Vegetarian Food in Boston
I lived in Boston for years and I used to maintain a list of vegetarian restaurants and markets on this site. The information is kind of dated now so I got rid of the page. There’s no void to fill, though, since you can always check out bexx’s veganboston.com and its myspace group, which are way more informative than what I ever had. In any case, here’s a more narrative summary of the lists that I used to have here, for posterity’s sake. I’m guessing it’d work best as something that you print out and read on an airplane or bus.
[Central Square, Cambridge]
Whole Foods – the hard core still call it Bread & Circus. Definitely pricey, but they have good stuff. What can I say? There are a bunch of them in Boston and they all have a spot where you can sit down and eat. To get to the one near (but a decent walk from) Central Square, go down River Street until you get near the Charles River. There’s a Trader Joe’s within walking distance, too. Walk down Memorial Drive along the River toward Boston until you see the plaza with Micro Center (good computer store, by the way). Trader Joe’s might be the best chain grocery store ever. It’s way cheaper than Whole Foods and their store-brand stuff is usually of great quality for the price.
Right in Central Square, Harvest Coop Market has a nice selection in the market and a great cafe out front. They usually have something vegan at the cafe, like sandwiches, sushi or muffins or something. Then you can walk 10 feet and buy some kind of vegan dessert. Good deal. If you shop here enough, you should look into co-op thing. I don’t know how it works, exactly, but it sounds good.
The Middle-East Restaurant & Club is a block away on Mass Ave and they have a good veggie burger and other vegetarian stuff. Falafel Palace is also right here in the center of Central Square. I haven’t eaten there in a long time, but the place is legendary. I’ve always liked Shalimar of India – it’s half-way between Falafel Palace and the Mid East. In my old page, Melanie left a comment saying that Shalimar does some potentially unsanitary things like taking the dipping sauces from one table and putting them on the next. Beware?
Check out Pearl Paints next door and Artist and Craftsman Supply in Central Square, just because. Also, check out the MIT Museum – it’s not too far from the Middle East, in the Boston direction.
[Harvard Square, Brookline]
The place to visit in Harvard Square is definitely Veggie Planet. The place is amazing and you’re likely to order your food as a pizza or over rice. Either way it’s awesome. They also have excellent soups and desserts – usually vegan. Don’t miss it. There is also a Boloco location in the square – check out my description of them under Cleveland Circle below. Fire & Ice is kind of like the Disney World of restaurants – the idea is that everyone gets their own raw foods and brings them to the cooks who cook them on a giant slab-grill. It’s kind of like salad bar meets Japanese hibachi. It wasn’t bad the one time that I went, but the vegetarian line was really short so I was done eating by the time the rest of my party got their food. Oh well.
Walk to The Garage – a tiny mall-like building right in the middle of everything – for a few things: Herrell’s is an ice cream place that has “no-moo” ice cream on a cone. It’s on the outside of The Garage and there’s an Au Bon Pain across the street if that interests you. If you’re vegan, it probably doesn’t interest you unless you want a fruit cup or a bagel. They’re all over Boston, though, so you might find yourself at one at some point.
Pho Pasteur is an excellent vietnamese spot inside The Garage. Definitely recommended and probably a good date spot that isn’t horribly expensive, if that’s what you’re looking for. I’ve been told that Tamarind Bay is excellent if you’re looking for something a little pricier and exotic. There’s a Ben & Jerry’s in The Garage – you can get some smoothie-type drinks that are non-dairy if you tell them what you want in it. I think the sorbet is dairy-free, but check on it. If you’re into tea and coffee, Peete’s is right on the opposite corner from The Garage.
In the old version of this page, Suzanne mentioned some places that I haven’t been – probably because they’re above my normal budget. :) Harvest is right near the Brattle and she said that it’s pricey but an experience. Call for a reservation or go for lunch. She also recommended Henrietta’s Table at The Charles Hotel – “has a few vegetable dishes and always in season. After dinner, go check out the jazz upstairs at the Regatta Bar.” She also mentioned Marino Ristorante & Market. She says the minestrone soup is amazing and always vegan.
While you’re here, see a movie at the Brattle or visit some Harvard museums (the Peabody, the Fogg, the Museum of Natural History, and the Graduate School of Design lobby has exhibits sometimes.)
Kendall Square isn’t Harvard Square, but if you’re out there you should check out the Lamdark theatre and also find the Afghani Helmand Restaurant. I’ve only been there once but I remember really liking it.
The greatest vegetarian restaurant in Boston used to be downtown – R.I.P. Country Life. That’s all I’ll say about it – it’s too painful. Near the gates of Chinatown is one of the 3 Ginza restaurants in the Boston area (if you count New Ginza in Watertown). This location is open really late but be ready for rushed service when it’s really busy at those late hours. I think I remember being annoyed by a credit card policy here, but in this area it’s better to use cash. At the corner of Beach Street and Tyler in Chinatown, look up and you’ll see a second floor window that says Chinatown Eatery. I have a few sketchy stories from visits there over the past 10 years but it won’t stop me from going back again and again. The food is consistently tasty, cheap and plentiful. There’s a good Thai spot called Rod Thai, a couple other decent places that have sometimes changed hands over the years, and an awesome juice bar. At the bottom of the stairs you can sometimes get some decent produce, but it’s often stuff that you have to eat that day.
In downtown crossing, you have to go to Chacarero near Macy’s. It looks like a stand attached to the side of the building and there’s basically only one thing they sell – an absolutely amazing sandwich consisting of red peppers, cheese (if you’re not vegan), tomato, green beans and a green paste on their special bread. You can’t understand how good it is until you’ve actually eaten it. Seriously.
When I used to work in Post Office Square and Rowe’s Wharf, I’d always go to Country Life. There were a couple other places in the area though: Sakura-Bana is a sushi place with a $7 lunch special that’s good. Most of the places downtown are really busy at lunch time so if you’re getting it to go, you should call in your order. Sultan’s Kitchen is supposed to be amazing. I remember going there a couple times and not being amazed, but maybe I just got the wrong thing. Both of these places are within walking distance of Rowe’s Wharf, Faneuil Hall, a Duck Tour starting point and the New England Aquarium so if you’re a tourist you might be in this area at some point.
You have to go to Grasshopper. It’s probably the best known vegetarian place in the area and for good reason. The favorites of most people are “The No-Name” and “Sweet & Sour Sensation” – both full of goopy goodness, but there’s definitely some lighter stuff if that’s what you’re looking for. This place never disappoints – vegetarian or not. Next door is TJ’s House of Pizza. It started out as a pizza and sub shop that had some vegetarian versions, but they’ve since become an all-vegan restaurant, which is amazing. I’m sad to say, I still haven’t eaten here – after an hour long drive, it’s hard to be 10 feet from Grasshopper and not go there. There’s a Herrell’s down the street. It’s just like the one in Harvard Square. Spike’s Junkyard Dogs is also right in this area. They have veggie dogs with all the toppings you could want. There are a couple in Providence, too. Past Spike’s is one of the three Super 88 Asian supermarkets in the Boston area. Anything Asian can be found here and this location has a food court with vegetarian options at most or all of its restaurants.
[Longwood Medical Area/Fenway, Boston]
Visit the MFA and the Bakalar/Paine Gallery at MassArt. Then check out the Brown Sugar Cafe or Rod Dee for some Thai food. Brown Sugar is a little more expensive, Rod Dee is a little more fast-food but both are excellent. There are Boloco locations at Northeastern and near Harvard Medical School; Bertucci’s near Boston Children’s Hospital; Whole Foods near Northeastern. There’s a Super Salad in the plaza where the Fenway 13 movie theater is, but I’ve never really gotten anything good there.
At Louis Pasteur Avenue, there’s a stand on the street called Sami’s. They have good falafel and some other vegetarian stuff and they’re really nice. Across the street there used to be a sketchy-looking, but very handy, Chinese food truck from Chang’s. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they have brown rice. Ask for “eggplant veggie” or “tofu veggie” and get a spring roll for an extra 25 cents. I said “used to be” because it’s always been there on weekdays and Saturdays and I saw it there as late as a couple weeks ago, but it wasn’t there when I was in Boston last Thursday. I’m very worried.
[Newbury Street, Boston]
I have to admit that I don’t know of a lot of places in this area. As someone who lives in Boston, you probably wouldn’t find yourself in this tourist mecca too often. There are, of course, Trader Joe’s, Boloco, Vinnie T’s, Au Bon Pain and some of the other chains that I’ve mentioned in other sections. At the end of Newbury Street there’s a place called the Other Side Cafe and if you consider yourself a cool-kid hipster then you’ll probably fit in just right. I’ve had some good food here and it is a pretty cool atmosphere. Cafe Jaffa is good for vegetarians, but be sure to ask them to skip the feta if you’re vegan. Supposedly, Kashmir Indian Restaurant has a great freshly prepared buffet that is about 50% vegetarian. I’ve never been there, but Suzanne posted this and also said to make sure you get there early.
It’s not really the Newbury Street area, but a few blocks south on Tremont Street is the best Ethopian place you’ll find: Addis Red Sea. There’s basically one dish for us as far as I know – a big spongy bread-like thing with a selection of mini vegetable piles on it. As unappetizing as I just made it sound, it’s definitely awesome.
[Coolidge Corner, Brookline]
Best falafel in the country is at Rami’s. They have a weird schedule but it’s worth trying 10 times if you have to, to finally find them open. Trader Joe’s is right in the middle of Coolidge Corner. Within a few blocks of this area in 3 different directions are burritos: Boca Grande is a block down Beacon Street toward Boston and there are two Ana’s Taqueria locations – one is down Harvard toward Allston and the other is up Beacon going outbound. Beware of Ana’s since the last time I checked, they used chicken broth in their rice.
Also going outbound on Beacon toward Washington Square is an awesome Thai restaurant called Rod Dee. The other Rod Dee is near Fenway and both are awesome. If you’ve made it as far as Washington Square, you can take a right on Washington and you’ll find a Whole Foods market. There’s also a fairly ordinary Chinese restaurant called Dragon Star in the square that has more than the ordinary number of vegetarian dishes. Not bad. Going further up Beacon Street will get you to Vinnie T’s, but I’ll save that for the Cleveland Circle section.
Back in the Coolidge Corner area, you can find Mr. Sushi which, despite it’s stupid name, is a great place for maki, vegetarian appetizers and miso soup. Buddha’s Delight is a block or two down Harvard Street but I do not recommend it. They have always had terrible service. I’ve given them too many chances and I won’t ever go back. My friend Adam said that there’s a new vegan Thai place right in the same area but I haven’t tried it yet. Adam said it was very good. Also right in this area is The Butcherie – a market that has a lot of Jewish foods, including a lot of Tofutti frozen desserts that you probably won’t find anywhere else. They have weird hours so good luck.
If you find yourself way down Beacon Street toward Boston, at St. Mary’s, you should check out Ginza. Good sushi place with another location downtown that stays open super late.
[Cleveland Circle, Brookline/Brighton]
I used to live in a couple apartments in Cleveland Circle and I went to Chef Choy’s House a million times. Every time, I got the same thing – broccoli and bean curd in garlic sauce with brown rice and a spring roll. Probably not so healthy but man was it good. The last couple times I went there it seemed like maybe the people who I was used to seeing there were no longer the owners and the food tasted different – I’ll have to check it out again the next time I’m up there.
There’s a Thai place right in the circle but I forget the name. I’ve been there a few times and I’d recommend it. A few doors down is Boloco aka The Wrap aka Jera’s Juice. There are a bunch of locations in Boston and I have to say that it’s the best alternative to fast food for a vegetarian. The burritos are good and they have tofu, brown rice, wheat tortillas – all good things. The smoothies are excellent too. It’s worth signing up for their email list and getting their swipe card for discounts. If they ever bring back the Papas burrito that The Wrap used to have, I might move back to Boston.
Vinnie T’s (formerly Vinnie Testa’s) is a family style Italian chain restaurant. This location is basically half-way between Cleveland Circle and Coolidge Corner. Big portions and the food is good. They will usually make something that you ask for if it’s close to something on the menu. The bread and roasted garlic they serve with your meal are excellent. Right next door is another Jewish deli/market like the one in Coolidge Corner. They have some neat non-dairy treats and stuff.
You should probably have a car if you plan on heading out here, but I’m mentioning it because I used to live in this area and it is definitely possible to get here by bus or bicycle from Cambridge or Brighton. Take the 71 bus from Harvard Square and you can visit the Mount Auburn Cemetary. Not far after that, in Watertown, is Sevan’s Bakery – a small Armenian market and deli. When I went there they had these good cheeseless Armenian pizzas and some really good stuff at the deli – the dates and the hummous were some of the best I’ve ever had. At the end of Mount Auburn Street (and the end of the bus line) is the a center with streets going in all directions. Galen Street has a few more spots – New Ginza is a great Japanese restaurant that’s right past the center. When I used to go here, they had a whole vegetarian page full of great stuff. Keep going on Galen and you can stop at Bertucci’s – a decent chain restaurant with excellent pizza that you can get with no cheese. Right next door is Amarin of Thailand. This place saw a lot of me when I lived in this area. At this point you’re right at a Mass Pike exit. Look at a map and you’ll see that this could be a good place to add to your itinerary if you want to plan a meal that’s only 1 minute off of the highway.
If you find yourself near the Watertown Mall, there’s a Middle Eastern place called Sepal, where I remember having a decent falafel sandwich. They seemed to have a lot of other vegetarian stuff on the menu, so it’s worth checking out. There’s a Panera Bread in one of the plazas near the mall, which is one of the few chain restaurants that I frequent. They have hot chocolate with soy milk and a couple good vegan options on the menu. They have free wifi and they always have a book behind the counter with the ingredients of all of their food. Don’t stop for the Low-Fat Know-Fat restaurant down the street – there’s nothing vegetarian there, surprisingly.
Newton used to have a great vegetarian restaurant but the only source of vegetarian food that I know about now is Trader Joe’s on Washington Street. And there’s always Subway, right? The two are fairly close to each other and they’re both near Harris Cyclery, which is a great bicycle shop to check out. Oh yeah, way out in the other direction – near Newton Lower Falls – is a place called Gourmet Wok. Looks like a regular old Chinese restaurant, but they have some interesting vegetarian dishes.
Waltham is actually a little ways from Watertown and is pretty inaccessible by public transportation, but it’s a good place to check out if you can get there. If you’re driving there from Watertown, check out A. Russo & Sons on the way – a huge produce market that’s definitely worth visiting. Once you’re in Watertown, head to Moody Street. The Asian Grille is a mix of all different Asian foods and has good Thai and vegetarian sushi. Lizzy’s Homemade Ice Cream is Moody Street and has vegan “ice cream” on a cone. Across the street is an Indian restaurant that was high on my list when I lived in this area – New Mother India. There are some other restaurants on Moody Street that I always wanted to check out, but the real gem here is Masao’s Kitchen. This is a macrobiotic restaurant that has been absolutely tops everytime I’ve been there. They have sort of limited hours, but it’s just Masao that cooks I think. Apparently, he used to have a well-known restaurant called Masao in Boston somewhere and now he has this smaller place. Go here for sure, if you can.
Also on Moody Street is the Embassy Cinema (a sister-theater of the Landmark in Cambridge) – an excellent place to see a movie. And if you’re in this area during the Waltham Open Studios, there’s a big mill full of artist lofts right here that you should check out.
Even further out than Waltham, but in the other directions, are some other places to check out if you’re visiting Boston with a car. Wild Oats is a Whole-Foods-like market in Medford. It’s a chain, but there aren’t many locations – this is the only one that I know of in the area.
Suzanne added this to my old page: “There is a great Indian vegetarian restaurant, Masala in Billerica, MA, right on 3A. It is definately worth the trip. They have unusual hours for a restaurant and celebrate many of the Hindu holidays, so call first before going. If you are coming up 3a from 128 in Burlington, stop at the 2 asian groceries on the way! In the Metro Credit Union plaza (on your right), there are 2 asian groceries with MUCH cheaper prices than the indian stores in boston/cambridge area”
I always think of Somerville as being “Further Out”, but in reality it’s very close to the city. I know there are lots of great restaurants in Somerville but not knowing the area very well, I can’t really tell you the names or locations of the places I’ve been. If you need a starting point, find the Diesel Cafe. It’s a pretty cool place and I know there are other good restaurants in that immediate area. Taco Loco is an authentic, small Mexican restaurant in Somerville. I’m pretty sure it’s off on its own without many other restaurants nearby. I remember getting a veggie burrito there with some crazy stuff like cauliflower in it. Strange, but delicious.
Of course there are lots more vegetarian- and vegan-friendly places in the Boston area – some that I know of and just didn’t include in this page and many that I’ve never been to. If any of the places above has closed down or if you have any additions or whatever, leave your comments below. Have fun.
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