Healthy food is the new bacon. Or something like that.
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a huge surge in the amount of restaurants and food businesses serving healthy, gluten-free, juiced things to the masses of people who will spend a lot of money to consume them.
We think it’s great. Restaurants like Dirt Candy, and by CHLOE, and the one I just made up called Food Peace Yoga Kitchen are all excellent places to eat something that will make you feel good.
In addition, there are plenty of other restaurants in town that aren’t necessarily health food-specific, but where you can meet up with friends, eat something relatively nutritious, and maybe even have a drink (god forbid).
Here are some of our favorite restaurants to eat reasonably and still enjoy it. First person to use the phrase “cheat day” gets flogged.
Our current favorite high-end vegan restaurant doesn’t give you any of the tempeh pretending to be steak or veggie burgers that you’ll find at so many meat-free restaurants around town. Instead, the core of what you’ll eat here is vegetables prepared in new and interesting ways. In some cases, that includes pastas and toasts, but overall you will eat pretty healthfully here no matter what.
Easily one of the best places on this list, not only because the food is excellent, but because it’s the kind of food you can eat three days a week. The veggie burgers are actually satisfying, the salads are good and simple, and the vegan ice cream tastes like ice cream, not coconut puke.
The biggest problem we have with Cafe Clover is that it make us want to get on the next flight to LAX and maybe not come back. It’s a slightly upscale, California-inspired restaurant that will please carnivores, vegans, and everyone in between. Not only does the menu have all the right buzzwords going for it (health-conscious, seasonal, locally-sourced), but it also has a ton of variety – so your friend can enjoy that cauliflower steak while you get down with a striploin.
El Rey is a California-style cafe (sensing a trend here) on the Lower East Side that serves excellent food at all times of day. The flavors are often Middle Eastern in nature, and we have yet to have a bad meal here. It’s also a nice place to hang when the weather is warm, thanks to some big windows that open to the street.
Semsom is a new fast-casual restaurant on Astor place, serving up excellent Middle Eastern bowls of rice, hummus, veggies, and your choice of meat or veggies for protein. Think of it as a Lebanese version of Chipotle, except that it’s clean and not full of angry people. Pro-tip: top your bowl with the cauliflower. It’s excellent.
Basically Indian Semsom. Ok, exactly Indian Semsom. Get a bowl, fill it with rice and protein, go on your merry way feeling glad about the decisions you make.
Is Dimes a health food restaurant? One could argue that it is, pointing at least to the presence of bowls, which is what healthy food comes in. The food here is very good, and it’s become so popular that they had to move from their original location into a much larger space across the street. The açaí bowl business is booming. Even though nobody can really pronounce that word.
Peacefood Cafe falls near the top of our list of vegan restaurants that don’t suck. You can go full-on vegan cheese and faux chicken here, but we suggest starting with the quinoa salad and some chickpea fries. They also have “nachos” here, so we’re going to go ahead and say those are healthy too.
If you had told me five years ago that one day we would have a real company, with real people working for it, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me that these people would semi-regularly eat vegan sushi for lunch, I would have punched you. But it’s happening. And it’s good. As a matter of fact, Beyond Sushi’s entirely-vegetable sushi creations are excellent, and you need to try them. If you don’t like it, you can send us a mean email.
Mulberry & Vine does the fast casual “market sides” thing better than almost anyone else right now. We’re fans of the charred avocado with pumpkin seed yogurt puree and the brussels sprouts with carrots, and the proteins are solid as well. Tribeca’s the only location right now, but a new outpost in Nomad is coming soon.
Dirt Candy is the one of the best vegetarian restaurants in this city. They have also recently moved into a new space, because the brussels sprout taco business (pictured) is booming. Thanks, Obama.
A Chelsea classic that always has clean, flavorful food on the menu. There’s also enough variety on the menu that one of you can get a plate of grains like the one you see above, while the other shovels Huevos Rancheros into his or her mouth.
We’ve felt conflicted about The Little Beet Table, but never due to the quality of the food. This place is cranking out excellent, fully composed plates of healthy(ish) food, along with a full bar and nice wine list.
Nourish Kitchen + Table is a Greenwich Village takeaway operation/small cafe serving exactly the kind of fresh, healthy-yet-tasty lunch food everyone wants to eat right now. Most of the menu options are some combination of vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free, and the fact that it’s the brainchild of a real nutritionist almost makes you feel less annoyed about spending $20 on your to-go lunch.
When we’re not eating vegan sushi for lunch, we’re usually eating Westville. There are always tons of healthy things on the menu, like market vegetables and filling salads. Order for delivery and you’ll be eating responsibly in less than 15 minutes. They move fast.
In addition to a bacon and cheese-packed sandwiches, Nolita’s perpetually packed Egg Shop also makes “cruisers,” which are basically brunch in a bowl. One of them is even called “The Spandex.”
One of our favorite coffee shops is also one of our favorite spots for a quick and healthy lunch. Little Collins has a nice roster of salads and sandwiches that rotate often. Unfortunately, we’re not the only ones that know this, so it gets very busy. Try and hit it during off hours, or plan to take your salad to go.