Thursday, March 10, 2011

Where's the diamond in the rough?

So I've written about the vegan and vegetarian options on campus, so I figured I'd branch out to areas around the University of South Florida. Whenever I go down Fowler or Fletcher, both of which have an entrance to the campus, I feel like there are so many options for students for just about everything. Those streets are literally cluttered with grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, gift shops, tattoo parlors, pet stores, convenience stores..I think you get my point. Obviously one of those places has tons of vegetarian options for students to feast on, so what can I assume that place is doing? In the famous words of Charlie Sheen, "Duh, winning," which I say because that  vegaurant--and by vegaurant I mean vegetarian restaurant--must be making some serious money from having so many patrons.

So I went to Urbanspoon, which is a great website to search for restaurants no matter where veyou live or what type of food you like. They even have a casino-machine-like application for smartphones where you shake your phone and it lines up three different options to come up with one restaurant that fulfills those requirements. I've had great results with the application, so I figured I'd see what was around the university. 

To my chagrin, the site has an entire area dedicated to restaurants around USF. Then I saw the contenders. Out of dozens of restaurants near USF, there are four that are under the vegetarian category. Seriously?! I'm almost offended. Let's broaden our scope and see if we can remedy this sad situation.

Instead of searching in Tampa, here is a search for vegetarian restaurants throughout the Tampa Bay area. SUCCESS!

Look at all of that. Nice.
So what makes a vegetarian restaurant vegetarian? I mean Beef 'O Brady's could be vegetarian if you assumed a salad was enough to get that title. Long story short, just having some salads doesn't make a restaurant vegetarian. Try to compose yourself. KEEP IT TOGETHER!

So I figure that giving you a list with some tips would suffice. I mean, really, why don't you stop being bored and try some new places to eat?

Casa Tina, Dunedin: I've been here. It was delicious and too good to be true. I didn't know they were also vegan friendly, but according to their web page, they don't use lard or animal stock in their beans or sauces. Definitely interesting. It's a nice little place in downtown Dunedin with a great view and great food. Go there!

The Living Room, Dunedin: I haven't been to this restaurant, but the menu looks great. With a gravity  towards fruits and vegetables, The Living Room seems like a great place to try for lunch. Urbanspoon has their menu up here.

Queen of Sheba, Tampa: If you're up for a new genre, this restaurant serves Ethiopian dishes and has its own vegetarian menu. The dish names may be tough to pronounce, but I'm intrigued by all the possible combinations and recipes for such simple vegetables. I'd love to try this place. Maybe I could ask if I could be the honorary Queen Sheba for the night when I'm there. Fun fact: stop by Burger King first, pick up a paper crown and wear it to this restaurant. Report back to me afterward on the success of your mission.

I guess if there was a restaurant near USF that I was looking for, it would be Angithi Indian Cuisine. Named Critic's Pick by Creative Loafing and Editor's Pick by the St. Petersburg Times, this HAS to be good!

Angithi Indian Cuisine is located on 2047 East Fowler Avenue just down the road from the university. This gallery has beautiful pictures of some dishes, but unfortunately none of the meal names. Boo! Well, whatever. Take a look!

 These findings, or the articulation of the existence of vegetarian restaurants, challenge the common opinion that being a vegetarian means that you never get to eat anything but salad at restaurants. These are definitely some restaurants to consider next time you feel like taking a ride on the wild side. For those of you who aren't willing to take the risk, I salute you for your commitment to consistently eat the same boring meal every day. Hip hip, hooray!

But seriously, get out sometime.

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