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Plant-Based Food & Brew

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  • February 2, 2019
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The Vegetable Hunter Vegan Vegetarian Restaurant

Whole Foods and Boutique Brewery Meet on Harrisburg Restaurant Row

Years ago, if someone suggested I limit my meals to include only vegetables, I would have said, NO WAY.

But incorporating plant-based food options into my daily regimen is nothing new. My diet has always been centered on vegetables with meat, poultry, and fish as side-dishes unless of course my mother’s homemade meatballs and other comfort foods I’ve grown up enjoying are on the menu.

The Vegetable Hunter vegan vegetarian restaurant
The Vegetable Hunter is owned by Kristin Messner-Baker and conveniently located on Harrisburg’s restaurant row. Shown is the “Superfood Protein Bowl” packed with energy-rich ingredients.

Fast forward to 2018 when “The Vegetable Hunter” quickly became one of my favorite restaurants. During a recent media trip to Harrisburg, arranged by Rick Dunlap, Visit Hershey-Harrisburg, I had an opportunity to sample a variety of menu items Harrisburg restaurant owner Kristin Messner-Baker and her staff brought to the table. The menu caters to vegans and vegetarians with generous portions of quality plant-based whole foods made to order.

“The Vegetable Hunter” is where Kristin’s hunger for travel, culture, and different types of cuisine met with recipes rich in made-from-scratch healthy ingredients she created and tested. After experimenting for several years, while raising her family and practicing law, she decided to open The Vegetable Hunter in 2014.

“I had a dream of opening a restaurant,” Kristin said. “I worked in restaurants with many different types of cuisine before, during, and after attending college and law school.”

Kristin Messner-Baker
The Vegetable Hunter Restaurant Harrisburg
Eat in or take out one of Kristin Messner-Baker’s vegan and vegetarian selections. The menu includes Appetizers, Large Plates, Bowls and Tacos, Sides, Desserts, Handcrafted Small-Batch Beer, Cocktails, Smoothies, and an assortment of cold drinks.

What makes The Vegetable Hunter’s menu so appealing?

Kristin has compassion for her patrons who are not accustomed to a vegan or vegetarian diet and she recognizes and caters to them in the same way she feeds her customers who pass on animal-derived ingredients. Her goal is to offer “creative vegetable-driven quick dishes, magical elixirs, complimented by small-batch beer made with unique and fresh ingredients.” The menu offers such a variety of tastes and textures with the sweet or savory selections that will suit everyone’s hankerings.

From left, Raw Brussels Sprout Salad; Kale and Quinoa; Chick Pea Salad, and Asian Noodle Bowl.

She developed her restaurant model with help from her husband, John Baker, a graphic designer, illustrator, and high school history teacher. John helps at the restaurant when he’s not teaching and their love for music and traveling are a few of the elements that give the restaurant a unique spin.

Kristin Messner-Baker, “The Vegetable Hunter” owner, offers a selection of made-to-order vegan and vegetarian fare and thirst-quencher options. She incorporated a boutique brewery, featuring handcrafted small-batch beer selections and created a relaxing atmosphere.
The Vegetable Hunter vegan vegetarian restaurant Harrisburg Restaurant Row
When a contractor’s estimate to renovate the former barbershop decor exceeded her budget, Kristin said she, “Came in with a sledgehammer and ripped out the walls and floors.” The exposed brick is an ideal backdrop for memorabilia and images of some of her favorite musicians. Her family and a contractor helped to put the interior back together.

Recommendations (based on the plates we shared)

Asian Noodle Bowl: Rice Noodle Broth Bowl with bok choy, carrots, broccoli, chili sauce, and boiled egg (Vegans can request no egg).

Superfood Protein Bowl: kale salad, chickpea salad, thyme roasted sweet potatoes, quinoa, spicy raw beet salad, boiled egg, and homemade hummus (Vegans can request no egg)

Chick Pea Salad: garlic, cumin, shallots, and parsley

Spicy Raw Beet Salad: lime juice, cayenne, and jalapenos

Raw Brussels Sprout Salad: with balsamic vinaigrette

Curried Egg Salad: Mixed greens, tomato and onion in pita

You can view a full menu here.

Location

614 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg, PA.

Telephone Number:

717-695-6229

Disclaimer:

My trip was comped by Visit Hershey-Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and based on my experience. Don’t miss a beat! Check out upcoming events in Hershey and Harrisburg.

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Central Pennsylvania dining Harrisburg Italian Restaurants Lifestyle places to eat in Harrisburg restaurant reviews and information

Mangia Qui

  • By
  • December 19, 2018
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Mouthwatering Risotto Mangia Qui Harrisburg

RISOTTO at it’s finest

Primi (first course): Risotto Quattro Formaggio Aquarella rice, sautéed greens, taleggio, parmigiano, romana and leonora cheeses, fried baby artichoke

Want to try the most uncomplicated, melt-in-your-mouth risotto you’ll find anywhere on our planet?

MANGIA QUI – CAN THERE BE ONLY ONE PERFECT RISOTTO?
All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted. 

I’m certain there’s only one perfect risotto and I found it at Mangia Qui, an immensely popular Harrisburg Italian restaurant across the street from the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Don’t be alarmed by the green tint. The sauteed greens were harmoniously balanced with perfectly cooked (al dente) arborio rice, artichokes, and a medley of cheese and garnished with pansies and flower foliage from co-owner Staci Basore’s garden. 

Before I tell you more about my experience at Mangia Qui, you should know I was raised in a predominately Italian family. My father was of mostly German lineage but he couldn’t have cared less about German food. My maternal grandmother’s meals (i.e. homemade pasta and meatballs, roast chicken, and pork butt layered between a crusty cornmeal “sandwich”) set the tone for most gatherings. She labeled many of her native Southern Italian dishes as “peasant food.” What exactly is peasant food? Simply stated, they’re dishes that are specific to a particular culture or region and made from accessible and inexpensive ingredients. Sadly, Risotto was not in her repertoire but years later after she died, I tried my hand at preparing Arborio with a variety of seasonings and aged cheeses. The result was a gooey and lumpy blob and probably the reason my youngest son turns his nose up when I mention “Risotto.”

When Rick Dunlap, Visit Hershey-Harrisburg, and I set up my travel itinerary, he asked if I’d like to dine at Mangia Qui on day two of my three-day solo media trip. I said, “Of course.” I arrived at the restaurant around 5 p.m. after a jam-packed day filled with outdoor activities. Throughout the afternoon, my stomach growled non stop and perhaps because
(as many Italians do) immediately after one meal (lunch, for example) my thoughts shift to dinner. By 1 p.m., I had already begun to contemplate what I’d find on the menu

Not long after I arrived, I was in the process of unpacking my gear when my server brought to my table a small stainless steel bowl brimming with olives, a bottle of water, a water goblet, and the menu.

Mangia Qui Olives Appetizer
The server brought a stainless steel bowl brimming with olives to nibble on while I was settling in at my table.

He discussed the daily specials as I perused the menu a second time. Half-way down the page, the words Risotto Quattro Formaggio popped out. I would have been satisfied with my appetizers and Risotto but my server asked what I’d like for my entree. Do you mean there’s more (food), I thought. The Branzino Seared a la plancha, olive oil poached sweet onion, Kentucky flats, Yukons and squash, and lemon caper brown butter was one of the “Secondi” that appealed to me so I ordered it. Sadly, I had no room or need for dessert afterward. 

Branzino with a delightful citrus flavor. 

Basore is part of the team that owns and operates Mangia Qui and two sister restaurants, Rubicon and Suba.  Mangia Qui offers a fresh, locally sourced, and artisanal approach to dining that’s as much about meeting friends and family for a relaxed dining experience as it “the food,” which was superb. Without hesitation, I recommend Mangia Qui to anyone who is seeking a first-rate Italian restaurant for a date night, family gathering, friends’ night-out, special occasion, or business-related dinner. 

Deep-fried squash blossom appetizer
Mid-way through my meal, Staci Basore, co-owner, stopped by my table to say hello. She came to my table bearing another appetizer – a squash blossom (she picked from her garden) that was deep-fried and crispy. 
Mangia Qui - Stacy Basore, co-owner and chef, prepared the best risotto I've ever tasted.

Mangia Qui: Casual dining and
phenomenal Italian cuisine. 

272 North Street
Harrisburg, PA — 17102
717.233.7358

Complimentary valet parking on Friday and Saturday evenings, 5 -11 p,m. 

Join the staff for a New Year’s Eve celebration

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg lodging and attractions, visit www.VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org.

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

This father and son duo prepare to cast a fishing line into the Susquehanna River. Plan a Harrisburg family fishing trip or water activity and enjoy the outdoors TOGETHER.    

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