The best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in NYC

Restaurants, cafés and bakeries for meat-free natural, organic and raw food

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Brussels sprouts at Dirt Candy

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.

Angelica Kitchen

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.

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East Village

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.

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Hell's Kitchen

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.

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Chelsea

Candle Café

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.

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Lenox Hill

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.

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East Village

Dirt Candy

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.

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Lower East Side

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.

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Lower East Side

Hangawi

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, and maitake 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.

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Midtown

Kajitsu

Critics' pick

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.

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East Village

Peacefood Cafe

Critics' pick

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.

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Upper West Side
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Comments

9 comments
Betty C
Betty C

How about listing some of the amazing vegetarian/vegan places in Brooklyn (Bunna an Ethiopian place on Flushing Ave) &Queens (the New Bodi..on Main St. near the LIE)? Great menus with even greater prices.

Sandra G
Sandra G

If we're just looking a expensive places, why then was V-note overlooked? I believe it's a sister to Blossom too. 

For more reasonably priced options check out PUKK on 1st Ave and 5th St., as well as V-life on 7th Ave and 29th St. Both are excellent. I love Terri's sandwiches too--there are 2 or 3 of them in the city. Let's cater to everyone here, not just the rich. 

Sara V
Sara V

These reviews are old, like from 2012! Kajitsu is NOT in the East Village, but actually moved to Midtown East in 2013. Both the review and the picture are from the old location.

ChefCindi
ChefCindi

Blossom and Blossom Du Jour rock!

Chloé D
Chloé D

Jennifer's Way Bakery SHOULD be on this list!!! Her baked goods are amazing!! 

Canalp C
Canalp C

Signature vegan dishdish namely 'Red Sonja' is worth trying at Mundo at the Paper Factory Hotel.

www.mundo.nyc