I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to having lunch at Grateful Bread, other than a sort of self-righteous indignation that a place called “Grateful Bread” does not, ahem, does not serve bread. [Scones don't count.]
And I’ve had bad luck, generally, with vegetarian restaurants, because the food is often too bland on one extreme or too spiced on the other. But pull up the horses for some good eats at Grateful Bread, because the food has good balance and careful attention to ingredients.
Eating in the fall from noon to one can bring a long line extending outside, so I recommend hitting off the peak hours, especially if you want to sit down and eat because seating is not overabundant, but we’ve never had trouble getting a table. The menu fluctuates slightly over the day as different dishes are prepared or run out. The menu generally features a few specialty macaroni and cheese dishes, a couple of soups, and a specialty such as Frito pie.
On my first visit, I had a bowl of the best red-lentil soup I ever remember having. There was a perfect balance of cayenne and other spices to create a very savory and enjoyable soup. The soup was served very hot, which I prefer, and the portion was plentiful, although the soup by itself might leave some people wanting something more.
My second trip was for the Frito pie, an all-American affair. The vegetarian chili also featured an excellent balance of spices, but it was primarily a bean surprise, and chili really does need some meat to round it out. The large bowl was very filling, but it became a bit uninteresting nearing the final bites.
So this brings me to something that I think would make Grateful Bread a better place: instead of offering large portions of everything for $5-$6, I really think they need to develop some two-way combo of smaller portions, so you can experience two dishes in one sitting. I wanted to try a soup and a macaroni and cheese with a cane-sugar cola, but that would’ve been nearing $15, and I would’ve had way more food than I could handle.
But things seem to be going just fine, as shown by the lines at lunchtime. I plan to go back and try a couple of macaroni and cheese items in the next few weeks. It’s a good, quick, affordable lunch.