Vegan with a buzz

  • Rebecca Zimmer photo
From the 01/21/2009 edition

What: On the Fly's Chili + Bread ($5)

Why: No meat, no matter

Tiny but mighty, On The Fly is the instantly popular and great-priced meatless offspring of the more austere (and expensive) Dragonfly next door. And it makes lusty veggie chilis that easily rival most of its carnivore-catering competitors.

Notice I wrote chilis, because OTF's restlessly inventive chef likes messing with his successful recipes, and thus alters his formulas almost weekly. What stays the same is full-bore flavor and a who-needs-the-carnage heartiness.

Lately I've flown into a terrific, thick and spicy lentil model topped with a sturdy but lovely lemony sour cream stand-in, plus a cornbread muffin with a maple-syrupy sweetness; I also enjoyed a black bean and cannelini number with a bold but righteously modulated botanical singe alleviated by big chunks of sweet carrot - it also came with a cooling dairy substitute and dense cornbread. Characteristically for this stylish square-peg vegan, OTF's chili sin carne arrives in a square-shaped bowl.