eat real food.

by erin

For a vegetarian, eating out can be challenging.  The next time you're at, say, Applebee's (if you've been forced there at gunpoint, because I don't know why else you would go) try to find something without meat on the menu that does not involve fried cheese or pasta.  Hint: it's not possible.  However, I see my vegetarianism as a good thing, because I've found that the restaurants that have a wide selection of good vegetarian food are just...better.  The ingredients are fresher, the dishes are more creative, and the atmosphere is more welcoming.

I recently ate at two restaurants in two different cities that reminded me quite a bit of one another: Spoonriver in Minneapolis, and Founding Farmers in Washington, D.C.  Both focus on locally sourced food with a wide variety of healthy dishes.  Win and win.

Spoonriver is the brainchild of Brenda Langston, the Twin Cities' biggest name in vegetarian eating.  Formerly of Cafe Brenda, which specialized in veggie dishes, Langston changed it up a bit for Spoonriver, adding more meat to her menu.  But don't fear: the meat is organic and local, and, as perfectly described by a Star Tribune review, "Nothing's manhandled here; for the most part, it's Mother Nature that comes shining through, in sane-sized portions. What a pleasure."

sauces and chutney made from scratch at Spoonriver.  photo courtesy of heavytable.com

The atmosphere fits the food: a modern feel with floor to ceiling windows, a sleek bar, and an unbeatable location across the street from the Guthrie Theater.

photo courtesy of Spoonriver

Maybe it's because we blew into Founding Farmers on a windy January night after spending all day being touristy in the cold, but I can't remember the last time I was in such a warm, inviting dining room.  Calling itself a "modern farmhouse", Founding Farmers manages to look rustic (cozy seating with big butcher block tables) and modern (dimly lit and full of trendy DC-ians) at the same time.  Like Spoonriver, Farmers focuses on local and organically grown food, with a large, very creative (and very delicious) menu.

bar and dining room, courtesy of pitchengine.com

 Founding Farmers is committed to being green - it is D.C.'s only LEED certified restaurant!  But that doesn't mean it's snobby - the menu is full of down-home food such as meatloaf and tomato soup with grilled cheese (which I couldn't resist ordering, and which was delicious).  You'll definitely leave satisfied.

Eat real food!


Crystal said...

Ugh, I know what you mean about Applebees (or really most chains too). Luckily there are other options out there like the fabulous Spoonriver and one of my favs, French Meadow Bakery. Mmmm...food...

erin louise said...

ooh, yes, I love French Meadow too. I might have to devote a blog post to it in the future!

Anonymous said...

Spoonriver is my absolute hands down favorite Twin Cities restaurant. On top of tons of vegetarian options, they also have unbelievable cocktails and I especially love their passion fruit mimosa! YUM! What can I say, I love the bubbly.

Robyn said...

Your applebees comment made me laugh out loud. I have to agree with your view that restaurants with good vegetarian dishes are just better restaurants.

JBF said...

Spoonriver is SO good. We also love Good Earth and Longfellow Grill.

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