I've been waking up at five in the morning for a new work assignment across town. I also spend a lot of time visiting elderly relatives and working on this blog. Eric does a lot of volunteer work, and therefore our days and evenings can be pretty busy, verging on exhausting. The upshot of this schedule is that by Thursday or Friday we're feeling very little desire to cook, or sometimes even eat. That is where these two restaurants come in: they offer reasonably priced, relatively uncomplicated vegetarian meals, and they're big enough chains so that their food is easy to pick up on a half hour break or on the way home from work.
(Full Disclosure: Eric worked for the Cosi chain a few years after college and was really very fond of it. His fondness has probably unintentionally colored my keen critical senses. You have been warned.) At six bucks for the cheapest vegetarian item on the menu, Cosi is probably the more expensive of the two restaurants I'm reviewing today. It offers a reasonable amount of vegetarian choices: a full Cosi* offers flat-bread margherita pizza, tomato or (on Thursday) lentil soup, and a selection of three vegetable sandwiches (the fire-roasted veggie, the hummus and veggie, and the "TBM"). I'm completely in love with their "TBM", a cold tomato and basil sandwich containing mozzarella so fresh it verges on fluffiness, drizzled with a light balsamic vinaigrette containing just a hint of mustard. The critic in me wants to try other menu items, but I just love the "TBM" so much I can't quite see my way to shelling out more cash for something that is not a "TBM."
They also make their own iced green tea, the taste of which is reminiscent of real southern Sweet Tea (as drunk by me on all of my trips to Florida): just the right hint of lemon, and without being so nauseatingly over sugared in the way of so many northern attempts at Sweet Tea.
Boloco (short for "Boston Local Company"), is a little too "crunchy granola" for my tastes, but it could possibly be the most vegetarian friendly restaurant I have ever set foot in. I can't believe I had a store down the street from my apartment for the past year I've been living here, and I've been trying to position myself as a restaurant critic, and yet I'd never eaten there before last week. They are wonderful for vegetarians because their burritos start out vegetarian and you can choose to add meat if you would like. What a refreshing change from going to a restaurant and having to ask to have something cooked without meat! Anyway, the burritos come in different types: all of which feature some combination of rice, beans, and a sauce or salsa. They also have not one but two (an entire two!) vegetarian add in options along with their meat options: roasted vegetables and tofu. Prices start from $3.95 for a "disturbingly small" standard burrito, and the price goes up depending on the size of the burrito and how much you want added to it.
I'm dying to try the Nutella shake, but I think that will be a different article. ("Comparative Frappes" is definitely going to happen sometime this summer.)
* Full Cosi restaurants are open at night instead of simply for the breakfasts and lunches of city office workers.