Wicked Weed is a great place to end up on any day of the week. Sure, it’s a microbrewery…but it’s swankily decorated and has a creative menu that’s veg-friendly (sometimes hard to find in a brewery). Oddly enough, I usually end up here for dessert (hence the picture), and let me tell you, their dessert is no joke. It’s worth it all on its own! I’m not a beer drinker, but my husband is and this is one of his favorite microbreweries in town. Add to that equation their sunny downstairs patio out back and their generous fire pit out front, and you have a truly choice establishment here for pretty much anyone in your party.
While visiting some friends-of-a-friend who live in Vassalboro, Maine, I wound up at the Pointe Afta in Winslow, Maine (no website). The restaurant was definitely a local hangout, with a majority of the patrons milling about, untethered to their tables as they wandered through the dining area visiting with friends. The Pointe Afta is casually decorated and immediately comfortable, and even though there aren’t a lot of vegetarian options on the menu, their choose-your-own-toppings pizza provided the opportunity I needed…and the pizza was delicious. While this is one of those “local hangout” establishments, I never felt out of place or alienated in the least. It was a laid back and easy dining experience.
The Brewery at Lake Tahoe is one of those places I end up visiting every time I’m in town even though the service is unbelievably slow. There’s just something about the place — the casual, happy atmosphere; the vast menu full of comfort food; the noisy cheer and of course the house-brewed beer — that keeps me coming back for more. Even though we had an hourlong wait this time (we did, after all, walk in during the peak dinner rush with a group of 10 people), the staff was friendly and helpful. Our waiter even got up on a chair and took some pictures of our group for me (twice!) and smiled and joked the whole time. I couldn’t resist the Bad Ass Loaded Baked Potato Pizza (pictured), and I was not disappointed. The pizza comes with spicy white sauce, garlic, diced baked potatoes, parmesan cheese, peperoncini, green onions, bacon (I subbed tomatoes), and a drizzle of sour cream ranch sauce. It was perhaps the most delicious pizza I’ve ever eaten…and I could have split it with at least two other people, because there was no way I could eat any more than a couple of slices. So if you go to the Brewery at Lake Tahoe, you can expect some slow but friendly service, and some really great comfort food. It’s worth the trip, even if it does take a while.
The Bier Garden is a little restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina that boasts an enormous selection of beer. Even though this is how they bill themselves, their food is quite delicious. I ordered the Hummus Sampler (pictured below), which came with Jalapeño hummus and Black Walnut & Herb hummus, along with a side of salsa. My only complaint, if you could call it that, is that it was a bit filling for an appetizer.
For the main course, I had the Southwestern Burger with a vegetarian patty. The fresh corn and jalapeños sprinkled on top of the patty gave it a nice Southwestern flavor and kept the overall tone of the burger nice and light. It was an unexpectedly scrumptious lunch, at a very reasonable price.
I had to start with a photograph of the interior of the Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus because it’s so beautiful inside. The building is a historical landmark, built in the late 1800s as a billiards hall and maintained to near-pristine detail in the decades since. That being said, I have to comment on the food, because it was gooooood. So I’ll start with the free bread:
This homemade multi-grain bread was hearty and light. It’s served with an herb butter that makes for a nice topping, adding scrumptious flavor to the simple “dish.” And the appetizer…
…ARANCINI! Oh how I love these delicious dumplings (if that’s the right word). They were made perfectly (warm and moist on the inside, crispy and breaded on the outside. They were lying in a pool of rich cream sauce, with a small dish of house-made marinara to accompany them.
For dinner I had a relatively simple salad. This is where the restaurant’s shortcomings come into play: their menu was relatively limited when it came to vegetarian options. Of course, I say that while knowing full well that there was supposed to be a dessert order at the end of this meal, but I was far too full to even consider placing such an order. So with the robust serving of bread, the perfect appetizer, and this light salad with pine nuts (one of my faces!) and a mustard vinaigrette (really tasty, and I don’t even like mustard!) I’d say vegetarian options or no, Elevator is a great place to go on a date!
I went to the Solvang Brewing Company a few months ago, just after it opened. I ordered the Baja Burger (pictured above) with the veggie patty, and a mix of sweet potato and regular French fries. The meal was delicious, and even though the service was rather slow (which I believe was partly due to the newness of the restaurant — the kinks were still being worked out), our waitress was friendly. When she accidentally brought us an extra order of the Cream of Carrot soup (pictured below), she left it with us…on the house. It was a surprising and delicious treat, and remains one of the best soups I’ve ever had. While I can’t speak to how the service is now, I can attest to the originality of the menu and the tastiness of the dishes. It’s about time Solvang got a brewery!
The Blackstone Brewery in Nashville is a quiet, clean restaurant with fantastic service and good food. The Santa Fe Pizza (pictured above) had a thin cornbread crust and a nice assortment of southwestern vegetables topping it off. It was surprisingly light and refreshing. When you combine the quality of the food with the quality of the service, the Blackstone Brewery is too good to pass up. Give it a whirl next time you’re in the area!
The Big River Grille & Brewing Works in downtown Nashville is a pleasant enough place with an interesting menu selection. I ordered the bruschetta, which was actually quite good. The bread was crispy and thinly sliced, and the tomatoes were fresh and juicy. The herbs and onions only added to the taste, and made this a nice, light lunch for a hot day of walking around the city.
When I went to Brewzzi, I couldn’t resist ordering the Brewzzi Brownie in a Cookie Jacket. Yes, you read that right — this delicious brownie, made from Ghirardelli chocolate, has a chocolate chip cookie baked around it. The entire delicious baked treat is served warm, topped with a generous helping of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, and drizzled with chocolate and caramel drizzled. I know it sounds a bit overly-sweet, but with a tall glass of ice cold milk it was the perfect way to end a great day!
I stopped in for a hearty lunch at Hopworks Urban Brewery, aka HUB, after hiking around in the lava tubes at Mt. St. Helens. It turns out they make a mean burger. I ordered their House Burger with their house-made veggie patty (consisting most prominently of black beans), which was served on an onion cheese bun. It was delectable, but still not as good as the house-made organic root beer! It had some serious bite to it, but also had a crisp sweetness to it. If I lived in Portland, I’d be a regular at HUB.
The Bridgeport Brewpub, located in the heart of Portland’s Pearl District, is a beautiful restaurant occupying a historic brick building. Oregon, alternately referred to as “Beertopia,” turned out to be even more vegetarian friendly than I thought it would. Even at a brewpub like this, there were vegetarian and vegan options. What did I opt for? Why, the BBQ burger (housemade beet and rice patty) of course. And it was deeeeeelicious! The BBQ sauce was spicy and savory, and the burger itself was surprisingly juicy and flavorful. While I know my choice was somewhat less than original, it was well worth it!