Tag Archives: lawrence

what we’ve been eating

I feel like this photo-heavy post should be subtitled “How to eat vegetarian in the Lawrence/KC Metro.”  It’s a huge post not because we’ve been dining out more often, really, but because I’ve been lazy and busy and bad at updating.  Hopefully once the semester ends (SO SOON) and our farm share starts up again I’ll have more to talk about in terms of cooking at home.  But for now, feast your eyes.  We’ve been eating a ton of great food.

I don’t remember when we made this trip to Zen Zero, but we both ordered vegetarian dishes this time (after my fail mistake a few months ago—screw you, fish sauce!) and aside from having to stare at the delicious shrimp chips while our friend chowed down, our food was good.  I ordered an old stand-by, the Vietnamese Spring Roll salad, pictured first (vegetarian when you sub tofu for the chicken and shrimp AND ditch the wontons, according to our server) and Ryan ordered the Green Curry.

We’d been dying to try Mexquisito since it opened a while ago—it’s owned by the same great guys who own Tortas Jalisco, and it definitely didn’t disappoint.  They have a clearly-labeled vegetarian section of their menu with several options.  I ordered black bean tacquitos, pictured first (UH-MAZING) and Ryan got the tacos de papa (potato tacos of some sort) which were SO GOOD.  Drool.  We can’t wait to go back.

We’ve also been to Moe’s…more times than we probably want to admit.  I’m obsessed with their black bean quesadillas.

We’ve hit up the India Palace lunch buffet, and this time they had my favorite on the buffet—Saag Paneer (bottom right in the photo directly below).  Chow down time!  I also love their Samosas.  This time, they didn’t have the Vegetable Korma, which is Ryan’s favorite.  Oh well, there’s always next time.

We also hit up the salad bar at Dillons for a lighter dinner one night.  I like splitting my box between salad and fresh fruit (see below).  The prices aren’t too bad and the stuff is usually pretty fresh (this is at the 6th and Wakarusa location).

Elsewhere in salad-bar-world, we’ve recently discovered Sweet Tomatoes out in Overland Park: OH MY GOD, I LOVE THIS PLACE.  You walk through the salad bar part first, where there’s a huge variety of prepared salads (last week there was some lemon-pecan thing) and different kinds of lettuce/spinach and toppings, along with some pasta salads and stuff like that, you load up your salad plate and then you pay at the register—AND THEN you get to experience the wonderful, carb-y world of stuff past the salad bar, where you’ll find a ton of soups (always at least one vegetarian! usually more than one!), focaccia breads, baked potatoes, cornbread and sliced bread and rolls, pastas (I would skip these, actually; they tend to be not that great), a small fruit bar, and a motherfuckin’ soft-serve ice cream machine.  It sort of has a cafeteria-type feel to it, and you’re often dodging small children and their parents, but this place is legit.  The best part, hands-down, is how clearly they label their offerings: if something is vegetarian, it’s clearly-labeled as such.  If it’s not vegetarian, it’s not labeled vegetarian.  So easy, and their labeling is meticulous.  It’s a bit pricey when it comes down to it, so it’s not exactly an all-the-time stop for us, but they have coupons often and sometimes you just want to stuff your face, right?  Plus, Sweet Tomatoes has made me a believer in tomato soup, which I swear I never liked much but their tomato soup is not only vegetarian but DELICIOUS.  I want to drink that stuff.

And finally, last week Ryan went to our favorite sandwich shop of our meat-eating past and ordered a veggie sub and swore it was good, so over the weekend I decided to give it a shot.  And lo and behold, he was right—we no longer feel the need to skip over Mr. Goodcents when thinking about vegetarian options.  The same thing that makes Mr. Goodcents better than Subway is what makes it worthwhile to go there and eat essentially a cheese and veggie sandwich: their veggies actually taste fresh and delicious, and they pile them on.  I also like their bread a lot and I love the way they dress their subs, with red wine vinegar and a bit of oil and salt and pepper and oregano.

So that’s some of what we’ve been eating over the last few months.  At home it’s been veggie burgers and pizza and pasta until the semester ends and things calm down.  I’m excited to go back home to Norfolk in a month and hit up all of the awesome vegetarian eats out there, and we’ll be sure to document that as well.

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veggie burger review: sorry hilary, it’s not you, it’s me

We’ve heard rave reviews about some of the Hilary’s Eat Well brand veggie burgers (the company, indeed, claims to make ‘The World’s Best Veggie Burger’) so we were excited to try them.  Hilary’s is local, too; Hilary the chef is not only the creative source behind the actual burgers but she’s also the owner of Lawrence institution Local Burger, which we admittedly didn’t dine at much before (though, fun fact: Local Burger is the first restaurant I ate at in Lawrence, before I even lived here).  Local Burger serves these veggie burgers and they’re also available for purchase in the frozen section of Checkers grocery store, and they’re not bad bargains when they’re on sale, which seems to be pretty often.  They come two in a pack and we bought one pack of each variety, and tonight we finally got around to trying the Adzuki Bean Burgers for dinner.

Look, I like what Hilary’s is doing.  Local, organic, real ingredients are hard to come by in the frozen foods section.  And the burger had an alright taste.  I just could not buy the texture, which was really crumbly and grainy and just not up my alley.  I pan-seared these suckers and they kept falling apart in the pan, which was a bit annoying (there are other cooking instructions so I might have tried cooking them a different way for a better result).  I’m sure it’s a personal preference thing; I just didn’t enjoy them as much as Boca Burgers, which have the texture nailed down really well.

We topped these with pepperjack cheese and served them on whole wheat buns with a simple salad and some Trader Joe’s french fries.

We’ve still got some of the regular Hilary’s veggie burgers in the freezer that we’ll try soon, and I’ll review those when we get around to eating them.

Ryan’s Brief Review

Agreed with Ashley on all counts.  The taste was pretty good, but then I like beans; the texture made it seem not that different from simply putting beans on a bun and eating it.  It wasn’t disgusting or anything, it was just a little off-putting.  (Note: I’m the type of person who might actually put beans on a bun and eat it.)  The fries, conversely, were fire, and the salad was as my kids would say ‘crispy’.

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more food, and our love letter to moe’s

Dear Moe’s,
We love you.
Love, Ashley and Ryan

Man, we’ve had some really great food lately.  I mean, really great.  Two weeks ago we figured we’d make the drive out to Shawnee and give Moe’s Southwest Grill a try.  We had a Moe’s in Virginia that I vaguely remember eating at one or two times, but it had been quite a while (like 2005 or something? AT LEAST).  After checking their menu online and confirming they had tons of vegetarian options (including TOFU! Take that, Chipotle!) we checked it out.  Ryan ordered a veggie quesadilla:

I got a killer order of vegetarian nachos loaded with black beans and pico:

Let me just make it 100% clear why we loved Moe’s so much: first, their menu was INCREDIBLY CLEAR on what kinds of vegetarian options they had.  You could get any of their main menu options with tofu instead of meat, or you could leave the tofu off and still get an incredibly delicious and filling meal.  Second (and I’m super glad this was reflective of our first experience), the manager just happened to be working the line that night, and he was very patient and helpful with us when we fumbled through trying to order our meals (Moe’s does unfortunately have some weird names for their menu items).  We told him up front we came here looking for vegetarian options and he was nice in accommodating us when he didn’t even have to be.  When I was struggling to figure out what I wanted to put on my nachos, I asked him if anyone put tofu on theirs when they ordered them, and he answered honestly and said he thought it probably wouldn’t taste that great.  I appreciate that level of honesty.  He stopped by to check on us after we had eaten our meals and handed us a pamphlet copy of the Moe’s Food Mission statement (and a coupon! Awesome!)  The vegetarian page in the pamphlet mentions that you can substitute tofu for any protein and that the grilled onions, peppers, and mushrooms are prepared on a separate grill—all under the heading “Isn’t it Nice When You Aren’t an Afterthought?”  It sure is.  Their black beans AND their pinto beans are vegetarian and are listed as such in the same pamphlet.  The price was comparable to Chipotle and we both liked the food a lot better.  We’ve already been back to Moe’s once since then and despite having to deal with some idiot teenagers working the line a second time, we’re definitely Moe’s fans for life.

We also checked out Noodles and Company and had a similarly pleasant experience.  They’ve had one of these in Lawrence for a few years now and I had been a few times but not in a while; it’s another good fast-casual option with some pretty solid menu items.  You can get tofu as your protein with just about any menu item (or you can go protein-free, like I did), their menu is helpful in its clear indication of what’s vegetarian and what’s not, and they seem to be cool about customizing dishes (I was able to get a pasta dish without the mushrooms that the menu said it came with).  Ryan got the Indonesian Peanut Sauté and I got the Pesto Cavatappi (Sorry for the washed-out photos.  The lighting was kind of bad).

Ryan had President’s Day off from school and even though he had class and I had to teach that night, we figured lunch would be a good opportunity to make our way to the India Palace lunch buffet.  Though I was slightly disappointed with that day’s lack of Saag Paneer, they always have a few vegetarian items on the buffet and we chowed down on Chana Masala, vegetable Korma, vegetable Pakoras and a ton of rice and Naan.  The photo below is of my second, decidedly more conservative plate:

I like India Palace but even the lunch buffet is a bit pricey, so it’s not a great all-the-time option.  We want to make it out to Korma Sutra in Kansas City soon for more Indian food and we still have some more places to try around town (a few Thai places we haven’t checked out, as well at the Pho restaurant right across the street from us).

 

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