Vegetarian food isn’t hard to come by in New York, if you know where to look. Meat may dominate menus around town, but there are plenty of healthy restaurants, cafés and bakeries that specialize in meatless food. Check out our list of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants restaurants in NYC, from Indian food buffets to high-concept cooking. Did we miss your favorite? Join the conversation in the comments. Do you want more great stories about things to do, where to eat, what to watch, and where to party? Obviously you do,
Best vegan and vegetarian restaurants
Organic-minded, kid-toting yuppies and vegan East Villagers commune over the tofu at this enduring health-food hot spot. Share the Pantry Plate (rich walnut-lentil pâté, mellow hummus and ruby sauerkraut), but snag the velvety, sesame-sauced Soba Sensation for yourself. Massive, super-popular Dragon Bowls (rice, beans, tofu, steamed veggies) get their kick from dressings like creamy carrot or black sesame wasabi. Don’t know your kombu from your kudzu? The helpful menu glossary gets you ready for the macrobiotic big-leagues in no time flat.
Blossom du Jour
The eight-seat location of this café proves that vegan cuisine and comfort food aren’t paradoxical terms. Look into the open kitchen, where chefs cook up meatless dishes, like the Midtown Melt (Cajun-spiced seitan, vegan cheddar and chipotle aioli on rosemary focaccia) and a vegan burger with soy bacon and onion rings. Healthy organic fruit and vegetable juices are blended on site, including the Supreme Green, which combines spinach, kale, ginger, lemon, apple, cucumber and parsley.
Blossom Vegan Restaurant
For cautious carnivores, Blossom offers one big surprise: All the eggless pastas and mock meats actually taste pretty good. For vegans, it’s a candlelit godsend. Guiltily dreaming of veal scaloppine? Try the pan-seared seitan cutlets, tender wheat gluten served with basil mashed potatoes, swiss chard, a white-wine caper sauce and artichokes. With fake-meat entrées averaging $17, carnivores may feel compelled to eat the real thing elsewhere, but vegetarians have indeed found a great date place.
Train budding vegans at this Upper East Side favorite. If they’re not quite ready to tackle baked tempeh with pumpkin-seed–guajillo sauce, suggest easy-to-eat grilled seitan skewers or the chipotle tofu club with vegan mayo and balsamic-drizzled mesclun salad.
Caravan of Dreams
Vegetarians, vegans and raw-foodists, unite! This longtime East Village hangout offers both regular meat-free dishes—grilled seitan nachos, black-bean chili, stir-fries—and “live foods” made from uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Live “hummus” (whipped from cold-processed tahini and raw almonds instead of the usual chickpeas) can be scooped up with pressed flaxseed “chips”; the live Love Boat pairs almond–Brazil nut “meatballs” with mango chutney and cool marinara sauce on a napa cabbage leaf. Naturally, there are loads of salads and some macrobiotically balanced quinoa-and-seaweed combos.
Fueled by the ambition to make people crave vegetables, Amanda Cohen revived her beloved East Village eatery on the Lower East Side with a ramped-up menu and a space three times the size of the 18-seat original. Emblazoned with a mural of greenery by graffiti artist Noah McDonough, the sprawling dining room is focused on the open kitchen at its heart—complete with a chef’s counter—and a full bar along one wall. Much like the plates of Cohen’s past, each dish is anchored by one vegetable, but her retooled offerings layer multiple ingredients.
Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC
You’ll be hard-pressed to put anything off-limits at this almost completely organic bakery, which shuns dairy, eggs, soy and gluten. Babycakes also avoids using any nuts except for coconut, considered a tree nut. (Its chocolate and flour suppliers, though, handle nuts in their facilities.) Tempt the kids with a red velvet cupcake, a double-chocolate-chip cookie, an agave-sweetened brownie or—why not?—all three.
Be sure your socks are looking good: You’ll have to surrender your shoes upon entering this Korean vegetarian’s paradise. Carefully crafted dishes include thin leek, kimchi, mushroom and mung-bean pancakes, andmaitake mushrooms sautéed with spinach. The scene is serene, but the Zen detachment may not suit all tastes—the quiet waitstaff can seem as chilly as the delicious dessert of chocolate-tofu ice cream.
Diners often compare eating great food to a religious experience, but at Kajitsu—possibly New York’s only kaiseki restaurant to offer the centuries-old Zen Buddhist vegetarian cuisine known as shojin, from which modern-day Japanese cooking is thought to have developed—there’s something literal in the restaurant’s connection to the divine. The sparse, hushed interior suggests a reverence for nature that is also expressed in the food. For those accustomed to bold flavors, the preparations can at first seem understated to a fault. But with each jewel-like course, the meal emerges as an artful meditation on simplicity and seasonality. Though nothing we ate shouted for attention, all the subtleties added up to a memorable, if not exactly sacred, meal.
This vegan gem, outfitted with soothing sage-colored walls, soft amber lighting and a buzzing, cheerily staffed counter, is a welcome addition to the only slightly veggie-compliant Upper West Side. An earthy salad combines red quinoa, white beans, corn, red peppers, avocado and lime-mustard vinaigrette in one invigoratingly fresh starter. It provides a light counterpoint to the fried seitan medallion panino, a creation that teams a wheat-gluten cutlet with cashew-based “goat cheese,” peppery arugula and chopped tomatoes on a hunk of yeasty homemade focaccia. Smoothies and fresh-juice blends, like the pineapple-beet-lime concoction, are thoughtfully crafted, as are the desserts. The standout not-too-sweet coconut cream pie gets its silky texture from a dose of tofu.