From the Editor: Mea Collards

Kristen Schmidt

Forgive us, vegetarians, for we have sinned. And, man, has it been fun. For all the people out there who are going to look at this month's cover image and salivate for steak, there are those of you who will cringe, sneer and look away. I get it. But I also think that steak looks amazing.

We tossed around the idea of doing a meat-free companion piece to our cover story. We decided that would tarnish the integrity of something called the "Ultimate Meat Guide." So, from one veggie lover to another, please accept this list of favorite Columbus meat-free delicacies as a mea culpa.

1. No matter how much I gorge on red lentil soup and quesadillas at Portia's Cafe in Clintonville, I always make room for the Cheezecake, a wonder of a dessert for its richness, flavor and absence of dairy.

2. How does he do it? Till chef-owner Magdiale Wolmark makes creamy, indulgent, melty mac and cheese at his Victorian Village restaurant with no dairy or gluten, and he tops it with a crunchy, flavorful tofu steak.

3. Matt Heaggans is cooking up a lot of meat at Flatiron these days, but he made magic with mushrooms when he consulted on the lunch menu at Worthington's Sassafras Bakery. The Jerk Mushroom sandwich pairs perfectly with a cookie.

4. Yep, I'm as in love with Northstar's veggie burger as everyone else.

5. Order extra kikurage mushrooms on your Veggie Miso Ramen at Meshikou on the North Side for more toothsome bite. The big bowl of soup is also topped with corn, scallions, asparagus and tofu.

6. Heirloom Cafe in the Wexner Center for the Arts is ever veggie friendly, with tofu and Luna burger options on a lot of meals. But I never miss an opportunity for one (OK, two) of the chocolate-nut bites in the glass case of treats near the register.

7. The Vegetarian Gyro at Downtown's Little Palace, alongside a Fried Cheese Curds starter, is great late-night fare.

8. Chef Tom Smith at The Worthington Inn has a soft spot for veggies. He always keeps a Garden Vegetable Sampler on the entrees menu at the restaurant. The offerings change with the season, but they are always beautifully prepared.

9. Reach for any of the prepared salads in the case at Alchemy Juice Bar + Cafe near Nationwide Children's Hospital, and you'll find a healthy winner that's also completely satisfying. The curried chickpea salad is killer.

10. Order vegetarian patacon at any of El Arepazo's three locations (Downtown, Gahanna, Brewery District) for a Latin-tinged lunch that beats Chipotle any day.


1. These tiny, culinary-themed sticky notes (pictured below, $4.50 at Cosecha in Grandview) will soon be poking out of my new cookbooks, like "Root to Leaf," "A Change of Appetite" and "Prune."

2. It's my first full summer with a real yard to work with and play in. Find me having a hard time making decisions at A Proper Garden and Oakland Nursery on weekends. aproper,

3. I just bought a Google Cardboard virtual-reality viewer and have been taking trips to Paris, Washington, D.C., and Tokyo from the living room sofa.