Lost Dog Cafe has been a Downtown Binghamton staple since 1994. Its eclectic decor offers unique character — the tables and chairs are piecemeal, each painting varies in style and the walls are covered in bold, colorful murals. It’s wonderful and relaxed in its diverse atmosphere.

The eatery offers a lunch deal for $12 and a dinner deal for $20, with the option of swapping out an appetizer for wine or beer. I started off with a simple spinach-artichoke dip with lightly salted tortilla chips, served warm. It was rich, hearty and flavorful, and dense enough to render double-dipping unnecessary.

For an entree I ordered the Moroccan vegetable tagine, which is a stew made from root vegetables and beans braised in a cinnamon-cumin broth and served on a bed of herbed couscous. The presentation was simple; the food was understated and rustic.

The dish was incredibly well-seasoned, with a complex flavor that unfolded in my mouth as time went on. The combined textures of vegetables and couscous added dimension to the dish. The dish fell short in one regard, which was that while the menu mentioned a ginger flavor, its presence was undetectable.

The last course was dessert, and I was lucky enough to try two of them. First up was the Bailey’s Irish Cream pie, which sadly was very underwhelming. The cream in the pie was too airy and while it wasn’t too sweet, it left a very sugary aftertaste. On top of that, it was far too fatty and left a coat on the roof of my mouth. Luckily, the Mexican chocolate torte made up for the pie. This gluten-free, rich, thick and dense chocolate cake had superb flavor, and was topped with crema (a light, sweet-sour cream).

The flavor combination of cake and crema was phenomenal, though there could have been more of the crema. My main concern with this dessert, however, is the fact that the only Mexican influence was the crema — otherwise it was a normal gluten-free chocolate cake.

For an indulgent restaurant week meal, Lost Dog Cafe is definitely the place to go, especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. Many foods are meat- or dairy-free, or can be altered to satisfy any dietary preference. I would highly recommend Lost Dog Cafe to everyone looking for something substantial for a price that, while high, is worth it in the end.