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 vegetarian restaurants restaurants in NYC, from Indian food buffets to high-concept cooking. Did we miss your favorite?
If there’s anyone you would want guiding you through the cumbersome world of vegetarian eating, funked with alfalfa sprouts, patchouli and meat shame, it’s plant-focused pioneer Amanda Cohen. Deferential but never soap-box didactic, clever but not overly precious, Cohen pulled herbivorious cooking out of the niche market with the original Dirt Candy, one of the most prominent champions of the genre, well before vegetable-forward was the gastro buzzword on every menu.
Vegetarians, vegans and raw-foodists, unite! This longtime East Village hangout offers both regular meat-free dishes and “live foods” made from uncooked fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Naturally, there are loads of salads and some macrobiotically balanced quinoa-and-seaweed combos.
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. As you step through the sliding paned-glass doorway, the sparse, hushed interior—earthy beige walls, a stone floor and weighty dining tables each made from a unique wood—suggests a reverence for nature that is also expressed in the food.
One can’t overstate the excitement a vegetarian feels when a new meat-free option opens in this foie gras–loving city—especially when it turns out to be as good as Peacefood Cafe. Just a couple of months ago, the affable Eric Yu opened this vegan gem, with soothing sage-colored walls, soft amber lighting and a buzzing, cheerily staffed counter at which to order. It’s a welcome addition to the only slightly veggie-compliant Upper West Side, offering a small but diverse selection of wholesome caf dishes, from soups and salads to sandwiches and pastries—and none contain a single animal product.
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