The Veggielante has had it up to here with people bitching that St. Louis restaurants are vegetarian unfriendly. Sure, we'd like to see more restaurants offering more meatless dishes, but there are excellent choices out there if you take the trouble to look for them. We're not here to proselytize about greening up your diet. Our only motive is to spread the word about places where you can order good grub that ain't got no meat. To enhance your reading experience, we've settled on a handful of criteria we'll use to suss out a restaurant's vegetarian friendliness.
Destination: Fozzie's Sandwich Emporium (1170 South Big Bend Boulevard, 314-932-5414)
Neighborhood: Richmond Heights
Overview: On the outside, Fozzie's doesn't look like much. It's a small little building in sight of highway 40 at Big Bend Boulevard, with a few picnic tables and a garden out back. Around lunchtime, though, the small parking lot is packed with cars as people cram into the building's small interior. Though the size of the building is small, Fozzie's packs a powerful punch, serving up creative sandwiches, salads, burgers and hot dogs. The sandwich shop takes freshness seriously, using a portion of ingredients (herbs, eggplant, tomatoes and more) from the raised beds just outside their backdoor. The produce that isn't sourced from its backyard comes from other local sources.
There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on Fozzie's menu, from veggie burgers and dogs to gyros and original sandwiches, all packed up neatly in paper parcels. In addition to the main event, Fozzie's has homemade potato chips in two varieties (fried in vegetarian-friendly oil) and a lengthy list of shakes and sundaes for dessert.
The "Club Veg" sandwich overflows with heaps of warm veggies served atop flatbread. Like many of the sandwiches at Fozzie's, it's best to tackle the toppings with knife and fork first before attempting to pick up the monster and eat it like a proper sandwich. This sandwich contained fresh spinach, roasted peppers, grilled zucchini and squash, goat cheese and baba ganoush, topped with a few strips of vegetarian bacon. The baba ganoush, a homemade vegan spread of garlic, eggplant, paprika and walnuts, added a creaminess to the vegetables, which were tender and balanced nicely by the saltiness of the meat-free "bacon." The "Club Veg" sandwich set us back $6.95.
There aren't too many Greek flavors on Fozzie's menu, but where there are, they shine. The veggie gyro was served on soft pita and piled high with vegetables including eggplant, tomato, cucumber, kalamata olives and pepperoncini and topped with a generous portion of feta. The gyro had both vegan hummus and tzatziki; the tzatziki adding a tang, the hummus a cool earthiness. Under the feta and dressings, the freshness of the vegetables still could not be ignored. Like the "Club Veg," the veggie gyro was $6.95.
The "Eggplant Parm," served on a hoagie for eventual sandwich handling, was almost too much for our little plastic fork to handle. The eggplant, cooked perfectly, still had a bit of a crunch. It might have been a little crunchier had it not been doused in tomato sauce, but we weren't complaining. Fresh mozzarella and spinach added crunch and kick for a fresh and delicious meal at $7.25.