We've lost a few beloved vegetarian joints in the past year, including Foodswings and 'sNice, RIP. But luckily there are still quite a few mouthwatering dining options for the city's non-meat-eating set, so there's no need to start foraging for wild fungi in Central Park. Yet. Here are our favorite vegetarian restaurants in the city—check out last year's list for more options, and leave your suggestions/complaints about the consistency of seitan in the comments.
PEACEFOOD CAFE: This Upper West Side eatery might sound like a Ben & Jerry's flavor, but you won't find any dairy-sourced ice cream here. Peacefood is all vegan all the time, serving up meatless dishes chock full of tofu, tempeh and fresh greens. Even if you're a diehard steak fan, though, there's plenty of affordable fruitarian fare to like here. The roasted Japanese pumpkin sandwiches ($9.75) are served on spelt bread and come stuffed with pumpkin pulp, cashew cheese, walnuts and onions; the Shangai-style dumplings ($8.50) are packed with chives, mushrooms, marinated tofu and vegetarian protein, and the chickpea fries ($8.50) are thick mashed legume slices fired up with piquant Indian spice—there are also vegan cheeseburgers on tap at Peacefood's downtown spot.
Don't skip out on dessert here, since the raw key lime pie ($7.50) will blow your mind, almond brazil nut crust and all. Assuming limes still exist, of course.
Peacefood is located at 460 Amsterdam Ave between 82nd and 83rd Streets on the Upper West Side (212-362-2266, peacefoodcafe.com). There's also a downtown location at 41 East 11th Street in Greenwich Village (212-979-2288).
PURE FOOD AND WINE: Raw food might not seem like high-end fare, but the innovative dishes at Pure Food and Wine outdo some of the city's tastiest cooked plates. The Zucchini and Heirloom Tomato Lasagna ($24), made with sun-dried tomato marinara and macadamia pumpkin seed ricotta, is so delicate and flavorful it's hard to tell the dish is made without pasta. The Hen of the Woods Tacos al Pastor ($22) come stocked with smoked guacamole, hearts of palm, fresh corn, guajillo crema fresca and pickled onions, and there's a stellar cornbread Pudding appetizer ($15) served with kale, pickled shishito peppers and pumpkin seed crisp.
Pure Food and Wine is expensive and portions are not massive (though the raw meals are surprisingly filling), so save it for a special occasion, and spring for the five-course tasting menu ($69 per person) if you're looking the full foodie experience.
Pure Food and Wine is located at 54 Irving Place between 17th and 18th Street in Gramercy (212-477-1010, purefoodandwine.com).
(Courtesy Dirt Candy)
DIRT CANDY: You've got to be on point to score a reservation, but this vegetable-centric spot's innovative dishes are so fantastic it's worth the effort. Chef Amanda Cohen centers her menu around specific ground-sourced foods, jazzing up things like basic beets and cauliflower and turning them into works of culinary art.
The menu changes from time to time, but if you can, try the smoked broccoli dogs ($21), served with broccoli kraut and a salt & vinegar broccoli rabe; or opt for the ever-popular stone-ground corn grits ($19), made with corn cream, pickled shiitake mushrooms, huitlacoche and a tempura poached egg. And don't let all the vegetables turn you off of dessert, because the rosemary eggplant tiramisu ($12), made with grilled eggplant, rosemary cotton, candy and mascarpone, is a goddamn thing of beauty. Note that they're in the process of moving to a bigger space on the Lower East Side, so keep your eyes peeled for that soon.
Dirt Candy is located at 430 East 9th Street between First Ave and Ave A in the East Village (212-228-7732, dirtcandynyc.com).
KAJITSU: Not only is Kajitsu meatless, it's Michelin-starred, so tell your scoffing carnivore friends to stuff it. The vegetarian Japanese dishes here are carefully crafted examples of Buddhist "Shojin Ryori" cuisine, and the seasonal vegetables, noodles and grains are always fresh and flavorsome. The menu here changes monthly, but there are still some things to look out for, like the assorted tempura vegetables, spicy miso ramen and the bamboo shoot rice pot. A tasting menu here runs $95, with the option of an additional $59 sake pairing; you can also opt for the less extravagant $55 menu, with a $45 sake pairing.
Kajitsu is located at 125 East 39th Street between Park and Lexington Aves in Midtown East, (212-228-4873, kajitsunyc.com).
GOBO: Gobo advertises its menu as a "food for the five senses," and in a sense, it is. Dishes here are tasty, colorful and beautifully arranged, and you can feed both restaurants' meatless Asian-fusion-meets-New-American cuisine to your fiercest carnivore friends. Highlights include the butternut squash risotto with toasted almonds ($18), the organic king oyster mushrooms served in a basil black bean sauce ($19) and the (non-vegan) mini veggie burger sliders ($12), which pair perfectly with Gobo's plump, crispy yam fries ($6). The UES location offers brunch from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays, assuming brunch doesn't make you seethe with line-related rage.
Gobo has two locations in Manhattan: 401 6th Ave between 8th Street and Greenwich Ave in Greenwich Village (212-255-3242, goborestaurant.com); and 1426 3rd Ave between 80th and 81st Streets on the Upper East Side (212-288-5099, goborestaurant.com).
CHAMPS DINER: This Williamsburg spot's got another solid veggie/vegan brunch deal, serving cruelty-free Benedicts, pancakes and otherworldly baked goods. Here, though, breakfast is available all day, so you aren't trapped on some sort of infernal wait list during peak weekend brunch hours. The aforementioned red velvet pancakes are a highlight here, a heaping $5-$8 helping of eggless, pillowy, sugar-powdered goodness, paired with a dollop of dairy-free whipped cream.
The all vegan slam ($12) comes with tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, "soysage," and garlic rosemary potatoes, while the breakfast burrito ($12) is a whole wheat tortilla-wrapped smorgasbord of fake chorizo sausage, tofu scramble, mixed bells, garlic rosemary potatoes, "cheese" and chipotle sauce. If, inexplicably, breakfast food is not your thing, they've also got sandwiches, salads and baked goods galore. Do not wear tight pants to Champs.
Champs is located at 176 Ainslie Street between Lorimer Street and Manhattan Ave in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-2743, champsdiner.com).
ANGELICA KITCHEN: "Organic plant-based cuisine" might sound a little too crunchy-granola for some tastes, but this East Village vegetarian standby knows what it's doing when it comes to jazzing up green stuff. The Dragon Bowl ($14), a massive serving of rice, beans, tofu, sea vegetables & steamed vegetables, is always a favorite, and you can pair it with bread and soup for $19, or pair down to a still-filing Wee Bowl for $10-$15, depending on the options. There are plenty of sandwiches and salads here—my go-to is the tempeh reuben ($10.75) on mixed grain—and the entrees are packed with hearty good stuff like tofu, seitan and fresh vegetables. Do note that the once-BYOB Angelica Kitchen is cash only, and that since they've added wine and beer to the menu, bringing your own booze warrants a $15 corkage fee.
Angelica Kitchen is located at 300 East 12th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues in the East Village (212) 228-2909, angelicakitchen.com).
VATAN: This lovely Midtown spot serves up vegetarian Gujrati cuisine with flair, plus the whole shebang is all-you-can-eat for $30. Load up on chole (chickpeas cooked in tamarind and gama marsala), bhaji (sautéed spinach and corn), ful-cobi (cauliflower and green peas) and all the samosas your insides can handle. Do not skimp on the puffed puri bread, and save room for homemade mango ice cream and chai. One of your intestines will likely explode. Consider it a noble death.
Vatan is located at 409 3rd Ave between 28th and 29th Street in Midtown East (212) 689-5666, vatanny.com).
BLOSSOM: Blossom's a big name for local herbivores, with three restaurants serving up veggie-friendly meals around town. The Chelsea location's a little more upscale, with intimate seating and speciality dishes like Moroccan tangine ($20) served with chickpeas, eggplant, zucchini, pan-seared tofu stripd and spiced quinoa, and a particularly tasty port-wine seitan ($23).
The UWS cafe is more casual, with low-key fare (sandwiches and seitan skewers galore), while the Carmine location boasts big plates meant for sharing—small plates, sliders, pastas and seitan cutlets. Meals at the Blossom offshoots are hearty, and you can trick a meat-lover into eating at these restaurants without incurring any iron-induced wrath.
Blossom has three locations in Manhattan: Blossom at 187 9th Ave between 21st and 22nd Streets in Chelsea (212-627-1144, blossomnyc.com); Blossom on Carmine at 41 Carmine Street between Bedford and Bleecker Streets in the West Village (646-438-9939, http://blossomnyc.com); and Cafe Blossom at 466 Columbus Ave between 82nd and 83rd Streets on the Upper West Side (212-875-2600, blossomnyc.com).
ROCKIN' RAW: Another raw food spot, Rockin' Raw concocts creative meals without the use of an oven, fryer or searing hot blowtorch. Dishes here are a little more wallet-friendly than the ones over at Pure Food & Wine, but you're not exactly purchasing a bag of baby carrots either. The $9 nachos are a favorite, and they come heaped with uncooked goodies like seed meat, sour cream, nacho cheese and guacamole. The "fried" veggie balls ($9) come lightly breaded and doused in fresh marinara sauce, and main entrees like the "cheezy" burrito ($13) and live Peruvian pastas ($13-$14) are well worth a try, too. Save room for dessert—few foods will bowl you over like Peruvian coffee mousse pie ($10).
Rockin' Raw is located at 171 Sullivan Street between Houston and Bleecker Streets in Greenwich Village (212-477-3777, rockinraw.com).
FRANCHIA: Franchia is for fans of Korean cuisine, offering affordable veggie dishes in its peaceful Murray Hill space. You can get everything from potstickers to tofu steaks to cruelty-free bibimbap. The dumplings are always a solid go-to, and you can opt for the all-encompassing $13 assorted dumplings dish or stick with kale, kimchi or mixed vegetable ones instead. Noodle dishes are a favorite here, with pho, faux-laksa noodles and spicy tom yum noodles on tap ($13-$16).
And the aforementioned bibimbap—a Korean specialty comprised of five colored foods sitting atop a stone bowl of steaming rice—is always a good get, complete with vegetarian "duck," "shrimp," crispy eggplant and seitan. It's also noteworthy that Franchia is the sister restaurant of fellow veggie eatery Hangawi, which earned accolades from us last year.
Franchia is located at 12 Park Ave between 34th and 35th Streets in Murray Hill (212- 213-1001, franchia.com).
NEW BODAI VEGETARIAN: All that shrimp and mysterious meat in dim sum dumplings might make the meal off-limits to most vegetarians. But this Flushing spot appeals to herbivores and flesh-eaters alike, with dumplings, soups, fried rice, buns, rice balls, rice noodles, wontons and faux-chicken dishes a-plenty. The roast "pork" bun ($4) is a favorite, as is the fried turnip cake ($4) and any of the noodle dishes; as a bonus, New Bodai eschews MSG, so you won't leave feeling like you've consumed a bucket of salt.
New Bodai is located at 59-08 Main Street in Flushing, Queens (718) 939-1188, newbodaivegetarian.com).