Meatless Monday Rant

I am really tired of going to restaurants and having them look at me like I’m a freak when I ask for a vegetarian option.  It seems like it would be a no brainer to put one or two vegetarian selections on a menu or even have a meat dish with an advertised available meatless version.  My husband occasionally mentions that we never go to a steakhouse which he would enjoy.  As much as I’m opposed to the idea I would be glad to accommodate him if the restaurant was willing to accommodate me.  Having to order a couple of side dishes and a salad is not a nice dinner out to me.

With that said I would like to thank a few Tampa area establishments that do offer vegetarian selections and happily offer vegetarian options to their typical meat entrees.  The first is The Laughing Cat and is located in Ybor City, a favorite area of mine. Laughing Cat offers up rich, hearty Italian food with several great options.  On my last visit I ordered sweet potato gnocchi in a creamy wine sauce with a nice selection of vegetables.  I am not a huge fan of eggplant and they were very gracious in offering to substitute broccoli which I love.  The gnocchi were tender, the vegetables cooked perfectly and the sauce was somehow light and rich.  They served it covered in provolone cheese which I will skip in the future.  My first trip to Laughing Cat I ordered the Rigatoni ala Vodka minus the procuitto which was rivaled any version I’ve eaten in NY.  Which makes sense because the chef is from well known restaurant in Smithtown NY.

Another favorite is a Greek establishment with locations in Ybor City, Riverview and New Tampa called Acropolis.  They offer fabulous falafel, dolmades which are stuffed grape leaves, spanokopita, and a wonderful Greek salad.  Also, many of their appetizers are veg friendly.  I can easily go there and enjoy their stuffed mushrooms and a Greek salad although my favorite is the falafel which ends up with a crisp crunchy outer layer that is just delicious.

Last I’m surprising myself by mentioning Chili’s a national chain.  Their regular menu has a spicy black bean burger which is actually very good.  They are very willing to work with me at any location I’ve been to and will accommodate salads with a grilled Portobello mushroom in place of the chicken.  Personally I enjoy the fajita explosion salad.  It would be nice if these options were listed on their menu but I give them credit for offering their veg selections on their website, even notating what has eggs, dairy or honey allowing people to make educated choices.  I think tonight will be a Chili’s night, if my husband ever wakes up!

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