Sometimes it can seem near impossible to find a single dish without cheese, bacon or chicken. I begrudgingly went dairy-free about two years ago when I developed a lactose intolerance (apparently a thing that can happen as woman age…awesome). Goodbye gooey cheese, ranch dressing and rich chocolate milk (yes, even in my 30’s I love it). Hello, bland salads and soy! Or so I thought. Finding plant-based meals on the Seacoast can be tricky but with a few years living non-dairy and a stint as an avid vegan, I’ve become a bit of a pro when it comes to finding and ordering plant-based meals around the seacoast.
Local, organic and farm-to-table is the name of this restaurant’s game. The menu here is fresh, full of color and changes with the season. They always have plant-based options in all three meal categories; appetizers, entrees and yes, even dessert!
Locally sourced latin food on the go? Yes please! It actually took me a little while to perfect my order but once I did, a-mazing! My plant-based meal of choice is vegetarian salad. To get the veggie to grain/beans ratio a little bit more in check, ask for ½ rice, ½ beans and ALL of the veggies – sweets, mushrooms and fajita – all of it. They will look at you funny and most likely ask you to clarify that in fact you want all the veggies, happens to me every time I order. And if you like your food kicked up a notch, I highly recommend the pineapple pico -YUM!
What isn’t there to love about this cozy slice of plant-based heaven in Exeter?! Most menu items are vegan-friendly or can be made that way (some dishes have egg, no animal meat). A few of my favorites include the Fiesta Salad Bowl and Kiwi Pataya Smoothie Bowl. I don’t know exactly what a ‘pitaya’ is, but I love every last spoonful of this breakfast.
A vegetarian/vegan’s food playground. When I go there I eat ALL THE THINGS. This is one restaurant where I will fully indulge in all three courses; appetizers, entrees and dessert. There are no favorites, everything is good – just go there.
Panera is changing their brand to be a healthier, more natural option and their menu selections are beginning to reflect that. I love the Soba Noodle Soup with edamame.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking, those are easy; the local “givens” in the plant-based meal world. I hear you and I’m up for the challenge. Check out these less suspecting Seacoast plant-based restaurant menu options.
There’s a few different options on the Margaritas menu, especially if you’re not afraid to ask for modifications. I like the Sunburst Chicken Salad, sans the chicken. Ask for extra zucchini and mushrooms to boost the veggie content. The Fajitas with extra veggies is also good. Pro tip, ask for it “vegan style” and you’ll get black beans and veggies that didn’t take a bath in butter and oil.
Wade through the endless seafood and dairy dishes and you’ll find The Surf Tacos w/tofu. These are pretty good. Hold the cheese and sour cream and ask for extra salsa, and you’re golden.
The spring rolls are a delectable way to start your dining experience – highly recommend. Follow that with the Cantonese Stir Fry (vegan) and you’ll surely leave satisfied.
This is a really hard one. At face value the menu is about as plant-based friendly as a butcher shop. Here’s where your creativity really needs to kick in. It also helps if you have a friendly, flexible and understanding server. I’ve been successful at asking for eggplant (not breaded) over spinach (or pasta) with marinara. FYI- ask for the spinach “dry” if you don’t want it cooked in butter.
I love how kid-friendly this place is but up until recently I steered clear of pizza places if I actually wanted to eat dinner (not just lettuce in a bowl) with the rest of my family. Last month I was there for a fundraising event and ordered a personal pizza with all sorts of veggies and no cheese. The server was a bit surprised but went with it. It was SO GOOD! I couldn’t believe I was eating pizza at a pizza place again! The flatbread was crisp, the veggies flavorful and the basil plentiful.
One final tip:
My #1 go-to if I can’t find anything else on the menu is to ask for the veggie burger. I order it on top of their house salad with balsamic vinegar or yellow mustard on the side. Most restaurants offer a black bean burger or some other variation of a veggie burger, and there’s always a house garden salad (albeit you usually have to ask them to remove the cheese, as cheese seems to be a given with salad these days).
Writing this post I’m realizing just how long my list is. Although it can be frustrating (and a little scary even) sitting in front of a menu, scanning frantically to find something you can eat, it’s great how many restaurants have begun to expand their menus to include options for those choosing a plant-based diet.