This season, we had some out-of-state tour guests who were uber excited by our ability to accommodate vegetarian diets on our tours. They were amazed at the number of restaurants in our area that offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan options on their menus. (Note there are also a growing number of vegan restaurants in our region, however my spouse is not a big fan of plant based alternatives to meat products – so I won’t be including those in this post.)
While I am not a vegetarian, my spouse and daughter are. I would say I eat vegetarian 98% of the time and basically only cook vegetarian at home. Recently, during my vacation, I was surprised that a local food tour I had hoped to take couldn’t accommodate my husband’s vegetarian diet, so we passed on taking the tour.
There are many Capital Region restaurants that offer vegetarian options and cover a range of cuisines and flavors. I thought I would highlight and sing the praises of some of our favorite vegetarian dishes and bites found in the region. Keep reading to see a list of some of our local favorites.
Vegetarian Soup Dumplings at Ala Shanghai in Latham
Soup dumplings, xiaolongbao, is a type of Chinese steamed bun associated with Shanghai. It is traditionally filled with pork or pork and crabmeat. However, this vegetarian version is filled with vegetables, tofu and vegetarian broth. As you bite into these steamed buns, be careful to sip the hot brothy goodness as you savor this wonderful treat!
Brussel Sprout Appetizer at The Hollow in Albany
The Hollow prides itself on having a diverse menu with multiple offerings for vegans and vegetarians. Their chefs are often award winning and build on signature favorites. This spicy pan- roasted brussel sprouts appetizer is coated in maple sambal sauce and can be gotten with soyrizo sausage. It is a party in your mouth experience!
Large Mezza Platter with Lavash Bread at Ali Baba in Troy
This colorful platter, contains samples of all 10 of their different appetizer options (the familiar hummus, stuffed grape leaves and babaganoush to less well known broad bean salad, celery root and spiced tomato spread.) All the orders come with their incredible sesame coated lavash bread puffed with air out of the oven, pop it to release the steam and then use it for the spreads. The textures and flavoring are wonderful and make for a satisfying meal. (There is an option to order a smaller mezza platter – 5 choices from the 10.)
Three Peppers Tagine at Tara Kitchen (any of their locations)
One of Tara Kitchen’s seven vegetarian tagines (cooked in traditional pots and served with rice and pita bread). This bubbly, savory stew is made with potatoes, tomatoes and poached eggs. Chef Aneesa Waheed has a talent for building beautiful flavors out of unexpected combinations. This tagine is gluten-free, nut-free, dairy free and soy free.
Phoenix Rising at Iron Gate Cafe in Albany
The Iron Gate Café brings eggs Benedict for vegetarians to a whole new level with their tasty Phoenix Rising! Phoenix Rising features poached eggs and sliced avocado on homemade black bean sliders.( we ask for the pepper jack hollandaise on the side.) In addition, get a side-order of the amazing homemade cornbread as well. This is just one of their many creative vegetarian options!
Stuffed Eggplant with Four Cheeses at Cafe Capriccio in Albany
Not your usual eggplant parmesan – this eggplant stuffed with sauteed spinach and roasted peppers, covered with Cafe Capriccio’s own four cheese blend makes for an entree that says we appreciate our vegetarian diners too. The dish is served with seared polenta and vegetables.
Paneer Tandoori from Nani’s Indian Kitchen in Ballston Spa
Nani’s paneer tandori won over my spouse – who always complained that tandoori paneer was dry and tasteless. Nani shared that she marinates the paneer for a few days with yogurt and spices and then it is sauteed with peppers and onions. This was his favorite of the many delicious dishes we ordered here!
Tofu Banh Mi Sandwich at Quang’s Vietnamese Bistro in Troy
Banh Mi were not initially on Quang’s menu. He was searching for a roll that lived up to the Banh Mi f his childhood. Banh Mi traditionally has pate, but Quang offers a vegetarian version that is delicious with just the tofu, Sriracha mayonnaise, pickled carrots and daikon radish, jalapeno, cucumber and cilantro. The photo is the tasting size for my tours, but the usual Banh Mi is 3 times the size!
Falafel Pita at Mamoun’s Restaurant in Albany
When you grow up in Israel, falafel is found on every street corner and you can’t help but become a connoisseur. My spouse has tried the falafels served up on the menus of many Capital Region restaurants. His all time favorite and go Ato, is the one found at Mamoun’s Restaurant. He orders it with fried eggplant inside to make for that perfect taste of home.
Anything at The Dutch Udder in Troy
Always leave room for dessert especially when you are in the mood for delectable, iced creamy treats from an award winning craft business. This local treasure won the Best Philly Vanilla Ice Cream at the World Dairy Expo in 2017. Whether you take your ice cream straight up or without dairy or gluten, there are treats for all needs that will memorably delight the palate. Dutch Udder’s unique flavors build on their home brewing background and the scooping menu changes frequently.
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