Eat Right: Great Vegetarian Dishes in Columbus
Dining out as a vegetarian can be challenging. Those who choose not to eat meat often have to settle for the menu’s one token vegetarian option. Other chefs opt for getting creative with seasonal vegetarian specials, but diners who like to research menus ahead of time will find it hard to plan ahead. Here’s a selection of some of the standout vegetarian dishes found on independent restaurant menus across the city.
Angry Bear Kitchen
2653 N. High Street — Old North Columbus
You’ll often spot some great vegetarian options on Angry Bear’s changing daily specials menu, but their standby vegetarian option is well worth ordering. The Carrot Wellington is an innovative riff on the classic beef dish made with lentils, horseradish parsnip espuma and parsnip chips and a lentil-mushroom demi glace.
263 E. Whittier Street — German Village
This Spanish spot is famous for its paella, and lucky for vegetarians Chef Jacob Hough does a veggie paella alongside the traditional seafood ones! His Paella de Verduras is made with green beans, piquillo peppers, onions, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, sofrito and calasparra rice. Don’t skip the Aguacate Relleno con Queso tapa, either—it’s an avocado stuffed with goat cheese and served over mixed greens in a tomato-caper vinaigrette.
811 Highland Street — Victorian Village
Eggplant parmesan is a classic vegetarian entree, and no one in town does it better than Basi. A hefty portion of pan-roasted eggplant is accompanied by house-made tomato sauce with lots of fresh crushed tomato and herbs, fresh mozzarella and shaved parmesan. For a starter, try the Zucchini Pronto, a mound of zucchini and toasted almonds draped in just-melted pecorino.
Black Creek Bistro
51 Parsons Avenue — Olde Towne East
Lunch is the best time to head to this Olde Towne bistro if you’re a vegetarian. While the dinner menu’s not quite as veg-friendly, at lunch an entire section is dedicated to vegetarian offerings, from a black bean burger to a quesadilla filled with roasted seasonal vegetables. The Green Cat is a winner, with toasted country wheat topped with melted Swiss, guacamole, slaw, seasonal cucumbers and farm fresh lettuce.
Figlio Wood Fired Pizza
1369 Grandview Avenue — Grandview Heights
Vegetarian pizza lovers can always go for a simple Margherita pie, of course, but it’s great to see restaurants experiment with adventurous vegetarian topping combinations. At Figlio, try the sweet-and-salty Pistachios with Vermont Goat Cheese Pizza. It’s topped with goat cheese, fresh asparagus, red pepper rings and roasted pistachios, then drizzled in local honey.
G. Michael’s Bistro & Bar
595 S. Third Street — German Village
Chef David Tetzloff has been known to brag about his seasonal takes on tofu, and though the menu changes frequently you’ll typically find a flavorful tofu offering accented by seasonal produce throughout the year. Right now, it’s a Chili-Lime Rubbed Tofu steak with black bean ragout, cilantro pesto and grilled pineapple salsa.
475 S. Third Street — German Village
Columbus’ iconic deli has a full menu section devoted to veggie sandwiches. Seth’s Bella MushReuben is a pleasing facsimile of the real thing with marinated sliced portabella, Swiss, cole slaw and Russian dressing grilled on rye. Vegans will love Doug’s Vegetarian Head Plant, a pita stuffed with garlicky marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper, spinach, cucumber, lettuce and tomato.
4428 Indianola Avenue — Clintonville
Portia’s is the city’s crowning jewel in vegan and raw dining. Everything on the menu is vegan, made with local and GMO-free ingredients. The signature dish is the Pad Thai, starring a scratch-made sauce incorporating fresh young coconuts, ground raw almonds, miso, ginger, lime, dates and cayenne. Also worth seeking out is any dish featuring the “Notuna,” a tuna salad-like raw walnut pate; or the “Spanako,” a spinach-artichoke dip made with collard greens and kale, capers, pureed cashews, lemon and more.
Shaw’s Restaurant & Inn
123 N. Broad Street — Lancaster
Shaw’s has been offering two hearty Rice Bowl options that can be topped with pan-seared tofu, and both are worth ordering. Go Asian with bamboo green rice, avocado, sauteed napa cabbage and kale, miso sesame dressing, scallions and cilantro; or try a summery rice bowl with charred corn, sunny egg, honey Tabasco aioli, red jasmine rice, watercress, scallions and basil. Both come accompanied with sriracha sauce and chopsticks!
1368 Grandview Avenue — Grandview Heights
Z Cucina’s handmade pasta menu is filled with several excellent vegetarian choices. The Goat Cheese & Sundried Tomato Ravioli is tossed in roasted Pomodoro with wild arugula and basil pesto, while the Basil Ricotta Gnocchi is served with truffled sweet corn, roasted mushrooms and house-made ricotta.
Dine Originals Columbus celebrates, supports and promotes the culinary diversity that locally owned and operated member restaurants contribute to the identity and culture of our city. The nonprofit group is committed to strengthening the local economy and enriching the community through education and charitable partnerships.
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