If you abstain from eating meat or all animal products, you undoubtedly are familiar with the standard vegetarian or vegan option on a typical menu.
“Oh, goody,” you’ve likely said. “A hummus wrap or a veggie burger. Oh, and a salad. Lucky me.”
Fret not, our animal-loving friend. In eastern Maine, there are loads of places to get something to eat that’s above and beyond the boring old standards. From a quick bite for breakfast to a fancy dinner out, here are nine places to satisfy every type of vegetarian and vegan.
Fork & Spoon, 76 Main St., Bangor
Since 2015, this funky downtown lunch spot has offered an array of vegan and vegetarian options — in fact, the majority of the menu is at least vegetarian, and F&S also offers vegan sandwiches such as chickpea tuna and barbecue jackfruit. There’s flaky, rich vegetarian pot pie, and lots of vegan baked goods, too. If you’re looking for variety, this is the place.
Novio’s Bistro, 130 Hammond St., Bangor
There are plenty of options on its menu for meat-eaters, but for sheer variety and attention to detail, Novio’s takes the dairy-free cake for a high-end vegetarian or vegan experience. Though the menu changes seasonally, diners can always expect at least several options each for starters, salads, entrees and desserts that are vegetarian or vegan. There’s a vegetable lasagna made with vegan macadamia “cheese.” Need we say more?
The Grindhouse, 1 Central St., Bangor
Though the Grindhouse doesn’t have a long list of veg options, it does have a menu item that’s pretty noteworthy: the Impossible Burger, a veggie burger that tastes as close to beef as it’s possible to get without it actually being made from cow. Vegetarians can get a burger made with the Impossible patty, or have it made vegan by omitting the “grind sauce” and real cheese and adding vegan cheese. Grindhouse also serves Impossible meatballs for its meatball sub.
Bagel Central, 33 Central St., Bangor
You might be surprised to find out that Bagel Central is a great place to eat not just vegetarian, but eat vegan as well. With vegan cream cheese, six varieties of house-made vegan bagels, vegan cheesecake and cookies, and regular daily specials that are either vegan or vegetarian, it’s actually one of the better options for animal-product-free dining in downtown Bangor.
The best places to eat vegan around these parts might actually be at various farmers markets — and no, we don’t mean gnawing on a hunk of raw cauliflower. Local markets spotlight a number of vendors, including longtime vegetarian stalwart Far East Cuisine, which makes delectable Vietnamese and Chinese dishes at the Orono Farmers Market every Saturday morning.
Also on Saturday mornings, the European Market on Buck Street in Bangor hosts Mediterranean Cuisine by TS — nearly all of what Terri Sleeper makes is animal-product-free, from baba ganoush to vegetarian grape leaves. Bangor-based Biggi’s Organic Bread is 100 percent vegan, and can be found at the Ellsworth Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, and the Bangor Farmers Market, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays.
Mason’s Brewing Company, 15 Hardy St., Brewer
Vegans and vegetarians, don’t look at the meat-palooza that is most of the menu at Mason’s in Brewer. Focus on the tasty veg items available to eat, like the buffalo cauliflower, the delicious meat-free salads, the jackfruit carnitas sandwich, the house-made veggie burgers and the vegetarian meatball pizza. And the beer. That’s vegan, too.
The Whole Grain Bakeshop, 231 North Main St., Brewer
Though other places, like Fork & Spoon and Bagel Central, offer vegan baked goods, only The Whole Grain Bakeshop in Brewer specializes almost exclusively in vegan treats (gluten-free, too!). The better question is what’s not vegan. You can indulge, no questions asked!
Serendib, 2 State St., Ellsworth
This delightful Indian and Sri Lankan restaurant in Ellsworth has meat dishes, yes — but for the discerning vegetarian or vegan, Serendib offers a plethora of flavorful options. We like their classic Sri Lankan-style curry made with mushrooms, though other treats, like the tempered watercress with chickpeas, or fabulous sides like traditional dhal or beetroot curry, are also winners.
86 This!, 125 Main St. Ellsworth
Not gonna lie: the majority of the menu at 86 This in Ellsworth is not vegetarian, and almost none of it is vegan. But, there are three vegetarian wraps available here that are knock-your-socks-off good.
The Mountain Goat is layered with house-made black bean hummus, tangy olives and feta, and crunchy vegetables. The Beetroot is lovely melange of beets, walnuts and dill. And the Yam I Am is a truly magnificent burrito, made with spicy roasted sweet potato house-made hot sauce — it’s a can’t miss lunchtime treat.
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