For those willing to venture off campus, flavorful vegetarian eating isn’t hard to find in Columbus. Without sacrificing quality or taste, these restaurants accommodate diets while drawing from both backyard gardens and countries across the globe.
With a menu featuring entirely vegan, gluten- and GMO-free food, Portia’s Cafe strives to make fresh, healthy food taste delicious and satisfying. The Clintonville cafe was founded after owner Portia Yiamouyiannis decided that Columbus had more to offer to residents with dietary restrictions.
“When I became vegetarian myself, there wasn’t anything out there for me to eat that satisfied my taste buds and that satisfied me nutritionally as well,” she said. “When I realized I wasn’t being catered to, I realized that people who have arthritis, diabetes and other diseases needed catered toward, too.”
After growing up on a farm herself, Yiamouyiannis naturally adopted what has become the new avant garde in food: a farm-to-table model. She supports small, local farmers as she sources menu ingredients, reasoning that, “If we don’t have small farmers, we’re not going to have really good food.”
The cafe’s menu is diverse, with options consisting of a vegan quesadillas, a number of wraps and soups, and even a “house specialty” pad thai.
Yiamouyiannis notes that the super power wrap is a customer favorite. The cafe makes gluten-free wraps fresh for each order, topping this particular menu item with homemade guacamole, raw falafel, creamy cashew dressing, carrots, onions, sprouts and lettuce.
Portia’s Cafe is located at 4428 Indianola Ave.
Located directly across from Hamptons at 247 King Ave., TILL is a cafe with a menu that changes at the chef’s discretion. With everything “from ketchup to ice creams” grown, cultured and smoked in-house, the menu changes along with the seasons, according to TILL’s website. All selections are guaranteed to be organic and GMO-free.
Though TILL serves meat, vegetarian options abound with tofu substitutions. Frequent menu offerings include a tofu mac and cheese and a sweet potato poutine containing smoked portabella, tofu curds and red wine gravy. Guests with a sweet tooth hardly go unsatisfied, with dessert options of cooked-to-order French beignets, non-dairy ice cream and salty caramel mud pie. The cafe also serves weekend brunch.
Located a short COTA trip away, 6-1-Pho recently opened as Columbus’ newest spot to try Vietnamese fare in a fast, casual setting.
Named after the traditional dish of rice noodles, bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, jalapeno and lime, 6-1-Pho was founded by Ohio State alumni Lisa Bui and Ian Capotosta in an effort to “bring awareness to Vietnamese food and culture.”
Beyond its namesake menu item, 6-1-Pho has a menu that includes options like com, a rice-based bowl, and bun, which is a cold-noodle salad. For customers craving something a bit more substantial, the restaurant offers bánh mì, which is a sub-like sandwich option.
Bui and Capotosta made a conscious effort to accommodate for vegetarian diets in their menu design.
“We wanted to have vegetarian-based dishes because in Vietnamese culture, a lot of people are, in fact, vegetarian,” Bui said. “We wanted to give every dietary need or lifestyle a chance to try our food.”
The 6-1-Pho menu includes both vegetarian and vegan pho options. A vegan bánh mì sandwich is available, as well as tofu spring rolls.
“At 6-1-Pho, we offer healthy options no matter what your needs are,” Bui said.
6-1-Pho is located at 4386 N. High St.
Lebanese-inspired restaurant Aladdin’s provides numerous options for vegetarians — all provided with the powerful flavor combinations that Middle Eastern food is known for.
Beyond hummus and veggies, customers are given the chance to build a vegetarian combo platter, featuring the eggplant-based baba gannouj, the salad-like tabouli, falafel and grape leaves stuffed with rice, tomatoes and parsley. Other vegetarian menu options include pita pizzas, or pitzas, and the wrap-like rolled pitas.
Aladdin’s has locations in Clintonville at 2931 N. High St. and Grandview at 1423 Grandview Ave.