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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let's give our newbies some ideas AND relate past (positive) experiences so they can get ideas for what to order/look for/ask for at all those decidedly UN-Veg*n-friendly restaurants out there...<br><br><br><br>
We've all been there (or will be) - (and if you haven't, or never plan to to, then this thread isn't for you):<br><br><br><br>
Some special occasion demands that you have dinner with a bunch of omnis at a Steakhouse, BBQ joint, Seafood Restaurant or some other very veg-UN-friendly place....<br><br><br><br>
You don't want to slip up, or settle for "just a side salad" but the menu looks intimidating and full of animal-based choices... What to do, what to do...
 

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We ate at Chilis the other night. I had a salad to start. Then I had side orders of steamed broccoli and loaded mashed potatoes without the bacon. It was good and I was happy. Ordering a couple of side dishes is what I normally do when every entree contains meat.
 

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Look at the appetizer menu!<br><br><br><br>
I got a mediteranean vegetable platter at a steak place and it was wonderful! It came with hummus and anything with hummus is good.
 

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There's almost always 1 option put there specifically for vegetarians. In other cases you can always be like, "can I have the pasta primavera without chicken?" Keep in mind that some places will still charge you for the chicken, so if you don't want to pay for it you need to say so upfront (it's usually only about $2) One time my sister decided to challenge the chef, she said, "I know you went to culinary school, now can you please use your skill to create for me a vegan masterpiece?" I was a little embarassed, but the meal she got was actually really good looking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
OK, since I started the thread, I'll post a recent experience that turned out well.<br><br><br><br>
My daughter was given a coupon by a friend who works at a very nice waterfront restaurant. Since it was for a free meal we thought we'd take a chance. Of course once we read the menu we found out the place was "Famous for their crab and chowder" but we managed to do very well anyway.<br><br><br><br>
They didn't have ANY vegan items listed specifically but upon chatting with the waitress I found they'd be willing to combine some sides to make a portabella 'burger' with avacado, cole slaw (with an oil-vinegar dressing), sweet potato fries and berry sorbet (if I'd had room for it!)<br><br><br><br>
All these items were sides or appetizer type things on the menu, I just had to ASK, ASK, ASK.<br><br><br><br>
Sometimes asking is intimidating, but (especially in nicer restaurants - I'm not talking Chili's here) the waitstaff are usually very willing to please and accomodate and the kitchen is usually very willing to be creative.<br><br><br><br>
Start out asking for just one simple substitution if it's hard for you to speak up enough to rearrange their entire menu...in the end you my be spectacularly suprised!
 

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I haven't been to a restaurant in ages, so I don't have any recent experiences to relate, but what I <i>can</i> do is post a link to my famous <a href="http://www.veggieboards.com/boards/showthread.php?t=52818" target="_blank">Tips on Dining in Japanese Restaurants</a> thread which I posted in the New to Vegetarianism forum back in April.<br><br><br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/hungry.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":hungry:"><br><br><br><br>
I want some veggie sushi, right now! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D">
 

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If you feel awkward or nervous about questioning a waiter at your table, call the restaurant ahead of time to ask for veg*n options. It will be a low pressure and less scary situation if you're shy.
 

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I definitely agree with calling ahead.<br><br><br><br>
I've gotten some absolutely awesome vegan meals by calling that day, around 3PM before kitchen is super busy, to ask the chef "what he/she can do for me."<br><br><br><br>
At the same restaurant a few times, I waited until sitting at the table to ask the server for a special dish. The results were less than spectacular.<br><br><br><br>
I think calling ahead is definitely the best choice if possible.<br><br><br><br>
Sometimes, when ordering in restaurants, it helps to offer your own suggestions. Scan the menu and look for what types of things the kitchen might have on hand: spinach, peppers, mushrooms, pasta, etc. Then make an actual suggestion to the server, such as "Could I just get some peppers, mushrooms and spinach sauteed with some garlic and tossed with some olive oil and pasta?" You might not get the best thing the chef could come up with, but at least you know what went into the dish.
 

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Another tip...sometimes "just a salad" is a decent meal. A lot of chain restaurants are serving super salads right now! At Brewster's Pub, where I eat a lot, I sometimes get their California Chicken Salad, minus chicken and cheese. It comes with mixed greens, baby spinach (well, before the e.coli thing, anyway), sliced avocados, sunflower seeds, raisins, apple chunks and pecans, plus an oil/vinegar dressing. I'm stunned every time when I realize how good it is.<br><br><br><br>
So don't automatically skip the salad menu. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Personally I LOVE salads, and often that's what I'd order regardless of what the menu choices were - so definitely check out the salad section if you like that sort of thing.<br><br><br><br>
It just seems like the first complaint of new veg*ns is: "I went out and all I could order was salad".<br><br><br><br>
I know I often get last minute invitations and am unable to call ahead, it's a great idea if you are prepared and have the time however. Often an online search will clue you in about dishes to ask about or options they have too.<br><br><br><br>
And by all means, if there's truely nothing on the menu, have a couple or six Bloody Mary's and drink your veggies for the day!
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Tofu-N-Sprouts</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><br><br><br>
And by all means, if there's truely nothing on the menu, have a couple or six Bloody Mary's and drink your veggies for the day!</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
Just be sure to order a "scratch" Bloody Mary w/o worcestershire sauce...
 

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lol. That's what I was thinking: "Make sure to tell them to leave out the worcestershire sauce" I hate that all the premixes already have it in there, and that's what a lot of them use.<br><br><br><br><br><br>
When I ate dairy, I'd get the Santa Fe Chicken salad at Applebee's, minus chicken (and guac and sour cream, cuz I don't like guacamole and the sour cream has gelatin, i believe) It's pretty much just lettuce, tomato wedges, crunchy tortilla strips, and Mexi-Ranch dressing. Which is pretty much ranch dressing with salsa mixed in. It was really good.<br><br><br><br>
At red lobster, when I ate dairy, I'd ask for a side of fettuccine with a side of alfredo. You get a decent amount, and it only cost $2.99 for the both of them. Much cheaper than buying a meat-fettuccine dinner and asking for minus meat.<br><br><br><br>
Right now I'm on a taco bell kick. Hard shell tacos, sub beans for meat, fresco style. That just means they replace the cheese with pico. Well, they call it Fiesta Salsa, but it's just pico de gallo. Then I put on like 2-3 packets of sauce. It's goooood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>WonderRandy</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Just be sure to order a "scratch" Bloody Mary w/o worcestershire sauce...</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
Ooops - yeah, forgot to add that important detail.
 

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Most Restaurants are very accomodating and will let you make substitutions..some are nicer than others..but i have never really had a problem with it...<br><br><br><br>
a few weeks ago i was at a steakhouse for a friends daughters b-day and they didnt have any choices for veggies...but did have a steak pasta dish..and i asked nicely if they would make me a special veggie pasta dish..veggies are one of the side-dish choices...i was willing to pay extra for it...and they did at no extra charge..actually it was cheaper w/o the meat...I always ask most of the time they say yes..and if they say no its no big deal...i can always stick with an old stand-by...of ordering three small salads and making a bigg salad and i love a bigg salad for dinner.
 

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I can't remember the last time I left a restaurant grumpy. The closest was at my brother-in-law's wedding reception on Saturday. NOTHING was meat free, not even the pasta salad. (Not surprisingly, there were no veggies, not even iceberg lettuce.) So I settled for nuking a veggie burger and a white bun. The microwave, though, was ancient and after ten minutes, I succeeded in thawing the burger. I thought about trying to cook it, but I didn't know what kind of radiation was being used on my food. However, once the sparkling wine was popped and the cake was cut, I was happy.<br><br><br><br>
Since moving to Michigan, we've been going to more places that are veg-friendly. We've been frequenting IHOP, which has a black bean chili (yum) and several veg-friendly side dishes. I just hope that they don't use eggs in their pancakes. (They have a special-- All you can eat pancakes for $4.99. We also like them because the restaurant is smoke free.)<br><br><br><br>
We've also been going to Greek and Mid-East type restaurants which are all veg-friendly.<br><br><br><br>
Chili's has a black bean burger. I also ate there once and got beanis in lieu of meat in the steak and mushroom fajita.<br><br><br><br>
Speaking of food, I'm off to make dinner. (Not exciting--potatoes, with canned beans and some steamed veggies.)<br><br><br><br>
Happy eats,<br><br>
Laura
 

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I posted this a few months ago. But if you like Chili's you can order a "veggie fajita", even though it's not on the menu. Just let the waitress know you want the portobello mushrooms, onions & peppers only. Then I always order the "condiments" plate without the cheese or sour cream & have them give me double pico de gallo & double guacamole. Sometimes I will order a side order of black beans to eat along with the fajitas.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/hungry.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":hungry:"><br><br><br><br>
I've ordered these probably a dozen times & only once have they fixed them wrong & I had to send them back.<br><br><br><br>
They are REALLy tasty!!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/yes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":yes:"><br><br><br><br>
Thanks for starting this TNS, it's always good to know what other people have ordered successfully!!<br><br><br><br>
Michelle<br><br><br><br>
Just wanted to add that the veggie fajitas only cost about $7.99 compared to like $12.99 for the regular meat fajitas. Sometimes though I've had to ask the waitress about the price because they didn't know about the price adjustment, so it would be worth asking them to check with the manager "just to make sure"!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>down_to_earth</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><br>
I just hope that they don't use eggs in their pancakes. (They have a special-- All you can eat pancakes for $4.99. We also like them because the restaurant is smoke free.)<br></div>
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Ugh. Unfortunately, IHOP pancakes use eggs and milk. Except for VB I've never heard of pancakes made withOUT eggs...
 

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My suggestion is to remember that some meals that aren't vegetarian can easily be made vegetarian. I was in a Taco Bell recently and I heard someone ask what they had that was vegetarian. The guy at the register said "We have a bean burrito." As most of us already know just about anything can there can be made vegetarian.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>slp2b</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
We ate at Chilis the other night. I had a salad to start. Then I had side orders of steamed broccoli and loaded mashed potatoes without the bacon. It was good and I was happy. Ordering a couple of side dishes is what I normally do when every entree contains meat.</div>
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I stumbled upon a great Chili's meal. I order the fajita pita but instead of chicken or steak, I sub grilled portobello mushrooms. It is so tasty! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/rockon.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":rockon:"><br><br><br><br>
I usually have no issues asking the waiter for suggestions. If I get any trouble that is what the managers are there for. I usually just ask or figure out what I can sub to make a good meal.
 
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