Despite Cincinnati's reputation as Porkopolis, there are plenty of vegetarian-, pescatarian- and even vegan-friendly restaurants around town. Here are nine of our favorites perfect for dining sans meat.
1. Park + Vine (Over-the-Rhine): It's the ultimate vegan paradise, with a customer base that ranges from neighborhood locals, to vegans from around the city, to visiting stars such as Rooney Mara and Morrissey. Its vegan brunch and lunch (including the Elsie, a riff on the Reuben with ruby kraut, vegan goetta and Daiya cheese on sourdough rye) will persuade even the most dedicated meat-eaters to be open to vegan food. Bonus? It offers a Pay it Forward plan, where you can pay $7 for someone who might need lunch in the future.
2. Loving Hut (Pleasant Ridge): This restaurant caters to vegans looking for versions of their favorite meaty items, as well as raw foodists looking for new options. Try the raw pasta, featuring spiralized zucchini with a sundried tomato and pine nut marinara sauce, or the Buffalo Wrap, with Gardein strips, veggies, brown rice, vegan mayonnaise and Buffalo sauce in a whole grain tortilla.
3. Amma's Kitchen (Amberley Village): Want strictly vegetarian, Southern Indian food? Amma's is the place to go. Not only is it vegetarian, it's supervised by the Vaad Hoier of Cincinnati, so it's kosher, too. Each Wednesday, Amma's presents a vegan buffet. Try the podi idli (steamed rice cakes with spices), one of the dosas (a flatbread filled with various curries) or some of the more familiar dishes, such as paneer butter masala.
Vegetarian and Vegan Friendly
4. Melt (Northside): Melt's vegan chili is the stuff of legend in Northside, and the eatery's menu, though it includes meat, also includes alternatives such as an artichoke melt, tempeh pesto club and veggie cheesesteak. You also can substitute seitan or tempeh on many of the sandwiches as well. Sides such as hummus, kale slaw and curried potato salad are vegan, too.
5. MOTR Pub (Over-the-Rhine): Whether you're there for a show or just stopping in for a bite, MOTR offers vegetarian and vegan options. From the vegan BLT with marinated tofu and vegan chipotle mayo, to the portobello mushroom sandwich, to brunch potatoes with tofu, there's an option for anyone who is avoiding meat.
6. Mac's (Clifton, Fairfax, Landen and Mainstrasse): Vegan pizza? You can get it at Mac's. Whether you order the specifically vegan pizzas (such as the spinach and goat cheese or pesto primavera) or simply make your own, you can get Daiya cheese on pizzas -- and Mac's has gluten-free options, too.
7. Pi Pizzeria (Downtown): Deep-dish pizza? Yes, please. Get your deep-dish fix by creating your own pizza with any vegetables you would like. If you're vegan, try Match vegan Italian sausage and Daiya cheese. The simple salad, Kale-ifornication and other salads are either vegetarian, vegan or can be adapted easily. Pi also has gluten-free options.
8. Phoenician Taverna (Mason): Mediterranean food is naturally either vegetarian-friendly or easily adapted, and Phoenician Taverna is a favorite of vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike. The whipped garlic on warm pita bread is delicious, and the restaurant has a fantastic vegetarian mezze platter with falafel, stuffed grape leaves and other delicious vegetarian options.
9. Sichuan Chili (Evendale): Most Chinese places offer vegetarian options, but Sichuan Chili's are extensive and often authentic. Try General Tso's tofu, their interpretation of the Chinese-inspired classic, eggplant in garlic sauce or tofu with dry chili. If you're a pescatarian, try the fried fish in Sichuan sour soup or fish filets stir-fried with dry chili peppers. It's spicy and satisfying.
Where do you get your favorite meatless dishes? Tell me at @winemedineme!