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When Kirk A. Charles became a vegetarian seven years ago, he was unaware of how challenging it would be to find vegetarian restaurants– particularly when traveling. “It’s difficult to find a place that has good tasting food. I’m a vegan [no animal products], and it has been my experience that most places that have vegetarian items include dairy or egg products,” explains the proprietor of AccuWord Inc., a Linden, New Jersey-based court reporting/transcription service.
A growing and increasingly vocal minority, vegetarians now make up 1% of the total U.S. population, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) based in Baltimore. As the demand for meatless meals flourishes, chefs across the country are being challenged to prepare vegetable-based entrees that are just as palatable as their meat selections. While Georgia Brown’s in Washington, D.C., is a favored restaurant that serves fine Southern cuisine, it’s probably the last place you would expect to see vegetarian entrees on the menu. But Terrell Danley, its African American chef, has four vegetarian items on his menu, in addition to two vegan-friendly desserts.
“When a vegetarian comes to my restaurant, they should have the same dining experience as someone who eats meat,” says Danley, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
Today’s vegetarian wants more than a plate of steamed vegetables. Charles suggests asking the hotel concierge or checking a local health food store for vegetarian restaurant recommendations. “But when in doubt, most Asian-style restaurants offer vegetarian entrees,” he advises.
Here’s a list of restaurants great for client dining in key business cities that cater to a vegetarian clientele ($ = under $10, $$ = under $20, $$$ = over $20).
Atlanta’s Care Sunflower (5975 Roswell Rd., Suite 353; 404-256-1675) has an eclectic menu that blends Asian, European and Southwestern influences. Lunch and dinner are served Monday through Saturday ($).
One of Chicago’s well-known restaurants, Charlie Trotter’s (816 W. Armitage; 312-248-6228) has created a vegetarian menu, including dessert, which is truly a dining experience ($$$). Chowpatti Vegetarian (1035 $. Arlington Heights. Rd.; 847-640-9554) boasts an international vegetarian menu along with its European selections; open daily for lunch and dinner ($).
In New York City, Angelica Kitchen (300 E. 12th St.; 212-228-2909) is one of the best places for vegan specialties; open daily for lunch and dinner service ($$). In the same neighborhood, Caravan of Dreams (405 E. 6th St.; 212-254-1613) serves mostly wheat and dairy-free items daily for lunch and dinner ($$). Zen Palate (663 Ninth Ave.; 212-582-1669 and 34 Union Square East; 212-614-9345) is known for its vegetarian selections; open daily for lunch and dinner ($$$).
Philadelphia’s Harmony Vegetarian (135 Ninth St.; 215-627-4520) is a favorite spot for vegans. Lunch and dinner are served here Monday through Saturday ($). Charles Plaza (234 N. 10th St.; 215-829-4383) is a formal vegetarian Chinese restaurant that also serves chicken and fish; open daily ($$).
In San Francisco, diners who eat at Greens Restaurant (Fort Mason Bldg. A; 415-771-6222) enjoy both the vegetarian selections and a view of the San Francisco Bay. Open daily; reservations are suggested ($$). Millennium Restaurant (246 McAllister St.;