compared to a lot of other cities but I have done some major damage at all of the places in today’s What I Eat post. I suppose that it fits my personality – once I find something I love I continue to use/eat/patronize it again and again and again! I grew up outside of Boston so I consider it to be my home base. I worked in downtown Boston for a year and a half managing a juice bar that may or may not be on this list (it totally is), commuting back and forth from the suburbs, and what little free time and energy I had I spent traipsing around the city getting food with my fellow vegan work friends. Once in a while we would try something new but more often than not we went to the same places over and over, spending our hours together at work lusting after what food we were going to eat when we were done closing up the store.
Prior to my time in Boston, a lot of my vegan food experiences were solo affairs. Even if I wasn’t eating out alone, I was most likely with omnivores who didn’t share the excitement I did when it came to my food! This city brought me to “my people,” a group of girls whose lives also revolve around what they are going to eat next. And for that I am forever grateful.
Boston Public Market: 100 Hanover St Boston, MA
This indoor, year-round market opened in the summer of 2015 near Government Center and Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market. It combines local farms selling their produce, small craft food businesses selling locally made products like honey, apple cider, and small batch sweets, and prepared food stalls from some Boston area restaurants that make a killing during the workday lunch rush. My very favorite things about the Boston Public Market? Union Square Donuts and Taza Chocolate.
Union Square Donuts is like an addiction for me – their donuts are made at their shop in Somerville but the location is so inconvenient that as soon as they opened a stall at the Boston Public Market, it was a real game changer. They are not a vegan business, but they always have a couple of vegan flavors that change every couple of months. One big warning: the Boston Public Market frequently runs out of the vegan donuts so it’s best not to get your hopes up! But when the stars align? So freaking incredible. Their Belgian chocolate frosted donut is so good but I’ve also really loved the blackberry lime donut, the lemonade donut, and their cinnamon sugar donuts and donut holes.
Taza Chocolate is a stone-ground chocolate company also out of Somerville. Their chocolate is my absolute favorite – it is minimally processed and they make so many yummy flavors (all of which are vegan). They’re an ethical company and all of the cacao they source is Fair Trade certified which makes me want to support them even more! The chocolate does take some getting used to – it has a grittier texture and it isn’t that sweet. Just the other day I was eating some of the spiked eggnog dark chocolate (a seasonal favorite) and my omnivore boyfriend took one bite and went to go spit it out! So I get it. If you’re used to conventionally made chocolate, this is quite a departure in texture and flavor. I used to stop by the Boston Public Market all the time on the way to work to get a disc to get me through my workday and my eyes still light up whenever I see it on sale! So give it a try. And if you don’t like it then mail the rest of the disc to me!
If you’re looking for a savory lunch option while you’re at the Boston Public Market, check out Bon Me, a cute place with a fresh take on Asian cuisine. They were originally just in Boston’s food truck scene but now have five brick and mortar locations in addition to the trucks! You can get a banh mi-style sandwich, rice bowl, noodle salad, or green salad with your choice of filling (they always have some sort of tofu).
Ugghhhh I could go on and on about FoMu ice cream. They are totally vegan, insanely delicious, and always worth a trek out of your way. Their ice cream is coconut milk-based and therefore super creamy and rich and they also have a bunch of toppings for your treat as well as bakery items like cupcakes and cookies and magic bars (MY FAVORITE). A lot of their ice cream flavors and bakery items are also gluten free which makes me happy. Being vegan, I am used to walking into traditional ice cream shops and knowing that my only option, if I’m lucky, is some kind of fruit sorbet, which can be delicious but certainly can’t match the lusciousness of ice cream! So walking into FoMu makes me feel like a normal eater again – I can ask for samples of all the flavors and make a real decision based on what I want, not just based on what my only option is. They change around their flavors a lot and some of my favorites have been seasonal flavors – like magic bar, pumpkin caramel, and some raspberry/almond/crumble concoction that was perfectly tart and sweet. YUM!
Whole Heart Provisions: 487 Cambridge St Allston, MA
The best vegetable-focused plant-based vegan food in the Boston area. By far. It’s in Allston, which isn’t exactly convenient, but my god is it worth it (and there’s a FoMu next door if that helps convince you). They’re totally vegan, very much plant-based, and full of so much flavor! My favorite bowl is the Seeta with jasmine rice – it has pickled cauliflower, chickpeas, currants, cured tomatoes, green beans, these addicting crispy lentils, and it’s all thrown together with a coconut curry dressing. You get a nice crunch from the lentils, sweetness from the currants, and lots of yummy veggies. I also LOVE the crispy old bay brussels sprouts which come with a spicy crema drizzle! I’ve also tried their Sunday brunch offerings which were also amazing (upper left). I had the huevos rancheros (tofu scramble) with tomato, korean black beans, pineapple salsa, gochugang, and avocado with a side of patatas bravas (because who can say no to crispy potatoes?!). This place is awesome and I never regret going out of my way to enjoy their food!
Now, b. good is a chain (mostly in New England and the mid-atlantic) but every time I order something from them I’m always SO impressed by how flavorful their food is. They are all about making fast food healthier and making sure customers feel good about the food they’re eating. They support a lot of local farms and I used to get their veggie burger (not gluten-free, unfortunately) but now I’m obsessed with their kale & grain bowls! The spicy avocado & lime (upper left) comes with kale, quinoa, sautéed veggies, avocado, black beans, corn, grape tomatoes, lime, cilantro, chipotle puree, and a red pepper vinaigrette. Whew! The bowl does come with a queso fresco, so make sure to ask for it without if you’re vegan or dairy-free. This bowl is soooo flavorful and when they say sautéed veggies, they’re not just phoning it in – there are a million different veggies in here! The other bowl that I love is the toasted almond & ginger (upper middle), which is vegan as is. It comes with kale, quinoa, sautéed veggies, bok choy, tamari almonds (YUM), red cabbage, enoki mushrooms, mint, and a toasted almond-ginger sauce. Anything in a toasted almond-ginger sauce sounds good to me! I also love the enoki mushrooms – I’m not normally much of a mushroom fan but since these guys are thin and almost sprout-like, they don’t taste like much. Which is great. You can add tofu to any of their bowls but I don’t think they need it. They’re already chock-full of yummy goodness!
Veggie Galaxy: 450 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge, MA
My love for Veggie Galaxy runs deep, friends. This vegetarian diner has the best comfort food everrrrrr and I always eat too much! The majority of their menu is vegan already and almost everything else can be made vegan (tofu for eggs, Daiya or their house-made cheese sauce for dairy cheese, etc.) Their bakery is also 100% vegan and 100% delicious. Their cakes can dry out a bit but I love to get their cheesecake! Some of my favorite menu items are the egg and cheese sandwich (upper left), low-gluten blueberry pancakes (upper middle) and the club sandwich with grilled tempeh bacon, smoked tofu, and a basil pesto that is sooooo good. They fry their own potato chips in house, FYI, but you might have trouble choosing between the chips, the french fries (or cheesy fries!!!), and the potato salad. Potato lovers, you’ll die here! Other sides I love are the homemade pickles (I can polish off a plate on my own) and the old bay cauliflower, which is so crispy and flavorful. They also make really heavenly frappes using FoMu ice cream, so prepared to be rolled home.
True Bistro: 1153 Broadway Somerville, MA
I think True Bistro is the antithesis to Veggie Galaxy! It is refined, plant-based, and a little fancy feeling. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Veggie Galaxy but it is so nice to get a little more dressed up and enjoy some really creative, vegetable-centric dishes. The owners’ goal in opening True Bistro was to create a place where vegans could bring their non-vegan friends and family and share a meal together, and they’ve done just that. My mom and I go to True Bistro together and even though she’s an omnivore she is a big fan! I think it helps that the majority of their dishes are really focused on the vegetables, and not on meat substitutes like tofu, tempeh, or seitan. It makes it more approachable for someone to look at the menu and recognize the veggies, even if some of the flavors are new to them. My favorite menu items are the roasted cauliflower croquettes (bottom left) with a curried tomato sauce and aged cashew cheese and the cornmeal-crusted oyster mushrooms with a horseradish-dill aioli and a gaujullo chili sauce (middle). The croquettes are moist, cheesy, and full of so much flavor and the oyster mushrooms are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and they taste like crispy seafood without the gross fishiness! My favorite thing that I’ve had at True Bistro is this corn chowder that was served as the soup of the day (upper right) and OH MY GOD. It was creamy and rich in flavor but still light and the veggies were cooked to the perfect consistency. My mom and I were both obsessed with this soup and I still dream about it from time to time! Make sure to save room for dessert because their offerings are all super appealing – I loved their warm banana bread and my mom loves the FoMu ice cream served in a tuile cookie. This place is so special and I always leave feeling special myself.
Taco Party: 711 Broadway Somerville, MA
I think my favorite food is tacos. I go back and forth on this a lot, but man I really really love tacos and the tacos at Taco Party are my absolute favorite. This place is a cute small space in Somerville and they have an equally small menu, but that doesn’t matter because I order the same thing every time! I always order one sriracha BBQ jackfruit taco and two chimichurri tempeh tacos and then I die and go to food heaven. The BBQ jackfruit has a black-eyed pea spread and a cilantro cabbage slaw that tempers the heat from the jackfruit – it’s so simple but bursting with flavor! But the tempeh… that one right there is my #1 favorite. I could eat a plate of 10 of these tacos, no problem. It has grilled tempeh, lettuce, a chimichurri sauce that I NEED the recipe for, and a cashew crema. It is so green and fresh and the tempeh is cooked perfectly. I also always try to convince my friends to share an order of nachos with me (usually it doesn’t take much arm twisting) because their sunflower seed-based cheese sauce is out of this world. They also have vegan baked goods for sale, so you really don’t have an excuse not to go here. TACOS AND DESSERT! What could be better?! Okay, now I really want Taco Party…
Clover is another food chain in the Boston area that is trying to reinvent fast casual food. Their menu changes every day in every location based on what’s available, what’s fresh, and what’s seasonal. They source a majority of their ingredients from the northeast, everything they have is compostable, and there’s no back of house. You can watch them make EVERYTHING which is always a comfort to someone who eats a little funny (vegan, gluten-free, etc.). They make everything from scratch and it really shows! My favorite thing to order is their chickpea fritter sandwich – and it’s huuuuggeeee. The chickpea fritters (their version of falafel) come on housemade pita bread with hummus, cucumber tomato salad, pickled carrots, pickled red cabbage, pickled red onion, tahini, and dill pickles. It is bursting with flavor and different tastes and textures. You have the crispy, fried fritters, the fresh and tangy pickled veg, and the creaminess of tahini and it all comes together on the best pita bread I’ve ever had. The pita is not gluten-free, so you can get the same sandwich as a platter if you’d prefer, but honestly I will treat myself every once in a while with this pita bread because it is that good. They also serve ridiculously good rosemary french fries, which are MADE TO ORDER. That’s right, they’re always crispy and hot and heavenly. Their beluga lentil salad is also one of my favorite things, so if you happen to see it on a menu, order it right away! It’s sweet and creamy and oh so good.
Red Lentil: 600 Mount Auburn Street Watertown, MA
I. Love. This. Place. It’s a bit of a ways outside of Boston but catching a bus from Harvard Square doesn’t take too long. Their menu is all vegetarian but things like eggs can be replaced with tofu and they have vegan cheese at the ready! I first tried a Sunday brunch at Red Lentil and my vegan gluten-free waffles were the best waffles I’ve ever had. They had a soy whipped cream and fresh berries were perfect with a side of home fries (because you’ve got to have that sweet/savory combo at brunch!). For dinner I’ve had their pistachio & coconut herb-encrusted tofu with corn cake and my lordddd it was heavenly. So much flavor and spices and different textures and honestly so very sophisticated. I can’t wait to get this again!
Thirst Juice Co.: 44 School Street Boston, MA
Okay, I couldn’t write a post about vegan food in Boston without calling out the place I worked for a year and a half! Thirst is all about making plant-based food and drinks taste really really good. A lot of love and care is put into everything they make and you can trust that everything is actually healthy – not like a lot of other smoothie places! If you’re looking for juice, get the Green Dream. It is the perfect balance of green and sweet and there’s a slight kick from the jalapeno that’s SO refreshing. For smoothies, get the Bad Monkey if you want something that tastes like dessert, the Coco-Copia if you want to feel like you’re on a tropical vacation (yes please) or the Vitamin Green if you want to make sure you load up on your spinach and kale for the day. Also, get a wheatgrass shot, some superfood bites, and some hearty veggie soup if they have it (best soup ever).
Pavement Coffeehouse (right) & Boston Common Coffee Company (left) are two of my favorite coffee shop chains in the Boston area.They have great coffee, tea, and they each offer something special when it comes to vegans! BCCC has doughnut Thursdays, and one of the insanely imaginative flavors is always vegan. But go to one of their three locations ASAP on Thursdays because they sell out FAST! When I worked in Boston I would text one of my coworkers every Thursday and we would try to coordinate one of us getting the doughnuts because they were always so worth it. They aren’t greasy like a lot of doughnuts – they’re light and fluffy and sooooo good. They also usually have a vegan scone that changes each month and a veggie breakfast sandwich that I’ve heard is pretty good. Pavement Coffeehouse is also a hidden gem -they often have vegan baked goods and they have a vegan bagel sandwich that is soooooo good with tempeh and tofu cream cheese. I’ve been missing bagels so much since ditching most gluten in my diet but this summer I was at Pavement and decided that I needed to get one of the bagel sandwiches, even if it made me feel bad (mostly crampy and exhausted) later. I hadn’t had a real bagel in a year and it tasted like heaven!