Plant-based, meatless, vegan, and vegetarian restaurants are having a moment right now, especially in NYC. Seriously, The Big Apple is home to a slew of meatless burger joints more than one vegan pizza place (don’t knock it ’til you try it).
On this list, you’ll find 100% pure vegan and vegetarian restaurants, so you’ll never have to ask “was this cooked in butter?”, or “does the sauce have a cream base?”. But, there are also a few veg-friendly spots that we felt were just too good to leave out (but don’t worry — they have plenty of dairy-free options). So gather your vegan and vegetarian foodies and get ready for some amazing, earthy cuisine.
This West Village (and SoHo) eatery might be the only place that refers to themselves as a vegetable slaughterhouse — and that’s pretty cool. Whether it’s vegan spaghetti and meatballs that are seriously fresh or The Mediterranean bowl, you’re in for a real treat. And all the salads, main courses, bar plates, and starters are always seasonal and totally ’grammable. Oh, and there’s brunch. Did we mention the healthy brunch? Brooklynites, there’s a Williamsburg location now open, too.
Sick of tofu pretending to be chicken and a menu flaunting vegan options like “meatless chik’n”, “meatless steak”, or “meatless turkey”? Yeah, Avant Garden in the East Village and Williamsburg is with you. While it’s wonderful to hear that a diner can hardly tell the difference between a piece of seitan and a piece of chicken, this vegan hot spot just wants a world where vegetables get to be vegetables. Expect big-time flavor with a menu divided into toasts—like one with olive jam, pistachios, and pickled pear—cold dishes like Kale Panzanella, and hot dishes like carrots roasted with farro, ramp chimichurri, cucumber tzatziki, and pita chips.
City vegans panicked when the popular Upper West Side staple Cafe Blossom closed shop back in 2014, but the company opened a more upscale version a few months later just a few blocks away. This joint is classier than a vegan cocktail… though, they have that, too. That’s right, meatless mongers — this spot has a liquor license, a nice wine and cocktail menu, and an actual bar scene. Hit up Blossom for some tempeh and a martini after work. Just make sure you save room for their sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan orange crème brûlée.
With meals reminiscent of heartier, meatier Italian staples, this Upper East Side vegetarian haunt is the perfect place to bring your veggie-skeptic and veggie-loving friends. Known for their fine dining atmosphere and healthy-leaning cocktail menu, Candle 79’s meals are nothing short of filling. This place will satisfy your pasta cravings with dishes like Spaghetti and Wheatballs and Live Heirloom Tomato-Zucchini Lasagna. A luxurious departure from Seamless, their high-quality dishes are totally worth the premium price.
Lower East Side residents know just how hard it is to get a reservation at veggie-famous chef Amanda Cohen’s rockstar vegan restaurant. But with dishes like Brussels Sprout Tacos, Popcorn Beets, and Pumpkin Pad Thai, the wait is worth it. Plus, they’ve got a cute bar where you can forget your troubles while you wait to be seated. Fitt Tip: vegans beware, there are lots of cheesy items on the menu, so just let your waiter know that you’re avoiding it when you sit down.
New Yorkers are picky about their pizza, which is why it was ballsy for chef Matthew Kenney to open up shop in the East Village. But this plant-based, wood-fired, all-vegan pizzeria is nothing short of magical; Kenney truly transformed the world’s favorite food. With ingredients like farro-fennel sausage, cashew mozzarella, shiitake bacon, and herbed macadamia ricotta, your mouth will be watering just looking at the menu. Can’t make it to dinner, no worries — hit up their weekend brunch for the vegan cheese platter of your dreams.
This vegan hot spot is all about sharing meat-free comfort food — fast. Since its inception in 2015, it has absolutely taken off, now with six eateries around NYC (and two Sweets shops). With a cheery communal vibe, complete with lots of plants, a big workers table, and even a swing (in some), this eatery is as welcoming as it is casual. With menu options like juicy Guac Burgers, mac ‘n cheese made with sweet potato “cheese” and shiitake “bacon”, and Kale-Matcha Mojitos, it’s a go-to for everything from post-sweat girl gang hangs and NYU student lunches.
Grab your chopsticks, vegans. It’s now possible to eat sushi without any animal products. The fact that this fish-less sushi bar has six locations sprinkled throughout Manhattan is proof that salmon-less doesn’t mean simple and bass-less doesn’t mean boring. Beyond Sushi’s colorful rolls come wrapped in healthier rice (black or six-grain) and packed with creative, delicious ingredients like mango, pickled jalapeño, sweet potato, and jicama. But their menu goes way beyond cucumber and fruit rolls. The culinary team fuses unconventional pairings of fruit and vegetables with whole grains to create a range of vegan dishes including dumplings, noodle salads, and noodle soups. YUM!
This dimly-lit, semi-romantic hot spot will have you impressing your date in an “I can’t believe it’s vegetarian” kinda way. Plus, with a cocktail list that includes almond milk concoctions and rosewater sake, they have your veggie-loving back and a dose of liquid courage. Just a few blocks from the Union Square Greenmarket, Nix sources most of their vegetables from the best of the best. But while the dishes are mainly made up of veggies, the main menu isn’t strictly plant-based (vegans, you better ask for their special menu that’s just for you). From tofu-skin pockets with sweet potato, cauliflower tempura, and potato gnocchi, vegetarian food has never tasted so indulgent.
Exploring a non-Manhattan borough for the day? You can still enjoy vegan pizza at this small (but essential) Greenpoint hole in the wall. This place is perfect for a by-the-slice plant-based cheese concoction. With a super-authentic and low-key vibe, no need to put on your go-to black-on-black going out gear; stay comfy in sweats and PJs while you feast on this (vegan) cheesy treat.
What happens when fruity small plates and cold-pressed mocktails meet the booze menu of your dreams? This East Village Polynesian gem. And they will will wow you with a kale caesar salad with mango and pomegranate, pea and edamame dumplings, and a portobello burger with charred pineapple and avocado. Really, the food is as magical as the cocktails. And while the menu has cream sauce-topped and cheese-filled items, it has enough vegan-only options to satisfy even the most dairy-adverse. Fitt Tip: you can now find Mother of Pearl on UberEats!
Only in NYC can you find a falafel and smoothie specialty bar. With three different falafel flavors (traditional, sweet, and spicy), chickpeas have never tasted so unique (in a good way, we promise). Taim adds a gourmet spin to the traditional street food with tasty side salads like marinated beets, spicy carrot, and baba ghanoush. Whether you’re in the West Village, SoHo, FiDi, or Midtown, get cooler than cool with smoothies that are as exotic as they are tasty with flavors like cantaloupe-ginger, Thai-basil, and soy-strawberry. A little cramped, but super-homey, you’ll totally fall in love with this vegetarian dream.
Attention vegetarians: it’s time to take your shoes off and enter this veggie-only Korean shrine. Seriously. You’ll have to surrender your shoes at the door before feasting on carefully-crafted rice bowls, tofu delights, and mushroom madness. With a mushroom-heavy menu, make sure to order à la carte and to ask your waiter about specials they have going because the menu is only half of this Midtown restaurant’s ordering options. Not sure what to get? Try out their stone bowl entrées, filled with exotic veggies, lotus root, fresh greens, and rice.
Who said you need eggs, dairy, soy, or gluten to make red velvet cupcakes, double-chocolate-chip cookies, or an agave-sweetened brownie? Certainly not this vegan sweet shop. Whether you’re a vegan with a sweet tooth or have allergies that typically get in the way of indulging in cupcakes, this Lower East Side shop will have you swooning over sweets.
If you haven’t bitten into the juicy meat-free burger of Brook Headley, you’re doing NYC wrong. With vegan and vegetarian patties available, this hidden East Village gem is #burgergoals. Be warned, though, health-conscious urbanites — this restaurant is adorable, but unfortunately, the size of a shoe box. So either head to the joint solo or get it delivered straight to your door.
Vegetarians, vegans, and raw foodies, rejoice! This East Village hangout offers kosher, plant-based, organic dishes served with a side of nightly entertainment. Craving some mesclun greens, Caravan’s got your back. Looking for something a little heartier? Try their huitlacoche and vegan chorizo quesadilla, miso and maple-glazed squash platter, or raw pear ravioli… just make sure you leave room for their warm banana Nutella royale dessert (complete with vegan whipped cream). Warning: don’t hit up this spot unless you’re prepared to be enchanted by the food and live music.
Can’t find any real Mexican food in NYC? Well, you can officially quit daydreaming because Jajaja in the Lower East Side and Brooklyn serves up authentic Mexican street food that’s just what you’ve been wishing for. The catch? You won’t find any marinated meats here — just a selection of tacos and bowls featuring delicious ingredients like tempura cauliflower, fermented black beans, hemp and flaxseed battered chayote, and pickled peppers.
If you’re looking for a vegetarian place with all the trendy vibes (we’re talking gold accents, velvet seating, and ferns hanging from the ceiling), you’ve found your spot. But the aesthetic isn’t the only thing that’s noteworthy at this East Village vegetable bar. On their menu you’ll find tasty treats like a Sun Dried Tomato Tart, Buffalo Miatake Bao Buns with pickled celery and ranch, and, of course, avocado toast. Fitt Tip: stop by after 11pm for their late-night menu, select bottles of wine are half off.
At this vegan hot spot in the Upper West Side and Union Square, they believe in spreading peace by way of your plate. Aka everything here is 100% vegan. But that doesn’t translate to a small menu of select items. At Peacefood Cafe, you can fill up on everything from sandwiches to sushi to pizza to dessert. Now comes the hard part — deciding what to order.
There’s a lot to appreciate about the bowls served at Le Botaniste in Lenox Hill. Not only is this place completely vegetarian, they are also 99% organic and offer gluten-free options. And if you’re craving something sweet, they’ve got delicious plant-based versions of your favorite treats. Did someone say Apple Volcano?
After one glance at Toad Style’s Instagram you’ll wiping drool from your face as you head out the door to Bushwick. But while their social media game is on point, their commitment to quality is what’s really worth talking about. Aside from making their entire vegan menu from scratch every day (that’s called commitment, folks) everything they serve is also soy-, palm oil-, and GMO-free.
You had us at Gochujang Glazed Crispy Seitan and Kimchi Fries. If mention of these menu items doesn’t have you immediately making your way to The Cinnamon Snail, maybe this will. What started off as a vegan organic food truck has expanded to two brick-and-mortar locations in FiDi and Midtown Manhattan. But the best part about this place is they’re committed to crafting cruelty-free cuisine good enough to trick any hardcore meat eater into drinking the Kool-Aid. Spoiler alert: they’re succeeding.
If comfort food is what you’re craving, head over to Modern Love in Brooklyn or stay in your soft pants and order delivery from the couch — either way, you won’t be disappointed. Their menu features plant-based takes on some of your favorite classics like Truffled Poutine, Mac & Shews, and Bacon Cheeseburger. But do yourself a favor and save room for dessert, the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is to die for.
Sick of seitan and feeling tough on tofu? Bunna Cafe’s got just the thing. Bringing a taste of Ethiopia to Brooklyn, this plant-based restaurant serves up international fare that you won’t find at any other vegetarian spot. Plus, every weekend they have live music featuring local DJs, so you’re guaranteed to have a good time. Fitt Tip: they’re cash only, so make sure you stop by the ATM on your way.
**Updated by Maddie Flager, September 2018