While not everything at Ana Sortun’s acclaimed mezze restaurant Sarma is meatless, its Near East inspiration means there are plenty of vegetarian sharing plates to go around. While the menu changes often, the Spanish-influenced Brussels Sprout Bravas and sublime Seven Layer Hummus served with falafel crackers are evergreen standouts. Just save some space for the Loukamades, a kind of Greek beignet with a slew of scratch-made toppings to choose from.
Whether you’ve let your carnivore card expire permanently or are just looking to start the new year with a little more green in your life, the meat-free options at these local spots are sure to satisfy.
In today’s fast-casual golden age, it’s easy for vegetarians to feel left out. A welcome exception is Whole Heart Provisions, an Allston outpost from a former Alden & Harlow sous chef and the owner of Roxy’s Grilled Cheese. Sustenance comes in the form of colorful bowls that begin with a base of grains or leafy greens and get topped with flavor- and texture-enhancing veggies running the gamut from carrot and radish kimchi to Szechuan dukkah. Let your creativity run wild, but don’t overlook excellent sides like Crispy Old Bay Brussels or a Falafel Dog, all of which can be washed down with kombucha on tap.
Life Alive, a self-described “urban oasis” on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge, has crunchy credentials in spades. Potted plants line the walls, signage appears in papyrus font, and warm bowls and salads have names like The Alchemist and The Mystic Mountain. You’ll have no problem saying these wacky names at the register once you’ve sampled the sesame-ginger sauce or lemon-garlic hummus that gives the grain- or green-packed dishes their powerful flavor punch. Life Alive hasn’t forgotten about your need for healthy liquid sustenance, either: Expect a wide range of smoothies, juices, and kombucha.
Joanne Chang’s Asian street food-inspired restaurant Myers + Chang offers menus catering to a wide variety of dietary restrictions, vegetarians included. And those options have no lack of flavor; expect seriously spicy Cold Taiwanese Dan Dan Noodles and sinus-clearing potstickers with mustard greens and wasabi. Just like your favorite Chinese hole-in-the-wall, plates here are meant for sharing and best enjoyed family-style. So gather a group of like-minded meat abstainers—preferably with a tolerance for spice—and get to work.
Like Sarma, Oleana is not exclusively vegetarian. But there’s a good reason why Ana Sortun’s Mediterranean spot takes its veggie game so seriously: Vegetables and herbs are sourced from a farm owned by her husband. You’ll see them used in dishes that subtly remix classic Middle Eastern flavors, such as Parsnip Hummus and a Spinach Falafel served with colorful beet yogurt. The focus is on small plates, so a bring a crowd that will appreciate the wall tapestries and marble countertops—or a leafy patio in fairer weather.