Well, I’ve finished a month of eating vegetarian. Wow, that was harder than I thought it would be. I didn’t change my diet completely, but I’ve definitely gained a new appreciation for the hardships vegetarians face when going out to eat.
Nashville has more and more coffee places all the time; nowadays it feel like there’s one on every street corner in the city. With all the competition to tempt coffee lovers, it seems impossible that any one place could stand out. Yet, year after year, the tiny Kávé Coffee has endured in its spot in the parking lot of an Aldi grocery store. While the little shop doesn’t have the biggest menu in the world – and certainly not the traditional coffee shop atmosphere that gains other businesses a cult following – don’t count Kávé out. In fact, it may be at an advantage for its convenience.
A few weekends ago I took a brief break from eating vegetarian to visit the annual visit the second annual incarnation of Kickin’ Chicken Wingfestat Fraze Pavilion. A dozen or so local bars and nightspots came out to show off their tasty chicken wings for a packed-out crowd. Once upon a time, there was a BBQ Ribs Fest in Dayton, which I have sorely missed since it shuttered its doors a few years ago. I can see I’m not alone, and I’m glad some other cool food affairs have risen to replace it.
One of greater Nashville’s resident beekeepers, Ed Johnson’s Honey Farm is a frequent presence of the farmer’s markets and street fairs throughout the city’s northern neighborhoods. It’s a family affair, a husband and wife team selling jars of honey in an unassuming tent. But this honey is a more creative take on the basic product. And not in a simple, novelty sort of way either; this is the kind of honey that you’ll want to come back for and sample. Again and again.
Amid the yoga studios, bars, and other class establishments of south 12th Avenue in downtown Nashville, Frothy Monkey is the local coffee establishment. Though the little house hidden from street view with some very strategic plants which make the interior feel hundreds of miles from a major city’s downtown area, it’s hard to miss because of…are those monkey bars out front? Are people supposed to climb on them?
Upscale coffee shops are pretty easy to spot in malls; you usually know you’ve got one when it’s covered with bright spotlights and richly varnished wood. You already know you’re in for a hardcore coffee experience before you walk in. Gloria Jean’s has certainly sought to make its intentions clear with its mantra and subtitle; “Purveyors of fine coffee.” I always like to try coffee when it’s freshly roasted in-house and available to buy by the whole bean. As I understand it, they’re a pretty big deal in the south, with quite a few locations.
Built out of a small farmhouse in Cincinnati’s eastern foothills, Mt. Carmel Brewing Company has a pretty aggressive campaign of marketing its bottled beers in stores all over the Dayton and Cincinnati region. It’s a pretty branding effort, too, because the beer fits in snugly with other, larger brands. If you weren’t familiar with the area, it might otherwise be easy to overlook. Well, I’m here to tell you: You don’t want to overlook this beer. Cincinnati should be very proud to call this place its own.
Pizza places have kind of an unfair advantage as far as vegetarian food goes. Ninety five percent of the formula for the food is completely interchangeable and can be every bit as good with or without vegetables. Refreshingly, though, there is a huge amount of variety in the vegetable pizzas I’ve tried. Enter Donato’s, a chain of about 200 restaurants mostly in Ohio. They’re the ones who have commercials with a thousand pepperonis atop every pizza. With an ad campaign like that, could they be any good with veggie pizza?
It’s amazing to me how quickly this whole vegetarian commitment has changed my perspective on dining out. It really limits the kinds of food you can enjoy. While it’s very easy to transition into eating vegetarian Asian cuisine, with its tofu and stir fry varieties, good luck finding good vegetarian barbecue. Some cuisines just lend themselves to subtracting meat easily.
Well, Mexican food is one of them.