The Vegetarian Option: Snack Taverna

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Snack Taverna

63 Bedford St (at Morton Str; map); (212) 929-3499‎; menu
Cuisine: Greek
Veggie Options: about 6 mezedes, 1 small plate, 8 salads/sides
Cost: Small plates and salads around $12

If you don't mind eating an assortment of small plates, Greek restaurants are often a good choice for vegetarians. We always recommend Pylos in the East Village when asked, but if you happen to be farther west, Snack Taverna on Bedford Street is worth considering. Not every dish is a hit, but there are quite a few options for non-meat-eaters, as well as plenty of meat to satisfy their more carnivorous friends.

We started with the roasted beet and butterbean salad ($12), which featured cubes of sugar-sweet beets, topped with almond slices and a few creamy beans. It may not be an ideal first-date dish, due to a seriously strong blast of garlic in the skordalia. While beet lovers will appreciate a dish that moves beyond standard beet-and-goat-cheese offerings, we weren't sure the flavors of this dish truly harmonized.

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We ordered a carrot-ginger tzatziki ($8) from the list of daily specials. It was a little runny, but full of spicy fresh ginger. We felt a bit like we were spooning a smoothie onto our pita, but it tasted light and bright.

One word about the pita: our first basket was filled with room temperature, unexciting, not-completely-pliable specimens. We ate it (there was carrot dip!) and then a second basket arrived: warm, pillowy pita—dream pita. Your mileage may vary, but if the pita on your table doesn't seem fresh, you might consider asking if they have any that's warm.

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We gobbled up a plate of saganaki ($11). The fresh tomatoes provided a nice counterpoint to the seared salty and chewy kefalotyri cheese. The crispy edges were the best part.

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The most satisfying vegetarian dish on the menu by far was a lovely bowl of Mushroom Yiouvetsi ($12). The orzo and earthy assortment of mushrooms were served in a slightly smoky tomato sauce, studded with plump slices of kalamata olives and topped with grated kefalotyri cheese. It's a hearty, delicious bowl of food, with beautifully melded flavors. If you're looking for your vegetarian main course, this is the one, even though it's offered in the "small plates" section of the menu. (Don't be fooled by the stuffed sweet peppers over on the entrée side—though there aren't any pieces of meat in them, the spicy avgolemono broth served with them is chicken-based.)

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If you're not super-familiar with Greek cuisine, you might be thrown by a listing of fava ($8) on the menu—it's not a serving of spring's green broad beans, but instead a silky purée of yellow split peas. Snack Taverna serves theirs dolloped into a sweet tomato sauce, ideal for spooning onto a second basket of pita. We were big fans, but if you're anti-caper, you'll want to skip this one: their briny flavor predominates.