For beginners in the West Michigan veggie game, finding tasty vegetarian and vegan dishes can be problematic. Where should you start?
Here are just a few local spots offering more than a house salad. Revue has you covered on breakfast, lunch and dinner, too.
Bartertown Diner, Breakfast Scramble
Downtown Grand Rapids’ token plant-based-food, employee-owned and operated restaurant is eating off the land by relying on local and in-season supplies. They’re also now serving breakfast five days and the Breakfast Scramble is a must.
When I hear “scramble,” I can’t help but think of Skip’s Scramble, which as Arrested Development fans know, one should NEVER order because it comprises “something from every dish in the menu.” But Bartertown’s isn’t a giant mash-up of things you should never put together. It’s a collection of delicious (vegan) things, all neatly cozied up next to each other. I ordered it with the tempeh bacon, scrambled tofu, French toast and steamed kale.
First, we need to talk about the tempeh bacon. It’s tender, savory, delicious and vaguely reminiscent of bacon — but delightful and minus the grease.
The scrambled tofu was also delicious, and much more like eggs than the tempeh bacon. The kale, I’m not going to lie, while steamed and seasoned perfectly, kind of intimidated me. There was a lot of it and it felt like it was judging me most of the meal.
But the star of this scramble was the French toast: Two slices of sweet, gooey awesomeness. Bartertown’s Scramble is one you should ALWAYS order.
6 Jefferson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, bartertowngr.com
Parsley Mediterranean Grille, Carrot Juice
Ok, I know what you’re thinking: “Carrot juice? Seriously?” But zip it for a second — it’s actually brilliant. Juicing delivers nutrients directly to your bloodstream and you’d be surprised at how filling a 16 oz. cup of straight carrot juice with lemon can be. I used to work in an office on Monroe Center and I lost a lot of baby weight by juicing my lunches at Parsley’s.
The little known secret is that Parsley’s is the only eatery downtown where you can buy fresh juiced veggies. It’s not a juice bar, but their limited selection of juice pairs beautifully with its light, fresh take on Mediterranean fare. Also, you can reward yourself for cutting calories by helping yourself to their bar, which now serves local microbrews.
80 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, parsleymg.com
Marie Catrib’s, Sweet Potato & Lentil Burger
Marie Catrib’s enjoys a rabid following among Grand Rapids’ neighborhoods — especially with vegetarian and vegan diners. Its menu is known for vegan-friendly fare, although they also have a good selection for carnivores. It would be a shame to be carnivorous at Marie’s, though, because they do vegetarian so very well.
It’s hard to go wrong on Marie’s menu, but the Sweet Potato and Lentil Burger is a standout. I’m not usually much for burgers or sandwiches, but the soft, warm oaty bun, tomato chutney and aioli are a seductive combination. The patty, while certainly not as sturdy as a beef patty, was more flavorful, and — the best part — was just as filling as the real thing.
If sweet potatoes are not your thing, there’s always The Larry David or The Porto. The portion sizes are perfectly filling, but not too much and sandwiches come with a house-made kosher pickle spear.
1001 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, mariecatribs.com
More Vegetarian and Vegan-friendly Options
Furniture City Creamery takes a pass on winter hibernation
Ice cream aficionados often get the winter-time blues. But fret not, Furniture City Creamery, 958 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids, doesn’t shut down during the icy months — and yes, they have plenty of vegan options. Offering small-batch ice cream in original flavors, made from local ingredients, Furniture City serves up ice cream pies, hot chocolate kits, ice cream making classes and private parties.
Luna brings local Latin flair
A recent addition to downtown, Luna, 64 Ionia St. SW, Grand Rapids, takes a local spin on Latin cuisine with a simple but heartfelt menu, at the center of which are, you guessed it: Tacos! Best paired with their house-made margarita flight.
The Urban Mushroom blooms at the winter market
The Fulton Street Farmer’s Market (1145 Fulton St. E, Grand Rapids) is open throughout the winter. This means we can count on a steady supply of local artisan mushroom varieties from The Urban Mushroom, which sets up shop each Saturday. But don’t wait too long to grab the key ingredient to your vegetarian dish — this vendor frequently sells out.
Interested in eating vegan more often? Find a comprehensive guide to local vegan eateries at vegangr.com.