Caracas Arepa Bar (New York, NY)

I walked in with my friend’s words ringing in my ears “I was dazzled by the fancy arepas but wish I had ordered something simpler.” The tiny dining room filled up quickly at 7pm on a weekday, and I couldn’t help snickering as my dining companion squirmed while scantily clad girls practically sat in his lap as they wiggling their way between our tables. The host was polite, but his smile was clearly worn by the constant stream of people seeking arepa asylum; and our server was as effective as the cramped space allowed.

I began with the wine cocktail Tinto de Verano ($6), a refreshing sangria-meets-spritzer start to our meal.

The Guasacaca & Chips ($5.75) while affordable, do not live up to the hype… they are nothing more than commonplace guac and plantain/taro chips.

Caracas Arepa Bar (New York, NY)

…and so it begins

I struggled with a name. While I am still uneasy about the regionally of this blog vs. the general nature of the title, Vegetarian Foodie, I can no longer ignore the other side to the vegetarian foodie existence not being covered in the other blogs to my satisfaction: Dinning out with a passion for refined cuisine and an unwillingness to sacrifice excellent food for the sake of vegetarianism. Because, yes I’m a vegetarian, but I’m not a tree hugging salt of the earth hippie. I don’t do yoga, I don’t grow my own food, I don’t want my sandwich on whole wheat, and I am certainly not accustom “not as good” food for the sake of my morals; because I didn’t become a vegetarian to make any statements, I was merely an inquisitive 12 year old to whom it made sense. I am just like anyone else with a refined palate and passion for dining out, but I don’t eat meat, and I refuse to settle for the lame ass “seamed or roasted vegetable” “grilled portabella” “veggie burgers” offered by feeble chefs because they feel they need to make a vegetarian concession – although there are exceptional examples of each of these dishes.

Some people ask me if I think it is fair for a vegetarian to give a bad review to a restaurant that otherwise serves delicious meaty dishes – it depends. The majority of food I eat is not vegetarian, but it does happen to be vegetarian, and this is why I think it is fair for ME to pass judgment. I believe it is impolite to force a chef/restaurant to change a dish to my (or anyone’s) liking and it is unfair to be upset if this dish isn’t good. But if a restaurant chooses, on their own accord, to include meatless dishes on their menu then I consider them fair game. It is a waste of my time and money for a chef that is incapable of cooking vegetarian to offer it – a bad vegetarian dish on a menu is not compassionate, it is greedy.

So, I seek to show you just how good vegetarian dining can be! Or as someone who had known me for years once said “Wait, what! You’re a vegetarian, but your food always looks so good!” Um, yeah, I know!