Happy Buddha Vietnamese Vegetarian Restaurant

We had lunch at Happy Buddha Vietnamese Vegetarian Restaurant in Barrington this week and look forward to a return visit. This tiny diner shares a building with a computer repair business. Look for the McDonald’s next door as a landmark.

Happy Buddha opened 7 months ago as a vegetarian only restaurant. Many patrons requested items with meat and a non-vegetarian section was added to the menu.

We started our meal with a pot of green tea and vegetarian spring rolls filled with soy shrimp, tofu, bean sprouts, mint, lettuce and rice vermicelli noodles wrapped in rice paper. A dish of peanut dipping sauce came on the side. These were a delicious blend of crunch and smoothness.

Vegetarian Spring Rolls and Hot Green Tea

Vegetarian Spring Rolls and Hot Green Tea

The lunch menu includes many choices reasonably priced at $6.95. We both chose pho from the regular menu, a broth with rice noodles and vegetables served with bean sprouts, bay leaves and lemon to add yourself. I had the vegetarian version while my partner had the beef version.

Vegetarian and Beef versions of Vietamese Pho soup

Vegetarian and Beef versions of Vietamese Pho soup

I also tried the avocado shake which I highly recommend. The generous serving was so thick it towered over the top of the glass. While we usually thick of avocado as an ingredient in Mexican foods and salads, my son has used them as an ingredient in his smoothies for several years.

Happy Buddha is alcohol free. Two Vietnamese sisters run the restaurant and be aware of possible language barriers. Be patient as the confirm your order with you. Service was attentive on our visit. If you have a party of six or more, they request you call in advance.

Happy Buddha on Urbanspoon

Focus on Sustenance at Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen Crystal Lake

Duke’s Alehouse in Crystal Lake features food and specialty beers while using local and organic products. One page of the menu lists local farmers Duke’s buys from and the items they provide for the restaurant. General Manager and Chef Zak Dolezal is committed to sustenance.

We dined on the outdoor patio just off Main Street and across from the train station in downtown Crystal Lake. The shade from the umbrellas, gentle breeze and greenery added to the pleasant atmosphere. Music played in the background and was not overwhelming. The lunchtime crowd included professionals dressed in office wear.

The beer menu includes an extensive list of microbrew beers grouped by varieties. Our server was well versed on the offerings and suggested specifics after asking about our tastes. We choose a Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen with an orange slice and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.

Appetizers looked tempting though we took a pass this visit. The roasted beet salad with endive, blue cheese and candied pecans was a hit. We asked for the bacon dressing on the side making this a vegetarian salad.

Mac and Cheese with Beet Salad at Duke's Alehouse in Crystal Lake

Mac and Cheese with Beet Salad at Duke’s Alehouse in Crystal Lake

On to the vegetarian entrees. The baked mac and cheese was creamy and hot. The grilled eggplant Parmesan came stuffed with bulgar wheat and kale, topped with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. Both were delicious.

Duke's Alehouse Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

Duke’s Alehouse Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

Stop at Duke’s to celebrate Meatless Monday’s where all vegetarian entrees are half price. Vegetarian and vegan items are clearly noted on the menu. Dolezal and Duke’s focus on sustainability includes hosting a monthly Green Drinks meet up.

Duke's Alehouse and Kitchen on Urbanspoon
Duke O'Briens on Foodio54

Vegetarian Meals in Woodstock McHenry County Illinois

Woodstock is celebrating Groundhog Day with events all weekend. While you are in McHenry County, check out this restaurant on the square.

One of our local vegetarian restaurants, Expressly Leslie, moved from Algonquin, McHenry County. Still in McHenry County, you can find her new location on the square in Woodstock, Illinois.  Leslie offers Meatless Monday menus everyday of the week.

We talked with owner Leslie A. Cook about the menu at her restaurant.

Where Are You Today?: Describe your restaurant menu.

Leslie A. Cook: We serve up an array of delicious, all vegetarian (and vegan friendly), mostly Middle Eastern Style foods. Everything is made fresh on-site, including falafel and hummus. Our 14 salads can be combined in a variety of ways for pocket sandwiches and salad plates. Daily soups include red lentil and veggie chili, and a third soup rotates among potato and cabbage, cream of potato and leek, cream of mushroom, beet borscht, home style tomato soup, gazpacho (in summer) and many others.  Egg dishes include shakshouka, eggs poached in Moroccan salsa and Israeli breakfast with Middle Eastern style hard-boiled eggs. Jaci’s Cookies are a regular, and we have recently added hand-made chocolate truffles for those with a sweet tooth.

WAYT: Tell us about your signature dish.

LAC: Falafel Pockets and Moroccan Eggplant Pockets are our top-selling sandwiches. Falafel are made from fava beans (or chickpeas) ground with herbs and spices and lots of cilantro, rolled into balls and deep fried. The falafel balls are dropped into a whole wheat pita pocket on a bed of hummus and are topped with Jerusalem salad and tahina (sesame based lemon-garlic flavor dressing). Hot sauce (and hotter sauce) are available for the daring. Moroccan Eggplant Pockets include our own Moroccan Eggplant salad, a zesty blend of fried eggplant, onions, cilantro, pickles, garlic and tomato based dressing. The salad is dropped into a whole wheat pocket on a bed of hummus and topped with creamy cucumber salad.

ExpresslyLeslie

Expressly Leslie Vegetarian Specialties

110 S. Johnson St. , Woodstock , IL 60098 (On the Square in Woodstock )
815.338.2833
www.expresslyleslie.com

Follow Expressly Leslie Vegetarian Specialties Group on Facebook.

Expressly Leslie on Urbanspoon
Expressly Leslie LLC. on Foodio54

Puka Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs in Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii

When we heard about Puka Dog Hawaiian style hot dogs in Waikiki, Honolulu from the Anthony Bourdain Travel Channel show, Noel said “I have to try those hot dogs.” We live in Chicago, the hot dog and pizza capital of the world and it is hard to beat our local restaurants on these items. Noel was ready for the taste test. Being a vegetarian, I agreed to join him but did not expect to partake.

When we arrived I found the “hot dogs” choices on the menu either Polish Sausage which Noel likes and (surprise!) veggie dogs. We both were going to have lunch. The choice of dog was just the first of our options.
April M. Williams Hawaii restaurants
Any good dog needs a bun and this is not your typical bun split down the side. The Puka Dog bun is tube shaped with a hole at one end. After you choose your dog your bun is slide onto a toasting spike. Seconds later, you watch as your Puka Dog is assembled.

Puka Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs in Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii

Puka Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs in Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii

Your sauce selection, either mild or spicy, is dispensed into your bun. Next comes the relish. While some may be traditionalists, opting for ketchup or mustard, we tried the unique tropical versions. Tropical papaya, pineapple, coconut, guava, star fruit, mangoes or bananas relish is squirted into your bun on top of your sauce selection.

Finally, they slide your choice of dog into the tube. You’ll be glad these are served wrapped in a paper sleeve to keep the sauces from ending up in your lap. Dine alfresco on the patio or opt for take out.

Staff here was animated as they explained the menu to us and answered all our questions. The Waikiki store on Oahu is Puka Dog’s second location. The original Puka Dog is on the island of Kauai. Follow Puka Dog on Facebook too.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?” as we visit Puka Dog Waikiki.

Puka Dog Inc.
2301 Kuhio Avenue # 334
Honolulu/ Hawaii 96815
Phone: 808 923-4510

Puka Dog (Waikiki Town Center) on Urbanspoon

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