Where to get good vegetarian at nonvegetarian restaurants

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BBQ seitan wings from Cresheim Valley Grain Exchange in Mount Airy.

Here is an excerpt of Craig LaBan's online chat of Jan. 3, 2017:

Reader: What are some of the best places in the city that are not strictly vegetarian but have menus that also cater to vegetarians? Obviously Vedge, but maybe places that are under the radar that you wouldn't think would fit the category?

Craig LaBan:

These days, every great restaurant takes pride in vegetable cookery, in part due to the strong focus on seasonality and the increased availability of great ingredients.

Some of my favorite places include Zahav/Dizengoff (the mezze!), most any Vetri restaurant, Fork and High Street, a.kitchen, Helm and South Helm, Talula's Garden, Aldine, even Bud & Marilyn's, which loves its meat, but also fun veggie riffs on meaty classics, like the smoked-beet reuben.

 @aldinephilly via Instagram
Heirloom butternut squash with sprouted grains, tamarind and ginger yogurt served recently at Aldine.

Reader: I've noticed restaurants with specifically vegetarian menus. Two notable examples: Sampan, and Cresheim Valley Grain Exchange, which had really good BBQ seitan wings!

C.L.: Definitely yes on Cresheim Valley Grain Exchange, which makes more effort than most, with a reverse side of its meat-centric menu that is completely veggie-friendly. A really nice place for Mount Airy. The acorn squash grain salad there is especially good.

Reader: Also, the menu at Hardena has excellent choices for vegetarian/vegan dishes and for the meat eaters you can take down their skewers and rendang.

C.L.: Absolutely true. Indonesian food has a large canon of vegan-friendly cooking. Especially liked the stewed jackfruit at Hardena. And jackfruit, coincidentally, is one of the hot ingredients of the coming year. Just saw jackfruit packaged all sorts of ways with various international sauces in the frozen section at Whole Foods, which is a great place to go trend-spotting. Sort of the texture of pulled pork.

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