Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Vegan in Worcester, MA

My friends Dave and Jo moved to Worcester, MA about a year ago.  At the time, Worcester offered them one significant feature: it was equidistant to two important places outside of Worcester. In the past year, however, they have discovered that Worcester offers them far more than a convenient geographical location.  They have grown to appreciate other important Worcester qualities, such as cheap rent, loud neighbors, vandalism, and theft.  I was eager to see what this special place was all about, so I forced myself upon them for 20 hours.

I made sure to eat plenty of food before I visited Worcester, hoping that a calorie surfeit would fuel me through most of my stay.  But eventually, hunger got the best of me.  When I apologetically mentioned this to my hosts, Dave reminded me that there was rumor of a vegan restaurant somewhere in Worcester--"Belmont something-or-other."  That rang a bell.  I vaguely remembered hearing about such a phenomenon through my deteriorating Boston area vegan network.  So off to Google we went.

It wasn't easy to find Belmont Vegetarian Restaurant's eye-watering Web site, but along the way I did find http://vegworcester.com/, which I initially assumed to be a squatted domain.  According to this site, there are quite a few vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the Worcester area, though only 3 or 4 seem to be exclusively vegan (including the ubiquitous Loving Hut). So my culinary prejudice diminished.  We departed for Belmont Vegetarian Restaurant.

From the outside, it looks like any sub shop store front you'd find on a busy, gritty, New England "city" street. Inside is a bright, spartan dining area containing two booths and an order window, which is flanked by a chalkboard displaying the day's menu.  The chalkboard listed: "Curry, BBQ, Veggie Stew, Black Bean + Soy, Pepper Steak, and Mac + Cheese."  Eventually, Steven, the proprietor and cook, approached us with an offer to try a sample plate.  "You try everything.  If it's not for you, you can go on your way," he offered, amicably.  "Go on our way?"  I thought.  That's like saying, "If the water is too cold at this oasis, you may crawl 46 miles to the east for an alternative."  But we humored him and tried everything, while listening to light reggae.

The food is generally differently-prepared soy or tofu chunks, like you might find at a buffet. You have three options when you order: small ($6.50), medium($9.50), and large($11.50).  You get a bed of rice upon which Steven will scoop any combination of chalkboard items.  I ordered the pepper steak and curry, and was quite pleased; the pepper steak was especially good and spicy,  the curry was pleasant and mild.  I considered getting one of the "patties" displayed behind the order window, but the medium bowl had stuffed me a bit too much.  Maybe next time.

UPDATE:  I only thought that vegworcester.com was a squatter domain because it came up in Google search results.  I couldn't believe that such resource existed. I assumed that some crafty Search Engine Optimizer has mashed the word "Veg" with every city he or she could imagine, and sat back to enjoy the long tail traffic.  It's a great site and I wholeheartedly recommend that everyone in the Worcester area--and beyond--visit it to find out what's edible in the region.  Thanks, Drew!


  1. Worcester has a ton of great vegan-friendly places! Belmont Veg is definitely a killer spot.

    PS Oh man, why'd you think VegWorcester.com was squatted? Sounds like it might be time for a redesign...

  2. Hey, Drew! It's an honor to have the owner of vegworcester.com posting comments to my blog! Thanks! I didn't think that it was a squatter domain because of the design; I made that judgment based on Google search results. It's clearly an invaluable resource for Worcester vegetarians. I will update my post accordingly

  3. Haha, no worries! You should come back to Worcester in April 2011 for our second annual Worcester VegFest. Last year's was a blast: WorcesterVegFest.com