April 7, 2011

A Salem Witch's Guide to Local Vegetarian and Vegan Food

A divergence from my usual choice of topics, today I will be indulging in the percentage of me that is a huge hippie and reviewing vegan and vegetarian food in Salem. Next entry will be back to the usual stuff! [Updated 2/23/11, 10/2/12]

First things first, Salem is not only a tourist town and a college town, but also a town with a lot of freaky green crunchy granola people, so just about every establishment that serves food has options available for those going cruelty-free. It used to be that if you wanted 100% vegetarian food you had to somehow get all the way to The Organic Garden in Beverly, which is the next town over, but for a tourist this is usually not the easiest option. Luckily now we have Life Alive, which is now Salem's only vegetarian restaurant.

So what are the best places to get cruelty-free food in Salem Witch City?

1. Passage to India - If I had the money I would eat here every day. The menu is just good old standard Indian food, and if you are the average cultured vegetarian you could probably already order without looking at the menu. For anyone who has never been to an Indian food restaurant - the menu will confuse the hell out of you, don't be afraid to ask questions. The people here are super friendly as well.

2. Bankok Paradise and, (the aptly named) The Thai Place - These two places are competitors and a lot of locals choose one over the other. Either way - you have to specifically mention NO FISH SAUCE when you order a tofu curry because the waitstaff often get confused about what is an animal product and what isn't. Really, both places have the standard Thai style dishes, the only true difference is that Bankok Paradise also has music, and ow that they are under new ownership it often gets WAY to rowdy. Stay away from here late at night unless you're a very patient person.

3. Gulu-Gulu/Front St. Coffeehouse - My two favorite cafes in town are a tie, but I will mention what makes each place unique: Front St. is the only place with a juice bar and has the best prices for coffee and espresso drinks. Gulu-Gulu is special because they have the best selection of beer in the city(Front St. has none), and not just any beer, but heady beer. Beer that will satisfy the beer snob in all of us, but if you want Bud Light, you might want to skip this place. The Gulu, as the locals refer to it, is also the only cafe that consistently has live entertainment and music, film nights, and the infamous open mic night, which is the best/worst open mic night in the city.

Milk and Honey is the new green grocer in town, and besides the fact that it's named after two animal byproducts, it's the only place in Salem with a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan groceries. It's a tiny place and the prices are pretty high, but in the long run you might save money on getting your food here.

In closing I have to note that I consistently hit up just about every food place in Salem and I like them all. Some restaurants are better than others for vegan and vegetarian food, but just about every place will at least have veggie burgers. If you are the only veg*n in your group visiting town, don't be afraid to let your omnivore friends choose where you go for nomnoms. Even Boston Hotdog Co. has veggie dogs.

Oh, and for vegan ice cream the only place is still Cafe Kushco. Right in the center of town and very easy to find.