How to Dine Like a Professional Foodie (and Not Spend a Fortune!)

We offer tips to help informed foodies stretch their dining budget. Eat smart, eat well!

We offer tips to help informed foodies stretch their dining budget. Eat smart, eat well!

Ahoy to all you local-source-loving, sustainable-seeking, dedicated foodie enthusiasts!

As you well know, the ship has sailed on boring dining. A resurgence in the experience of eating well is waiting to be found in great restaurants across the nation – likely in your city!

When your cravings dictate a trip outside your apartment kitchen, you know you’re going to spend some dough, however.

If you’re going to splurge on cuisine, how can you ensure you’ll enjoy a worthwhile meal? We’ll help you make the most of your on-the-town budget with these considerations and tips.

Good eating to you!

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Best Vegetarian Restaurants in California

California’s healthy, eco-friendly mentality is so prevalent that it spreads to practically every aspect of the lives of its residents, so it’s no surprise that some of the best vegetarian restaurants in the country can be found in this sunny state. If you want your plate to be filled with healthy, meat-free options, check out these vegetarian restaurants in California.

Rutabegorz

Formed in 1970, Rutabegorz was a small “hippie joint” that only served coffee and desserts. Since then, it has grown into one of California’s most popular health-conscious restaurant chains. Now, with three locations to serve local vegetarians, vegans and health nuts, Rutabegorz serves good, fresh food at decent prices. The Orange location is quaint and cozy, in a converted old house, and the menu is massive, but locals swear by the Southwest Quinoa Bowl, chock full of fresh vegetables. Or, try the Peasant Mushrooms, a hearty creation featuring mushrooms stuffed with a vegetable medley of zucchini, bell pepper and carrots, topped with melted cheese.

Where: 264 North Glassell St., Orange, CA 92866

Elf Café

Intimate and elegant, Elf Café is perfect for a special occasion dinner for those who enjoy vegetarian cuisine. The menu is heavily influenced by Mediterranean culture, with offerings like the Vegan Shwarma Sandwich, Spicy Moroccan Kale Salad and Moroccan VegetableTagine. Make sure to make reservations in advance, as this popular spot can fill up on nights and weekends.

Where: 2135 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026

Evolution Fast Food

If you’re looking for good, healthy food fast, check out Evolution Fast Food. The concept of a gourmet fast food place may be foreign to you, but we can guarantee that you’ve probably never seen a gourmet vegetarian fast food restaurant. Evolution offers a selection of gourmet burgers, wraps, sandwiches, fries, smoothies, shakes and desserts made with no animal ingredients, refined sweeteners or artificial flavors. Additionally, the restaurant is plastic-free, as all containers and utensils are made from non-bleached paper or biodegradable food starch.

Where: 2965 5th Ave., San Diego, CA 92103

Noble Vegetarian

This little hole in the wall Asian fusion restaurant is a little out of the way for centrally located Sacramento residents, but it’s worth the drive. Primarily drawing its inspiration from Vietnamese cuisine, Noble Vegetarian is known for its faux meats in standout dishes like Orange Vegken, Roti Drumstick and Ruby Pearls. The mock chicken, beef and pork is so delicious and convincing that even those of the carnivorous persuasion sing its praises. Make to save room for a slice of their Vegan Sheese Cake – you won’t even miss the dairy.

Where: 5049 College Oak Drive, Sacramento, CA 95841

Source

Known as one of the best vegetarian restaurants in San Francisco, Source believes in serving hand-selected, quality organic food, with a menu comprised of vegan and vegetarian handcrafted sandwiches on freshly baked bread, healthful salads brimming with delicious ingredients, unique casseroles and hearty brick oven pizzas. If you’re on a raw diet, choose offerings like the Live Lettuce Taco or the Live Platter, featuring hemp tabouli, marinated mushrooms, green goddess salad, lettuce tacos and living chips.

Where: 11 Division St., San Francisco, CA 94103

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Ildi_Papp

Sample Local Beers at These Brew Pubs in Portland

Oregon is a state that loves its beer. In fact, there are currently 120 brewing companies operating 153 brewing facilities throughout the state, and beer connoisseurs from across the world pay homage to this magical brew at the Oregon Brewers Festival, the largest collective of independent craft brewers in the United States. Portland has more breweries than any other city in the world at 51, and countless brew pubs where you can sample the region’s finest. We’ve rounded up our favorite brew pubs in the City of Roses, so pull up a well-worn bar stool and wash down great grub with the best local brews at these establishments.

Horse Brass Pub

This authentic, British-style neighborhood watering hole in Southeast Portland is a local favorite for its 29 years in business and its more than 50 beers on tap. You’ll find traditional British offerings like fish and chips, bangers and mash and kidney pie. And while there are a great number of Portland beers offered here, the Horse Brass Pub is perfect for spending a chilly Thursday evening sampling local beers from Oregon breweries that don’t have brew pubs in Portland.

Where: 4534 Southeast Belmont St., 97215

Tugboat Brewing Company

Housed in an antique watch repair shop, the Tugboat Brewing Company is a delightfully unassuming, small yet unique microbrewery. Tucked away on a side street in downtown, Tugboat has a comfortable, worn in atmosphere, with bookshelves stacked to the ceiling and oil paintings hung on the walls. The pub features a rotating variety of beers on tap, including Extra Special Bitter, an IPA, Cask Stout and Hop Red.

Where: 711 SW Ankeny St., Portland, OR 97205

Kennedy School

Owned by Mike and Brian McMenamin, two brew pub pioneering brothers who own nearly 20 properties in Portland, the Kennedy School is a restored 1915 elementary school that has been converted into a hotel, a brew pub, a theater and a concert space. The Concordia Brewery is found here, housed in a former girls’ locker room. Wood-burning stoves create a nice ambiance, and the scholastic décor touches really make the brew pub stand out, like the nonsmoking Honors Bar and the smoking Detention Bar.

Where: 5736 NE 33rd Ave., Portland, OR 97215

Gasthaus Pub

The official brew pub for the Widmer Brothers Brewing Company, the Gasthaus is tucked away in a chic industrial center on the east bank of the Willamette River. Widmer is best known for its Hefeweizen, an unfiltered wheat beer, but the pub has nearly a dozen beers on tap, ranging from Drop Top Amber, Widberry and seasonal selections. Round out the experience by noshing on elevated pub fare like local sausage fondue, smoked blue cheese-spinach dip and classic burgers .

Where: 929 North Russell St., Portland, OR 97227

BridgePort BrewPub

One of the most famous craft breweries in the United States, BridgePort is famous for its India Pale Ale, which has won a number of awards in the United States and internationally. Its stellar brew pub is housed in the brewery itself, a former rope factory in Portland’s trendy Pearl district. The menu is fresh and inventive, with offerings like the roasted citrus pork sandwich, freshly baked pretzels and vegan three bean chili, and the expansive wrap around patio is perfect on a warm summer day.

Where: 1313 NW Marshall St., Portland, OR 97209

Photo credit: iStockphoto/stu99

Grab a Brew at One of These Sacramento Breweries

Whether you fancy yourself a beer connoisseur or you’re just an occasional beer drinker, Sacramento has several breweries in town to test out new beers. These breweries typically include a well-planned menu and a staff that can explain beer pairings. And the beers are carefully and expertly brewed to be the best around. So, treat yourself and head out to one of these Sacramento breweries for a great meal and a smooth ale.

Track 7 Brewing Co.
Named for its proximity to the old Western Pacific railroad tracks, Track 7 was created as a creative outlet for unique and artisanal beers. The brewers experiment with all varieties of beer, and it extends further than just American beers to Belgian, English and German inspiration. If you’re looking for something different to do on the weekend, visit the tap room with your friends and overlook the Track 7 brewery. For an added bonus, the tap room is dog friendly. Sit down, relax and try an Alkali Wit, a Belgian-style wit bier, or a Big 4 Strong Ale, an American strong ale.
Where: 3747 W. Pacific Ave., Sacramento, CA 95820

Hoppy Brewing Company
Head to this neighborhood brewpub for unique ales and food that goes above and beyond traditional bar fare. For the food, try the Hoppy Chop Salad with basil vinaigrette or the Fish and Chips. If you’re headed there with a group, share an order of the house made kettle chips or the Hoppy Fries, which are tossed in garlic and Parmesan cheese  – need we say more? Head to Hoppy for happy hour, and you’ll hit great specials, like $12 pitchers and $3.50 pints. Wash down the Hoppy Fries with a cold, fresh-brewed Total Eclipse, a porter-like brew that features chocolate and black malts. If you’re looking for a lighter beer, try the Liquid Sunshine Blonde Ale, which has a grapefruit-like flavor and aroma.
Where: 6300 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95819

Rubicon Brewing
Not only do they have great beer and good food, but the service and overall ambiance of Rubicon Brewing is enough of an excuse to skip out of work a little early and meet up with friends for a relaxing night. This is Midtown’s original restaurant brewery, and since the late ‘80s, it has yet to disappoint the residents of this neighborhood. Check their website for their daily specials, which include $2.50 pints, all-you-can-eat fish and chips and $2 tacos. And for the beer, Rubicon has something for everyone. If you’re looking for a cider, try the Blood Orange cider, if available. For pale ale drinkers, order the Monkey Knife Fight, known for its perfect balance of hops.
Where: 2004 Capitol Ave., Sacramento, CA 95811

River City Brewing Company
Whether it’s been a rough week in the office or you’re just looking for a relaxing place to hang out with friends, the fun atmosphere at River City Brewing is your answer. Located in the heart of downtown Sacramento, River City Brewing Company offers up a spacious venue with extraordinary food and great craft beers. Share the Crispy Eggplant Napoleon appetizer, which is eggplant served with goat cheese, basil pesto and sun dried tomato tapenade. But what goes better with beer than pizza? River City offers up several wood-fired pizza options, including BBQ chicken, a Brewmaster’s specialty and rosemary-garlic marinated portobello mushroom. And for the beer, River City brews up 22 different beers throughout the year. Some of the favorites include K Street Kolsch, IPA and Woodenhead Ale.
Where: 545 Downtown Plaza, Suite 1115, Sacramento, CA 9

Photo Credit: iStockphoto/Gizmo

Best Green Establishments in Portland

Portland’s transportation system isn’t the only thing that makes this city green and eco-friendly.

As the most populous city in Oregon, Portland is nicknamed the “Rose City” because of its ideal climate and lush, green beauty. Portland is also known as one of the most environmentally friendly, green cities in the world because of its extensive public transportation networks, efficient use of land and businesses committed to sustainable practices. If you’re planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest or if you already live in this gem in a city, read on to the best green establishments in Portland.

Accommodation: Heathman Hotel

Built in the late 1920s, the Heathman Hotel is a beautiful, historic hotel that also happens to be one of the greenest businesses in Portland. In 2007, the hotel was recognized by PacifiCorp for its sustainability practices, including installing updated windows, ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems and replacing all light bulbs with energy saving compact fluorescents. Additionally, hotel guests can choose to purchase a Go Green package, which includes luxury deluxe accommodations in a green room and transportation in a green-friendly or hybrid vehicle. For every package sold, the hotel plants a tree with the help of Portland nonprofit Friends of Trees.

Where: 1001 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97205

Organization: Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is a nonprofit organization based in Portland that works to maximize energy efficiency in the Pacific Northwest by creating energy-efficient products, services and practices. Since 1997, the organization and its partners, which includes over 100 Northwest utilities and other organizations, have saved enough energy to power over 500,000 homes throughout this area of the country each year.

Where: 421 SW Sixth Ave., Suite 600 Portland, OR 97204

Restaurant: Bamboo Sushi

Portland is essentially a haven for green and eco-friendly bars and restaurants, but what makes Bamboo Sushi unique is that it is the first certified sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. Every fish that the restaurant serves comes from populations that are plentiful and in good health, and the fishermen who catch the sustainable fish do so in an environmentally ethical manner. Meats must come from local ranches in Oregon or Idaho and be grass fed, hormone free and free range. With this commitment to the ingredients, you’d think that Bamboo Sushi would be wildly overpriced, but prices are extremely reasonable for the quality and attention to detail you’ll receive at a meal here.

Where: 310 SE 28th Ave., Portland, OR 97214

Brewery: Hopworks Urban Brewery

Hopworks Urban Brewery is one of Oregon’s greenest and most sustainable brewpubs. The brew kettle and the brewery truck run on biodiesel made from the restaurant’s used oil from the deep fryers, wasted heat from the pizza ovens is redirected and warms brewing water, the landscaping is irrigated and the runoff is caught from the roof and saved in a 5,000 gallon rain barrel and the reflected roof increases the air conditioner’s efficiency by providing a cooler environment. Even the building is sustainable, made from recycled materials and using energy efficient equipment. Beer is made by using organic barley malt, and all the food available in the brewpub is organic.

Where: 2944 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, OR 97202

Retail: Wal-Mart

It may surprise you that Wal-Mart is on our list of the top green businesses in Portland, but this big box store is making waves on the green scene in the Pacific Northwest with the construction of a new 90,000-square-foot store in North Portland that will be home to the largest green roof in the entire state of Oregon. The massive roof, which will measure 40,600 square feet, will be vegetated with wildlife-attracting habitats that will also serve to reduce stormwater runoff. Other green features of the store include recycled construction materials, LED lighting in the parking areas, recycled flooring and an HVAC system that recycles heat. The store is slated to open in the fall of 2013.

Where: North Hayden Meadows Drive, Portland, OR 97217

Photo credit: iStockphoto/thinair28

Top 10 Reasons to Move to Arizona

Natural beauty, great weather and unique attractions are just a few reasons why you should consider moving to Arizona.

Are you ready to ditch the cramped quarters of city living? Longing for wide-open spaces or a new environment to expand your mind and excite your senses? Find all of these, and perhaps yourself, in Arizona.

With hundreds of thousands of breathtaking acres to explore, Arizona also offers renowned restaurants, shopping, abundant wildlife, centuries-old archaeological sites and a variety of sports to welcome new residents.

Check out these reasons to save your pennies and move to the Copper State!

1.    The Weather

Dry and sunny days with cool nights are the norm, and the state’s major cities enjoy over 250 days with sun each year. When cold, dreary winters plague your friends back home, you can lend a sympathetic ear while sunning yourself on your favorite deck chair.

2.    Find Inspiration

Ignite a creative spark or simply center yourself amid Arizona’s majestic mountain ranges, rock formations and brilliant sunsets. Take a drive into the desert and switch off social media or web surfing for a day. Stop. Look. Listen. Let inspiration find you. You may also meet a curious lizard or roadrunner along the way.

3.    Outdoor Sports

With such beautiful weather and varied geography, Arizona offers the perfect setting for outdoor sports. Active young people can enjoy championship golf courses in Tucson, hang gliding through a desert landscape, fishing along the Colorado River or skiing and snowboarding in Flagstaff.

4.    Unique Attractions

Even though the Grand Canyon is, well, grand, Arizona is also home to many more unique sites. Explore the state’s labyrinth of caves, check out haunted hotels or practice your quick draw in an original settlement of the Old West.

5.    The Economy

The state’s soil seems to be fertile ground for those looking to grow a new business. According to a recent Forbes article, Arizona tops their list of the five most entrepreneurial states. A “highly educated labor pool with low business and property taxes” helped Arizona secure this title. So go west, young entrepreneur!

6.    Explore America’s Native Culture

Navajo, Apache and Hopi cultures are just part of the Native American legacy that can still be found in Arizona. The descendants of America’s first people preserve a rich heritage that both visitors and Arizona residents should discover.

7.    Shopping

Not all cowgirls wear the blues (jeans, that is). Find famous designer brands or one-of-a-kind accessories from local craftspeople. Scottsdale is known for having some of the best shopping in the nation.

8.    Festivals

Get out and mix with the crowd at large scale music festivals like Sound Wave (the celebration of electronic dance music takes place this year on September 29.) Or visit local events like the Arizona Underground Film Festival in Tucson.

9.    Food

Whether you’re looking for Southwestern specialties or international cuisine, you’ll find a new favorite dish at one of Arizona’s award-winning restaurants! Regional specialties include cactus jelly, mesquite honey, prickly pear margaritas and chimichangas – two of the state’s restaurants claim to have invented them!

10. Great Place to Retire

Even though retirement may be far off for you, many Americans consistently vote Arizona as one of the top retirement spots. Clean air and plenty of sunny days help retirees shine in their golden years.

We hope the next time you seek a new home to satisfy all your wishes from A to Z, you’ll remember Arizona!

Photo credit: iStockphoto/nicoolay

Best Seafood in Long Island, NY

Long Island visitors and residents can get their seafood fix year-round at a number of markets and restaurants.

Long Island, N.Y. is a great place to nosh on fresh seafood, as it’s practically jutting out into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to the delicacies you can enjoy every August at the Long Island Maritime Museum’s Seafood Festival, Long Island visitors and residents can get their fix year-round at the following seafood markets and restaurants.

Cor-J Seafood Corp.

Being at Cor-J Seafood Corp. is kind of like stepping into a traditional open air food market, with customers milling about asking about the goods and proud vendors displaying their catch of the day. Those who are squeamish might want to avoid this seafood market, as it’s not uncommon to see whole fish being brought through the back door, then washed, sliced and filleted right there in front of the customers. But if you’re looking for the freshest seafood in Long Island, this is the place to go.

Where: 36 Lighthouse Road, Hampton Bays, NY 11946

Atlantic Seafood Fish Market

After a fun day at the beach, Atlantic Seafood Fish Market is the perfect place to unwind with good food and good company. As youwalk infrom the parking lot, you might think this unassuming place is just a seafood market, but it’s also a restaurant serving up cheap and fresh seafood. Make sure to bring cash for the tip – they don’t allow gratuity on credit cards. For something a little different, try the lobster pizza, or stick with the traditional steamed seafood platter. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

Where: 125 Main St., Center Moriches, NY 11934

PJ Lobster House

As the name implies, lobster is king at PJ Lobster House, and this casual and comfortable restaurant specializes in live lobsters and stock sizes up to three pounds. Their fresh fish market receives deliveries seven times a week to ensure high quality and freshness in each meal. The restaurant often offers daily specials, including an all you can eat lobster buffet on holidays and an all-inclusive prix fixe special on Sundays.

Where: 1 N. Country Road, Port Jefferson, NY 11777

B & B Fish & Clam Co.

This quaint mom and pop seafood shack is as unpretentious as it gets, but the place is always packed. You won’t find linen tablecloths and finechina. Instead, their signature dishes are served on plastic plates, and the décor is decidedly minimalistic. It’s clearly all about the food at B & B Fish & ClamCo., and favorites include the thick and hearty clam chowder, perfectly shucked oysters and the mussels cooked in white wine sauce.

Where: 179 Merrick Road, Amityville, NY 11701

South Bay Seafood Co.

It may take you a while to find this seafood shanty, as it’s tucked off a back road next to a car wash with not a lot of distinguishing signage, but once you do, you’ll be glad you went to the trouble. While South Bay SeafoodCo. is certainly not a dine-in place (the only seating is outside), it is great for those wanting fresh seafood to bring home and cook as well as those looking for a freshly prepared meal to take out.

Where: 683 S. Country Road, East Patchogue, NY 11772

Photo credit: iStockphoto/LanceB

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at the Best Doughnut Places Nationwide

Celebrate National Doughnut Month at one of the best doughnut places nationwide.

A culinary medium lending itself to unique combinations, outrageous toppings and crazy shapes, the doughnut is one of the most versatile foods around. The Dutch are largely credited with inventing doughnuts in the 19th century, but you don’t have to travel to Europe to try this treat, as some of the best fried rings can be found stateside (and no, we’re not talking about Krispy Kreme). Since the month of October is National Doughnut Month, you’ll want to go ahead and start planning ahead with our list of the best doughnut places nationwide. After all, who can resist the siren call of a hot, freshly made doughnut glistening with glaze?

Sublime Doughnuts

Recently named America’s Best Bakery by Bake magazine, Sublime Doughnuts is located in an unassuming strip mall in the Atlanta neighborhood of West Midtown, just a stone’s throw from the campus of Georgia Tech. You may not think you’re in the right place, as the sign above this famed bakery merely says “Donut,” but once you see the crowd of people lined up for one of these signature treats, you’ll know you’ve made it. Chef Kamal Grant churns out favorites like the Orange Dream Star, the Chocolate Wild Berry Fritter and the Fresh Strawberry ‘N Cream. If you go on a Saturday, make sure to pick up the Maple Bacon Cheddar, a sweet and salty creation which is only available on that day.

Where: 535 Tenth St. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30318

Voodoo Doughnuts

You’ve never had a doughnut like a Voodoo doughnut. Featuring crazy flavor combinations and fresh ingredients, Voodoo Doughnuts is undoubtedly a Portland institution. People from all over flock to this funky, offbeat shop for the Bacon Maple Bar, featuring sweet and sticky maple icing topped with smoky, crispy bacon. Other favorites include the Captain My Captain, a vanilla icing doughnut topped with Captain Crunch cereal, and Grape Ape, a soft, fluffy yeast doughnut glazed with vanilla icing and dusted with grape powder and lavender sprinkles. But you can’t visit Voodoo without ordering its namesake doughnut, a chocolate glazed yeast doughnut shaped like a voodoo doll, filled with raspberry jam and stabbed with a pretzel stick.

Where: 22 S.W. 3rd Ave., Portland, OR 97204

Top Pot Doughnuts

Some of the best doughnuts in the Pacific Northwest can be found at Top Pot Doughnuts. Its two-story flagship location in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood is almost as beautiful as the hot pastry creations themselves. You won’t find any majorly crazy combinations or toppings here, because at Top Pot, simplicity is king. Instead, their old-fashioned cake doughnuts, crullers and fritters come in flavors like chocolate-peanut and Valley Girl lemon, but they’re anything but boring.

Where: 2124 5th Ave., Seattle, WA 98121

The Doughnut Plant

Mark Israel, owner of The Doughnut Plant, comes from a long line of bakers and doughnut makers, so it was only appropriate that he open up one of the best doughnut places in the nation. Located in the Lower East Side near Chinatown, The Doughnut Plant continues to come up with innovative options, like the jelly-filled signature square doughnuts, the crème brulee and the sesame seed doughnut. One of the newest additions is a glazed oatmeal cake doughnut, sprinkled with dried fruit bits, oats and seeds, but whichever you choose, you’re guaranteed a delicious, homemade treat.

Where: 379 Grand St., New York, NY 10002

Randy’s Donuts

Los Angeles is chock full of doughnut shops on just about every corner, but Randy’s Doughnuts is a legendary stop located near the Los Angeles International Airport. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the huge doughnut atop the building, a landmark that dates back to 1952 and plays a cameo in the movie Iron Man 2. The buttermilk and crumb raised doughnut is a must-try, as is the size-of-your-face apple fritter, featuring chunks of sweet apple-cinnamon filling and a delectable glaze.

Where: 805 West Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, CA 90301

Photo credit: iStockphoto/miflippo

Most Unique Neighborhoods in Atlanta

Atlanta’s Piedmont Park is nestled in the vibrant Midtown neighborhood.

As the capital of the southern state of Georgia and the ninth largest metropolitan area in the United States, Atlanta is a vibrant and diverse city, booming with commerce, a strong economy, arts and cultural activities and world class dining and shopping destinations. Most Atlanta residents know that it’s really a city comprised of many different neighborhoods, each with its own distinct flavor and personality. With nearly 250 neighborhoods officially defined by the city, it would be impossible to describe each and every one in detail, but needless to say there are several in the city worth noting. Here is our list of the most interesting neighborhoods in Atlanta that every visitor or resident should check out at some point.

Midtown

The second largest business district in Atlanta, Midtown is the cultural center of the city. Notable stops include the High Museum of Art, Woodruff Arts Center, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Center for Puppetry Arts and the Fox Theatre. Midtown is also home to some of the city’s most iconic buildings, like the Bank of America Plaza, AT&T Midtown Center, Atlantic Center and 1180 Peachtree. Those who have had enough of the museum circuit head to the focal point of this neighborhood, the sprawling urban greenspace of Piedmont Park, to stroll along the park’s paved paths or cool off by Lake Clara Meer.

East Atlanta

East Atlanta is where the city’s punks, musicians and hipsters go out to play. The East Atlanta Village is the neighborhood’s business district, featuring a number of art galleries, tattoo parlors, music venues, bars and restaurants. East Atlanta hosts a number of popular annual events, including the Corndogorama music festival in June, the East Atlanta Strut, a free neighborhood festival featuring a parade, 5k run, food and live music, and the East Atlanta Beer Festival.

Grant Park

The beautiful and historic neighborhood of Grant Park holds the fourth-largest and oldest city park in Atlanta, and the entire neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Along with the neighboring suburb of Inman Park, Grant Park contains the highest concentration of Victorian architecture in the city. Dakota Blue is a favorite eatery amongst residents, and Young Augustine’s has a great selection of beer and a bocce ball court where people unwind after a long day. Zoo Atlanta can also be found in this charming intown neighborhood, as well as Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team.

Cabbagetown

Cabbagetown takes the prize for having themost uniquename out of all Atlanta neighborhoods. Located on the east side of Atlanta, the neighborhood was built around the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill, an old mill that has been turned into apartments and condominiums. The mill workers who lived in that neighborhood, primarily of Scottish and Irish descent, supposedly subsisted on a diet of stewed cabbage, which you could smell cooking throughout the neighborhood. Take the Krog Street Tunnel into Cabbagetown and you’ll see some of the city’s best street art. Every November, the neighborhood plays host to the Chomp and Stomp, a fun bluegrass and chili festival that includes a 5k road race.

Kirkwood

Known by residents as “the small town in the big city,” Kirkwood is a historic streetcar neighborhood located east of downtown. Historic Kirkwood is notable for its large variety of Victorian and Craftsman Bungalow style homes that mingle with new homes in traditional styles. Each year, Kirkwood hosts a number of neighborhood festivals, like the KirkwoodSpringFling, featuring music, food, beer, an artist market and a tour of homes, the Kirkwood Wine Stroll, where attendees can sample wines from around the world at local businesses, and the B*ATL Event, held each July to commemorate the Battle of Atlanta during the Civil War.

Decatur

Technically a suburb of Atlanta, Decatur has more of an urban feel than most other metro Atlanta suburbs, in part due to its proximity to downtown and other intown neighborhoods. Located just east of the city, Decatur is a top choice for young professionals or families because of its quaint, neighborhood vibe and relatively low cost of living. Downtown Decatur features a lovely square featuring a number of shops, restaurants and historical structures, like the Old Dekalb County Courthouse. You’re never too far from a great bar either, as Decatur is also home to Agnes Scott College and Emory University.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/SeanPavonePhoto

Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Austin

Even though Austin is known for its barbecue, you can find a surprising amount of vegetarian and vegan restaurants.

The concept of eating vegetarian in Austin might be a foreign one to you. After all, this city is known for its big, beefy Tex-Mex cuisine like tacos, burritos and enchiladas and its down home barbecue joints serving up signature Texas beef brisket and pulled pork. Having said that, it may surprise you to know that Austin is chock full of vegan and vegetarian restaurants for the meat-averse, or anyone who’s looking to nosh on something healthier than rib tips and beef nachos. Read on to find our favorite vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Austin.

Conscious Cravings

In addition to being known for its meat-centric dining options, Austin is also known for its food trucks peddling high quality, gourmet fare in a mobile setting. Concious Cravings presents an interesting concept to Austin foodies: vegan and vegetarian, made to order wraps stuffed with a variety of tasty and healthy fillings, like barbecue seitan, curried tofu and blackened tempeh. Round out your order with a side of rosemary fries and a cup of iced blueberry lemonade and you’ll have yourself a healthy and substantial meal.

Where: 1901 Rio Grande, Austin, TX 78705

Casa De Luz

Not only committed to offering delicious and affordable vegetarian and vegan cuisine, Casa De Luz offers macrobiotic food, with a menu that changes daily and always features fresh, healthful options for those looking for an alternative to fast food. The food is served cafeteria style, but you won’t find any mystery meat or mayonnaise-laden carrot and raisin salad here. Instead, you’ll see options like brown lentils, pickled radishes, blanched greens with pecan walnut sauce and roasted millet with mixed vegetables.

Where: 1701 Toomey Road, Austin, TX 78704

Counter Culture

What first started as a food trailer in 2009 has developed into one of the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Austin. Now located in its permanent space in East Austin, Counter Culture serves up meatless, dairy-free and raw foods made from scratch and offered at affordable prices and made from local and organic ingredients wherever possible. If you’re not afraid of a little spice, try the Spicy RawPad Thai, made from kelp noodles, coconut, seasonal vegetables and cilantro tossed in a savory ginger sauce. For something a little tamer yet still delicious, try the Tempeh Reuben, with homemade marinated tempeh and a soy cashew cheese sauce.

Where: 2337 E. Cesar Chavez St., Austin, TX 78702

Swad

Any vegetarian knows that Indian food is usually a safe option, and Swad is no different. Don’t let its strip mall location on North Lamar Boulevard fool you – the atmosphere is chic and homey inside. Swad offers a large and varied menu of South Indian vegetarian favorites, like vegetable samosas, paneer dosas and a rotating selection of thalis, featuring a number of vegetable-based curries and breads like naan and roti.

Where: 9515 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78753

Arlo’s

Another gourmet food truck, Arlo’s proves that vegetarian and vegan cuisine doesn’t have to be stuffy or bad tasting, and its location on 6th Street in the heart of it all can’t be beat. Locals swear by the hearty Bac’n Cheeze Burger, featuring a house made soy patty that is gluten free as well as a few slices of seitan bac’n, melted soy cheese, vegan mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato. Or, try the Chik’nTacos, topped with vegan chicken strips, fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce and chipotle dressing.

Where: 1104 E. 6th St., Austin, TX 78702

Photo credit: iStockphoto/metschan