Vegetarian restaurants here go beyond salad-and-pasta routine


There was a time – and it wasn’t all that long ago – when those who eschewed meat were limited to two choices when they dined out: salads or pasta with red sauce. Boooring!

I lived in these parts when that was the harsh reality and always wondered why my vegetarian friends even bothered to go out.

But gradually things changed. First, vegetarians got their due as chefs discovered that a slab of protein in the center of the plate wasn’t mandatory to make a profit. Even carnivores like to take a break from meat now and again. Next, those who are gluten intolerant began to find specially marked items on the menu that suited their diets.

And now, as more people are deciding to skip the animal products – meat, dairy, honey – more restaurants are attempting to provide interesting dishes for this small but discriminating group of diners.  The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel is among the regions working to embrace this trend as a number of restaurants have sprung up to meet the demand. Most aren’t wholly vegan but do offer animal-free options that range beyond the old salad-and-pasta routine.

Vegan Ashleigh McCombs of Atlanta recently visited her parents in Fort Myers and was pleasantly surprised by the variety she found on this trip.

“I’ve been to Fort Myers before and had trouble finding much to eat, but this time there was a lot more variety,” she said. “Someone told me about Chef Brooke’s and I had a great lunch there. And we also went to Nice Guys and I actually got to have pizza! It was awesome.”

Yes indeed. Vegan pizza has come to the region and is available on both sides of the Caloosahatchee River. Following are some places that cater to those who prefer their animals on the hoof rather than the plate. Also, keep in mind that Asian restaurants – Indian, Chinese, Thai and Japanese – offer options that will work for vegans and carnivores alike.

For vegans who crave a big juicy burger, local restaurants are happy to help. The Impossible Burger -- the burger that's zero percent cow and 100 percent plant-based but looks and bleeds like meat, is being served at a growing number of area restaurants, including Artisan Eatery, Ford's Garage, and The Saloon.





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