Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Vegetarian in Cherokee Nation

Technically, we were not in Cherokee Nation but we were fairly close... maybe a mile out? The last weekend saw a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. We stayed at a hotel in Cherokee and drove out to the National Park on Saturday. Fabulous weather (cool and warm, no better combination, really!), sparse crowds, winding trails, and an interesting chat with one of the park officials (he showed us some extraordinary photographs he had taken at Midway Islands; a well traveled person with some amazing stories to share)... we were off to a rocking weekend.

Around lunch time, we got out of the park to look for a place to eat lunch. Drove around, checked out menus for various restaurants and fast food joints but there was not a thing we could find at any place. Really, not a single vegetarian item... Wow. Finally we arrived at Marco Polo's. Decided to take a chance and go see what they had to offer.

We were lucky.

A cheery place with loads of music paraphernalia strung up all over (vinyl records were actually stuck up on the ceiling - see right), graffiti scrawled on the walls, blinking light signs, huge posters, message boards with funny messages... I am sure you get the funky message. The guy behind the counter was a jolly person with a demeanor mirroring the decor. P ran into a gentleman dressed in the regalia of the Cherokee tribe. You can see them conversing in the far left of the picture (right). He carried a spear with a shiny steel tip, sharpened to perfection. He had feathers attached to his hair and clothes. It was quite a striking presence that he had. P and he spoke about the commonality between ancient Hindu customs and Native American practices. I didn't hear much of it but I bet it was an interesting discussion.

What about the food? Check below.

Good spread, huh? P got a Veggie Sandwich and a Greek Salad. I got the Greek Vegetable Sandwich which was really P's Greek Salad encased between two slices of bread. Lots of Feta cheese, Greek olives, red onions, shredded red cabbage, lettuce, cucumber slices, sprouts, Tzatziki sauce... Good stuff. I cannot recall much of what went into P's sandwich but he picked a Mango-Pineapple Viniagrette that was simply lovely. Spicy and sweet in equal measure, it was a great complement to the sandwich filling (that I barely remember).

We were SO happy that we found a decent place to get a vegetarian meal without having to drive miles away. That, my dear friends, is a BIG relief especially when traveling.

Next up? How does Cork & Bean Wine Bar & Coffee House sound? I would rate this place as one of the sweetest and coziest breakfast places I have ever visited. Or a cafe. Or a hangout joint.

Marco Polo's Sandwhiches & Treats
1655 Acquoni Road
Cherokee, NC 28719

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