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Best Vegetarian Restaurant 

Udipi Café

Because Kansas City is smack in the middle of the meat-happy Midwest -- where even "vegetarian" restaurants usually serve sea critters -- the Udipi Café may be the only place in the metro with a truly meatless menu. The food is inspired by the cuisine of a coastal town in southern India that, if a description on Udipi's menu is to be believed, is paradise on earth. "Blessed with oldest culture and civilization, great ancient historical temples, monuments, [and a] wide variety of art and architecture, peace-loving people live under one roof without any discrimination between caste, creed, race and sex." The menu doesn't explain why anyone would choose to leave such a utopia to move to Johnson County, but we're glad they did. We like to start with the medhu vada (fried lentil doughnuts) and the batura (a large, airy bread) dipped in a tangy brown chutney. Diwani handi (a purée of vegetables and mushrooms in a thick, spicy sauce) and simlamirch ka masasla (a bell pepper stuffed with vegetables and bathed in a rich brown gravy) are also good reminders that in some countries the cow is sacred -- not dinner.

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