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: Boogaloo (7344 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-645-4803)
Overview:Vegetables might not be the first things that come to mind when you think of Cuban, Creole or Caribbean cuisine, but Boogaloo offers a slew of vegetarian dishes. The Maplewood restaurant also boasts wooden swings at the bar, and take it from the Veggielante: Swinging is much more fun when you aren't weighed down with meat.
Highlights: Boogaloo serves vegetarian empanadas ($8.95, pictured above) filled with spinach, artichoke and cheese. You can enjoy these straight-up or dip them in the caramelized onion-yogurt dip served alongside.
Though we'd heard from several of our Veggielante operatives that Boogaloo's housemade veggieburger is killer, we opted for something a little more authentic: the vegetable cubaniche, a pressed sandwich with grilled vegetables -- pickles, greens, tomatoes, carrots -- as well as kidney beans, cheese, mustard and mayonnaise. The sandwich, served with fries, will run you $9.50.
Jamaican Johnny cakes are a Boogaloo specialty. An order brings a stack of two polenta cakes, which work as a neutral base for the riot of flavors ladled over them: a cream sauce, goat cheese, mushrooms, garlic spinach, kidney beans and peas.