By Candice Wagener | Photography by Sunny Frantz
A mere 5% of Americans consider themselves vegetarian, but the desire to consistently eat more plant-based foods is on the rise in an effort to reap health benefits like reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, depression and increased wellbeing. We’ve rounded up some spots in Madison to celebrate meatless Monday — or any day you’re feeling veggie-forward.
ADAMAH NEIGHBORHOOD TABLE
Tucked away in the University of Wisconsin– Madison Hillel building, Adamah may be off your radar, but it’s open to the public. As a participant in REAP’s “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” program and the only kosher-certified kitchen in Madison, Adamah offers a menu of Jewish staples like matzo ball soup and challah bread, which they’ve even made vegan. If you’re craving a little Southern heat, dive into the vegan Nashville “chicken” sandwich, which will have you second-guessing whether you’re eating the real thing.
Holiday specials, like their Shabbat in a Box meals, feature “brisket” seitan with ever- changing side dishes. And don’t miss out on their Vegan Date Night, when you and your honey can feast on flavorful lentil “chorizo” tacos, amplified by chunky guacamole and crisp escabeche, a vinegar-laced raw veggie salad. adamahmadison.com
This family-owned Indonesian spot is known for their house-made tempeh, which are soybean cakes with a bit more chew and a nuttier, earthier flavor than tofu. Order the simple Satay Tempeh, marinated in a blend of spices, skewered and grilled. It’s complemented with a sweet peanut sauce, served on a bed of steamed rice cakes and a side of crisp cucumber salad. Our go-to at Bandung is the Indo Mac — thick, savory rice noodles, bathed in a creamy red curry sauce with stir-fried green and yellow onions, bamboo shoots and mushrooms mixed in. bandungindorestaurant.com/order
The Green Owl has been the spot for vegan food for years. In fact, everything on their menu can be made vegan upon request! Their vegan chili — with flavors that rotate regularly — is top-notch and just as good as the real thing. They’re also known for their weekly burger special, where their house-made vegan patty gets dressed up as a Pizza Burger, German Apple Hearty Burger or a Fettucine Alfredo Burger — to name a few. Or opt for a plain old bacon cheeseburger, but make it vegan with a Beyond Burger patty, tempeh bac’un and vegan cheese.
And, save room for dessert: vegan cheesecake delicacies like white chocolate raspberry and roasted pineapple are too good to pass up. greenowlcafe.com
A State Street mainstay that has stood the test of time with a menu that is largely vegetarian, Himal Chuli has been serving Himalayan dishes that are simple, yet elevated for over 35 years. The dal and roti combo is a meal of sustenance — a mixed bean soup served alongside warm, dip-worthy flatbread. The Tarkari is another nice option, a mix of fresh vegetables simmered with warming spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric. himalchulimadison.com/42106
Another Madison standby for several decades, Lao Laan-Xang serves up dependable Laotian cuisine that will make any diner happy. Choose tofu as an alternative to meat in any of the dishes, most of which are bursting with vegetables and flavor from herbs and seasonings. There are so many good curry dishes here, all of which can be made vegan. The curry squash is a favorite, made up of chunks of acorn and butternut squash, slices of zucchini and Thai eggplant, simmered in a flavorful curry sauce made creamy with coconut milk and fragrant with basil. laan-xang.com
Don’t let the hole-in-the-wall appearance throw you: Mediterranean Cafe has been providing some of the most hearty, comforting, economical dishes for a long time now. Their vegan lentil soup will warm you and fill you up with a plentiful mix of beans and veggies. And their falafel is crispy, crunchy goodness accompanied by a zippy tahini sauce, a fresh salad and a generous amount of rice. medcafemadison.com
GREEN OWL ISN’T THE ONLY PLACE SERVING VEGAN TREATS.
Head to Ledger Coffee Roasters in Garver Feed Mill and decide between Level 5 Donuts in fun flavors like espresso churro or Heirloom Bakery’s salted caramel apple scones. Westsiders can get into the game at Bloom Bake Shop with vegan cupcakes, doughnuts and more.