we were downtown yesterday and wanted something chow-y, and finally tried Ital Calabash at 14th + Franklin.
Holly and I shared an Avocado Bliss Burger, rice & peas, sweet fried plantains, and a mixed green salad. Everything was extremely light, with complex, but not intense, flavors. The flavors seemed like a blend of Cajun, Thai and Mexican, done with restraint.
All the food is vegetarian. Vegan, even. The "burger" is a nice crisp-fried disk of tofu, lightly crunchy on the outside and almost scrambled-eggy in the middle, with a spread of some sauces and mashed avocado. It was delicious, the fresh avocado offsetting the tangy sauce. The "rice and peas" is a bowl of long grain rice with a scattering of kidney beans in some tasty tomatoey sauce. They were nearly out of the fried plantains so just gave us the last of them no charge. These too were delicious, and fried with a delicate hand. The mixed green salad had a bit of dressing that was unremarkable, but the (organic) greens themselves were excellent and a nice complement to the rest of the meal - and one of the cheapest organic green salads I've ever seen, at $2.50.
The total outlay was $10.00 for all this, and it fed the two of us nicely. The small restaurant is a little oasis on Franklin, with warm tropical colors in the walls and reggae pulsing from the stereo. There is an extensive list of smoothies, which, as we enjoyed our food, began to look better and better. I normally ignore smoothies but am interested to see what these inventive cooks have come up with -- especially the "Pure Niceness," with dates, peanut butter, maple syrup, banana, cinnamon and rice milk.
Before leaving I asked the cook/server how strictly the restaurant followed Ital restrictions; specifically if she used salt, which I thought was forbidden. She explained that some "Italists" use salt and some do not, and that she uses a little bit.
1405 Franklin St
510 836 ITAL