NYCGuide

Where To Have An Excellent Vegetarian Meal In NYC

Where to eat when you want more vegetarian options than “seasonal market sides.”
Where To Have An Excellent Vegetarian Meal In NYC image

photo credit: Noah Devereaux

Maybe you’re dating someone who prefers not to eat animals, and it’s their birthday or your three-week anniversary. Maybe you yourself are a vegan, or vegetarian-inclined human who also enjoys tweezer food. Maybe you just want to eat the city’s best vegan sushi, veggie burger, or meatless soul food. Whatever you or your favorite plant people need, you’ll find it on this list. Some of these spots are fully vegetarian or vegan, and some have meat on the menu. But all of them have enough options to satisfy anyone looking for a place with big "rabbit food" energy.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Kate Previte

Vegan

Chelsea

$$$$Perfect For:VegansVegetarians

This vegan Mediterranean restaurant in Chelsea is unabashedly glamorous, and a handy birthday restaurant option. The menu consists primarily of fake animal products, with everything from huge “lamb” and “chicken” skewers to black seaweed caviar making an appearance. Everything is also kosher, including the wine. The space is just as over-the-top as the food. Beyond the heavy wood doors is an uber-fancy, banquet-hall style dining room that borrows from the ‘80s Art Deco revival with white marble walls, green suede, and a blinding amount of crystal.


photo credit: Beyond Sushi

From the people behind Anixi, Beyond Sushi is a vegetarian sushi place, and it’s better than you’d expect. Any one of their two locations in Midtown, and one on the UES, has the potential to be your new go-to lunch spot. Their entire vegan menu is worth trying, with inventive rolls made with ingredients like black rice, mango, and hickory-smoked jackfruit, as well as small plates of dumplings, and rice paper rolls. Their casual sit-down restaurants conveniently transform from ideal solo lunch deal spots to weeknight date destinations with some cocktails in the mix.


Loring Place is what you’d get if a Chili’s or TGIF grew up, decided to move to the West Village and eat more vegetables. The menu has things like pizza with squash blossoms, crudo, and pasta with mozzarella and lemon. This place is a little more upscale, although it isn’t fancy in a sports coat-and-tie kind of way, and it’s good for a night out with some friends, family, or friends of the family.


Vatan is essentially an all-you-can-eat buffet where you never have to stand up to get seconds, thirds, or fourths of mini samosas and chana masala. At this completely vegetarian Gujarati-style spot in Kips Bay, you’ll pay roughly $45 for three courses, and you can ask for as many helpings as you want. Each course comes on a thali with about 12 different dishes: our favorites are the ragda patis, the bhaji with spinach and corn, and the sweet gulab jamun. Even without the prix fixe situation, eating here feels special—your table will have a thatched roof over it, and you’ll sit next to a wishing well and a massive tree.


photo credit: David A. Lee

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Good date night spots shouldn’t just be cute. You’re there to make great memories, while also eating excellent food. Ras Plant Based, a vegan Ethiopian place in Crown Heights, comes through on both fronts. This dimly lit hideaway full of colorful murals makes a plant-based meal feel like a multisensory art exhibit. Every dish is thoughtfully plated, you can eat with your hands, and you can hear other diners having a great time right along with you.


There are a lot of great veggie burgers in NYC, but Superiority Burger’s is the only one we’ve seen with actual groupies. The beloved East Village diner describes their food as “vegetarian” and “accidentally vegan,” which just means you’ll see some cheese and labneh on the menu, and the gelato isn’t dairy-free—but vegans have plenty of options too. If you’re good with dairy, our favorite sandwich is the focaccia stuffed with braised collard greens and cheese. This place is always a scene, plastered with homages to the neighborhood, and filled with every East Village type you’ll ever encounter. Don’t skip dessert.


If you want to eat things like mushroom toast or tofu prepared Peking-duck style while lounging on a velvet banquette, come to Ladybird. This entirely plant-based spot in the East Village serves the best vegan mac and cheese we’ve had, and if you can stop eating the coconutty crème brûlée once you’ve started, we’d call it a genuine accomplishment. Whether you’re a vegan or not, Ladybird is the perfect place to bring someone on a third date when you’re both ready to consume things other than alcohol in each other’s presence.


At Hangawi, you’ll take your shoes off at the door, then sit on a floor pillow next to your table. That’s only one way in which this  Koreatown restaurant feels homey and unique. The extensive menu is entirely vegetarian, with dumplings, kimbap, rice cakes, and a bunch of other things like bibimbap and a spicy tofu hot pot. There's a prix fixe option for $89, but we recommend going the à la carte route so you can customize your meal. Bring a few in-laws for a nice meal, or stop by for a quiet date night. Socks aren't required, but they're highly recommended.


photo credit: Ro's Diner

$$$$Perfect For:Vegans
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Diners tend to have a good handful of vegetarian options—if you really like eggs. If you’ve got a big group of vegetarians and vegans looking for food after 10pm, Ro’s in Williamsburg is there for you. It’s essentially a plant-based Denny’s, with a reliable selection of comfort food like pancakes, "sausage" gravy, and cheesesteaks that are made with thick slices of seitan. Ro’s is the resurrection of Champ’s (another vegan diner), and not much has changed. The sticky tiled floors, sparkly booths, and mirrored fun-house walls make this a comforting homebase to run into the same strangers you had too many drinks with the night before.


Nothing says “fancy” like a visit to a Jean-Georges restaurant, and we actually think abcV in Flatiron is one of his best. The plant-based menu has some real hits, like crisp, fragrant dosas served with a trio of inventive chutneys, and a whole roasted cauliflower that has a cult-following for a reason. We’re also big fans of the desserts here. The sorbets are some of the best in the city. There’s a second location in the Tin Building as well.


This LES spot is known for their playful seasonal dishes made entirely out of plants. Here, you’ll settle in for a $105, five-course tasting menu that involves things like brussels sprout ice cream and carrot sliders. The room is decidedly upscale, so this is a great spot for date nights, birthdays, or just generally feeling like you’re having a night on the town while you eat an extravagant salad.


Cadence is a vegan restaurant in the East Village that specializes in Southern soul food. It’s from the team behind a bunch of other upscale vegan spots like Ladybird, Avant Garden, and Proletariat, and it’s the only place in the city where you’ll find dishes like purple yams with blackberry coulis and toasted marshmallow, collard greens stuffed with rice, and Southern fried lasagna with pine nut ricotta. If you’re planning a special occasion date night or a birthday dinner with close friends who don’t eat meat, give this spot a try.


Modern Love’s name might make you think it’s the kind of place where servers say namaste as they bring you grain bowls. That is not the case. It’s a modern space in Williamsburg with high ceilings and industrial chandeliers, and the menu is made up of vegan takes on classic comfort foods from around the world. They serve BBQ cauliflower wings and mac and cheese, but also stuff like arancini, fish and chips, and our favorite dish, the Caribbean jerk tofu.


Rather than serve vegetables that taste like meat, Avant Garden serves vegetables that taste like vegetables. They also serve bread and pasta. Chewy, crusty bread topped with tomato jam and pickled peaches? Turns out that’s totally vegan. We’ve never eaten anything exactly like it in a restaurant, meat-serving or not. And that’s the case with the dishes throughout the menu at this East Village restaurant: They’re legitimately original. They’re also legitimately tasty. If you want to dive deeper into fungi specifically, check out &Beer by the same group, a few blocks away.


If you’re looking for vegan Sichuan food, head to either one of Spicy Moon’s two locations immediately. Both the East and West Village restaurants have a full menu of dishes that suit a plant-based diet, like spicy wontons with mushrooms, fluffy eggplant buns, and super crispy Sichuan pepper brussels sprouts that we order every time. During the day, you’ll see a mix of NYU students and families, but both locations transition nicely to pregame destinations in the evenings. The West Village location has a bigger bar and a mini-lounge, but we prefer the red, darkroom lighting at the East Village location, which makes feasting on dan dan noodles and dry pot with tofu feel like an intimate dinner party.

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