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Natalie's Mediterranean Eatery

Between its two campuses, there's a whole boatload of vegans at the University at Buffalo. Lucky for them, between the two campuses, there's Natalie's (807 Millersport Highway, Amherst, 446-9715, www.natalieseatery.com).

Yes, Natalie's serves meat, like seasoned ground beef kafta. But it's the vegans and vegetarians that flock to this Lebanese sandwich joint. The attractions start with falafel (chickpea fritters), hummus (chickpea puree) and babaganoush (eggplant), but lots of eaters make Natalie's a destination for its vegetarian burgers.

Violette Mansour makes four kinds regularly: red lentil and millet, broccoli cashew, zucchini pinenut, and perhaps the most popular, eggplant tofu.

Peeled eggplant is char-grilled, for smokiness, then ground with medium firm tofu, onions, green peppers and other stuff. It's seared on the griddle and served on pocket or flat pita, or a Kaiser roll, with spicy vinaigrette house dressing, lemony tahini sauce, and so on. (The burgers are all $6.44.)

"We also have spinach wraps, mujadarra, fried cauliflower," said daughter Tania Mansour. "Vegan people are astonished by the variety they can pick from."

Andrew Z. Galarneau