No one likes soggy, greasy tofu. But those searching for brown, crispy cubes of soy bean need look no further than Orchid Thai Cuisine. The tofu appetizer's so fine it'll force haters to thoughtfully munch on a piece, dipped in sweet peanut sauce and say, "Huh. Not bad." Or substitute tofu for almost any flesh-laden dish on the menu. Orchid tied with Flying Star Café in this category, which fries up a mean hunk of tofu. We like it best in the "Buddha bowl" or lo mein.
1. Flying Star Café, Orchid Thai Cuisine (tied)
Who says vegan sweets can’t be as good as the cream-and-butter versions? Some of the best baked items we’ve ever had have been egg- and dairy-free (and oftentimes much healthier). Don’t be afraid of something just because it’s different; take a hint from our readers and visit our two winners, who tied for first: Annapurna Ayurvedic Cuisine and Chai House, and La Montañita Co-op. Both counters will lure you in with lavender-laced and wheat-free offerings. It’s incredible. Seriously.
1. Annapurna Ayurvedic Cuisine and Chai House, La Montañita Co-op (tied)
2. Wild Oats
Finding an honest-to-goodness veggie burger, and not just some thawed Gardenburger patty, can be a challenge in any city. But when a restaurant takes the effort to craft a time-intensive vegetable burger, the result is a dish that would tempt even the most carnivorous of diners. Flying Star Café seems to make our readers’ favorite.
1. Flying Star Café
2. O’Niell’s Pub
Runners-up: Gecko’s Bar and Tapas, Vitality Juice, Java and Smoothie Bar, Blackbird Buvette
To all the carnivores in the world: Imagine what it would be like to go to a restaurant and know there were only a couple of items on the menu you could eat, if any at all (use whatever reason you want for this prompt—maybe you’re allergic to something in 90 percent of the dishes). Imagine what it would be like knowing that most restaurants were like this, and that usually the dishes you could eat at these places were confined to a few basics. Now imagine how nice it would be to eat at a restaurant where you could order any item off the menu—ah, the possibilities! Understand how much it means to vegetarians to have a place that shares their ideals and cares about their choices and you’ll understand why Annapurna Ayurvedic Cuisine and Chai House won this category hands-down. As one of the few restaurants in Albuquerque with an all-vegetarian menu, this place deserves the gold it got.
1. Annapurna Ayurvedic Cuisine and Chai House
2. Vitality Juice, Java and Smoothie Bar
Runner-up: India Kitchen
That’s right—just because it doesn’t have meat doesn’t mean you can’t eat it. Most readers in this category voted for restaurants without providing a specific dish. To them, we ask that next year they read the title of this category a little more closely. Still, plenty of people knew what was up and volunteered the golden-fried veggie nuggets from Fei Café. Who says nuggets have to have mysterious globs of chicken to taste good? Get the beak-free version instead.
1. Fei Café’s veggie nuggets
2. Vitality Juice, Java and Smoothie Bar’s Aphrodite panini
Runner-up: Pad Thai—any Thai restaurant