My (mostly) vegan best friend is visiting this weekend from Texas. My husband is a bit of a carnivore. Where can we go for lunch or dinner Saturday that will make everyone happy? (She prefers not Mexican, coming from Texas.)Ah, the mixed dinner party, the etiquette conundrum of our age. I get this question a lot more frequently than I field questions about anniversary dinners or graduation parties. If we were talking about a group that included meatlovers and ovo-lacto vegetarians, coming up with a few dozen recs would take a minute or two. Scouring menus for dishes without eggs, milk, and honey does slim down the pool of choices.
Out the Door Bush: At the
Pacific Heights Out the Door, chef Grace Nguyen's menu includes braised
tofu and yuba (tofu-skin) dishes as well as clay-pot chicken and
stir-fried squid. Don't shrug off the salads, either.
Ruchi: The dosas, vadas, and
uttapams at this SOMA South Indian restaurant are all vegan ― though
you'll want to check to make sure the potatoes in the masala dosa aren't
fried in ghee ― and the meat dishes include chicken chettinad, lamb
curry, and the wonderful tamarind-soured Nellore fish curry.
Burmese Kitchen: Texas doesn't have many Burmese restaurants, whereas S.F. has quite a few good ones, so you may want to consider introducing her to the cuisine. Burma Superstar, Pagan, and
Yellow Pa Taut all have their boosters, but I'm still trying to eat my way down the menu at this Tenderloin
restaurant. Your friend could try the ginger salad, split-pea
tofu, and sauteed bamboo shoots while your husband goes for the pork
curry or beef with lemongrass.
Other non-Western options: Minako Organic Japanese, Panda Country Kitchen, Spices II.
If the "(mostly)" in your tweet suggests your friend will eat cheese or butter ― or is willing to ask the kitchen to omit it ― add Flour and Water, Barbacco, Alaturca, Frances, and Kokkari to your list. All have a broad enough selection of vegetarian dishes, including one or two vegan plates, to give her multiple options.
By all means, if anyone has another suggestion, leave a comment.