Life Alive, a self-described “urban oasis” with multiple local locations, certainly has crunchy credentials: Potted plants, rattan light fixtures, and colorful tapestries decorate each cafe, where grain bowls and salads are named like Healer and Southwest Sol. You’ll have no reservations ordering something with a wacky title, though, once you’ve sampled the red miso-sesame sauce or lemon-garlic hummus that gives these vegan dishes their powerful flavor punch. This counter-service local chain has healthy liquid sustenance, too: Each location has a juice bar with a wide range of smoothies, fresh juices, and teas.
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For a city best known for “fruits” of the sea, Boston’s plant-based scene is growing strong. From strictly vegan restaurants to fine-dining favorites that impress with vegetarian-friendly fare, more eateries are offering meatless options every day. Whether you’ve let your carnivore card expire permanently or are just looking for a little more green in your life, here’s where to eat without meat in Boston.
Littleburg Vegetable Kitchen
When Oleana alum Graham Boswell launched Littleburg as a pop-up in 2017, the chef gave Boston a totally new kind of vegan fare (and Greek cuisine, come to think of it). The oft-changing, seasonal menu showcases Mediterranean flavors as well as Boswell’s pastry skills: House-baked pita and garlicky almond tzatziki complete Seitan Gyros; Saffron Fried Rice is a golden bed for falafel and pickles; and the can’t-miss Pide is a pizza-esque canvas for warmly savory lentils. These days, Littleburg operates a walk-up takeout counter next door to Backbar and also offers prepared meal delivery.
Vegetarians and vegans will find plenty of satisfying fare at Blue Nile, an Ethiopian restaurant in Jamaica Plain. Meals revolve around the tangy injera, a springy sourdough flatbread perfect for sopping up stews like Misir Wat, spiced red lentils; and Gomen Wat, chopped collard greens. Can’t decide which wat to try? A colorful combo plate comes with a scoop of four or six vegetarian options (and this hearty cuisine makes great leftovers). Blue Nile is open daily with patio dining and takeout available.
Award-winning baker and chef-owner Joanne Chang’s Asian street food-inspired restaurant caters to a wide variety of dietary restrictions, vegetarians included. At Myers + Chang, those options never lack flavor: expect seriously spicy Cold Taiwanese Dan Dan Noodles and sinus-clearing potstickers with mustard greens and wasabi. Just like your favorite Chinese-takeout hole-in-the-wall, plates here are meant for sharing family-style. So gather a group of like-minded herbivores—preferably with a tolerance for spice—and order for takeout or in-house dining.
No meat? No problem. Everything on the menu at Walnut Grille is plant-based—and also flavorful and crave-able. Otherwise, though, Newton’s favorite “global vegetarian” menu will not be contained. You’ll find everything from soy-based “fingers,” fried for dipping in chipotle barbecue sauce; to Polenta Napoleon with fennel béarnaise and black-eyed pea salsa. There are plenty of fully vegan options, as well as dishes that can be made gluten- and soy-free. Walnut Grille is open daily for lunch and dinner, with patio dining and takeout, too.
Acclaimed chef and restaurateur Ana Sortun deals in Mediterranean meze, not strictly vegetarian fare, but the Near East inspiration at her three dining spots is great for plant-based eaters. There’s a good reason why Sarma, Oleana, and Sofra Bakery & Cafe take their veggies so seriously: They source produce from Siena Farms, the Sudbury acreage owned by Sortun and her husband. Menus change frequently, but the classic Spinach Falafel with beet tzatziki has graced menus at both Oleana and Sofra; and Sarma gets seasonal with dishes like Parsnip Fritters with cilantro and walnut; and Feta Cheese Gnocchi with baby artichokes, peas, and porcini. All three restaurants offer takeout and on-site dining.
Stoked Pizza Company
Stoked Pizza Co. evokes pizza-party nostalgia at its locations in Brookline and Harvard Square with a loud soundtrack, retro cocktails, and comfort food. The best part? No one is excluded, as Stoked boasts a fully vegan menu along with their standard offerings. There is a vegan cheese alternative for most of the pizzas, including the cult favorite Cheeseburger with tangy pickles and chipotle aioli, whose plant-based version features ground Impossible Burger. It doesn’t stop with ’za, though. Veg heads can look forward to Carolina BBQ Cauliflower Bites, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with maple, and even Chili Cheese Fries topped with spicy beans and barley and vegan queso.
This Union Square Eden is not a vegetarian restaurant, but with a name like Field & Vine, plant-based diners can trust they’re in good hands. The menu changes frequently, but vegetarian snacks like lacto-fermented farm vegetable Pickles and Cheddar Cornbread with grilled scallion butter typically spring up. Depending on the season, herbivores can delight in garden-fresh dishes like Jimmy Nardello Peppers with sweet, rich saba, a syrup derived from grapes; and Grilled Arrowhead Cabbage with Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese, pickled ramps, honey, and cashews. Check it out for on-site dining.
Koshari Mama is a flavor-packed vegan option serving up Egyptian street food in Somerville. Sahar Ahmed and Dina Fahim opened their restaurant between Union and Porter squares, after pop-up stints at Bow Market and Lowell’s Mill No. 5. The mother-daughter duo continues to serve up nourishing cuisine like their namesake koshari, a unique bowl of lentils, rice, pasta, chickpeas, and crispy fried onions; popular eggplant dishes; and sandwiches such as the earthy Mushroom Shawarma with sweet peppers and tahini. (We’ve found all to be excellent vehicles for house-made sauces, ranging from the mild tomato-garlic El-hady to fiery Narr.)
At this Cambridge restaurant, you can enjoy locally sourced, vegetable-focused wine dinners any night of the week with vegetarian and vegan tasting menus as well as omnivore and pescatarian. As the name Forage implies, dishes are often inspired by local and native flora, such as Tofu in asparagus shoyu with castor-aralia, and Spring Nettles accenting heritage potatoes with melty Spring Brook Farm raclette. Forage offers indoor and outdoor dining with its ever-changing menus, as well as takeout including wine and fresh-made ice cream and sorbets by the pint.
This subterranean restaurant in Kenmore Square has been a favorite for house-made Spinach Poori, Saag Paneer, and creamy Chana Masala since 1983. India Quality is still a go-to for tons of vegetarian options and some of the most tempting appetizers around Fenway, such as $5 Vegetable Pakoras and crispy Samosas, plus tender sheets of Naan. There are also several fully vegan dishes on the menu, such as Mushroom Matar curry with bright green peas. India Quality keeps things elevated with white tablecloths and necktie-clad waiters, but is also a reliable takeout spot with online ordering and delivery.
Originally one of Boston’s most popular food trucks, Taco Party now has a brick-and-mortar bar in Somerville’s Ball Square, accessible right off one of the new Green Line stations. With ’80s rec-room vibes, this spot is a destination for any taco lover, but it’s nacho typical Tex-Mex: The entire menu is vegan. Authentic flavor combinations are reinvented with plant-based ingredients, such as the spicy Lentils Al Pastor Taco with grilled pineapple; and well-textured Chorizo Seitan (try it in a Torta stacked on a cushy Portuguese bun from nearby Winter Hill Bakery). Cashew crema, almond cotija, and sunflower-seed cheeses are all made in-house and bring creamy richness to tacos, nachos, and more. All the tacos here are gluten-free, too.
Updated by Jacqueline Cain