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PennLive sports reporter Geoff Morrow shares his top five vegetarian restaurants: Five for Friday

January 27th, 2014
By Sue Gleiter | sgleiter@pennlive.com
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on January 24, 2014 at 11:30 AM, updated January 24, 2014 at 1:43 PM
Portrait of Geoff Morrow, PennLive sports writer

Geoff Morrow, PennLive sports writer, ranks Red Robin Gourmet Burgers among his favorite vegetarian spots to dine along with Sakura in Mechanicsburg. Mark Pynes | mpynes@pennlive.com (Mark Pynes | mpynes@pennlive.com)

For this week’s Five for Friday, we check in with PennLive sports reporter Geoff Morrow.

He’s best known for reporting from the sidelines, whether it be the high school basketball court or press box at Metro Bank Park covering Harrisburg Senators’ baseball games.

One little known fact about Morrow? He has been a¬†vegetarian since 1996, although he doesn’t fit the stereotype. (He says, “I’m a big dude who loves to eat.”)

‚ÄúIn the early days, finding quality food at restaurants was tough. I¬†felt like I was often ordering solely off the appetizers menu or would¬†be forced to pick something I didn’t really want,‚ÄĚ Morrow said.

Fortunately, he said, the industry as a whole offers a lot more options these¬†days and it’s easier to find quality items all over the place, particularly at¬†ethnic restaurants such as Indian, Thai, Japanese and Lebanese establishments.

But, with the nature of his job working evenings and traveling all¬†over the midstate, Morrow said, there aren’t many opportunities for a true sit-down¬†dinner.

“I find myself swinging by restaurants on the way to work or on¬†the way home, getting takeout,” he said.

Here, Morrow shares his top five picks:

Thai Palace, Market St., Camp Hill

“Everybody always mocks tofu when they find out I’m vegetarian, as if¬†all I can eat are salads and tofu. But I challenge anybody to try some¬†of the tofu here. Thai places in general do tofu very effectively, and¬†I’ve been visiting this place for as long as it’s been open. Tofu with¬†Basil Leaves was a longtime favorite, but now I mix it up. Even the Tom¬†Yum soup with soft tofu is fantastic. So are their spring rolls.”

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, various locations

“Obviously this isn’t a vegetarian staple, but the chain offers BOCA¬†burger substitutes for their various and famous burgers. I don’t care¬†about anybody’s Garden Burger. Usually those things are awful. But BOCA¬†burgers bring the taste. Getting a Royal Red Robin, A1 Peppercorn or the¬†Burnin’ Love burger with BOCA is a rare but enjoyable treat. And usually¬†I like the lettuce wrap instead of the bun.”

Sakura, Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg

“A lot of folks probably don’t realize it, but sushi places are a lot¬†more than raw fish. First of all, Miso Soup is flat-out awesome. And all¬†sushi places I’ve been to offer a variety of vegetarian rolls, but¬†Sakura’s selection goes about 10 deep. I’m always down with the Avocado¬†Roll and Asparagus Roll, but Sweet Potato Rolls are a favorite. In¬†addition, Age Tofu or Vegetable Tempura are solid¬†appetizer options.”

Moe’s Southwest Grill, various locations

“Who doesn¬Ļt love a great burrito? These types of restaurants seem to be¬†popping up all over, and you can get a quality vegetarian burrito at all¬†or most of them. But Moe’s is the one which offers tofu as an¬†alternative to the meats, and that effort means something to people like¬†me. Gotta love the Joey Bag of Donuts burrito with tofu. Also, the chips¬†and salsa are always a bonus.”

New Harmony Vegetarian Restaurant, Chinatown, Philadelphia

“Unfortunately, for a fully vegetarian restaurant to be successful, they¬†seem to need the big city. A few have tried around here, but I don’t¬†know of any at the moment. (If I’m missing out, please tell me!) I’ve¬†been trying for 15 years to get Ming Chu, head chef and owner of New¬†Harmony, to bring his product to Harrisburg. But I’ll settle for my 4-5¬†annual trips to Chinatown, because the entirely vegan menu is enormous¬†and sensational. They use all kinds of mock seafood and meats. Even my carnivorous family and friends have visited and¬†enjoyed the heck out of this place. Though I love trying new items, my¬†go-to favorites are Hot & Sour Soup and the Jumbo Walnut Shrimp with¬†broccoli.”