Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Gluten Free Bliss at Argo Tea

Argo Tea

By Siddhi:

As I’ve mentioned in previous food-related posts, discovering I was gluten-intolerant was definitely a challenging obstacle. With time and exploration, I was able to find several replacements to my staple diet in the form of gluten-free breads, various multigrain approaches to wheat-based meals, and recipes online with substitutions that would allow me to still have a healthy and fulfilling diet. But the one difficulty I just simply couldn’t overcome was finding gluten free desserts that lived up to their original counterparts. Trader Joe’s has been fantastic at stocking their shelves with cookies and baked goods that come close and sometimes even exceed the taste of wheat desserts. But aside from grocery store hunts, finding relatively healthy indulgences for my insatiable sweet tooth has definitely been rather troublesome.

That was until I decide to deviate from my usual Starbucks routine and give Argo Tea a shot, a place that had apparently stolen my roommate’s heart and in the process, all her dining dollars.

Founded in Chicago in 2003, Argo Tea has now spread outside the Windy City to St. Louis, Boston, and of course, New York City. The range of flavors for the teas is astounding in and of itself. Original options from the Hibiscus Apple Chiller and Tea Sangria to Iced Teapuccino and Chocolate Mint and Red Velvet chais provide beverages that suit every mood and occasion. A breakfast tea, snack tea, dessert tea…whatever you feel like, Argo probably has a solution.

Here are the gluten-free options I’ve loved most at Argo Tea:

-Lemon Drop Cookies- Absolutely delicious and chewy lemon cookies iced on the brim and topped off with powdered sugar and lemon zest. I haven’t tasted lemon drop cookies this good anywhere else. And the fact they’re gluten-free is all the more impressive. The chocolate duet and oatmeal raison cookies are also great.

-Tomato Garden Vegetable Salad, Chickpea Salad, Garden Lentil Salad- I never, ever thought packaged salads could taste so farmers market fresh. The chickpea salad is my favorite, and has such distinct flavoring that it feels like it was prepared in a home kitchen. Plus, they’re filling. You can easily make a meal out of one of these salads (or the many panini options if you’re not gluten intolerant) and a drink and dessert.

Overall, this franchise doesn’t feel like a franchise at all. The experience is first class on all levels, and for people who do have special dietary needs, Argo’s sensitivity is admirable.

Check out the Argo Tea menu here for more options:


Vatan – Awesome, Authentic, Pricey Gujarati Indian Food in New York City

Vatan Entre Plate

By Lakshmi:

For many years, I have heard from local friends who hail from the Gujarat region of India that the best place to sample authentic, Gujarati, vegetarian food in the tri-state area is at Vatan in New York City.

So, a few weeks ago, we decided to give the place a try.  As soon as we entered Vatan, the decor and ambiance stood out.  Welcoming us into the restaurant was a huge idol of Lord Ganesha.  The entire place was set up like an authentic village from Gujarat, with trees, thatched roof huts, and low seating.  And just like at a home, you are asked to remove your shoes prior to sitting down for a meal.

A few facts you should know before going to Vatan.

– The food is vegetarian.  No meat is served.

– The meal is a set meal.  Which means that other than drinks, you don’t have to order anything.

– It is an all you can eat meal, but not a buffet.  You get unlimited refills of whatever you like.

– You can ask your meal to be mild, medium or hot.

– If you have dietary restrictions, you simply let them know and they bring your trays pre-populated with food you can eat.

– The meal is not cheap.  It is $32.00 per person and drinks are extra.

– The place is only open for dinner, which is a good thing, since you can eat little all day and then indulge in this repast.

Now to the actual meal itself.  First, we were brought a tray with an assortment of appetizers.  This included green chilly bhajis (green chillies deep fried in batter), batata vada (a spicy potato ball, dipped in batter and deep fried), dhokla (steamed chick pea flour cakes), ragda patties (potato balls with a spicy sauce), dahi batata puri (a yogurt, lentil street food), a chick pea salad, and more.  (There is so much, that it is easy to lose track of what was served!)

You can have seconds and thirds of appetizers, but you need to save some space for the entres.  The entre tray comes with puris (fried bread) with an assortment of vegetables, plain rice, a rice lentil combo, papad and kadhi.  The food is simply yummy and while it is difficult to polish off such a big meal, we seemed to have done justice to the food presented.  There was an added bonus for me.  Siddhi (with her gluten challenges) and Sathya (with her picky eating habits) both loved the meal and devoured most of what was put in front of them (they brought Siddhi bajra roti, a gluten-free bread).

Yes, there is dessert at the end of this meal: mango ice cream. And if you are so inclined, they offer masala chai and coffee, a perfect finale to a lovely evening.

If you are in the New York city area and craving for an Indian meal that is off the beaten track, Vatan is a lovely discovery.

To learn more about Vatan, click here.


Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant – A True Downtown Disney Experience

By Siddhi: 

When you think amusement park food, “memorable” isn’t really the word that comes to mind. Most theme park eats aside from the nostalgic cotton candy and funnel cake experiences that fulfill our cravings fade into the not so pleasant memories of grease, oil, and indistinct flavors. And this is one of many, many reasons Walt Disney World provides us with an experience we can safely place at the ultimate caliber on the “scale of awesome”. Not only are the parks themselves evocative of childhood, imagination, dreams, and unparalleled fun, but so are the resort’s myriad, specialized dining offerings.

This past week, I went on a road trip with a few high school friends to Disney in Orlando. One of my pals, a food lover and lifelong Disney maniac, scoured through all of the resort’s most unique meal experiences and found one that he immediately set his heart on: The Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant. Located in the heart of Downtown Disney, the restaurant is the only legitimate Irish pub in all of Orlando.

What’s so unique about this eatery when Downtown Disney boasts dozens of other restaurants and the Epcot World Showcase hosts countless other international cuisines? The experience at Raglan is entirely authentic. I’ve never been to Ireland, but step one to knowing that what I felt sitting in Raglan was a mirror of true Irish spirit was the fact that the restaurant’s owners, cooks, and even the building is from Ireland (Really. The whole thing was constructed there and then shipped to Florida. How much closer could you get to a genuine dining experience?)

When we entered Raglan, we were greeted by the infectious spirit of Creel, a Celtic acoustic and bluegrass band consisting of three incredibly talented yet modest musicians at the restaurant’s center stage. Clad in casual t-shirts and jeans, the men understood that despite the elegance of where they were performing, they were still in Disney. It allowed us to make an immediate connection with them and appreciate what they were doing even more. Creel played throughout the night, giving us an eclectic buffet of original pieces that truly transported us to the rolling green hills of an Irish landscape.

And then, the lights dimmed and a spotlight hit a smaller table-stage that sat in the midst of the crowd. A tap dancer performed an amazing set, and her movement synchronized so well with Creel that it was like watching professionals from a tremendous stage production. Throughout the night, we discovered that this was no solo act, but rather a synergy of many passionate souls. Several tap dancers emerged from behind the stage and put on one of the most energizing performances I have ever seen.

What I think makes my dinner at Raglan so different from what both my friends and much of the crowd experience is that I’m both vegetarian and gluten intolerant. That rules out the majority of a traditional Irish menu for me. And yet, the manager was so warm and accommodating. I was able to order a creamy tomato soup with flavors unique to Irish cooking as well as a dish called “The Vegetarian Goat”, which was made of oven roasted vegetables drizzled with lemon oil, white balsamic, and completed with crumbled goat cheese. The taste of the roasted red peppers in my mouth was farmer’s market good. So, so fresh. My friends all raved about they ate, which ranged from the Shepherd’s Pot Pie to a stew infused with some Guinness. Needless to say, Raglan’s staff will happily work to make sure you have a pleasant and diverse meal (as per typical Disney fashion).

So if you’re ever in the Downtown Disney area and are looking for a different kind of theme park dining experience, check out the Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant. Even if you’re not a fan of Irish food, the entertainment is worth the visit. A warning: it’s not the cheapest food. So it would be a good place to reserve for your dinner splurge night (they also serve lunch).

To learn more about Raglan’s menu, entertainment, and history, go their site here:


You should make reservations well ahead of time, as the place gets crowded.