Best vegetarian and vegan food in New York

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

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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 restaurants, cafes and bakeries that specialize in meatless food. This list reflects the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in NYC, from Indian buffets to high-concept cooking. Did we miss your favorite vegetarian or vegan restaurant in New York? Join the conversation in the comments.

Pure Food and Wine

The dishes delivered to your table—whether out on the leafy patio or inside the chic red-walled dining room—are minor miracles, not only because they look as gorgeous as they taste, but because they come from a kitchen that has no stove. Everything at Pure is raw and vegan—from the Thai lettuce wraps to the lasagna, a rich stack of zucchini, pesto and creamy “cheese” made from cashews. Wines, most of them organic, are superb, as are the desserts— especially the confoundingly creamy tiramisu.

  1. 54 Irving, 10003
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Babycakes NYC

  • Price band: 1/4

Food allergies forced Erin McKenna to swear off sweets for years—until she figured out how to bake around the problem. She started creating her own wheat- and sugar-free treats at home and soon a bakeshop was born. BabyCakes serves cookies, muffins, scones and cupcakes that are free of gluten, egg, refined sugar and dairy products. Cold-pressed coconut oil stands in for vegetable oil; agave nectar replaces sugar; and instead of eggs, McKenna uses organic fruit purees. The shop also serves coffee, tea and—if your pet is similarly afflicted—organic, allergen-free dog biscuits.

  1. 248 Broome St, (between Ludlow and Orchard Sts)
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Peacefood Cafe

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

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.

  1. 460 Amsterdam Ave, (at 82nd St)
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Tiffin Wallah

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This bright, clean Curry Hill standout makes a great date place—especially if your date is vegetarian, Jewish (it’s kosher!) or homesick for India. Start with the samosa chaat ($4)—two flaky pockets stuffed with potato and peas, covered in a colorful tamarind, cilantro and yogurt sauce. Then sample one of three $14 thalis—multiple servings of rice, curries, chutneys and more served on a single tray. (The Gujarathi thali, with a spicy yet sweet kachori [bean fritters], boasts flavors you won’t find at the generic Indian restaurant on your block.) A fresh lunch buffet, offered from 11:30am to 3pm on weekdays, overflows with South Indian standards like a creamy saag paneer and Gobi masala (cauliflower and peas)—all you can eat for $6.95.

  1. 127 E 28th St, (at Lexington Ave)
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Kajitsu

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

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 jewellike course, the meal emerges as an artful meditation on simplicity and seasonality. A clear soup with white yam harbors grassy yomogi (Japanese mugwort) paste; a mochi orb, speckled with bits of crisp lotus root, contrasts nicely with a dab of preserved-plum sauce; and wedges of grilled fresh bamboo shoots leaning against their own husks are mildly sweet. Though nothing we ate shouted for attention, all the subtleties added up to a memorable, if not exactly sacred, meal.

  1. 414 E 9th St, (between First Ave and Ave A)
Book online

Blossom Vegan Restaurant

  • Price band: 2/4

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.

  1. 187 Ninth Ave, (between 21st and 22nd Sts)
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Caravan of Dreams

  • Price band: 2/4

Vegetarians, vegans and raw-foodists unite! This longtime East Village hangout offers both regular traditional meat-free dishes and “live foods” made from uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Naturally, there are loads of salads and some macrobiotically balanced rice-and-seaweed combos.

  1. 405 E 6th St, (between First Ave and Ave A), 10009
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Foodswings

  • Price band: 1/4

Owner Freedom Porio-Tripodi is a fabulously named, life-loving vegan who just happens to crave every American’s birthright: greasy diner food. Instead of marinated tofu and bean sprouts, the menu lists animal-free, road-trip–worthy pleasures like faux fish sticks, soy-cheese nachos and a tempeh Reubenesque sandwich. Billyburg burnouts can stop in from 11pm to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays for the Midnight Munchie menu.

  1. 295 Grand St, (between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts), 11211-44
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Dirt Candy

  • Price band: 2/4

This shiny, futuristic eatery more closely resembles a Dashing Diva nail salon than a restaurant. Chef-owner Amanda Cohen (Pure Food & Wine) has created an unlikely space to execute her even less-likely ambition—to make people crave vegetables. She mostly succeeds: Elaborate dishes include a spicy asparagus paella served with a crisped-rice cake on top, and a pungent portobello mousse accompanied by shiitake mushrooms and fennel-peach compote.

  1. 430 E 9th St, (between First Ave and Ave A)
Book online

Teany

  • Price band: 1/4

Mod-cool decor, vegetarian savories, vegan sweets (try the faux cheesecake), 90 kinds of tea, plus beer, wine and champagne cocktails…and owner Moby mixes the soundtrack himself. No worries: The only rock-star affectation in this glass-and-chrome teahouse is a $70 bottle of Veuve.

  1. 90 Rivington St, (between Ludlow and Orchard Sts), 10002
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