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eco-friendly vegetarian fast food
Otarian is a vegetarian, European fast-food chain that highlights carbon, rather than calorie, count. Menu items, which include veggie burgers, tacos, Asian stir-fries, Indian curries, salads, soups, and sides, list how much energy is saved by consuming that dish versus a more meat-heavy version. Entrees are around $7-9 and sides are around $4. The menu clearly indicates which items are vegan and which can easily be made vegan (usually by leaving off the cheese).
In line with their environmental theme, Otarian uses biodegradable utensils and its employees are only allowed to give 1 napkin to each customers.
on May 2 10
(last updated May 2 10)
Mark this place closed (permanently).
Most Recent Reviews
For Midtown, Otarian is a decent option if you're looking for a vegetarian or vegan meal. That said, the food is mediocre and the service can be slow and confused.
I got the mushroom-quinoa burger made vegan ($7), which I think means leaving off the honey dijon mustard and the regular mayo. The burger was pretty bland with a mushy patty. But the bun was excellent: soft, whole wheat and hearty.
There aren't many vegan options on the menu other than two types of burger (one is potato-spinach) and a salad and some simple wraps. The menu is also confusing and it's hard to figure out what's vegan with just one glance.
My friend got items from the salad bar and enjoyed it, but it looked like basic stuff.
The service was mixed. While the guy who took my order was friendly they seemed to mess up my order and a bunch of other people's orders, forcing a bunch of customers to have to return to the counter to figure out what was wrong.
There aren't many vegan options in Midtown so it's good that Otarian is around. That said, I'd rather go to Burrito Box on 9th Avenue instead.
I stopped in Otarian last week for a quick lunch so I was pleased to see that they had many ready-to-go sandwiches and salads, along with a serve-yourself hot food bar. I went with the vegan Vietnamese Baguette sandwich because it was big, cheap, had avocado (yum!), and was ready-to-go. For $6, the sandwich was good. However, it was very "bready" and I think it would have benefited from a more flavorful sauce - or more of the same sauce since the tofu was kind of bland.
While I didn't try other items at this locations (I had a few entrees at their former Village location), in general, I find Otarians prices to be more than they should be. Granted, the food is vegetarian and supposedly eco-friendly (it would be more eco-friendly if each item didn't contain a separate cardboard strip that advertised its eco-friendliness), but at the end of the day, it's fast food. For what you'd pay for a veggie burger and fries here, you could get a big plate of noodles, veggies and tofu/soy meat at pretty much any Thai, Chinese, or Vietnamese restaurant. If you're going for ambiance and value, Otarian isn't your best bet. That said, this part of Midtown is not known for its vegetarian options so I'm really glad that Otarian is here and I would stop back in the future if I'm in the area and need a quick snack.
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59th St-Columbus Circle (1, A, C, B, D)
57th St-7th Ave (N, Q, R, W)
7th Ave-53rd St (B, D, E)
$ - inexpensive