If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ve probably, at some point, gone to a restaurant only to find almost every dish has meat or eggs as a main component. If you were with friends, you probably ate a basket of French fries for dinner rather than ask to move the festivities elsewhere. No doubt about it—being the wet blanket nibbling at iceberg lettuce and fries isn’t fun for anyone. Corvallis restaurants, however, have for the most part caught on that they exist in a consciously green community, and most offer meatless—and sometimes even dairy—less options.
The tough part now is determining which places are best. We’ve got some pretty aggressive veg-heads on staff, and here are their recommendations.
By Mica Habarad
Market of Choice Salad Bar – 922 NW Circle Blvd #110
I’m incredibly lazy, but still really like fresh food. A great way to have the best of both worlds is to go the route of the incorruptible salad bar. Market of Choice has a fantastic incarnation with great tasting veggie-friendly doodads of all shapes and sizes. To boot, they have a Mandarin-style tofu that will pulverize your innards with stupid levels of pure goodness. You can sneak in, throw together a container of your favorite garden bits and choose to sit outside in the sweltering heat – I mean, in the nice weather, or head home and jam it down the neck hole while watching Adventure Time.
Cafe Yumm! – 2001 NW Monroe Ave
If you haven’t been to Café Yumm, go there next! The Original is divine; brown rice, black beans, shredded Tillamook cheese, black olives, sour cream, tomato, cilantro, and the one-of-a-kind, mouth-wateringly good Yumm sauce. Get it in a tortilla to eat on the run, or make it vegan with avocado. You can also find their Yumm sauce for sale around town at such places as Market of Choice and First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op.
Baguette – 121 SW 3rd St
Wallet-friendly, and centrally located in downtown on 3rd Street, Baguette offers super tasty French-Vietnamese sandwiches. Veg-heads are treated well, especially with the hearty Wheaties sandwich, which is stuffed with juicy marinated seitan, shredded carrots and cucumbers, and cilantro.
Brew BQ – 150 SW Madison Ave
No need to shy away when your carnivore friends want to hit up this barbecue joint; smoked tofu, curly fries, and some of the best dang hushpuppies ever are also on the menu. Slaw, chopped green salad, and vegan green chili and potato stew round out the vegetarian menu. It may not smell it, but this place is vegan-friendly.
Tarn Tip – 2535 NW Monroe Ave
Tarn Tip, the Thai joint squeezed between the Beanery and Bombs Away on Monroe, has an unbeatable lunch special. Open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (get there early), they offer two dishes for the crazy price of $6.50 (cash only). Usually one of the dishes is some kind of curry—red curry, green curry, yellow curry. All I can say is: Get that dish. Get all up on it. And when the server asks “Do you want chicken or tofu?” say “Neither, can you please just put in more vegetables?” Who needs tofu when you can sink your teeth into extra bell peppers, squash, and green beans?
The Woodsman – 529 Main St, Philomath
It may not be in Corvallis, but The Woodsman is worth the drive to Philomath. You won’t hit traffic on the way—so buck up and make the six-mile drive for the best Thai food on the planet. Seriously. Cities like New York and San Francisco don’t have Thai food that even compares. Hell, even Bangkok might not; this woman’s cooking is magical! Take a date, split the green papaya salad and order both the massaman and green curries. Oh, yeah—this is about vegetarian food, so order tofu or extra veggies in those curries. Or pork.
Nooch – Lurking All Over Corvallis
My favorite meatless option in town isn’t a specific dish or place, it’s a flavor. I love everything about nutritional yeast, affectionately known as nooch. My favorite places to get my nooch fix are Nearly Normal’s and Café Yumm! Normal’s has a nooch-based tofu seasoning that they sell in little plastic baggies. It’s packaged like a drug, which is appropriate given how much I crave it. Besides tofu, it’s great on popcorn or mac and cheese. Café Yumm!’s sauce comes on their bowls and can also be purchased by the bottle. Beware the addictive qualities of nooch!