1007 SE 3rd St. (in the First Alternative Co-op)
Look, just because something is made with local and organic ingredients, doesn’t mean that you should eat a metric crap ton of it. Such is the danger of build-your-own meal bars. Southtown’s Feast Alternative Kitchen dishes a daily rotation of soup, salad, and entrees for the health-conscious crowd that also appeals to hedonists with comfort fare like Classic Mac & Cheese. Eat in among the sounds of market bustle or scarf it down in your car. Just don’t get five pounds of it.
109 NW 15th St.
Nearly Normal’s has old-school vegetarian food, wholesome dishes drawn from diverse cultures that don’t need meat substitutes. My current favorite is the spicy chipotle tacos with tender chunks of seasoned tempeh, fresh homemade slaw, spicy tomato sauce and large avocado slices. Two tacos come with a generous helping of beans and rice or ala carte. I order them ala carte with one of Normal’s extra fresh garden salads on the side.
Evergreen Indian Restaurant
136 SW 3rd St.
Evergreen is an amazing place to have lunch even if you’re not a vegetarian, but if you are, you’ve got some really delicious lentils, saag and pakora waiting to blow your mouth up. This is one of the best restaurants in town, especially for the price. Here’s the Advocate secret: get the lunch buffet to go. You can fill your container to the brim and have what scientists would call a veritable crapload of lunch. For about $5.50. Your move Nirvana.
1945 NW 9th St.
Challenge accepted Evergreen. As the only other Indian place in town, Nirvana has it’s work cut out for it. Fortunately it’s a different style of Indian, so if Evergreen isn’t for you, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy Nirvana. The spinach is less creamy, and the rice is stickier, but the raita is on a whole other level. It’s also got a really good bargain hiding in its lunch buffet for the savvy packer. Their array of chicken curries is insane, but their vegetarian menu is more than substantial. If you know a good Bhindi Masala when you taste one, you should do fine here.