Grasshopper is a newly opened vegetarian restaurant on College that takes over the site formerly occupied by the Mexi-Can market. Now a cheery 24-seat eatery owned by first time restaurateurs Roy Qian and Oliver Chen, the narrow dining room is an inviting spot featuring warm glossy woods, red brick walls and hanging filament lights.
The menu opens with nibbles like chick-un nuggets ($4.50), strips of seitan coated in a seasoned panko before being deep fried. Served with a choice of creamy BBQ sauce or peanut dipping sauce, the dish mimics real poultry so well that my dining companion needs to do a double take and reconfirm that it really is meatless. It really does taste like chicken.
Sandwiches served with fries or kale salad include banh mi ($8.50-$9) topped with chick-un or vegan "pulled pork". Burgers ($9.50) can be customized with a choice of patties or sloppy joe tempeh. I try the spicy black bean burger loaded with caramelized onions, fresh garnishes and vegan chedda (an extra $1.50). The bean patty is a touch mushy and less convincing than the preceding chicken, but I like the side salad mixed with cabbage and offered with tangy vinaigrette on the side.
Comfort foods like soup ($4.50), chili ($7) and quinoa mac 'n cheese ($9) are available too. I sample the earthier option, a mushroom 'n red rice bowl ($9) featuring a medley of sautĂŠed mushrooms dressed in tahini and set over a substantial base of toothsome steamed grains, fresh slaw on top adds some much needed crunch and freshness.
Skip the coffees that are made via automated NescafĂŠ machine and opt instead for smoothies like the banana chai ($5) blended with almond milk and chai soy. A full smoothie menu will be expanded in the coming weeks and a pending liquor license means beers and wines will be added too.
Grasshopper is open daily from noon until 9pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends. Take out orders are welcome.
Photos by Jesse Milns