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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 07/13/2012

Essential vegetarian dishes: Staff faves


The sweetest corn of the summer, in sauce form, is part of the to-die-for quality of Graffiato’s sweet corn agnolotti. (Greg Powers/Courtesy of Graffiato)
For the reader-nominated list of essential vegetarian eats, the writers at The Post take a pretty hands-off approach, only vetting the final dishes that make the list.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t dying to include a handful of our own favorite meat-free delicacies. A running theme of this list is that most are found at restaurants that do both meat and veggie dishes well.

Here’s what we would have nominated:

Tim Carman: La Casita Pupuseria and Market . The pupusas here are available with all sorts of fillings, both traditional and gringo-friendly. But the vegetarian options -- cheese-based with either beans or the Salvadoran flower bud, loroco -- make for a cheap, filling and satisfying meal, particularly when topped with hot sauce and the cabbage-based relish known as curtido.

Alex Baldinger: The sweet corn agnolotti at Graffiato . While Mike Isabella’s small plates emporium might be best known for pepperoni sauce and calamari-topped pizza, this delicate pasta creation is worth a spot on any table. Imagine the sweetest corn of the summer, but in sauce form, drizzled atop a row of ravioli garnished with morsels of mushrooms and pine nuts. The portion is small, and you’ll be tempted (rightfully) to order seconds.  

Amy Orndorff: My original pick (the Blooming Onion at Outback Steakhouse) was vetoed, so I went with my second choice: doubles at Teddy’s Roti Shop . I have been pretty spoiled when it comes to food from Trinidad: I have visited the island twice, and I date a native who knows how to cook. Food at Teddy’s (which is run by island natives) is a close runner up to homemade. Particularly drool-worthy are the doubles: chickpeas curry wrapped up in warm fried dough and topped with chutneys and sauces. And, if you have room in your belly, be sure get some roti, aloo pies and buss up shut with pumpkin.

Fritz Hahn: Everything on Great Wall's Ma La packs a numbingly spicy punch, but the Ma-La three pepper tofu, which finds Szechuan peppercorns and chili peppers almost outnumbering chunks of grilled tofu, really brings the heat -- and a variety of flavors.

Lavanya Ramanathan: A vegetarian my whole life, I’ve managed to leave behind most of the faux meats of my college years in favor of more veggies and natural foods. I can’t think of a dish that’s more lovely than Plume’s Bittersweet Eggplant Tian (not on the menu, but can be ordered in advance). It features paper-thin slices of roasted eggplant in a honey-sherry vinegar, wrapped up like a gift around toasted Israeli couscous, all drizzled in a puree of sour Nicoise olive , black raisin and shallots. When I want to go lowbrow, I can’t beat the veggie gyro at Greek Spot and vegetarian banh mi at Song Que . And late-night, I’m always ready to eat the vegan Korean tofu tacos at Mandu.

Stephanie Merry: The sign above the door at Rice Bar, which reads “Sushi Bibimbap,” may not beckon daytime diners to the downtown restaurant. But in-the-know office workers on their lunch hour flock to this spot, which specializes in Korean food. One reason is the veggie-loaded tofu bibimbap, built assembly-line style on a bed of rice and featuring a delicious blend of flavors, from shredded carrots to cubes of eggplant to a piquant radish salad. Top it off with your choice of sauce -- I recommend the spicy peanut for a bit of kick -- and you have yourself a colorful lunch that may be enough for dinner, too.

Judy Gillies: One of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted -- vegetarian or otherwise -- is the Hawaiian Style Rice at Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant. It comes with white or brown rice -- the brown has a nuttier flavor -- and it has pineapple, red bell pepper, zucchini and roasted soy protein in tomato sauce.

Jess Righthand: When I bite into one of the Shishito peppers at the new Boqueria I am immediately transported to Spain. They have a perfect juicy/crunchy ratio, and they are sprinkled with just the right amount of salt. For a complete meal, pair them with the “salteado de setas” (wild mushrooms, Manchego cheese and thyme).

By  |  10:30 AM ET, 07/13/2012

Categories:  Restaurants

 
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