Restaurants v Vegetarians

As I learn more and more about various restaurants and what ingredients they use, I’ll post my findings here in hopes that I help other “picky eaters” avoid eating mammals and fowl.


Many asian eateries offer popular dishes with tofu as a meat alternative. But that doesn’t necessarily  make it safe.

The hidden meat: Chicken stalk lurks in many things. As does pork and beef broth.

The meat that you think is meat but may not really be meat: Many Asian desserts appear to have layers of gelatin on them. Turns out this is really some form of seaweed gel–agar-agar or carageenan. Who knew? So that shiny little cake is probably safe to eat.

P.F. Chang’s

This place rocks. Especially the P.F. Chang’s in Carrollton, Texas. The head chef there has food allergies and actually championed the gluten-free menu that you see in most P.F. Chang’s restaurants. So he takes extra-special care to make sure strict diets are followed.

P.F. Chang’s chefs clean out their woks, pots, and pans after cooking everything. So there’s very little chance of finding a chicken bit in your vegetarian dish. Eat easy knowing that if it’s marked at vegetarian on the menu, it’s animal free.


Mexican restaurants are the hardest. But there are some out there who think about us freaks.

The hidden meat: Refried beans usually contain lard. And so do tortillas. And Mexican rice usually has chicken stock in it. So ask your server about these items at every Mexican restaurant you eat at.


I love Chipotle. And they lay it all out for you. Vegetarians and vegans, have no fear here.

Chuy’s Mexican

Vegetarian safe. And the waiters are very knowledgeable. Just follow the little cow on the menu.

Enjoy these items guilt-free:

  • rice (all of it)
  • black beans
  • refried beans
  • tortillas
  • and all of their sauces

Matt’s El Rancho

It isn’t easy, kids. Nothing on the menu is really vegetarian as-is. Stay away from the rice and beans. And their tortillas remain inconclusive (they don’t make them onsite, which usually means they’re okay … usually).

When I went, my waiter offered to make a veggie chile relleno stuffed with broccoli and cauliflower. In lieu of rice and beans, I was supposed to get a scoop of guacamole. Then my order was royally messed up twice. I never complained, but I didn’t really eat either. Then paid full price. That’s what I get for trying to eat a vegetarian meal in a) a Mexican restaurant in b) Allen, TX.


Primo’s Tex-Mex


Don’t eat at Primo’s, especially the Garland location. Just save yourself the heartache.

Taco Cabana

The more fast-food a place is, the harder it is to ask questions. This is info I found online from a person at the corporate HQ.

Meat free:

  • black beans
  • all salsas and pico de gallo
  • all tortilla products (made with vegetable shortening)
  • Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese blend
  • sour cream

Menu items that can be ordered or modified to fit the meat free criteria:

  • cheese quesadillas
  • black bean tacos and burritos (no rice, it contains chicken stock)
  • scrambled egg breakfast tacos
  • egg and potato tacos
  • pancakes
  • taco salads (can be ordered without the meat).

Dairy free:

  • black beans
  • all salsas and pico de gallo
  • corn tortilla products

Egg free:

  • black beans
  • all salsas and pico de gallo
  • all tortilla products

Taco Diner/Mi Cocina


So Mi Cocina has stepped up their game. There are a few veggie-friendly options on the menu now. You get a salad and grilled veggies instead of rice and beans. So they get an A for effort.

As for Taco Diner, I have no idea. I still don’t trust them (although they’re the same company as of this update). Here’s my original rant:

Vegetarians, avoid this place all-together. They don’t care about you. Too many times have I ordered something vegetarian only to find a chunk of chicken at the very bottom.

Uncle Julio’s

They do have vegetarian options. You must be specific when talking to your waiter.

  • The regular rice has chicken stock. The cilantro rice is vegetarian.
  • The refried beans contain lard. The black beans do not (vegans, these are safe for you, but you must specifically order them without cheese).
  • And they have TWO types of flour tortillas—some made with lard (in the kitchen) and some with vegetable shortening (made on the floor in their tortilla machine). Be specific and tell your waiter you want the tortillas made with shortening.
  • They also have a faboo grilled veggie plate. Yes, it’s a copout, but it’s delicious, so they’re forgiven. And their veggie fajitas are (they claim) totally vegetarian.


If you’re anything like me, your friends don’t own restaurants. But they may cook meals from time to time that they intend for you to eat.

Unfortunately, I’m still learning about cooking and what goes into what. But here’s a list of things that I once thought would be safe, but turns out they may not be. Eff my life.


This one kills me. Did you know that the marshmallow fluff jar has a brownie recipe? Well, it does. Which makes those brownies non-vegetarian.


Sometimes it contains gelatin. Other times it doesn’t. Depends on the chef. Ask.


Even if it wasn’t shoved up a chicken or turkey’s ass, stuffing usually has chicken stock in it. Just avoid it all together unless you watched it be made with veggie broth. And if it came from a box, it has chicken stock in it (unless it very clearly states “vegetarian” on that box).


2 Responses to “Restaurants v Vegetarians”

  1. Verdilak October 4, 2010 at 9:44 PM #

    Another great addition would be Indian,Mediterranean and Greek food. Most Indian places offer lots of vegetarian options like Potato Samosas and lots of veggie curries. Lots of Greek and Mediterranean restaurants offer lots of vegetarian options too. Most of them will at least carry Falafel, which can be eaten with veggies in a pita, or over basmati rice.


  1. Touché, Mi Cocina. « - September 20, 2011

    […] Restaurants v Vegetarians […]

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