When vegetarians dine out, they’re often relegated to eating side dishes. Ocotillo chef and vegetable maven Sacha Levine sympathizes. So when the Ocotillo team designed the restaurant’s menu, they made sure vegetables had star status. “You can make a fully conceived dish just the same with a vegetable as you can with a piece of meat,” Levine says.
The standout of Levine’s veg-forward menu: crispy falafel burger ($11 lunch; $13 dinner) fashioned from raw chickpeas.
She augments the chickpeas with a “crazy amount” of fresh flat leaf parsley, adds cilantro, onions, garlic, cumin, coriander and a dash of cardamom, then fries the patties until golden brown and crunchy. Sandwiched between MJ Bakery soft flatbread, the “burger” shares space with crunchy Abby Lee Farms green heirloom tomatoes, pickled in-house and infused with garlic and dill; a tart yogurt feta sauce spiked with jalapeño, lemon juice and mint; a beguilingly smoky baba ganoush made from eggplant blistered on the mesquite grill and mixed with earthy tahini; and a pile of sweet gem lettuce.
“It’s an incredibly substantial sandwich that could absolutely satisfy a carnivore,” Levine says. Prepare to be seduced by this well-crafted and tasty fusion of Mediterranean flavors and sensuous textures. Beware, beef burger. We’re putting you on notice.
— Marilyn Hawkes
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