Mocha Mocha Cafe (489 Danforth, at Logan, 416-778-7896) Complete meals for $20 per person ($15 at lunch or brunch), including all taxes, tip and a domestic beer. Average main $9. Open Monday to Saturday 8 am to 10 pm, Sunday 11 am to 10 pm. Licensed. Delivery. Access: barrier-free, but very crowded room. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
I'm a bit of a west-end girl and never really understood the allure of the Danforth. A recent visit to Mocha Mocha, the 14-year-old veggie-friendly joint located down the street from the Big Carrot, showed me there's more to the avenue than identical modern tavernas named things like Opa! and Mouskouri! serving lacklustre Greek grub.
Why, look at the glitterati who're Mocha Mocha regulars. There's the Canadian Tire guy from those TV commercials sipping a coffee over in the corner. And isn't that Globe food writer Lucy Waverman having a made-to-order egg salad sandwich on Fred's multigrain ($4.75)? She's sitting directly across from her framed review, which includes a recipe for Mocha's legendary vegetarian club: grilled eggplant, smooth avocado, mozzarella and a great hillock of the house carrot 'n' red cabbage slaw in a honey Dijon vinaigrette ($7.50).
And here's Martha Johnson and Mark Gane, better known professionally as Martha and the Muffin, sitting right next to me. Johnson's tucking into a sizable portion of East African chicken stew ($10.45 with rice and salad) that recalls a spicy cacciatore. Gane's polishing off a hefty slab of the spinach-rich vegetarian lasagna ($9.25 with salad and organic toast), while I get halfway through Mocha's refried bean burrito ($10.45 with salad) sided with pink Tex-Mex rice, chopped avocado, pickled jalapeño and sour cream before losing interest.
A shared slice of Wanda's crumbly-crusted apple pie ($3.95) makes a wholesome finish.
Mocha Mocha's health-conscious card could be described as a multiculti mash-up of Latin American, Italian and African dishes. Owners Marijan and Mercedes Tripkovic are no strangers to culinary collisions. Before launching Mocha in Greektown in May 91, the couple operated Lima, Peru's only Dutch-style pancake house.