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Restaurants in Modesto defy the stereotypes
209--MOD Vegetarian Pic 3 copy
Places like Concetta provide vegetarian offerings like this deviled egg, which gets rave reviews from customers on Yelp. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL/The 209

MODESTO – Alright. We get it. You don’t want a steak and you don’t want chicken and fresh salmon – covered in lemon and butter and roasted over an open flame in foil – is out as well.

So what’s left? Salad? That can’t be all that appetizing, even with a wide selection of toppings to add to it. You’d think that after a prolonged period of time, eating “weeds” would start to become monotonous.

But a vegetarian diet doesn’t necessarily have to be bland, and a handful of Modesto restaurants have proven that by crafting menus and specific offerings that transcend the stereotypes associated with the title and attract people looking to try something new.

Vegan pizza that doesn’t require cheese. Hamburgers and sausages that, interestingly enough, don’t contain any traces of meat but yet still have the taste and texture of the real thing. Butter that doesn’t include any trace of milk, and eggs that still taste like eggs but didn’t come from a chicken.

Not everybody is that hardcore. Some plain vegetarians just choose not to eat meat and keep themselves open to the usage of other animal products – which can include unexpected things like gelatin, which uses pig skin and cow bones, and marshmallows, which use gelatin – in their day-to-day lives.

Others go to great lengths to cut everything animal-related out of their diet.

Regardless of which side of the fence you happen to fall onto, here are a few places worth checking out if you’re feeling like going out for dinner and you’ve left the appetite for the porterhouse behind you.

 Bauer’s 66 ½ – This is the crème de la crème of Modesto vegetarian restaurants – but don’t worry if cream isn’t your thing because they have vegan offerings too. The New American cuisine still offers up meat as part of the menu, but plenty of selections are without. The rarity of a true vegetarian restaurant in any Central Valley community is evident here – the menu is mixed – but that doesn’t keep it from being one of the more popular establishments for those who gave up the ground beef long, long ago. Bauer’s 66 ½ is located at 1700 McHenry Avenue just south of Briggsmore Avenue on the east side of the street. It is located right next to Vierra’s bar, and the unique name is a testament to its unique placement so finding it might be a challenge. 209.985.1199.

 Concetta – Much like Bauer’s, you’re still going to find meat somewhere on the menu. But the menu at this tapas-style establishment changes daily, and there are always numerous dishes that cater to those who live the vegetarian lifestyle. The restaurant’s deviled egg has become one of the things that it is known for, and its concoctions with cheese ravioli and prunes offer a diverse array of flavors and tastes. To get there take Highway 99 south and take the Downtown Modesto exit. Proceed up to I Street and turn left. Follow I Street up to 12th Street and turn left. Make a right one block up on J Street and the restaurant will be on the left. On street parking is available near the restaurant, along J Street, and along nearby 13th and 14th Streets on the north side of the roadway. 209.529.3282.

 Skewers Kabob House – There’s nothing like freshly seared vegetables. And the people at Skewers know this better than most. You can try a combination of things that are flame roasted after enjoying some homemade hummus and then chase it all with homemade baklava – a taste of the Mediterranean right in the heart of Downtown Modesto. To get there take Highway 99 south to the Downtown Modesto exit. Proceed up to I Street and turn left. Make a right on J Street and the restaurant will immediately be on your right hand side. 209.525.3611.