Sunday, July 03, 2016

Travelling as a Lacto Vegetarian

Vidit Bhargava
Being a lacto vegetarian in San Francisco or any other city around the world can be a little tough. Given that most of these places have started to consider eggs as vegetarian, you're likely to get Vegetarian options but equally unlikely to get any 'lacto-vegetarian' meals for yourself. You could either go to a restaurant or cafe and tell them to avoid eggs in the preparation or just ask for something vegan (at which point you are just handed over a Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette), it's a pretty tough experience either way.

Dominos has a variety of vegetarian options in its menu and they are fine, except Domino's in US offers really thick crusts and has this concept of diced tomatoes (which have a horrible taste, btw), something that I'm not looking forward to have anytime soon.

Piccolo Forno a small Italian Dine-In near North Beach , offers a couple of vegetarian options, which are very good. Being pretty new on a street that's filled with Italian Restaurants and cafes, Piccolo Forno is a quite place, the weekend I went there, the only noise was of a couple of fans watching a Euro Cup match between Portugal and Switzerland. I liked that very much, I've never been fond of ultra-noisy cafes that make it difficult to have a meal in peace.

They offer a Vegetariana Pizza where they add fresh vegetable toppings to a wood-fired Pizza (which, from the description in their menu, may change by the day). The Pizza I had, was topped with Broccoli, Aubergines and roasted Eggplant along with some of the regular toppings. Never has this combination tasted as good as it did on that Pizza. One of the unlikeliest Pizza toppings I encountered, but also one of the tastiest Pizza's I've had in a long time. This is something you don't want to miss, if you ever visit Piccolo Forno, you should have one of these.

With Sandwiches, luckily Starbucks decided to offer something vegetarian in their menu that didn't have a dash of Mayonnaise. So you'll almost always be able to grab a Roasted Tomato and Mozzarella Panini from a Starbucks near you. Almost. The thing is, this particular Panini isn't stocked very well, so you'll be out of luck if you landed at a Starbucks late for lunch, you'll then probably need to search for 'vegan' options like a glorious fruit basket of preserved fruits.

If you are looking for San Francisco's signature Sourdough bread, you should head over to a Boudin Bakery Cafe which offers a few vegetarian options, including a Tomato Soup served in a hollowed out Sourdough Bread or you could ask them for a california veggie without mayonnaise. But Boudin doesn't publish any allergen info, so you'll have to rely on their word when they say their Breads aren't glazed with Egg White.

San Francisco has a lot of options in terms of Mexican food (Did you know San Francisco was a part of Mexico until 1846?). And while I didn't explore much of Mexican Food available, I did go to a Chipotle, which seems to be similar to Subway in terms of how they make their food. Chipotle has an organic Tofu (Sofritas) filling to offer, so you can easily order a vegetarian Burrito, Bowl or Taco, which makes for a decent lunch meal. And if you are a fan of spicy food (which I'm not) there are ways to make your chipotle meal very spicy.

To be honest, Lacto-Vegetarian food is a very small subset of a subset of any menu at an international city but there's enough to make you not give it up. For me, being allergic to eggs, makes it a compulsion to look for lacto-vegetarian options anywhere I go. For a lot of people it is also for religious reasons, and some of them seem to give it up on the pretext that there aren't enough options. I hope this post helps people get a decent vegetarian meal when they visit SF next time.

Seen here is Boudin's California Veggie

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