Vegetarian DINING


We present reports from the various Traveler's USA Notebook stories. They  range from brief mentions to serious discourses. The good news is that  there's fine vegetarian food out there, and you don't necessarily have to go to a vegetarian restaurant to enjoy a great feed. No animals harmed in these reviews.


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Spotlight Destination
A Big Look at Little Rock
Little Rock
gnored and  off the radar, not officially  a trendy  destination . . .yet Little Rock has all the ingredients that make for a satisfying vacation. And when the President Clinton library opened, the city had even more to offer-- history, recreation, shopping, scenery, events and a touch of authenticity. Let’s look.  [more]


A fresh look at some welcoming destinations.


Bright lights! New York City!  Curtain Up! The reviews are in. Spotlight on The 39 Steps  and New Jerusalem.

Planning Tip

The solar system on $10,000 a day. The astrology of travel.

Health Tip

There's travel fever . . .and then there's travel fever


Good taste in good taste and it's vegetarian.


Norman Schreiber

Special Correspondent: Debbi Kempton-Smith

Pacific Rim Correspondent
Jan Prince

Contributing Editors: April Burbage, Robert Rattner, Fern Siegel, Debra Griboff and Giles the Unflappable


Traveler's USA Notebook
P O Box 205 FDR Station
New York NY 10150 USA
voice 001 212.751.6680  
fax  001 603.720.8453



Boca Raton

Bombay Cafe

Oaks Plaza, opposite Florida Atlantic University, 628 Glades Road Tel 561 750 5299
(Just off the Interstate Highway 95)

All Southern Vegetarian, fresh daily and made to a high and delicate standard, this is gently explosive, right-on cuisine. This is no swanky date restaurant. It’s a new, spotlessly clean little Deli where you can sit and select from Uttapams, Dosas, Bhajis, Curries, Bhel Puris, Alu Chats, Samosas, Kachori, Pakora, Vada dishes, Idlis, Sambars, Lassis, Chais, Papadums, and Gulab Jamun, Shikhand, and Kulfi. I guess it helps to be near a university, especially in a spot as silly as Boca.



Both restaurant and haven, Joseph’s ( 129 Meeting St.), deserves recognition, admiration, a round of hearty huzzahs and your presence. The room is low key restful with appropriate art, scattered about. The real art comes from the kitchen. Apparently Executive Chef/Owner Joseph Passarini put some time in at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans and it was the right thing to do. He excels in simple fare with complex flavors.

We made Joseph’s our breakfast headquarters and were rewarded with sautéed spinach & mushrooms with white cheddar omelets, egg whites with plum tomatoes, fresh herbs & muenster cheese, and French toast ooh la la thick cut french bread marinated in eggs, vanilla & cinnamon, grilled and served with maple syrup and (upon request) revisionist eggs benedict--poached eggs served on holland rusks with spinach (NOT Canadian bacon) topped with hollandaise sauce. (843) 958-8500


 It serves eclectic American cuisine, and received an Award of Excellence from The Wine Spectator.Info 843-724-3800 or or 888-486-ROSE. more information

Charleston Grill

a Mobil Four Star Restaurant and winner of Wine Spectator's "Best of Award of Excellence." offers lowcountry and coastal specialties and is nestled in  Charleston Place. (10 Exchange St.) Info 843-577-4522. more information

Vintage Restaurant

 (14 North Market St.), another restaurant smiled upon by The Wine Spectator, serves "new-American cuisine." (843) 577-0090
More about Charleston here.


Cajun’s Wharf  
2400 Cantrell Road, Little Rock (501) 375-5351

Locals brag on Cajun’s Wharf, located in the city's Hillcrest/Heights section, as a landmark and source of pride (and a nice place to meet someone new). Traveler simply sees it is: an oasis for relaxation, spirits, (loud) music and perhaps even food. Go up on the deck. which overlooks the Arkansas River (see snap, above).

The back-story: Landry's, a Houston-based chain, acquired this local restaurant, a popular spot to drink up, hear live music and eat,   in the early ‘90s. The then new owner decided to make Cajun’s Wharf more of a family destination. Didn’t work. A local group bought the property in 1999 and there was and continues to be much joy.

It’s mainly a seafood restaurant-bar, and as such, you can’t expect many choices for vegetarians. What we had — salad, a cheese thing and French fries — worked. There also is pasta. And it is one hell of bar, with 15 house varieties of wine. They serve a wicked mixed drink, “Play-de-Do”.

Loca Luna is out and out Southern casual. It makes smart use of its wood fired brick oven. Specialties include pastas, salads and gourmet pizzas. Good grilled vegetables. 3519 Old Cantrell Rd. 501.663.4666

Franke's Cafeteria

Vegetarians will find hot vegetable dishes here, but the grub’s not nearly as nice as the Piccadilly chain. But then again, there are no Piccadilly cafeterias in Little Rock and there are three Franke's stops.. The candied yams were yummy, and they have some nice pies. We like a nice pie, don't you?
300 South University Avenue (University Mall) 501.666.1941
11121 North Rodney Parham  501.225.4487 
400 West Capitol Avenue (First Commercial Bldg.) 501.372.1919
More about Little Rock here.


The India Club

Certain restaurants distinguish themselves with timeless qualities. Up two flights of creaky stairs, you’ll feel you’re going back into a very dear, almost lost part of London. Those stairs have been trudged for years and years (since 1950) by people who knew that they would get a good Indian meal at a good price in a friendly atmosphere. Every time we come here we see people we’d love to know – writers and other verbal types, local business people, dear friends meeting for lunch, world travelers and the dedicated staff of nearby India House, the awesome building  Londoners go to get their visas for India.

At a time when London restaurants are flexing their muscles and busting your wallets, it is a pleasure to know you can order a huge meal for two vegetarian people for  £13. (If you want booze, bring your own.) The current owner of the 50-year-old establishment has been there for eight  years. It is a cozy room, but you do not feel crowded, the waiters all smile at you and bring you a pitcher of water. Your meal may be delivered to your table via some pretty historic grey metal trays, Do get a look at them.  Razzle dazzle  and glitz have their place, but sometimes we also like to go humble, and real, and go where we can order good solid curry with integrity, and it tastes good too. The dishes are prepared slowly and taste like it. Just like Rama used to make. The lemony walls are adorned as they have been for years with pictures of Gandhi and Nehru and Rabindrath Tagore  143 Strand, WC2.
(020) 7836 0650 7The Strand It’s open 7 days a week from noon to 2:30 and 6-10 plus.


  Govinda’s pure  vegetarian restaurant and takeaway 10 Soho StreetW1D 3DL  020 7437 5875 Okay they’re hari krishnas, but you don’t have to shave your head to enjoy healthful, tasty , portions of a decent curry, lasagna or other veggie treats.  more information

The Place Below

 The Place Below  is in the crypt of St. Mary Below Church, street called Cheapside EC2. tube stop is St. Paul or Bank. Open Monday to Friday only 7:30 to 2:30.  It’s actually quite cheery as crypts go. The place Below is one of those marvelous wonders, one hopes to find. The very workaday, humdrum, normal surroundings and buzz, crypt notwithstanding is the home of a great variety of freshly prepared, tasty, strictly vegetarian, inexpensive meals. There’s just enough virtue in the air to let you know you’re doing a good thing for yourself; but not too much virtue to pale the thrill of scarfing lunch down.


Make no mistake. When you dine in Pearl, you are indeed having a gem of an experience. Who ever thought you could transform butternut squash into gold, beets into rubies and parsnips  into platinum. The restaurant is located in the Renaissance Chancery Court Hotel, on the site of the Pearl assurance company’s erstwhile banking floor.

Head chef Jun Tanaka has gathered not so much of a staff as a cult. Eager to please the master. Eager to educate and serve the diner/knowledgeable attentive staff.

Pearl strands of Pearls wafting up to the ceiling in columns.. To heighten the magic, a circle of light glows on each table top. The light actually radiates from  below

We were so shocked at how delicious the first bite was we burst out laughing. Rocket, cauliflower, pearl onion, baby carrots and mushrooms all marinated lightly, yet still maintaining each vegetable’s own distinct flavour.

There was the passionate beetroot tart. Different dishes had tiny little daubs of purée.

Tanaka plays with the shape of the dishes. Even the angle at which the dish is presented to you indicates he has a love of geometry and when the honey roasted parsnips came standing in forest of cones, it was  the blessed marriage of  food and quantum physics.

An adorable small soup bowl looked like a Saturn cut in half, smooth and white, or perhaps an inverted flying saucer. The chef chose all the crockery carefully. Another example: A long ovoid plate which the waiter took care to place in front of Traveler at an 150° angle. The main course was some kind of roasted vegetable and butternut squash enrobed in glazed pastry case, so delicate and delicious it sends shivers down the spine. To this day we do not know what was in it but it was incredible. And for dessert, there was cranberry  granita atop vanilla yogurt.

For he hath taken the most humble and placed it on a seat next  to him in heaven. For these are the most humble of all the vegetables and  he has made them the most  heavenly. Perhaps it is true that the meek shall inherit.
Pearl Restaurant and bar
252 High Holborn ST. London WC1V 7E

More about London  here.



South Miami: Just off the Florida Turnpike, there was a wonder called Shalimar, and a proper sit-down little restaurant it was too, with a full traditional menu. Sometimes we drive there all the way from the Keys just to stock up on take-aways. It’s conveniently just off the off-ramp and the food....the food is delicious, just like Rama used to make. Is it still there? We’ll find out soon, and get right back to you.


Curry in a Hurry
119 Lexington Avenue
NY NY 10016
tel 212 683 0900 and 683 0904 and 683 5856 and 683 5944
fax 212 685 6385

This world famous pit stop (since 1976) for taxi drivers, film stars, Indian families, homesick diplomats and obsessed nutcases like your reviewers who once in awhile wake up and must have the full smorgasbord of   Indian dishes for breakfast at 10 o'clock in the morning  is not to be missed. In you come, look at the Big Board above, and point to all you want. They load it all onto a tray and then you teeter up the narrow stairs, where, waiting for you is a room full of tables and another buffet. We're not talking high gourmet dining here, but the pakoras are stunning and the dishes are the real thing, home cooking, perhaps, just like Rama used to make.

Travel tip: Get take-away samosas for a picnic on the plane, or to stash in your mini bar for a jet-lag snack.

Bombay Palace
You can always count on Bombay Palace to serve you a delicious, superior excellent almost guarantees excellence in every dish. If you need to take someone to a special lunch at a moment's notice, the cooking will never let you down .The rooms are constantly being renovated and glitzed up and convey a casual sense of occasion. People feel flattered to be asked to join you here. Bombay Palace is an international chain. The up side to this is it has extremely high standards.

Nice stop for Fifth Avenue shoppers or midtown execs. I like to "test" Indian restuarants by ordering difficult, variable dishes: Mattar Paneer is a case in point. The peas should be bright green, not army coloured. The paneer should be large, plump, rectangular, soft and taste of rosewater. Bombay Palace's always passes the paneer test, where hardly anyone else does. They sell their own cookbook: a must have.

 Unlike Madjhur Jaffery's and other 'earth toned' flavours,  the Bombay Palace's approach has a brightness and confidence and gourmet swagger, a genuine polish that makes you want to eat these foods every day. We've got three copies, and whenever we go into the hinterlands, the book goes with us. (Want to buy the book?) Go here.

Pricey a la carte and at night, your  best bet is  the glorious (but limited, compared to Diwan's sumptuous lunchtime spread) seven days a week lunch buffet. The good old BP has been in business for ever, and perhaps the only complaints we might have about it are the ever-changing three selections of vegetarian dishes on the daily buffet. They don't always think about how it must feel having a choice of three dishes that are lentils, peas and potatoes, and chick peas: beans, bean, beans! To be fair, they will offer to bring you another dish, but this always embarrasses us. We don’t like to make a fuss. Phone before you go and ask what's on today. If you're lucky it might be mattar or sag paneer, cauliflower, and black dhal, or kofta, or veg jalfrezi. 
30 West 52nd Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)
NY NY 10019
BP on the Web




The Stinking Rose---Garlic Holy of Holies

Among what  Ruth Reichl calls theme park restaurants (Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood, Fashion Cafe, Jekyll and Hyde), it's so nice to go to a restaurant where the theme is food. The Stinking Rose is on Columbus Avenue in the North Beach area; and it feels (and smells) like a neighborhood fixture. Its name refers, of course, to garlic, and The Stinking Rose is a garlic restaurant.

This is not a subtle place. The flavors are strong, direct, and honest. And full of garlic--- smoky, sweet, passionate. The Penne #30, with garlic and a cracked red pepper that you couldn't see but you definitely could feel is sensational. The gnocchi was a little soft, but it came with hearty marinara. And yes--- you'll have to make a decision. Should you be a blatant tourist and have the garlic ice cream? Yes. As Phil the waiter explained. By the time you reach the meal's end, you're kind of used to the garlic.

 Moreover,  it's basically a vanilla ice cream with a caramelised chocolate syrup, and very nice it is too. Stinking Rose is obvious, rewarding fun and a noble, successful experiment, the only garlic restaurant so far’s we know. Food’s good. The Rose stays open late, and locals (we learned later) go there a lot.
325 Columbus Avenue San Francisco, CA. 94133
Tel. 415-781-7673 Fax. 415-403-0665


Curly's Coffee Shop

Turn right out of the Boheme on Columbus Avenue and walk up to Green Street and you'll see it, jammed with locals. Grab your two sunnysides here and avoid the rip-off six-buck omelettes on Columbus. But do get your coffee opposite Hotel Boheme, at Cafe Puccini, where Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet owner of the famed City Lights Bookshop, likes his java.

Kowloon Vegetarian Chinese Restaurant

Dumplings and tea form an delicious, heart-healthy breakfast in a peaceful, simple room filled with marvellous, mysterious fresh dim sum...The racks swell with the puzzling packets of savoury delights in unending varieties. Traveller's USA Notebook filled up on nut and vegetable castles that look like rooks in a chess set and feel like mashed potatoes going down, and a steaming platter of hot and crispy lemon (mock) chicken, made from soy, not meat. The dumplings with water chestnuts are especially stunning, fetching you back again and again to lope up and down the hill of Grant Avenue, yearning for more, to this humble spot where happy/sad, timeless Chinese songs suffuse your soul with wistful suchness.
909 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA. 94108
Tel. 415-362-9888 Open 9:00 am to 10:00 pm

More about San Francisco here.

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Deseo’s fresh and innovative Latin menu was created by chef Douglas Rodriguez of New York’s Patria fame. The soothing, modern restaurant has an open kitchen, where, if you like such things, you can see it all happen, seated sushi bar style, or join the majority of diners who plump for the banquettes and white table-cloths, with a view of the greens outside. South and Central American food isn't what vegetarians think of first when going out on the razzle for a little ‘sport dining’ — these are meat and fish loving peoples. What a serendipitous opportunity, we thought, to have master Chef de Cuisine Mark Dow cook up something cruelty-free, ‘off-menu’.

The Drinks

For wine, we chose a red, a a soft but serious Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon Errazuriz Reserve 1998. The wine selection is nicely rounded, with wines from Chile, Italy and even France, and includes a large selection of California wines, which seem to be getting better (and pricier) by the year.

For cocktails, there was a curiously refreshing Cuban mint julep, the Mojito Cubano, made with Appleton rum, lime-mint, white cane sugar and soda. The fresh, crushed  dark green mint rises up to meet one’s lips, fragrant and perfectly .balanced, one’s own private and secret garden. Hey, greens are good for you. Also, there was the Deseo Colada, a siren of a drink, made with Myers dark rum, passion fruit juice, and coconut. This one is pure Martin Denny: you are in the tropics, and soon you will be supplying your own birdcalls. This lovely libation, a layered, custard-coloured  flan of a drink, is draped with looping lines of coconut; it is  sweet, delicious, and deadly.

But health food was and is always first on our minds, and parked in a champagne bucket near our table a bottle of Sole stood guard, a sparkling mineral water imported from Italia. This apparently is the Westin  chain’s house brand of water. In a place like Arizona, where the temperature in July can reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit, this is big business.

And then there was Food

First came the Vegetable Arepas, scrumptious corn cakes topped with spinach, fresh bits of tomato, and huge green capers, garlanded with crème fraiche, accompanied by a basket of plantain chips and a typical Colombian bread, pandebono, bland, round little rolls made from a little mozzarella and a biscuit like batter.

Next, Gloria's Black Bean Soup (Gloria is Douglas Rodriguez's  mama), served  up with a deeply satisfying croquette plopped into its middle, soaking up the soup, crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, made of asagio cheese and cilantro.

And then a pretty, crisp white hearts of palm salad arrived, in a shallot and thyme vinaigrette with bleu cheese sauce and (oh well) goat cheese, dates stuffed with almonds, a stack of jicama strips, egg white strips, endive. Its textures –crunchy and soft and slidey – and sensations – sweet and tangy –made one feel one was on an adventure.

The entree was a proud Vegetable Napoleon, complete with a huge rosemary feather in his Portobello mushroom cap. This is a stacked dish, with layers of mushrooms, both red and yellow heirloom tomatoes, spinach, mozzarella, roasted peppers and a grilled purple onion. It comes with a heavenly quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced "keen-wa" is actually a Peruvian berry, but it feels and comforts like a starch.

Anyone for Dessert?

A word about high end desserts. American restaurants seem to operate under the belief that the more huge and disgusting, gross, layered, recombinant, X-treme and in your face the dessert is, the more the public will go for it. How else to justify the $9 price tag? Most of the dessert lists we saw in Scottsdale were completely unappealing. Deseo's was the scariest, the over the toppiest in this category. Fortunately Deseo’s desserts are far better than they sound. See what you think. Here is the dessert menu:
·   Guava Goat Cheese Cake with crème fraiche ice cream and poached prunes  
·   Cafe Y Tabaco white chocolate mousse cigar dipped in dark chocolate with dulce de leche, coffee ice cream, and chocolate espuma.  
·   Churros cinnamon dusted donut sticks with dulce de leche and chocolate dipping sauce 
·   Tres Leches de Chocolate served with orange sorbet and a strawberry gaspacho  Almond Flan with ice wine gelle, white grapes and almond cookies  

Okay. After much deliberation and trepidation, we had churros a happy surprise. The dippin’ donut sauce chocolate was deep` like blood,  and like wine. This is voodoo chocolate, aphrodisiacal like you see in the film Like Water for Chocolate.  Traveller asked if it was a special chocolate, but they didn't want to say. And who can blame them?

The flan? It came, crowned and speared by a little lacy cookie. Let us just say it was unremarkable. Call me a peasant, but I like a flan that wiggles and shakes.

But wait — there's more.  The flan came in a clear, eerie jelly, with thin translucent slices of grapes, suspended like eavesdropping eyeballs looking back at you with gelid glaze...this odd liquid landscape called out to my inner octopus, or perhaps the little kid who loves rubbery toys, inner tubes, squishy squeezy gooey yo-yos, and the like. Not for the squeamish, and my colleagues at Taller would probably pass or scream, "Eeeauwwwwh!" but hey, they ain't eyeballs, we do not consume sentient beings with eyeballs, so forgive Traveller for revelling in a plate that returns one’s affectionate gaze was lovely to be looked at by something that was not two over easy or tapioca. And after those mojitos, I could swear it winked.  
open evening hours,480.585.4848

La Hacienda

La Hacienda is not just another Mexican restaurant. It is the Mexican restaurant.

The only Mex to win four stars and  four diamonds from Mobil and AAA respectively isn't in L.A., Texas, or New is here, in Scottsdale, and it's probably the  best Mexican restaurant in the USA right now.

Oh, we've slurped sangrias over many a silly afternoon at Marix in West Hollywood, sneaked into  that dear, beloved Mexican deli, Gallegos in Santa Monica for organic vegetarian corn tamales,  gone into swoons over organic guacamole in Agoura, and not once, but twice been crushed, bewildered and deeply disappointed at Rosa Mexicano in New York, where you'd think they'd  know better...or maybe they just don't care.

                                                                      No, if you could only have one Mexican meal in America, or you're passing through and can only eat only one grand dinner in Arizona, have it here. Or fly here. And bring somebody. It's cozy and dark inside.

                                                        Start with cocktails. Be brave. They’re unlike anything anywhere else. They may not turn out to be your favourite flavours, but  that's the thrill. You won't get  these in London, Paris or Rome, or even the moon, where soon you will be after several sips.

                                                                      We  tried the Prickly Pear Margarita,  pink and very sweet, Hindu sweet, to set off the prickly bits, we suppose, and oddly pleasant. Too pleasant. Of all the Hacienda's special libations, this one slips down nice and easy, and before you know it, you'll be ready to buy a round for the whole stinkin', sorry, poor old world. Caramba!

                                                                      Then there is the specialite de la maison, er, casa, the Hacienda Margarita. With this drink, you are in a deep earth tone groove, as your baffled tongue sorts through the greenness and the cactus flavours, and the citrus, lemon and lime, sweet and sour and salt, yin and yang, love and death and one part dirty sneaker, an acquired taste and one worth hurrying to acquire.

                                                                      Sangria at La Hacienda is a deep ruby in a huge goblet. Was there perhaps a hint of pomegranate?  

This should have been the pinnacle slurp of a lifetime, but it was distressingly sharp. Had its edges been even a little more rounded , we might have ordered a pitcher or two. Que lastima! Every sangria is different. every time you make it We'll try again, manana

By now it was showtime, the moment when you tell the staff no meat, fish or anything with a face, please. No chicken or beef stock, either. Vegetarians do this before ordering. We have to, or suffer unimaginable bouts of the Aztec one-step later.  And it's fun to see what the kitchen comes up with, put them through their paces/ Accordingly, vegetarian gourmets read menus rather differently from the way carnivores do. The eye darts to the side dishes and garnishes, noting unusual possibilities. But ultimately, one must give up the menu and put oneself in the hands of the gods. And that is the chef.  

Out came chef Andrew Macdonald. We asked for vegetarian tasting plates. No problem. How were we to know that he would be our spirit guide to a gourmet's divine Valhalla? Roses to him! So off you shall go, on a halcyon Hacienda culinary adventure. Here's what appeared, in no particular order. A basket of fresh little rolls and perfect warm tortillas with the best salsa we’ve ever had, a medium dark brown and smoothed,  we suspect , by a bit of chocolate. The butter: a heavenly blend of roasted garlic, cilantro and poblano chiles.

Then: A vegetable flan. Horchata crepes. A salad of organic greens ,fine strings of jicama and panella cheese, which is a Mexican mozzarella, dressed in a  perfect pumpkin seed  vinagrette with lime and cilantro. Wild mushroom tart Snap peas. Haricot verts. Calabacitas, a little baby kind of squash.Bulgar wheat pilaf with chilis and a spicy flash-grilled tequila cornpote. (not sure about this last  - the cocktails were doing what cocktails are supposed to do, and while forks were flying, our notes became alarmingly like Aztec symbols), (Must go back to La Hacienda soon for more fact-finding), pickled carrots, Mexican white sweet potato casserole with breacs, a Mexican chili and tomato sweet jam, and caramelized onions.  

No one - there were four of us - can remember dessert. But my notes say that the fffzswrquerrr was very, very good.

                                                                      I want to live here, right under this table, for ever.  


More about Scottsdale here.


The Columbia Restaurant 


The old historic Ybor City Cuban restaurant serves the best food, including many delights suitable for vegetarians, in Tampa/Ybor City. Don’t miss this. Of course it’s a chain now. Thank heavens we’ll have another reliably good meal to look forward to elsewhere. Click here  2117 East 7th Ave (813) 248-4961.
For cheaper (and blander) Cuban eats, there's nearby Carmine's. 1802 East 7th Ave (813) 248-3834 

La Terrazza Ristorante

In Ybor City, a wonderful treasure of a Northern Italian restaurant. Not surprisingly, the Weekly Planet rated it  Tampa Bay’s “Best Italian restaurant” in 2002. (Luigi, the owner, is from Ricione.). In addition to its luscious cooking (primo pesto, and a must-have, ethereal eggplant appetizer),  its super-soft ambience, candles and low lights will melt you like mozzarella.. 1727 E. 7th Ave. 813.248-1326 Click here,

Tampa: NS Foods and Gifts
in Cacciatore Plaza, on Hanley Road, just off Hillsborough Ave. (between Hillsborough and Waters Ave. Cross Street is Paula.) 5522 Hanley Road, Tampa Tel. 813 243 1522

Nobody knows about this place. Nobody but the happy people--- mostly Indians and Pakistanis---who pop in and out of this grocery store garnished with a few picnic tables.It isn’t even listed in the local hip Weekly Planet newspaper, or anywhere. But man, can they cook! The owner is rumoured to be a brilliant mathematician...the elegance and complexity of the flavours is definitely a winning formula. This one is worth a special trip.

The menu changes daily, and is ‘purely vegetarian’, they will proudly tell you, when you ring up to check the hours. (Happily, they are open 7 days a week.) We paid just five bucks for a surprisingly subtle all you can eat buffet, set up in crockpots on a small picnic table; this included three desserts, millions of papadums, one chapati, a sensationally succulent mango rice, curries, sambars, delicate, succulent, thin crusted samosas and a generous selection of fruits. They also make superb dosas.


Udipi Cafe

They're all raving about this joint. We haven't checked it out yet, but it's another vegetarian Southern Indian restaurant in Florida, so why fool around? There's a lunch buffet Tuesday-Friday, chomp, chomp, chomp.
14422 North Dale Mabry Hwy   (813) 962-7300  or click 

Viva La Frida

If you’re looking for the throbbing heart of the art/activism axis of Tampa’s creative community, rush directly to Viva La Frida, restaurant and much, much, much, much more. The eccentric, whimsical clientele come here two, three even four times a week for poetry, plays, save-the-world activities or just a good laugh over a pitcher or two of sangria with friends.

As we approached the restaurant's  doorway we heard voices. Looking to the right, we saw an outdoor stage (complete with actors) and an audience. It was a  performance of David Mamet’s “Sexual Perversity in Chicago.” inside posters and fliers describe opportunities for community activism and significant events.

With so many vegetarian-friendly dishes on the menu, the starving artist/University student/crunchy Granola crowds feel instantly at home here. And the sangria’s good. The food's well,  Mexicanesque,  as Mexican food is merely the jumping-off point for the eccentric, generous  cook who just can’t resist tweaking everything on the menu, down to  the beans and rice, until it’s something else again. Big portions, though. (Skip the guacamole, though  - was that cheese in it? Aiye!)
5901 Florida Ave. 813-231-9199   or click aqui

More about Tampa here.




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