Best Chain Restaurants for Vegetarians - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 05-30-2008, 01:00 PM
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Hi!



Hope I'm not duplicating a previous thread - I know there's a vegetarian restaurant thread which is great - mine's a bit different:



I live in California so I consider myself extremely lucky to have a lot of vegetarian options nearby. With summer travel coming, I'm wondering if you've found any chain restaurants that serve vegetarian fare?



I went on a road trip last weekend and stopped at Chili's for lunch thinking, "Well I remember the egg rolls there, or I could get nachos without the meat." Ha. The egg rolls have chicken in them and the nacho cheese has beef in it. Even the queso dip had beef in it. So I'm wondering if any of you have good recommendations for restaurants that offer more than a house salad. (I already pack my own snacks to be safe, but it would be great to know other options.)



Thanks!
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#2 Old 05-30-2008, 01:02 PM
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Subway and Quiznos both have a veggie sub that are both pretty good.



That's for starters...



ETA: Family style restaurants and those that recreate the 50's diner style will likely have a veggieburger, usually a Gardenburger. If you eat cheese, you might be able to get a grilled (or nongrilled) cheese sandwich. At Mexican style restaurants, you may be able to fill a tortilla or taco shell with cheese, rice and beans, if they don't cook the beans in beef fat.



Also, and this is assuming that readers of this thread eat cheese, there are plenty of pizza joints everywhere, so if you see one, you won't starve.

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#3 Old 05-30-2008, 02:17 PM
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Ruby Tuesday's has a really good veggie burger and great salad bar. When I'm travelling in different areas I love to check out ethnic restaurants. Thai, chinese, japanese, indian, mexican, middle eastern, etc all seem to have good veggie options.
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#4 Old 05-30-2008, 02:57 PM
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I would be careful of chain restaurant cheese, unless you can ask if it has animal rennet. Most chain restaurants will have more than a few things that are vegetarian or can be made vegetarian, whether it be a veggie burger, a portobello mushroom sandwich, pasta with marinara (or alfredo I guess), etc etc. It really should not be too big of a problem eating vegetarian at any chain.
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#5 Old 05-30-2008, 03:14 PM
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Chili's has a black bean burger and will also make veggie fajitas. Red Robin has a veggie burger and a veggie rice bowl. Johnny Rockets has a veggie burger. Macaroni Grill has the "create-your-own pasta" and thier bread is vegan. Burger King has a veggie burger.



I had more trouble getting food at Applebees than any other chain restaurant I've been to.
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#6 Old 05-30-2008, 03:18 PM
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Usually when I'm on a road trip, I tend to stop at fast food places. Taco Bell has a seven layer burrito that can be made vegan by only having five layers. MOST Burger Kings have a veggie burger. (Been to a few that took it off the menu) Buffalo Wild Wings has a veggie burger. I recomend getting a side of mango habanero sauce to pour on it.
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#7 Old 05-30-2008, 03:50 PM
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Wendy's cheese is rennetless. you can get a "veggie sandwich w/ cheese" there... its a bun w/ condiments (ask for extra). They also have baked potatoes and stuff.



Au bon pain and panera bread might have some good options. Panera has a good website for info.

Brueggers bagels doesnt use rennet either...they have soups and sandwiches too.
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#8 Old 05-30-2008, 04:32 PM
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Wendy's cheese is rennetless. you can get a "veggie sandwich w/ cheese" there... its a bun w/ condiments (ask for extra). They also have baked potatoes and stuff.



Au bon pain and panera bread might have some good options. Panera has a good website for info.

Brueggers bagels doesnt use rennet either...they have soups and sandwiches too.



Am I the only one who is completely unimpressed by Panera Bread? They have a mushroom sandwich, but I didn't think it was very good. And that seemed to be the only veg*n option available the two times I ate there, though apparently the "soup of the day" varies regularly and is sometimes vegetarian and/or vegan.



As already mentioned, Subway and Burger King have veggie burgers. I've heard Quiznos has veggie options, too, though I haven't tried them. There's a Chinese chain down here called Pei Wei that has good veg*n options, with a special symbol on the menu to indicate them, but I think they may be a Florida-only chain. For that matter, Too Jays deli, which is also Florida based, had some decent veg*n options last time I was there.



I've heard the Applebees complaint elsewhere, so I avoid them, though I haven't personally gone there since going veg. I never liked them as an omni, though, so I think it might just be that they suck all around.



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#9 Old 05-30-2008, 04:41 PM
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Taco Bell made a couple of appearances on recent trip. They have all sorts of options for veg heads. We visited The Melting Pot, which is a smaller chain, I think, as well, and found them to be surprisingly vegan friendly. Panera's a personal fave of mine, as well.

The ones I pity are the ones who never stick out their neck for something they believe, never know the taste of moral struggle, and never have the thrill of victory. - Jonathan Kozol
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#10 Old 05-30-2008, 04:53 PM
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I've seen pei wei here in Arizona as well as California and Nevada. It's the fast food version of PF Changs. Speaking of PF Changs, they'll sub tofu in any of their dishes and tell you whether the sauces are vegetarian or not.



Also Chipotle makes a really, really good veggie burrito. Just make sure you get the black beans cuz the other ones aren't vegetarian.
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#11 Old 05-30-2008, 05:21 PM
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I work at Chili's so let's see:



You can order nachos without the queso but they're quite bland. They have delicious veggie quesadillas with jack cheese, jalapenos, and mushrooms. As mentioned before they have veggie fajitas and a black bean burger. They will also make a portobello mushroom burger with all your fixings upon request. They also have spinach artichoke dip.



Just ask waiters, there's usually one or two veggies around who can help out
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#12 Old 05-30-2008, 05:23 PM
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Note to self: Order a portobello burger next time I visit Chili's
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#13 Old 05-30-2008, 05:40 PM
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Am I the only one who is completely unimpressed by Panera Bread? They have a mushroom sandwich, but I didn't think it was very good. And that seemed to be the only veg*n option available the two times I ate there, though apparently the "soup of the day" varies regularly and is sometimes vegetarian and/or vegan.

Panera has lots of things. The Mediterranean sandwhich is vegan if you ask for no cheese



The soup does vary but they usually aways have at least one vegetarian option, at least the one by me does. Plus, you can get a pb&j or a salad





EDIT: Nevermind, the Tomato Basil bread it's on has honey in it

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#14 Old 05-30-2008, 06:01 PM
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Panera has lots of things. The Mediterranean sandwhich is vegan if you ask for no cheese



The soup does vary but they usually aways have at least one vegetarian option, at least the one by me does. Plus, you can get a pb&j or a salad





EDIT: Nevermind, the Tomato Basil bread it's on has honey in it



The Mediterranean sandwich is DELICIOUS imo. And you can always change the bread
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#15 Old 05-30-2008, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Doktormartini View Post

Panera has lots of things. The Mediterranean sandwhich is vegan if you ask for no cheese



The soup does vary but they usually aways have at least one vegetarian option, at least the one by me does. Plus, you can get a pb&j or a salad





EDIT: Nevermind, the Tomato Basil bread it's on has honey in it



This is the VEGETARIAN discussion thread, so there will be some people reading this thread who don't mind the honey in the bread.

*this space not for sale*
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#16 Old 05-31-2008, 08:31 AM
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Thank you so much for all of your suggestions!



It seems the more I learn the more questions I have. So I will now play the "newbie" card and ask:



1) What is rennet?



2) Why is honey a concern?



Is there a vegetarian bible out there somewhere? I thought I was doing well not eating meat, but have no idea what rennet is or that I might have been unknowingly eating it in my cheese. I guess that's one of the hardest things about eating out at an omni restaurant, huh? You can't be 100% sure that you're safe?



Thanks again!
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#17 Old 05-31-2008, 04:45 PM
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This is the VEGETARIAN discussion thread, so there will be some people reading this thread who don't mind the honey in the bread.

I got the impression that DM was merely correcting his earlier statement, not making an anti-vegetarian remark.

The ones I pity are the ones who never stick out their neck for something they believe, never know the taste of moral struggle, and never have the thrill of victory. - Jonathan Kozol
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#18 Old 06-01-2008, 01:21 AM
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I had more trouble getting food at Applebees than any other chain restaurant I've been to.



I get to take online surveys (legit ones...a company sends me surveys on a number of companies) and one of the surveys I just took the other day was for Applebees. While Applebees will probably NEVER be a place for vegans, I was really excited when I saw true vegetarian meals on the survey. I got to choose what appealed to me the most and I chose ALL the vegetarian dishes they were proposing, and gave anything with meat the worst ratings ever.



My survey literally speaks for THOUSANDS if not more! I can't say I'd ever really want to go to Applebees, but here's hoping they decide to put a few more things on their menu that are veggie friendly.



One of my favorites was a veggie wrap with ALL vegetables and avocado and some other goodies wrapped up. It had cheese, but you could special order it without cheese, I am sure, or sub the cheese with salsa or whatever (which I'd ask to do). I really got hungry thinking about it! I hope they decide to put a few of those things on their menu!



And I am SO glad I get a voice in things like this in my surveys I take online!

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#19 Old 06-01-2008, 01:30 AM
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If you are in the heartland (MO, KS, IA, NE, or OK) there is a WONDERFUL place called Planet Sub! HANDS DOWN the best veggie subs I've EVER HAD. I really get turned off of sub places whose idea of a veggie sub is piling on all their raw veggies between two pieces of bread and calling it a sandwich. Hey, if that's what you like, go for it, I won't hold it against you...but I personally appreciate more effort being put into my food, and Planet Sub actually offers imaginative creations for their vegetarian customers. And they are willing to make their wraps and other sandwiches veggie by subbing the meat with tempeh. Ask them to hold the cheese, please, if you are vegan! But the guacamole and salsa they can sub for the cheese makes up for it! DELICIOUS.

"I used to hate dogs 'til I saw one kill a kid." W.C. Fields
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#20 Old 06-01-2008, 01:31 AM
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Note to self: Order a portobello burger next time I visit Chili's



Yeah, I never knew they offered stuff like that. I might have to go to one some time. The problem is the ones around here are known for their bad customer service...but it could be just somebody had a bad day when they went there. I never tried them personally.

"I used to hate dogs 'til I saw one kill a kid." W.C. Fields
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#21 Old 06-01-2008, 01:37 AM
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Originally Posted by CaliChick View Post

Thank you so much for all of your suggestions!



It seems the more I learn the more questions I have. So I will now play the "newbie" card and ask:



1) What is rennet?



2) Why is honey a concern?



Is there a vegetarian bible out there somewhere? I thought I was doing well not eating meat, but have no idea what rennet is or that I might have been unknowingly eating it in my cheese. I guess that's one of the hardest things about eating out at an omni restaurant, huh? You can't be 100% sure that you're safe?



Thanks again!





Rennet, I believe, is from the lining of a calf's stomach...very gross when you think about it. I researched it online (and I am sure somebody else will have MUCH more information about it) before and found that pretty much all the cheap cheeses have it, and the more mainstream name brand stuff doesn't. It's not a typical rule. Personally, I try to avoid cheese as much as possible. At home, I use cheese made from soy and almond cheeses, and if I eat out I try to seek out subs for the cheese. I might eat cheese occasionally if I don't see a suitable substitute, but I typically feel bad about it afterwards.



As for honey...bees make honey for bees. There is a consensus among vegans and others that because of that we should not eat honey, and take away their food. Personally, I never really at honey before. I think I bought two bottles of honey in my entire life (before I was vegetarian) and they both went bad before I got around to finishing it. Cutting honey out of my diet is like cutting out fish...I never ate fish as an omni either, so it's nothing for me to cut it and not worry about it.

"I used to hate dogs 'til I saw one kill a kid." W.C. Fields
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#22 Old 06-01-2008, 06:19 PM
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I will second Planet Sub. I'm from MO, and I can honestly tell you that it's a godsend. They have SOOOO many options... and their website is amazing by showing you everything you need to know.
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#23 Old 06-01-2008, 06:42 PM
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Taco Del Mar has burritos specifically labeled 'vegan' or 'vegetarian'.
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#24 Old 06-01-2008, 07:01 PM
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I live in Missouri and have never been to Planet Sub. I'm not sure I've even seen one. Hmm.



My favorite chains in St. Louis (many of which have been named):



1) Qdoba - Grilled vegetable burrito with beans and guac. Yum!

2) Panera (here it's called St. Louis Bread Co) - They always have either black bean soup or vegetarian minestrone. I also like the Asian Chicken salad minus the chicken.

3) Noodles & Company - They have pastas, salads, and soups. You can add veggies and tofu to any dishes. I usually get the Chinese Chop salad plus tofu.

4) Bar Louie - They offer a huge plate of Hummus, Tabbouleh & Tzatzikia that comes with cucumbers and pita bread. It's awesome! They also have a veggie burger, and plenty of cheesy items.

5) Kaldi's - They always have several unique veggie sandwich options.

6) Pei Wei - This place used to be my favorite ... then they removed the Japanese Udon noodles (with veg and tofu). It's just not the same now.
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#25 Old 06-01-2008, 11:18 PM
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I live in Missouri and have never been to Planet Sub. I'm not sure I've even seen one. Hmm.





I don't think you will find them in St. Louis. Kansas City area, both MO and KS sides, and in the burbs. I hope they expand...they have a good thing going.

"I used to hate dogs 'til I saw one kill a kid." W.C. Fields
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#26 Old 06-03-2008, 01:29 AM
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Rennet, I believe, is from the lining of a calf's stomach...very gross when you think about it. I researched it online (and I am sure somebody else will have MUCH more information about it) before and found that pretty much all the cheap cheeses have it, and the more mainstream name brand stuff doesn't. It's not a typical rule. .



Rennet is an enzyme from the cow's stomach lining, used to coagulate milk, to curdle it and make cheese.



Its not a matter of how cheap a brand is, whether they use rennet or not...there is no hard and fast rule for brands or types of cheeses that are rennetless.

In general though, you are safe w/ ricotta or cottage cheeses. Beyond that, its a crapshoot.

Its virtually impossible to find a rennetless parmasean or romano cheese. Feta and bleus, etc are also very difficult. Assume they use rennet.

Cheddars and mozz are a little more commonly rennetless...again, i'd assume they did use it, until told otherwise.

heres a list for cheeses in groc. stores:

http://cheese.joyousliving.com/



as a vegetarian, you'd also want to avoid gelatin. Which is the boiled down connective tissues of animals. It can be found in desserts, candies, etc.
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#27 Old 06-03-2008, 01:31 AM
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Also, check out the "Links" section of that Joyous Living site...theres a ton of info on ingredients, resources, etc.
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#28 Old 06-03-2008, 03:31 AM
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a UK perspective:



Subway (veggie delite, veggie patty. For vegans, veggie delite, no cheese, italian bread, sweet onion sauce)

Quiznos - I have noticed a few of these around lately. Also, the staff seem able to tell you which breads and sauces are vegan IME

Barburrito - this is an awesome place. No explaination needed, the vegan/vegetarian stuff is fairly obvious.

Pret a Manger - the veg sushi is no longer vegan but there's still a couple of hummus things

surprisingly, Nandos! They have a fair few veg options, but you'll have to ask for the ingredients book to find out what is vegan.

Burger King - apparently the beanburger (no cheese) isn't completely vegan like I thought for ages, it has l-cysteine. But still, a couple of good vegetarian choices. Onion rings and fries are vegan.

Pizza Express - nice veggie pizza choices. Very accurate veg labelling (i.e. their parmesan contains rennet, so no parmesan pizzas are marked veg, and one of their desserts contains gelatine so no veg labelling). Good vegan starters and the pizza bases are vegan, also they don't look at you like you're weird if you ask for no cheese.
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#29 Old 06-03-2008, 08:17 AM
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Cozymel's, Carrabba's, P.F. Chang's, Taco Bell, Moe's Southwest Grill, Zyng Asian Grill, any mongolian grill place
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#30 Old 06-03-2008, 09:43 AM
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Cozymel's, Carrabba's, P.F. Chang's, Taco Bell, Moe's Southwest Grill, Zyng Asian Grill, any mongolian grill place



Moe's Southwest Grill



They have some REALLY yummy tofu and this is awesome on their nachos!! Okay, it's awesome on anything they serve, really.



Did I say



Unfortunately since moving back to Tennessee, they don't have one close by.

I miss my Moe's sooooo much.





Michelle
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