Friday, May 10, 2013

Finding Vegetarian Food at Fast Food Restaurants & Drive-Thrus

These side dishes are commonly available at
fast food restaurants, particularly those that sell fried chicken. 

When you think of fast food chains, the kind of places that usually have drive-thrus, “vegetarian friendly” does not typically come to mind.  Some restaurants have a respectable selection of meat-free side dishes, while others offer scarcely more than fries and a house salad.  Some have specialty salads that you could order without the meat.  A few fast food restaurants have some kind of vegetarian entrée selection. 

Sometimes I avoid meat in my diet for months at a time.  The first time I did this, I was providing therapy for clients in the home health setting.  This is a job that often requires eating on the run, and I admit I hit a lot of fast food restaurants and drive thrus, which is really unusual for me.  I ate a lot of fries, and got really tired of them.  Salads were not very appealing to me, especially “on the run”. 

I discovered sides from some of the chicken restaurants, and found those to be pretty satisfying, and worth carving out a few more minutes and going inside to eat.  If you’re a strict vegetarian, you have to be careful of these sides.  Some may flavor vegetables or gravies with meat or meat grease.  Same is true for refried beans, especially at Mexican restaurants (at least in Texas).  Refried beans often are seasoned with pork lard. 

As time has gone on, I’ve found more and more vegetarian food choices at fast food restaurants, including some veggie burgers, sandwiches, burritos, and such.  I’m sharing with you an alphabetical listing of fast food restaurants, and the vegetarian food choices offered at each.  Selections may vary by location.  With little exception, I do not list pies, ice cream, shakes, etc. 


A few sides:  Seasoned curly fries (very good), homestyle fries, loaded potato bites, potato cakes, mozzarella sticks, jalapeño bites, steakhouse onion rings, chopped side salad. 

In one of only a few mention of desserts and such, I have to endorse their Jamocha shake. 

 Arby's Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

Not much here:  Onion rings, cheese curds, fries, cheese fries, chipotle dipping sauce. 

Bill Miller Bar-B-Q

(For my fellow Texans) Garden fresh salad, baked potato, fresh fruit, potato salad, hash browns, fries (really good Texas fries), mashed potatoes, slaw, Spanish rice.  Unfortunately their pinto beans and green beans are flavored with meat or meat drippings.  I don’t usually address desserts, but I’ll make a mention and say Bill Miller’s is famous for their pies and other desserts. 

Very respectable selection of sides:  Bo-tato rounds, Cajun pintos, dirty rice, green beans, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes & gravy, seasoned fries, garden salad, biscuits.  Bojangles posts nutritional info but not ingredients.  Since they list 0 for saturated fats and cholesterol on green beans and pintos, it should be safe to say they have no animal products.   I think the dirty rice has meat. 

 Bojangles Mac & Cheese

Not much in the way of sides here:  Fries, onion rings, apple slices, garden side salad. 

Salad Entrées:  There are several salads with chicken that you could have without.  The (Chicken,) Apple & Cranberry salad features 7-lettuce blend, fresh apple, dried cranberries, blue cheese, and Ken’s Apple Cider Vinaigrette.  The (Chicken) Caesar salad features romaine, tomatoes, Parmesan, and Ken’s Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette.  The (Chicken) BLT salad features 7-lettuce blend, tomatoes, red onions, 3-cheese medley, and Ken’s Avocado Ranch Dressing. 

Wraps:  There are 4 chicken wraps you could have without the chicken.  The ingredients are the same as the salads above:  (Chicken) Apple & Cranberry wrap, (Chicken) Caesar wrap, and (Chicken) BLT wrap.  There is also a Chipotle (Chicken) Wrap features chipotle mayo, caramelized onions, pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, lettuce (hold the bacon). 
MorningStar Veggie Burger:  MorningStar Farms Veggie Patty, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, mayo, ketchup on a toasted sesame seed bun.  This is a good sandwich, and quite reminiscent of the Whopper. 

They also have fruit smoothies. 

 My BK Veggie Burger

Very respectable selection of sides:  Coleslaw, fries, side salad, green beans, mac & cheese, okra, broccoli, baked potato, corn, mozzarella sticks.  My brother is a fan of the mozzarella sticks. 

 Captain D's Corn on the Cob


A few sides:  Natural cut fries, crosscut fries (like waffle cut), sweet potato fries, Jack and cheddar cheese fries, onion rings, fried zucchini, garden side salad, pinto beans, chips and guacamole.  The zucchini is very good.  Carl’s posts a link to nutritional info and ingredients.  Corn oil is listed for beans, but no lard or meat products. 

Vet It Guacamole Six Dollar Burger:  Everything but the meat (not sure if it still costs $6)- guacamole, pepper Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onions. 

Bean and Cheese Burrito:  No lard or other animal protein listed in ingredients. 
Taco Salad, hold the meat:  Pinto beans, Jack & cheddar cheese, lettuce, fresh salsa, hot sauce, sour cream in a crispy tortilla bowl. 

Super Nachos, hold the meat:  Fresh tortilla chips, pinto beans, cheddar cheese sauce, guacamole, sour cream, fresh salsa. 
Cheese Quesadilla

Very respectable selection of sides:  Fried pickle slices, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes & gravy, fried okra, cheese sticks, coleslaw, fries, corn nuggets, mini poppers. 

 Chicken Express Fried Okra


Not many sides:  Waffle fries, side salad, fresh fruit cup, coleslaw. 
Asian Salad (hold the chicken):  Romaine, baby greens, red & green cabbage, carrots, mandarin oranges, Honey Thai almonds, garlic & ginger wontons, honey sesame dressing. 

Cobb Salad (hold the chicken & bacon):  Romaine, baby greens, red cabbage, carrots, roasted corn, Monterey Jack cheese, cheddar cheese, diced eggs, grape tomatoes, charred tomato, crispy red bell peppers, avocado lime ranch dressing. 
Grilled Market Salad (hold the chicken):  Romaine, baby greens, red cabbage, carrots, blue cheese, red and green apples, strawberries, blueberries, harvest nut granola, roasted nut blend, zesty apple cider vinaigrette. 

Chicken Strip Salad (hold the chicken):  Lettuce, grape tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, cheese, sunflower seeds, croutons, choice of dressing. 
They also have really good tea and lemonade. 

 Chick-Fil-A Fruit Cup

Church’s Chicken

Decent selection of sides:  Fries, corn on the cob, fried okra, mashed potatoes & gravy, jalapeño cheese bombers, coleslaw, honey butter biscuits

 Church's Jalepeno Cheese Bombers


A fair few sides:  Crinkle cut fries, onion rings, mashed potatoes & gravy, coleslaw, green beans, cheddar fries, dinner roll, Wisconsin cheese curds, side salad. 
Soup of the Day:  It’s luck of the draw on any given day, but their website lists a dozen vegetarian soups.  

Garden Fresco Salad:  12-variety mixed salad greens, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, Wisconsin cheddar, zesty croutons. 
Grilled Chicken Cashew Salad:  (Hold the chicken)  Mixed lettuce and mixed spring mix, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, cheddar cheese, roasted cashew topping. 

Cranberry Bacon Bleu Salad (with Grilled Chicken):  (Hold chicken and bacon)  Mixed lettuce and mixed spring mix, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, blue cheese, dried cranberries. 
Strawberry Fields Salad:  (Hold the chicken)  Mixed lettuce and mixed spring mix, grape tomatoes, blue cheese, strawberries, roasted pecans. 

They also have fruit smoothies and coolers. 

Culver's Wisconsin Cheese Curds

Not much here:  Fries, side salad, onion rings, applesauce, banana. 

Iron Grilled Cheese
Iron Grilled Supreme BLT (hold the bacon)

Veggie Quesadilla Basket:  Vegetables with melted cheese in flour tortilla, served with salsa, sour cream, and onion rings.  
Try an Orange Julius fruit smoothie or a fruit chiller.  I don’t usually include sweets and desserts, but here I make another exception.  If nothing else appeals to you, spring for a Banana Split Blizzard!

A few sides:  Bean and cheese cup, nachos and cheese, mini cheese quesadilla, crinkle-cut fries, cheese fries.  I hope the beans are vegetarian, since they pitch the “veggie” burrito, which has beans. 

Deluxe Taco Salad (hold the meat):  Beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar, sour cream, guacamole, taco sauce, crunchy tortilla bowl
Bean Tostada:  Beans, lettuce, and cheese on a crispy corn tortilla

Cheese Quesadilla:  Spicy Jack or cheddar cheese
Macho Nachos:  (hold the meat):  beans, nacho cheese, tomatoes, jalapenos, sour cream, fresh made chips

8 Layer Veggie Burrito:  beans, Fresca lime rice, guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce, cheddar cheese, red sauce, sour cream, flour tortilla
Jacked Up Value Bean, Rice & Cheese Burrito:  Beans, Fresca lime rice, spicy Jack cheese, tangy green sauce, flour tortilla

Value Bean & Cheese Burrito
½ lb Bean & Cheese Burrito

 Del Taco 8-Layer Veggie Burrito

Very respectable selection of sides:  Flame grilled corn, sweet corn cake, sweet potato fries, BBQ black beans, fresh vegetables, Mexican rice, pinto beans, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, slaw, side salad, fries, mac & cheese.  Judging by the cholesterol stats (low numbers for items with dairy, none for other sides), all sides are free of meat protein or drippings. 
From the Baja Shrimp menu:  Ask for tacos, stuffed quesadilla, or tostada salad without the shrimp. 

Pollo Bowl (hold the chicken):  beans, rice, salsa, etc. 
El Tradicional Burrito:  Zero cholesterol, therefore meat free.  Looks to have pintos, rice, guacamole. 

Pinto Beans

A couple sides:  Fries, cheese fries, onion rings

Veggie Burger:  Black bean patty, Freddy’s Sauce, cheese, onion, lettuce, tomato. 

 Freddy's Black Bean Veggie Burger

Nice selection of sides:  Battered fries, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn on the cob, fried okra, dirty rice, mac & cheese, coleslaw, fruit salad, potato salad, side salad, garden salad, jalapeno poppers, corn nuggets, yeast rolls.  


A few sides:  Natural cut fries, beer battered onion rings, side salad, refried beans in tortilla bowl, tortilla chips, fresh salsa.  Hardee’s posts a link to nutritional info and ingredients.  Vegetable or tropical oils are listed for beans, but no lard or meat products. 
Vet It Thickburger:  No patty.  American cheese, tomato, lettuce, red onion, mayo, ketchup, mustard, mustard, dill pickles on a sesame seed bun. 

Bean and Cheese Burrito:  Refried beans, cheese, hot sauce, flour tortilla
Taco Salad, hold the meat:  Cheddar cheese, lettuce, fresh salsa, sour cream in a crispy tortilla bowl. 

Super Nachos, hold the meat:  Fresh tortilla chips, refried beans, cheddar cheese sauce, guacamole, sour cream, fresh salsa, diced tomatoes, onions. 
Cheese Quesadilla:  flour tortillas filled with cheese, served with salsa, sour cream and lettuce

Jack in the Box

A respectable number of sides:  French fries, seasoned curly fries, potato wedges with cheese, onion rings, stuffed jalapenos, mozzarella cheese sticks, apple bites
Grilled Chicken Salad:  (Hold the chicken)  Iceberg, romaine & spring mix greens; cheddar cheese, grape tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, carrots, croutons, balsamic dressing

Southwest Chicken Salad:  (Hold the chicken)  Iceberg, romaine & spring mix greens, pepper Jack cheese, black beans, red onions, grape tomatoes, roasted corn, spicy corn sticks, creamy Southwest dressing
Breakfast:  My JitB serves breakfast menu all day.  They’ve made me potato, egg, and cheese burritos, which is not on the menu.  Be warned that these are large. 

They also have a pina colada smoothie. 

 Jack in the Box Curly Fries


Very respectable selection of sides:  Coleslaw, potato wedges, green beans, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes & gravy, corn, corn on the cob, biscuits.  I’ usually get their potatoes and gravy and their slaw, and maybe some green beans. 

KFC Side Dishes- Fries, Potatoes & Gravy, Slaw


A few sides:  Fries, cheese fries, ranch cheese fries, side salad

Long John Silver’s

Enjoy a selection of side dishes at LJS:  Natural cut fries, corn on the cob, coleslaw, green beans, seasoned rice, hush puppies

Long John Silver Sides


A few sides:  Fries (truly some of the best), side salad, apple slices, fruit ‘n yogurt parfait

Premium Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken (hold chicken and bacon):  Mixed greens, grape tomatoes, carrots, Jack cheese, cheddar cheese, Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing
Premium Caesar Salad (hold the chicken):  Mixed greens, grape tomatoes, carrots, parmesan cheese, Newman’s Own Caesar Dressing

Premium Southwest Salad (hold the chicken):  Mixed greens, fire roasted corn, black beans, roasted tomatoes, poblano peppers, cheddar cheese, Jack cheese, chili-lime tortilla chips, Newman’s Own Southwest Dressing
Fruit Smoothies

 McDonald's Premium Southwest Salad

Mrs. Winner’s Chicken

Decent selection of sides:  Mashed potatoes & gravy, coleslaw, green beans, baked beans, Cajun rice, potato wedges
Vegetable Plate:  3 sides and a biscuit


Very respectable selection of sides:  Coleslaw, Cajun fries, mashed potatoes & gravy, red beans & rice, green beans, Cajun rice, applesauce, biscuits.  Seems to me they usually have corn on the cob as well.  I’m a fan of their potatoes and gravy and their slaw.  My brother really likes their fries. 
I could not find ingredients listing for sides, but most of them reported cholesterol, which suggests animal products.  I think the gravy and red beans probably have some meat or meat drippings to flavor them. 

 Popeye's Sides- Red Beans & Rice, Slaw, Potatoes & Gravy

Not much for you here:  Fries, coleslaw, Texas toast


A respectable number of sides:  Fries, cheese fries, tater tots, cheese tots, onion rings, sweet potato tots, apple slices and caramel sauce, mozzarella sticks, ched ‘r’ peppers
Grilled cheese sandwich

Sonic Apple Slices with Carmel


Very respectable selection of sides:  Thin and crispy fries, cheese fries, Parmesan cheese ‘n herbs fries, salt and vinegar fries, sea salt and cracked pepper fries, coleslaw, onion rings, baked beans, garden salad, soup of the day, applesauce, apples and caramel, cottage cheese

Taco Salad (hold the meat):  lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, crispy tortilla strips, ranch dressing
Grilled Chicken Salad (hold the chicken):  lettuce blend, carrots, red cabbage, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, Jack cheese, croutons, guacamole extra

Apple Pecan Grilled Chicken Salad (hold the chicken):  Lettuce, gala apples, dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, candied pecans, berry balsamic vinaigrette
Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad (hold the chicken):  Lettuce, pico de gallo, corn, black beans, crispy tortilla strips, cheddar cheese, Jack cheese, ranch dressing, guacamole extra

Veggie Melt:  Portobello mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, red onion, guacamole, pepper Jack cheese, on grilled sourdough
Grilled Cheese:  American cheese on Texas toast

BLT sandwich (hold the bacon)

 Steak N Shake Veggie Melt

A few sides:  Tortilla chips with guacamole, pico d gallo, or corn salsa; black beans and rice, cheesy fiesta potatoes, pintos & cheese, cheesy nachos.  Taco Bell posts a link to product ingredients.  Beans list soy oil, and no lard or other animal-based products. 

Nacho Platter (hold the beef):  3 variations, with toppings of beans, nacho cheese sauce, sour cream, tomatoes, jalapenos

Taco Salad (hold the meat):  Beans, cheddar, Latin rice, lettuce, tomatoes, red tortilla strips, sour cream, salsa.  I’d ask for some guacamole too! 
Veggie Cantina Burrito:  Latin rice, black beans, romaine lettuce, guacamole, pico de gallo, roasted corn & pepper salsa, creamy cilantro dressing, flour tortilla

7-Layer Burrito:  Rice, beans, 3-cheese blend, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole, flour tortilla
Loaded Potato Griller (hold the bacon):  Crispy potato bites, nacho cheese sauce, sour cream, flour tortilla

Tacos & Gorditas:  Ask for a taco or gordita with vegetarian ingredients, such as beans and rice instead of meat. 
They also have fruit sparklers and freezes. 


Taco Bell Corn Salsa & Chips and Black Beans & Rice

Taco Cabana (For my fellow Texans)

Sides:  Rice, black beans, chips & queso, chips & guacamole
Build your own Cabana Bowl (taco salad), burrito, or salad.  Choose from these ingredients:  black beans, rice, romaine lettuce, cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole, salsa (Taco Cabana always has a condiments bar with salsa, cilantro, onions, etc.) 

Enchilada Plate:  Cheese enchilada, rice, black beans, 2 flour tortillas
Cheese quesadilla

Taco Combo:  2 tacos (black bean, or bean and cheese), one side, soda
Taco Plate:  2 tacos (black bean or bean and cheese), rice, beans, 2 flour tortillas

A few sides:  Fries, cheese fries, sour cream and chives baked potato, broccoli and cheese baked potato, cheese potato, garden side salad, Caesar side salad, apple slices

Apple Pecan Chicken Salad (hold the chicken):  Red and green apples, blue cheese, cranberries, roasted pecans, lettuce
Chicken BLT Cobb Salad (hold the chicken and bacon):  Blue cheese, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, lettuce, avocado ranch dressing

Baja Chili Salad (hold the chili):  Lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, red jalapeno dressing
Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad (hold the chicken):  Romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, shaved Asiago, French bread croutons, Caesar dressing

Wendy's Broccoli & Cheese Baked Potato

Whataburger (for fellow Texans)
Not much here: Apple slices, fries, onion rings, garden salad, apple & cranberry salad (hold the chicken)

Whataburger Garden Salad
White Castle

Not much for you here:  Crinkle-cut fries

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Vegetarian Options at Italian Restaurants- Macaroni Grill, Carrabba’s, and Maggiano’s


My recent "Create Your Own Pasta" at Macaroni Grill.  Bowtie pasta with garlic cream sauce, artichokes, asparagus, and caramelized onions. 

If you’re going out to eat out with friends, and want to increase the odds that you will have multiple options for vegetarian fare, then vote for an Italian restaurant.  Italian cuisine lends itself well to vegetarian friendly food.  I have compiled the vegetarian menu items from Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, and Maggiano’s Little Italy. 

Romano’s Macaroni Grill

Romano’s Macaroni Grill has been around since 1988, but I just discovered them around 6 years ago in San Antonio.  The first Macaroni Grill was in nearby Leon Springs, Texas.  The MG menu offers many classic Italian dishes, such as Fettuccine Alfredo and Eggplant Parmesan.  My favorite entrée is their “Create Your Own Pasta”, and my number one favorite ingredient is caramelized onions. 

Macaroni Grill offers a respectable number of vegetarian options: 

Tapas:  Bruschetta crostini, fried mac & cheese bites with truffle dip, crispy artichoke potato cakes, goat cheese stuffed peppadew peppers, zucchini fritti.  My brother and I recently had the mac & cheese bites, which were good. 

Macaroni Grill Fried Mac & Cheese Bites with truffle dip
Antipasti:  Crispy fresh mozzarella, Mediterranean olives, pomodorina soup (plum tomatoes, mozzarella crouton, basil pesto)

Pantry:  Caprese salad (mozzarella, tomatoes, basil), Caesar salad.  Ask for other MG salads without the meat.   I really like caprese salad and Caesar salad, so hard to go wrong here. 

Pizza & Flatbread:  Wild mushroom & goat cheese flatbread, Margherita pizza

Artisan Sandwiches:  Caprese Panini (mozzarella, tomatoes, basil)

Fresh Pasta:  These two options sound really good. 
Eggplant Quadratini- square pasta tubes in tomato-based sauce with roasted eggplant.  Check out this photo from the Macaroni Grill website: 

Mushroom Ravioli- porcini mushroom stuffed ravioli, marsala cream sauce, and caramelized onions.  Check out this photo from their website: 


Fettuccine Alfredo

Eggplant Parmesan
Create Your Own Pasta

Create Your Own Pasta Options: 

Pasta:  Spaghetti, capellini, penne, farfalle (bowtie), whole wheat fettuccine, rigatoni, gluten-free penne, four cheese ravioli

Sauces:  pomodoro, arrabbiata, garlic olive oil, garlic cream, alfredo, basil pesto

Choose 3 Toppings:  roasted peppers, broccolini, fresh spinach, roasted tomatoes, artichokes, roasted garlic, snap peas, roasted mushrooms, cannellini beans, asparagus, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted eggplant

I like toppings like spinach, mushrooms, and artichokes, but my favorite Macaroni Grill topping is caramelized onions

 My brother's "Create Your Own Pasta" at Macaroni Grill.  Four cheese ravioli, alfredo sauce, roasted garlic, and caramelized onions. 


Carrabba’s Italian Grill

The first Carrabba’s opened in 1986 in Houston, Texas.  Another Houston restaurant was followed by the addition of 10 Carrabba’s in Texas and Florida.  Now there are over 200 Carrabba’s Italian Grill locations nation-wide.  Carrabba’s offers a respectable 5 vegetarian appetizers and 5 vegetarian pasta dishes. 

Complimentary sourdough bread, olive oil, herbs & spices.  Very good. 


Appetizers:  Tomatoes caprese, bruschette, slow-roasted tomato & ricotta flatbread, zucchini fritte, mozzarella marinara.  Their complimentary bread with olive oil, herbs, and spices is very good.  The herb & spice blend is one of the best I've had. 

Soup:  Minestrone, Tomato Basil.  I had the tomato basil, which was quite good.  I like that it was fairly smoothe.  I don't like huge chunks of tomato. 
Carrabba's Tomato Basil Soup
Salads:  House, Italian, Caesar, citrus arugula salad.  I opted for soup, and my brother had a Caesar.  Next time I think I'll have the arugula salad. 

Caesar Salad

Paninis:  Caprese Panini

Wood-Fired Pizzas:  Choose from:  kalamata olives, mushrooms, sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, fresh milk mozzarella, basil


Stuffed Pasta: 
Manicotti:  Four cheeses, pomodoro sauce, mozzarella

Signature Pasta: 

Tag Pic Pac:  Tagliarini in our Picchi Pacchiu sauce with crushed tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil

Spaghetti:  Topped with pomodoro sauce (tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil)

Penne Franco:  Mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and black olives, in garlic and oil with ricotta salata cheese

Pasta Sostanza:  Tagliarini with sautéed mushrooms, artichoke hearts and spinach in tomato basil sauce topped with seasoned breadcrumbs.  I had this pasta, and truthfully I wasn’t blown away.  I found it to be a little bland.  I took my leftovers home and gave them to a friend who thought it was fabulous.  Maybe my taste buds were muted that day. 

My Pasta Sostanza recently at Carrabba's

Pasta Carrabba:  Fettuccine alfredo with sautéed mushrooms and peas (ask to omit the grilled chicken)

Maggiano’s Little Italy

The first Maggiano’s opened in 1991 in Chicago.  There are now over 50 Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurants, located in over 20 states.  Maggiano’s offers an impressive 7 vegetarian appetizers and 7 vegetarian side dishes, as well as 5 vegetarian pastas. 

Maggiano’s has lots of options geared toward family-style meals.  I thought this restaurant had a really nice atmosphere, and very attentive wait staff. 
Appetizers:  Bruschetta, spinach & artichoke al forno, tomato caprese, mozzarella marinara, crispy zucchini fritte, stuffed mushrooms, crispy onion strings

Flatbreads:  Margherita flatbread

Salads:  Italian tossed salad, Caesar salad, spinach salad (skip the bacon)

Sides:  crispy red potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, broccolini with lemon & garlic, spaghetti marinara, angel hair aglio olio (olive oil and garlic), fresh grilled asparagus


Classic Pastas:  If you order Marco's Meal for Two from the Dinner menu, you get one appetizer, one dessert, and four classic pasta choices!  My brother and I did this and each ordered a classic pasta entree for dinner, and each got a complimentary classic pasta to take home. 

Spaghetti Marinara:  Spaghetti served with MLI’s classic blend of tomatoes, basil, oregano and olive oil
Four Cheese Ravioli:  Ravioli stuffed with Ricotta cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella and Provolone. Served in a pesto-alfredo cream sauce with a touch of marinara.

Eggplant Parmesan:  Sliced eggplant, breaded and fried, layered with Provolone cheese and marinara sauce.  This dish seemed to me like the eggplant was battered and layered like a casserole and baked.  I especially appreciated that the pasta was firm, just like I like it. 

My Maggiano's Eggplant Parmesan

Fettuccine Alfredo:  Fettuccine tossed with garlic in an Asiago cream sauce
Mushroom Ravioli al Forno:  Mushroom ravioli in alfredo sauce

 This is a small serving of my Mushroom Ravioli carryout

Specialty Pastas: 
Our Famous Rigatoni ‘D’:  (Made to order, so ask to skip the chicken) rigatoni pasta, mushrooms, caramelized onions, marsala cream sauce


Our Tiramisu at Maggiano’s.  I’m usually lukewarm about Tiramisu, but this was fabulous.  It had a really rich espresso and cocoa flavor. 

Vegetarian Options at Olive Garden, Carino’s, and Zio’s
See also my blog post summary of vegetarian appetizers, soups, and entrées at Olive Garden, Johnny Carino’s, and Zio’s Italian restaurants. 
My Eggplant Parmesan at Olive Garden.  It was outstanding.  So far my top pick for Eggplant Parm.