The city of Boston is nationally renowned for both the abundance and quality of its local dining options—ranging from the small cafes that line Columbus Avenue to the full-blown, five star bistros where the salad forks are freshly chilled and the bill gives you that same sinking feeling you get when you see the “Reminder: your monthly Ebill is now ready,” email. However, many people find that price is not the only factor that limits their restaurant options.
It’s called vegetarianism, and people practice it for any number of reasons. My mother is a vegetarian, and I don’t eat meat outside of my own home, so I was used to living the veggie lifestyle before I got to college. Even so, I still encounter the major disappointment of arriving at a restaurant with some friends, looking at the menu, and realizing there’s absolutely nothing I can eat.
For those readers that share in my displeasure to be the customer at a restaurant that has to go down the list of menu items and ask the waiter, “Does this one have meat? Yes? Is it possible to get it without meat? No? Okay, well then what about this one?” I may be about to change your life…or at least your choice in restaurants. After four full semesters of scouring the city for places that cater to vegetarians, I have compiled a list of some of my all-time favorite Boston veggie meals.
With the gorgeous summer weather approaching, it seems appropriate to share a particular favorite of mine that requires a stroll through town. Café 472, conveniently named after its street address on Commonwealth Avenue, lies not quite within the realm of Boston University but is nestled in the basement of a beautiful brownstone that, at night, is illuminated by the distant flashing of the iconic Citgo sign.
Maybe it’s the armchairs and sofas, or perhaps the incredibly friendly service staff behind the counter, but as soon as you walk into Café 472 it feels as though you’re in your own living room and not a sidewalk cafe. With the option of both indoor and outdoor seating, you can enjoy dinner surrounded by the bustle of the city and retreat indoors for dessert when it gets chilly. Also, there is really no more fitting summer dessert than a heaping pile of homemade frozen yogurt.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though—dinner first. Their website clearly states that they cater to both vegetarians and vegans, which means the days of asking for no meat are finally over. Many of dishes do include meat, but the menu contains so many items that there are ample choices even among the vegetarian options.
I must confess that I am a huge sucker for a well-made salad. For me, nothing is more satisfying than getting that perfect forkful of dressing-coated goodies. When I ordered the hearts of palm salad from Café 472 for the first time, it took me to a whole new level of salad appreciation, maybe even worship.
For those readers who aren’t salad enthusiasts, the Café serves wraps (they call them “Roll Ups”), paninis, soup, and Napolean style pizza. Whatever vegetarian delicacy you crave, you’ll find it there, and your friends that do eat meat can enjoy the N.U. Sandwich, which is—you guessed it—named after the University itself. This sandwich includes pastrami, corned beef, Swiss cheese, cole slaw and Russian dressing, and it’s rated as a favorite among customers.
Despite my devotion to salads, I do understand that some people don’t find them quite substantial enough to be a meal. However, filling up on dinner at Café 472 would be a mistake.
As I said earlier, the café serves homemade frozen yogurt. You start by choosing a base yogurt: vanilla, chocolate, sugar-free tart, or tofu based, I’m talking to you, vegans, and then have your choice of over 30 mix-ins and toppings to add in. Don’t worry, vegans, the toppings are variations of fruit, candy, nuts, and chocolate, so you have plenty of toppings to add as well.
A small caveat—Café 472 does not skimp on the froyo. The portion is probably enough for two people to split, like Pinkberry on steroids. So long as you and a friend can agree on what toppings you want to try, you’ll be in business. My personal favorite is chocolate yogurt with banana mixed in; it’s my own twist on the classic summer dessert of chocolate covered, frozen bananas. It’s spectacular.
Café 472’s outdoor seating, noticeably fresh ingredients, and generous portions of frozen yogurt are a recipe for a perfect summer dining destination, not only for us vegetarians but our friends that eat meat as well. So when you get a chance after a long day of summer classes, take a break for the evening and venture over to Café 472.