Baby Blues BBQ (Los Angeles, CA)

Where’s the beef? Or pork…

Whoever says vegetarians hate BBQ joints, steak houses and burger stands has never met… well… me! I’m not enthused to know my pennies support these temples of the flesh, but such establishments produce consistent, high-quality, vegetable sides and sizzling condiments. Besides, when planning our monthly Serious Eats MeetUp, it’s not always about what I want.

So, what does a vegetarian eat at a barbecue restaurant? Let me tell you…

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Blue Smoke (New York, NY)

The back room

Another ladies night and another opportunity to flex my food muscles… or another chance for me to explore treacherous culinary offering on someone else’s dime. These brave souls let the singular vegetarian of the group – along with my worthy co-conspirator Michelle N. – pick the locale. After ciphering though many worthy contenders, my brain began to plead for cheese (a frequent occurrence) and then I remembered reading reviews of people preening themselves over the supposed magnificence of the Mac and Cheese at Blue Smoke. Et volia!

This guy folded our napkins every time somone left the table

After the rounds of “Yeah! BBQ sounds great… but wait, what will you eat?!”I assured everybody that haveing extensively reviewed their published vegetarian (and gluten-free and nut-free) menu, I would be a smitten kitten drowning myself in Mac and Cheese. I also held out hope that the Veggie Burger would be stunning since Danny Myer is the birth father of the canonized ‘Shroom Burger. Alas, only the Mac and Cheese would live up to the promises, although not as expected… but the journey would lead me to new egalitarian editable entremets which heavily outweighed the disappointments.

We were thrilled to be seated at a round table for 8 people, the best way to dine in a large group, and we were attended to in professional Union Square Hospitality Group style which was completely unexpected at a restaurant where peanut shell littering the floor would have only enhanced the décor.

We ate a lot of food… A LOT… the skinny waitress kindly warned us that we had ordered too much food, but we flipped our hair at her and demanded that she bring it on.


Grabbing at the warm bucket of chips

Warm BBQ Potato Chips with blue cheese dip ($7.95) – Excellent! Fresh but slightly soft chips doused in powdery BBQ Flavor in a bucket next to the cool ranchy white addictive dip. It can be ordered sans bacon but I had no problem eating around it for the sake of others.

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Vegetarian BBQ

I’m coming to terms with the fact that it’s the end of summer and the closing of BBQ season. Over the past few years it seems that many of my friends have moved into apartments with outdoor space and my summery quota of hot hot BBQ fun has tripled -but this also means I’ve had to deal with the “vegetarian BBQ” dilemma. I’ve grown sick of hum drum Boca burgers and those awful giggly soy dogs… and even when my friends have actually tried to appease the vegetarians I find myself faced with my ultimate nemeses, the grilled mushroom. So they ask me “what does this vegetarian want to eat at a BBQ?” Well let me tell you…

First off, one of my most successful “vegetarian options” is homemade vegan Setain Skewers. Now you don’t HAVE to make your own seitan since it is readably available at most supermarkets, but it’s much more affordable and there are a few tricks to make it even more awesome then meat. I use Lauren Ulm’s Chicken-Style Seitan Recipe but add ½ teaspoon of liquid smoke and 1/8 cup of BBQ sauce directly into the meat dough! Take that chicken and beef! Skew it up with some red onions and yellow bell pepper, drizzle some oil on everything for a better burn and make ‘em all beg for a bite.

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