Dining out as a vegetarian can often mean eating the one option on the menu or getting creative by adapting the plentiful, carnivore-friendly dishes that most mainstream restaurants serve.
The COVID-19-induced quarantine has driven a significant increase in home cooking, but occasionally, when the energy to cook has vanished, it’s nice to get takeout or bundle up to eat on one of the many new or expanded patios that have popped up in response to the pandemic.
During the winter months, with many local restaurants closed for the season, the vegetarian options have dwindled even further. Thankfully, I’ve still managed to find delicious vegetarian options, and with a little creativity, some things that can be adapted.
The Cornerstone in Baileys Harbor has been a staple for me, with its selection of vegetarian options on the menu year-round, including a black-bean wrap topped with guacamole and an excellent chipotle mayo that’s made in-house.
The Cornerstone’s vegetarian pizza is great, but for something a little more healthful, the Think Summer wrap – with no turkey – is a tasty, light option that’s packed with flavor. Even without the turkey, you’re left with a still-delicious combination of salted pecans, dried cranberries, cucumbers, mixed greens, raspberry vinaigrette and blue cheese, all lovingly wrapped in a tortilla.
El Sazon Mexican Restaurant in Sturgeon Bay is a family-run establishment with a brightly colored, no-frills interior and excellent prices. Many options can be ordered as vegetarian, but the guacamole is great to start, followed by vegetarian tostadas. They’re laden and messy to eat, but totally worth it! Move on to build-your-own vegetarian fajitas drizzled in the restaurant’s delicious hot sauce to round out the meal – all great washed down with a cold Modelo Negra.
Mink River Basin in Ellison Bay might be the only place in Northern Door to offer the Impossible Burger, the vegetarian burger made from modified soy that you may have heard of when Burger King added it as a Whopper option in 2019. Sometimes even vegetarians feel like a beef-style burger, and the Mink offers that possibility along with a choice of house-cut fries, coleslaw or potato salad on the side.
Typically you wouldn’t associate great sushi with a Northwoods bar such as the AC Tap in Baileys Harbor, but its Tuesday Sushi Night blows all assumptions away with delicious, fresh sushi rolls, made to order. There isn’t a vegetarian option listed on the menu, but customers can design their own from the various fillings, including carrots, cucumbers, avocados, cabbage, green onions, asparagus, snap peas and cream cheese (or leave it out to make it vegan), topped off with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce to taste.
Wild Tomato in Fish Creek and Sister Bay have a couple of great vegetarian options. The Fun Guy pizza is – not surprisingly – mushroom heavy, with five types of mushrooms, and the perfect simplicity of the Margherita pizza can’t be overlooked. With buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and olive oil, this pie pairs beautifully with the cherry-walnut salad, made with mixed greens, cherry vinaigrette, maple-roasted walnuts, dried cherries and delicious Door County Creamery goat cheese.