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Here are six must-try vegetarian entrées at the restaurants in Rochester and Henrietta.
Caurie Putnam, Laura Nichols

When you think of barbecue, mushrooms and tofu are probably not the first eats that come to mind. 

“People think it’s an anomaly to have vegetarian dishes at a barbecue place,” said Howard Nielsen, the owner of Sticky Lips BBQ in Rochester and Sticky Lips BBQ Juke Joint in Henrietta.  “I’ve traveled to barbecue restaurants all over the country and nobody really offers anything in vegetarian. Our goal has always been to incorporate vegetarian barbecue into our menu.”

Excellent vegetarian entrées are personal to Nielsen, who has had them on the menu since he started Sticky Lips with its Culver Road location in 2004.

“My cousin Tom, early in the 1970s became a vegetarian,” Nielsen said.  “Now, I come from a close-knit Italian family that loves to eat and when Tom became a vegetarian it threw my aunts into a tizzy because they didn’t know what to cook at first.”

Nielsen, who was a young boy at the time, watched the elders in his family learn to cook delicious dishes for Tom so he never felt left out at family gatherings and big holiday dinners. 

Decades later, Nielsen wanted to make sure vegetarian diners at the carnivore-heavy Sticky Lips never felt left out either.

“Vegetarian is not an afterthought here,” Nielsen said.  “We have a nice lineup here of good-quality, unique vegetarian barbecue.  Different chefs over the years have all left their footprints on the menu.”

The vegetarian entrées are so popular, in fact, they’re also offered as catering options.

“We have people add the vegetarian dishes all the time,” said Gina Weidow, catering manager at Sticky Lips.

Here are six must-try vegetarian entrées at Sticky Lips:

1. Barbecue Meatless Loaf ($13.95)

This meatless loaf is one of Sticky Lips’ top two most popular vegetarian entrées.  It is a large serving of lentil-based veggie “ground” that is seasoned, baked and topped with sautéed mushrooms and choice of Sticky Lips’ own sauce (All-American BBQ Sauce, Carolina Clipper Mustard Sauce, Cherry Bomb Sauce or Betty’s Burning Lips Sauce). This dish includes your choice of two sides.

 2. The Veggie Sticky Icky Plate ($13.95)

This vegetarian play on Rochester’s famous Garbage Plate is the other most popular meat-free entrée at Sticky Lips.  It is a veggie bean burger served over black beans, French fries and mac salad. That huge plate of food is topped by veggie étouffée, cilantro and onions.  Sticky Lips offers Sticky Icky Plates that are non-vegetarian too (hot dog, hamburger, cheeseburger, beef brisket, grilled chicken and pulled pork).

3. Smoked BBQ Tofu ($13.95)

A large tofu “steak” rubbed, smoked, brushed with Sticky Lips’ Original BBQ sauce and then grilled is the centerpiece of this entrée, which is one of the restaurants’ newest vegetarian additions.  After grilling, the tofu is smothered with sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms. Cheese can be added for an extra buck.  This entrée includes two sides. 

4. Portabella Mushroom Steak ($16.95)

The other newest vegetarian entrée at Sticky Lips is the Portabella Mushroom Steak, which is really two grilled Italian marinated Portabellas.  They are topped with sautéed onions, peppers, loads of melted provolone and whole grain mustard (on the side) for dipping. This entrée is served with two sides.

5. Crispy Tofu Vegetarian Étouffée ($13.95)

Served with two sides, this dish is an original to Sticky Lips’ vegetarian menu.  It features Cajun seasoned peppers, onions, zucchini, eggplant and yellow squash in a dark roux; served over deep-fried tofu and rice.

6. Vegetarian Pittsburgh Sandwich ($13.95 platter)

Sticky Lips’ famous Pittsburgh Sandwich comes in two vegetarian options: portabella mushroom or black bean burger.  Put either one between two slices of jalapeño cornbread, home-cut fries, tomato and mustard coleslaw.  Add melted provolone for a dollar more.

For meat lovers …

Guess who will be at the D&C Food & Wine Experience? You got it: Sticky Lips!

Sticky Lips will be a part of the upcoming D&C Digital Food & Wine Experience on Saturday, Sept. 23. It will offer samples of its all-natural Angus beef brisket, which is naturally raised and hormone- and antibiotic-free.

Oh, and this brisket recently took second place in a competition at the New York State Fair. 

Caurie Putnam is West Extra columnist and a freelance writer in the Rochester area.

 

D&C Food & Wine Experience

What: D&C Digital Food & Wine Experience, featuring Martha Stewart’s culinary expert Chef Thomas Joseph and Pastry Chef Duff Goldman, the Ace of Cakes plus a long list of local restaurants and participants including event sponsors Orvilles, Thermador, and Rochester Malls.

When: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23.

Where: Parcel 5 downtown at Cortland and Elm streets.

Get Tickets: Online at foodandwine.democratandchronicle.com.

Special offer: As part of the D&C’s Insider program, subscribers receive $20 off the “Grand Tasting” or $30 off “VIP Grand Tasting” tickets. Go  to democratandchronicle.com/insider.

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StickyLips4 Gina Weidow, the catering manager at Sticky Lips, says vegetarian dishes are a popular choices for catering events.  Photo by Caurie Putnam

 

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