Food & Drink

Burger Quest goes vegetarian

Pad gra pow at Monsoon: chili and garlic with onions and basil in a brown sauce.
Pad gra pow at Monsoon: chili and garlic with onions and basil in a brown sauce. Michael Weinstein

I’ve written about cheese steaks and burgers and French dip sandwiches, but you didn’t know I’m a vegetarian.

But I also eat chicken and meat (to quote my ex-colleague Mike Drummond).

So I offer three spots to get a vegetarian meal, in a place not geared toward vegetarians.

1. United House of Prayer for All People cafeteria.

Just south of Morehead Street at 1019 Mint St. (There was a long line at about 12:30 and it lasted a while. You might think about going early. Or just waiting.)

The lunch special is $7.99 for a meat, two veggies, bread and a drink. On this visit, my veggie plate was loaded with sweet potatoes, cabbage and mac and cheese. I enjoyed my meal but decided I needed peas or greens to add color.

The mac and cheese is creamy with a toothsome crust. The cabbage was salty and buttery and cooked al dente. And the sweet potatoes were firm and not sweet. They were baking a batch of cornbread so I had to settle for a tiny croissant, rich and flaky.

2. Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

Found in Ballantyne, Birkdale, Dilworth and Mooresville.

For a joint with “burger” in its name, this is a great place for non-meat eaters. (I like the Greek salad.)

I chose the Cantina Burger, a black bean burger topped with green chiles, avocado, chipotle ranch dressing, and cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses ($9.25 with a side; I got tater tots).

You can build your own but I went with the menu and they delivered a big, messy burger on a firm bun.

The avocado added a refreshing, cool texture to counteract the crusty patty and spicy chilis. This is a thick burger (very soft on the inside) with corn kernels and black beans adding interest. Mine fell apart from the back (while my lunch partners’ stayed intact) even though the waiter said the crispy version (instead of grilled) holds together better.

I’m not complaining; I’m just sayin’.

3. Monsoon Thai Cuisine

Warm atmosphere and friendly staff at 2801 South Blvd.

I went with No. 5 and my lunch buddy chose No. 15. Can’t go wrong with those numbers. The entrees come with a light chicken-rice soup or a salad with peanut dressing, an egg roll and iced tea. An economical $8.50.

No. 5 is pad gra pow (chili and garlic with onions and Thai basil in brown sauce). I added vegetables, which included carrots, mushrooms, corn, bell peppers and squash. I slathered the nicely browned cubes of tofu in the sweet and hot sauce. I asked for No. 2 on the heat and that was enough to perk up my sinuses.

My friend’s pad prig pow was stir-fried vegetables and tofu with roasted chili paste. She asked for medium on the heat, which gave a nice kick.

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