Where to Eat in Fredericksburg, VA

Perhaps you’ve used the website www.happycow.com before to find a vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurant?  Well, generally speaking, I don’t like happycow because it excludes many many restaurants that have only a few, BUT GOOD, vegan-friendly dishes and includes, instead, those “natural foods” stores that smell like patchouli, dreadlocks, and old hemp.  Tell me, would you rather have a tasty Lebanese dish of moujadarah (fried onions, lentils, and rice with spices) or crunchy granola way past its expiration date and of dubious origin?

Along those lines, these are a few of my favorite Fredericksburg restaurants.  Numero uno (and, oddly enough, the only restaurant that made it onto happycow) is Sammy T’s Light Food and Ale on Caroline Street (www.sammyts.com).  I honestly have no favorite dish and I haven’t quite made my way all the way around the menu.  I like Sammy T’s because they also have “omnivore-friendly” dishes that, per my father, make the grade.  Sammy T’s has several local beers on draft, if that’s your shindig, and you can sit outside and let your puppy enjoy the water bowl they provide.  However, the service is generally crap, but who cares?  And if you want any sides, like fries, they are a la carte.

Near and dear to my heart, Laziza Lebanese (www.lazizaoffredericksburg.com).  Belly-dancing shows at 8PM on Friday and Saturday!  She’s good, but I’m less than enthused about belly-dancing in such a restricted space ’cause I don’t want her scarves getting in my food.  I love the Laziza Mediterranean Salad, minus the feta, heavy on prunes, kiwi, walnuts, and apples.  Lebanese pizzas have no cheese, but I haven’t tried them to vouch 100%.  Several of the appetizers could make a hearty meal and the lentil and vegetable soups have both been tested. 

Along similar lines, Smyrna Mediterranean Cafe (www.smyrnacuisine.com).  Fabulous for take-out if you’re feeding more than one.  Eating in is an adventure.  There are ~5 small tables and the husband of the husband/wife Turkish/Greek owners is generally the waitroid.  He loves to pontificate.  Going on and on to 2 thin vegetarians about how much Americans hate vegetables, how horrible our vegetables are, and how fat Americans are is not endearing.  And I believe my husband would have enjoyed his pomegranate juice WITHOUT learning about its miraculous abilities to cure prostate and colon cancer.  With that said, the food’s different and there are several choices.  It is a bit expensive.  Go for the heartier dishes, definately get  a side of the bulgur pilaf, and start with the mujadarrah if you need an appetizer.

Every vegetarian quickly learns that ethnic cuisine is our saving grace.  What would a restaurant review be without the requisite Thai restaurant?  Bangkok Thai on Caroline Street is within walking distance, reasonably priced, and I always have enough for leftovers.  Like Sammy T’s, the service could use some work.  I believe it may be female family members who do the waitservice and they usually seem totally disinterested in coming to your table when you’d like them to, so order everything at once and pray you don’t get thirsty.  The appetizers are nothing special (tofu tod and spring rolls), but I like the pud puk and there’s some faux duck dish that I don’t see on the online menu.  Make sure to ask for “Thai spicy” if you really want the burn.

Other around-town options, depending on your fancy include Capitol Ale House, which has 60 beers on tap and the best black bean “burger” I’ve tasted.  Not a lot of other options, but I like pretzels and mustard too : )  And their sauerkraut.  Two Indian joints are Guru and India Queen.  I’ve only been to India Queen once, but I might prefer it since ‘hot’ actually meant ‘hot’ and the service was better.  Wegmans, the grocery store, has a fantastic hot bar.  Kybecca Wine Bar has a few tapas dishes that can be adjusted to be vegan.  Two Mexican chain restaurants I prefer are Pancho Villa in Central Park and Mexico Restaurant in Massaponax.  Their veggie fajitas aren’t just greasy, limp onions and bell peppers.  Finally, for fast food, there’s Chipotle or Qdoba.

I know I’ll think of more, but these are my go-to restaurants when I have visiting family or friends.

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