Candace West

Vegetarians aren't exactly a discerning bunch, culinarily speaking. After all, this is a group that chooses by virtue of free will to forgo bacon, steaks, burgers, and all things indelibly yummy. And that's why the hallmark of any great vegetarian restaurant isn't just in its ability to appease those forward-thinking few. It's how firmly it can win over the palates of card-carrying carnivores. And that's precisely where Darbster delivers. Darbster makes its animal-free meals taste as decadent and indulgent as its meaty counterparts, only without the guilt. Take its "tree's wings": These mock Buffalo chicken wings are made from Gardein, a planet-friendly protein that Darbster renders so juicy and supple that you'd swear it's the real thing. Or consider Darbster's unique palm cake, a faux crab cake made with shredded hearts of palm and dabbed with savory pine nut aioli. There are plenty more options to savor, from gooey cheese enchiladas made without an ounce of dairy to a bevy of raw food items including — get this — a badass bacon cheeseburger made with dehydrated eggplant, nuts, and whole grains. Dy-no-mite. And lest the bold flavors fool you into thinking a meal there is anything less than completely healthful, the pristine, outdoor setting overlooking an inland waterway will help you find your Zen.

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