Being a vegetarian does not mean you cannot enjoy dining in restaurants, even if you live in an area that is not particularly vegetarian friendly. Suffolk, Virginia, where I live, is not known for its choices of veggie-friendly restaurants. After all, it is just a stone’s throw from Smithfield, a charming little town famous for its ham and pork products. However, I love eating in restaurants, and have not found myself in one yet that did not offer something meatless on the menu. Even steak houses have salad bars.
Some great choices at popular franchises
For lunch I frequently dine in restaurants close to my work place. Here are a few of my favorite veggie options from some of my favorite chain restaurants:
Panera Bread: When it is in season (fall and winter), I usually order the Orchard Harvest Chicken Salad without the chicken. It’s very good – dark greens, pears, dried cherries, Gorgonzola cheese, and toasted pecans, with tasty cherry balsamic vinaigrette. In the spring and summer, I enjoy the strawberry poppy seed salad, also without chicken. Panera Bread also offers a couple of veggie sandwich options. Every now and then, I order the Mediterranean Veggie café sandwich, which includes red peppers, feta cheese, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro Jalapeño hummus served on tomato basil bread. I don’t like raw onions so I ask them to leave those off. I have not yet tried the tomato and mozzarella Panini but I think I will soon.
Firehouse Subs: While Firehouse Subs is a decidedly meat-oriented restaurant, it does offer a veggie sub that is filling and delicious. It includes a sautéed mixture with mushrooms and onions, bell peppers, onion, lettuce, mayo, mustard, and Italian dressing with provolone, Monterey Jack, and cheddar cheese. I order a medium on a whole-wheat bun.
Subway: You pick what you want on your veggie sub. I get a six-inch wheat bun with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, olives, and sweet peppers. I have them add a little yellow mustard, a little salt and pepper, and a generous dollop of vinegar and oil.
Ruby Tuesday: Their famous salad bar offers a generous selection of vegetables and fruits. Just don’t get the ham or bacon bits.
Zero’s Subs: The Cosmo Deluxe sub is my all-time favorite veggie sandwich. The bun is hot and crunchy and the sandwich is a tasty mixture of provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, broccoli, green peppers, onions, zucchini, and black olives. Zero’s has a special combination of oil, vinegar, and spices that gives their subs a unique flavor. I make a few adjustments to the standard Cosmo Deluxe. I ask for no onions or green peppers and ask them to add sweet peppers, which I think, gives it an extra zing.
Arby’s: Yes, you read that right! I ask for the Market Fresh Roast Turkey & Swiss Sandwich without the turkey. Sometime I ask for extra lettuce and tomato. With the mayo and spicy brown honey mustard and the Swiss cheese, it is really good. And it’s nice for an occasional quick and inexpensive option.
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