I don’t care if you’re a self-proclaimed “carnivore” — everyone likes some kind of vegetable prepared in some way, somewhere. If you think you don’t, it means you haven’t been trying the right places.
Vegetarian restaurants are for everyone, not just vegetarians, because the good ones have good food — plain and simple.
The vegetarian restaurants NYC provides are glorious and abundant (and the vegan restaurants NYC boasts aren’t sparse, either). You don’t have to be a farmer in Ohio to get the best veggies in America. Just saunter over to a plant-loving restaurant, and you’ve got yourself something to feel pretty damn good about.
Korean vegetarian at its finest. Upscale Hangawi offers an entirely vegetarian menu in a tranquil zen paradise. Try the spicy kimchi mushroom pancakes ($13) and sesame leaf tofu patties ($12). Gluten-free, too? Don’t fret. Hangawi has a gluten-less menu as well, and you have to try the GF organic kale dumplings ($14). Wowzers.
You’ll need to check your shoes at the door, so make sure you’re wearing your favorite socks.
12 East 32nd St, hangawirestaurant.com
Pronounced tah-eem, Taïm in Hebrew means tasty & delicious. Accurate. Their falafel is gluten-free and “always fried to order,” and their menu is “strictly vegetarian” with many noted vegan items. It’s a cute little falafel bar that’ll provide you with plenty of options to fill you up. The best option, though? The sandwich with hummus, Israeli salad, pickled cabbage, tahini sauce, and the flavor of your choice: traditional, Tunisian spices, or roasted red peppers ($6.75). If you have a hankering for veggies, order the carrot or beet salads ($6).
222 Waverly Place / 45 Spring St, taimfalafel.com
One of New York City’s oldest vegetarian establishments, Angelica Kitchen has been “serving fresh, delicious food in an atmosphere where sustainable agriculture and responsible business practices are the main ingredients” since 1976. For simple, local food that feels good, mingle with the yuppies and the health-nuts at this tofu-slinging hot spot. Order the insanely popular Dragon Bowl, which comes with rice, beans, tofu, veggies, and a choice of dressing ($16), but make sure to BYOB (just don’t bring this one).
300 East 12th St, angelicakitchen.com
With menu items like “baked tempeh with pumpkin-seed–guajillo sauce,” Candle Café may seem a bit off-putting to non-vegetarians, and the prices may make some wary (upwards of $20 for most dishes), but it sure serves up a delicious vegetarian feast. The environment is sometimes cramped, but thankfully unpretentious. The plant-based cuisine also features vegan and gluten-free options at both locations. Try the grilled chimichurri skewers ($12), ceviche with plantain chips ($13), or go for weekend brunch — if you’re willing to wait.
1307 3rd Ave / 2427 Broadway, candlecafe.com
Vegetables! Vegetables! Vegetables! This is the restaurant to transform your idea of what one can do with these awesome plants. Chef Amanda Cohen’s decadent menu focuses on a specific vegetable per entree, ranging from “cauliflower and curry with green pea saag, papaya chutney, and pappadam” ($18) to “kale matzoh ball soup with poached egg and okra” ($13). The greenery mural by graffiti artist Noah McDonough adds a nice urban touch.
Make your reservation in advance because other people seem to really like this restaurant, too, for some reason…
86 Allen St, dirtcandynyc.com
Peacefood Cafe is one of the best vegan restaurants NYC has to offer. This oasis caters to eat-ins or take-outs, and its funky interior creates a laid-back atmosphere to enjoy a coffee, smoothie, baked good, or delicious meal. Choose two vegetables and a soup ($12), or the most mouth-watering smoothie in the world, the Bombay Delight — coconut, banana, date, cardamom, and nut-milk ($7-8). There are always delectable treats, including gluten-free yummies, to pair with your nut-milk cappuccino.
460 Amsterdam Ave / 41 East 11th St, peacefoodcafe.com
While not strictly vegetarian, Souen offers fantastic options for non-meat-eaters and pescatarians. An “Organic Macrobiotic Restaurant since 1971,” the Asian-inspired restaurant’s three locations will all leave you insanely full, without feeling like you ate a horse. (Or tofu molded into a horse.) Definitely get the Macro Plate (I’m serious, don’t think twice about it); for $9.25 you get steamed greens, vegetables, brown rice, beans and hijiki seaweed with a choice of dressing (choose the tahini dill). Or make your own sushi by picking four ingredients and they’ll roll it up into 8 giant pieces ($14). If choosing between locations, pick the SOHO one — it’s got way more windows and light.
210 Sixth Ave / 28 East 13th Street / 326 East 6th Street, souen.net
So, non-vegetarians. Do you believe me yet? These restaurants are to-die-for, and most of them won’t break the bank, either.
Eating is believing, my friends.
What are the best vegetarian restaurants NYC has to offer? Tell us below in the comments!
Laura is an actor/writer/teacher/hiker/camper who grew up in colorful Colorado drinking chai and yodeling from mountaintops. She traded in the Rocky Mountains for the skyscrapers of NYC, where she now lives with her four-legged mutt. She holds a master’s in Acting from the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University.