Readers’ Choice 2010 Best New Restaurant

Readers’ Choice Best of the Big O: Daily Grub

A vegan restaurant that sources locally grown food opened last spring on the lonely corner of 20th and Pierce. Daily Grub was voted Readers’ Choice Best of the Big O New Restaurant, and also got a “Reader Refer” for Best Local-Food-Serving Restaurant, because it offers hearty meals for the socially conscious. But vegan or no, it’s the good food that draws people. Owner and chef Elle Lien offers a menu that rotates seasonally featuring soups, Korean-influenced sandwiches, Mexican-influenced sopes and heaping bowls of curries and stews. Fruit and vegetables juices are squeezed fresh daily. Lien sells Lincoln’s Cultiva Coffee and peddles San Pellegrino water, gourmet root beer and Mexican sodas. “People like a mix of something old and something new, something familiar and comfortable and something fresh and out of the ordinary that they find at Daily Grub,” says Lien. True, Lien’s cuisine is homey and simple while also presenting new flavor combinations. Her sopes play on savory, sweet, sour and spicy by pairing savory and filling beans with sweet pears, spicy ancho sauce and lime juice as an example. But the plate is finger food presented without airs. The soups are creative and reflect the season. Right now there’s a soup of winter greens and sweet potatoes, Gambian sole with tomatoes and black-eyed peas and fried plantains. “Initially, I think people came in out of curiosity,” Lien says. “But I like to think they come back because the food and environment exceed their expectations.” It would be hard to be too fancy in the industrial neighborhood around 20th and Pierce, and Daily Grub slides right in among the brick warehouses and old homes. Lien is doing things differently by not selling meat, but it’s done unpretentiously and approachably in a way that people are eager to embrace. “We’re a family here. A real ‘mom and pop,’” she says. “And we love what we’re doing, so that people like it is so incredibly rewarding.”

posted at 03:20 pm
on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

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