V is for Vegetarian
Golden Temple · Liquid Earth · One World Café · Wild Mushroom · Puffins · Sin Carne · Village Market
Sunny, pleasant Liquid Earth (1626 Aliceanna St.,  276-6606) offers Baltimore's best selection of fresh juices, from a simple glass of fresh-squeezed orange to complex concoctions involving wheat grass, beets, ginger, spirulina, and sausage gravy. (Just kidding about the sausage gravy--the joint is strictly vegetarian.) Liquid Earth also has some of the most flavorful and inventive vegan cuisine around, including a terrific vegetable muffaleta sandwich and spectacular meal-size salads, plus a dessert case packed full of gorgeous baked goods.
The One World Café (904 S. Charles St.,  234-0235) is a kind of playground for adults. There's an inviting coffeehouse atmosphere, not to mention great coffee and a to-die-for selection of desserts and pastries, but the café also offers a good selection of beer and wine and even a pool table. The fact that this relaxed, three-story establishment also has one of the most interesting and varied vegetarian menus in town is only so much tofu icing on the egg-free cake. Try the black-bean burrito, or whatever homemade soup is featured du jour.
There's nothing really wild about the Wild Mushroom (641 S. Montford Ave.  675-4225 ), unless it's wildness to be a passionate lover of fungi. Located on the fringes of Canton, this corner restaurant/bar pays homage to humus, the rich soil in which mushrooms flourish. Yes, mushrooms do it in the dark, but let's not go there. All we need to do is venture out for a meal of mushrooms in many forms: appetizer, soup, bowl for crab dip, crust for pizza, filling for risotto, etc. Those indifferent to fungi can eat their fill minus mushrooms. The fried mozzarella is breathtaking, and the wall-sized chalk board lists chicken, seafood, and meat dishes that show the chef's range, and there's an excellent beer and wine selection.
We've been dining at Puffins (1000 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville,  486-8811) for years, and the fact that it's a largely vegetarian restaurant has nothing to do with it. Yes, the food is good for us--but it's also just plain good. The last time we went there, we had a terrific platter of steamed vegetables served over tofu and brown rice and drizzled with zesty ginger sauce. And now Puffins shares space with Sin Carne, a stylish Tex-Mex eatery whose very name means "without meat." Sin Carne even offers tofu and soy-cheese substitutes for our vegan friends. Of course, if you crave meat (of the nonred variety), both places offer the compromise of seafood and chicken, and they do some very nice things with it. But don't be surprised if you look at the menu and hear yourself saying, "Who needs meat?"
So, you invited all of your vegan friends over for dinner, and now you find yourself drowning in the mysteries of tempeh, seitan, and millet. Never fear: There is always Village Market (7006 Reisterstown Road [Colonial Village Shopping Center], Pikesville,  486-0979). This natural-foods grocery, falling somewhere between a co-op and a Fresh Fields, houses the most impressive vegan deli and bakery in the Baltimore area. Not only can you enjoy four daily soups, fresh-made sandwiches, a "mostly organic" salad bar, and daily specials, but you can order them in large quantities through Village Market's catering branch.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201