Great vegetarian food isn’t hard to come by in New York—just look at the city’s best vegan and vegetarian restaurants for proof. And it’s more than just veggie burgers, although NYC has plenty of those too—we’re talking about falafel joints and tapas bars and some of the city’s best Indian restaurants. High-concept cooking to comfort foods, there are the best meat-free restaurants in NYC.
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Best vegan and vegetarian restaurants
Because veganism is almost always an ethical or moral choice, its fare is often amply spiced with condescension in that way gymgoers pepper chats with talk of “discipline.” Vegans are mindful about what they put in their bodies—aren’t you? How refreshing, then, that Ladybird serves what can only be called vegan drunk food: late-night breaded mac-and-cheese balls meant to be hand-dipped in excellent buffalo sauce or nondairy ranch dressing. Everyone deserves to embrace their sloppy, slurred side. Beyond late-night, the avocado plate—a textural and flavorful winner with seaweed, black garlic ponzu and fried avocado croquettes atop fanned raw avocado—is due beatification as the patron saint of conversion to veganism. Beware the heat from the spiced broccoli in the artichoke-chardonnay fondue platter!
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.
Though the ABC brand has always been taken with hyperfresh produce—no doubt buoyed by the complex’s proximity to the Union Square Greenmarket—ABCV is Vongerichten’s first meat-free spot, and his first ABC project without Dan Kluger in the kitchen. (Kluger left the group in 2014 to open Loring Place.) Instead, chef de cuisine Neal Harden (formerly of the prominent raw-food restaurant Pure Food and Wine) oversees the burners and challenges vegetarian eating’s bland, Bikram-yogi connotations with bold flavors and global zest. Beluga lentils thrum with black vinegar ($13), carpaccio-thin slices of
This upscale vegetarian spot is ideal for anyone who loves food or animals. The intimate, bi-level townhouse possesses an ambience that gourmet-minded vegetarians crave but rarely encounter. Best is the food itself—fresh, creative and considerate (a separate gluten-free menu keeps celiacs sated). Delectable dishes include the seitan piccata, crisp medallions in a light bath of lemon butter and capers, and the saffron-flavored paella, studded with seitan sausage and seasonal veggies. Service is knowledgeable and attentive, and the desserts—one layers chocolate and peanut butter mousse inside a dark chocolate shell—impossibly rich.
Venue says: “We've extended happy hour to weekends! Weekends 5PM-10PM, and weekdays 4PM-8PM! 2 for 1 all wine, beer, and cocktails.”
At first glance, you assume this cute little Brooklyn spot is just a café and bakery. After further inspection, you’ll discover that Little Choc Apothecary is a full fledged restaurant with an even cuter dining area upstairs. Situated on a pleasant South Williamsburg block, Little Choc Apothecary is one of the reasons why crowds flock to this neighborhood. Boasting a complete vegan menu, Little Choc Apothecary is something you don’t want to miss. Before ordering anything, make sure to request a bottle of The Wine Love, Gonzalo Gran Tempranillo ($39). This delicious red wine is made with red and dark berries and faint lavender. This tinto compliments any type of meal and sets the mood against Little Choc Apothecary’s lighting which may or may not cause dream-like hallucinations. Dive head first to the savory crepes which is the real reason why you’re there. If the word vegan normally scares you, try the Jacked Up ($14). Made with smoky pulled jackfruit, caramelized onion, roasted red pepper, kale and homemade BBQ sauce. This crepe will hide any hints of greenery and masquerade as a familiar meaty substitute. If the word meat causes an eye roll, try the Garden of Eatin ($12). Garnished with apple, avocado, fresh kale, mint-basil, pesto and lemon juice, the Garden of Eatin is as vegan as you can get. Resonating with mint, this crepe is light eat compared to its faux meaty cousin. Let’s get to the apothecary part of Little Choc. Little Choc Apothecary is notorious for their tea
An expansion of the fast-casual, health-minded midtown eatery, this offshoot has blossomed into a completely gluten-free menu at this full-service follow-up, offering mains like cavatelli with butternut squash and kale, and desserts including pot-roasted apples with vanilla-walnut haroseth.
Not strictly vegetarian or vegan, and definitely not raw, Souen offers natural, organic foods with no dairy, wheat, sugar, chemicals, preservatives or meat in a clean, bright and peaceful setting. The Asian-influenced menu is extensive: teriyaki or ginger-steamed fish, broccoli tofu and stir-fried soba noodles with vegetables. But don’t be distracted from the chalkboard specials, which reveal the freshest fish choices and other interesting twists on the basics.
In a white-tiled slip of an East Village eatery, former James Beard Award-winning Del Posto pastry great and erstwhile punk-rock drummer Brooks Headley gives his uberpopular veggie burger pop-up the brick-and-mortar treatment, offering the namesake patty, tofu-cabbage wraps, vegetarian sloppy joes and vanilla-labna gelato.
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.
See the best vegetarian restaurants in America
Spoon Table & Bar
Forks jab and knives stab; spoons are the gentlest of utensils, so Spoon Table and Bar is aptly named. A cozy little nook nuzzled onto a desolate block abutting K-Town, Spoon is a surprisingly delightful New American eatery, featuring unfussy, seasonal comfort food. The host’s greeting could use a little work, but the otherwise cheery, brightly smiling staff makes up for any irritation immediately. The room is spare but lively, a convivial energy warming the elemental decor. Concrete floors and raw timber columns complement blonde wood table tops and white-washed walls, all illuminated by some of the most flattering lighting possible from woven cylindrical fixtures. The effect is like looking through a real-life blur filter, creating flawless complexions with zero unsightly shadows. The ambiance combined with the restaurant's modest prices, danceable retro soundtrack and plates conducive to sharing makes it a great date spot. Start off with a little pickle plate full of sprightly preserved vegetables to get your appetite up and running ($10), or picnicky snack of creamy deviled eggs spiked with bacon and chives ($8). Salads are categorized as entrees for a reason: they’d be difficult to polish off on your own as a starter, so either order them to split or add a grilled protein to make them a main. Heartier options include rustic skillets like four-cheese mac, meatballs with garlic bread and a homey pot pie (each $15). The mains are slightly elevated in culinary finesse, cos
Venue says: “Comfort food. Warming adult bevvies. Caffeine by Stumptown. Book your next private party here or expert off-premise catering. B/L/D/Brunch!”